Former GRC goalkeeper overcomes adversity to get taste of pro soccer

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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Winchester recently celebrated as both George Rogers Clark High School soccer teams won a 39th District championship.

As it turns out, there’s even more cause to celebrate soccer glory.

Chandler Gaunce, a goalkeeper and George Rogers Clark High School alum, signed a 25-day contract in September to play for Louisville City FC – a professional soccer club with the United Soccer League (USL).  The contact allowed for LCFC to evaluate him for a potential long-term deal.

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“It’s unbelievable”, said the 25-year-old Gaunce. “It’s really a dream come true!”

Gaunce was an all-state selection while playing for the Cards, where he spent his senior year as the football team’s placekicker.

While playing club soccer, he was a member of two state title teams and a pair of teams that took home Disney Showcase titles, where he competed in Orlando in December.

After two years at Transylvania University in Lexington, he transferred and played his junior and senior seasons of 2018 and 2019 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Yet for Gaunce, who has worked in technical operations with Bitwerx, Inc. in Lexington when away from the field, the road to soccer stardom has also been a lesson in overcoming adversity.

At four years old, an accident left him needing physical therapy.

“We didn’t know if he’d walk,” said Georganna Gaunce, Chandler’s mother. “The doctors just said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get him in a sport.’ The first thing that he could get into was soccer. We knew nothing about it, but we figured with the kicking motion and things like that [he would] get physical therapy.”

As time went on, not only did Chandler adapt to the game, he began to excel.

“Since that time, he went leaps and bounds beyond what we could ever imagine”, added Georganna Gaunce. “People were telling us he was really good…The more people tell you that – people who knew the sport [such as] college coaches…you think ‘maybe there’s something to this.’”

Despite the prowess, Gaunce faced challenges.

Among them were back injuries limiting his play to football during his senior year at GRC and – immediately following college graduation – the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

As with events throughout the country, soccer came to a halt.

However, as he continued to work with fellow professionals, the young goalkeeper wouldn’t be deterred.

It comes from a work ethic seen by those closest to him.

“He was very driven,” added Georganna Gaunce. “He gave up a lot of things over soccer over the years…we never told him that he couldn’t do it. There’s a lot of people that are supporting him. It’s just been nice.”

Now affter getting the chance to play at the highest level, Gaunce – thanking many, including his college coach, Daniel Ridenhour – offered some reflection.

“Perseverance is the key to victory,” Gaunce said. “You just have to be ready and you never know when you’re going to get that call.”