Sorgi-Led Blanket Drive Spreads Support

May 26, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The design was the same, the pattern was one they’d used, and the little girl had received her blanket right around Christmas while undergoing cancer treatments.

Nikki Sorgi has no way of knowing for sure if the blanket – described by an aunt who cares for the child during the school day – is one of more than 400 she, her older sister and Utica Ford classmates have donated to University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital over the last three years. But that doesn’t matter – the fact that a blanket, any blanket, is bringing a child comfort hits home as Sorgi considers what she’s helped to accomplish.

Sorgi is a recipient of an MHSAA/Lake Trust Credit Union “Community Service Award” for helping spearhead a campaign that stretched over the course of her high school career, with the co-leadership of her older sister Alex (a 2015 Ford graduate) and large contributions from her school’s National Honor Society chapter, student council and school store.

“It was really great to see, from the toy drive we started my freshman year, there are other kids out there who care,” Nikki Sorgi said. “A lot of people have this stereotypical view of teenagers, that they’re more concerned about themselves and what’s going on in their lives. It was cool to see other kids out there who care, who want to make a difference, even if they don’t have the ability to start their own project or event.”

Sorgi this fall will follow her sister Alex to Bowling Green State University, beginning studies toward an eventual career as a pediatrician. Providing care for children has been a major drive in her life since her freshman year, when she and Alex collected 250 toys to donate to hospitalized children.

About that time, a medical issue struck closer to home – a friend and classmate was diagnosed with cancer. Realizing that a toy drive was great for younger kids but not as much of a help for older ones, the Sorgi sisters turned their focus to creating homemade tie-knot fleece blankets that could comfort patients of all ages.

Sadly, the friend who inspired the drive, Stefan Oncia, died after his battle in December 2014. A month later, the first donation of 60 blankets went to Kids Kicking Cancer in Southfield. The following Christmas season, more than 150 blankets were donated to patients at C.S. Mott. This past Christmas, the Sorgis delivered nearly 200 more blankets.

Along the way, Ford’s NHS helped raise funds for materials, and more than 60 students helped assemble them during an after-school blanket-making party. The Bemis Junior High life skills class also has contributed blankets the last two years, and Nikki worked with her travel softball coach to make their holiday gift exchange instead a donation of blankets.

The girls’ mother Roni has had a number of big assists along the way, and that likely will continue with Nikki finishing up high school (she’ll also join her sister playing softball at BGSU). Nikki, a four-year varsity softball and basketball player, said she’s talked to her coach Matt Joseph (who coaches both teams) about ways to continue the blanket drive in the future. Her brother Joey will be a sophomore next year and is expected to pick up the cause, with the sisters returning home at Thanksgiving to help orchestrate the drive with the help of Ford sports teams or NHS if it remains involved.

Nikki will use the award as a scholarship toward paying for her education. Her desire to become a doctor started before she started playing such a large role in bringing patients comfort – but seeing how the blankets have impacted children at the hospital has swayed her toward pediatrics while also teaching her a few lessons in persistence and communication. 

“It shows the blanket drive might be one small thing, but it shows how much one small thing can do for people who are sick, or struggling, whatever the case may be,” Sorgi said. “Even though it’s just a small gesture.”

The Community Service Awards are sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and Lake Trust Credit Union to recognize student-athletes' efforts to improve the lives of others in their communities. In addition to the $1,000 award, the Lake Trust Foundation is awarding an additional $500 to each honoree, to be donated to a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization of the awardee’s choice.

PHOTOS: (Top) Utica Ford senior Nikki Sorgi sits in front of a mountain of homemade blankets headed for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. (Middle) Sorgi, with older sister Alex (right) and Kevin Smith from Mott community relations, delivers the blankets to the hospital. (Photos courtesy of the Sorgi family.)

2017 Community Service Awards

Sunday: Colon "Yard Squad" - Read
Bailey Brown, Brighton - Read
Justice Ottinger, Newaygo - Read
Katie Sesi, Ann Arbor Huron - Read

94 Schools Raise Trophies as Part of 2023-24 MHSAA Parade of Champions

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 19, 2024

A total of 94 schools won one or more of the 129 Michigan High School Athletic Association team championships awarded during the 2023-24 school sports year, with three teams earning the first Finals championship in any sport in their schools’ histories.

Southfield Arts & Technology celebrated its first MHSAA Finals team championship during the fall, winning the 11-player Division 1 football title. Evart and Watervliet closed this spring by celebrating their first Finals victories, Evart as champion in Division 3 softball and Watervliet as champion in Division 4 baseball.

A total of 25 schools won two or more championships this school year, paced by Marquette’s six won in girls and boys cross country, girls and boys swimming & diving, boys golf and boys track & field. Detroit Catholic Central was next with four Finals championships, and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Farmington Hills Mercy, Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Jackson Lumen Christi all won three. Winning two titles in 2023-24 were Ann Arbor Greenhills, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Bark River-Harris, Clarkston Everest Collegiate, Detroit Country Day, Escanaba, Flint Kearsley, Fowler, Grand Rapids Christian, Hancock, Hudson, Hudsonville Unity Christian, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Northville, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Rochester Adams, Traverse City Christian and Traverse City St. Francis.

A total of 24 teams won first MHSAA titles in their respective sports. A total of 47 champions were repeat winners from 2022-23. A total of 22 teams won championships for at least the third-straight season, while 11 teams extended title streaks to at least four consecutive seasons. The Lowell wrestling program owns the longest title streak at 11 seasons. 

Sixteen of the MHSAA's 28 team championship tournaments are unified, involving teams from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, while separate competition to determine title winners in both Peninsulas is conducted in remaining sports.

For a sport-by-sport listing of MHSAA champions for 2023-24, click here (PDF).

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.