By Kevin O’Rourke
The highest ranking educator in Montgomery County is all wet, and it is a direct result of the students at the two Germantown High Schools.
By now everyone has seen or taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The viral craze that the entire nation has been participating in to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
In Germantown, it got started last week as athletic teams reported for tryouts and practice. The Northwest field hockey girls and their coach Holly Johnson took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and in doing so, they challenged their cross-town rivals, the Seneca Valley field hockey team. You can watch their challenge here.
Of course, the girls of Seneca Valley field hockey didn’t shrink form the challenge and they in-turn challenged Seneca Valley football team, cheerleaders, and both the boys and girls soccer teams. The SVHS field hockey team's video is here.
“I think it is great that our student athletes have been so receptive to getting involved with this,” said Seneca Valley Athletic DirectorJesse Irvin. "They asked me permission when they were first challenged and I asked them why they wanted to do it. They immediately talked about ALS and the awareness that it was bringing to the deadly disease. I thought it was great that they focused on that and not ‘just wanting to do it-because everyone else was.”
“It has been great fun,” said Northwest’s Athletic Director Anne Rossier. “It is pure fun for a great cause. It helps to bring the community together. If you watch the videos everyone is smiling and having fun. It really humanizes the administrators and lets the students know that we are there for them.”
However, it was the Seneca Valley girls soccer team that upped the ante and brought administrators into the fun by nominating their AD, Jesse Irvin, Assistant Principal Brian Beaubien, and Principal Marc Cohen to take the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.
Of course they all accepted and nominated their counterparts at Northwest High School, Principal Lance Dempsey and Northwest Athletic Director Anne Rossiter. Their Ice Bucket Challenge can be seen here.
Rossiter said she was unsure how much money the back-and-forth challenges had raised for ALS, but it has been a great boost to community spirit.
According to Irvin, the students have made a point of donating money. “Many of them have stressed that they are donating money and initiating conversations with their peers. I know that there have been some detractors to the campaign, but it is bringing awareness and according to the ALS foundation a lot of money also. I had the opportunity to do this with my family, including my son and daughter. The fact that my four year old is asking about ALS and what it is, reiterates the importance and success of this campaign.”
“It is such fun and a great way to teach the kids what we stress so much in Montgomery County athletics, that we can be rivals on the field but off the field it is all about sportsmanship and respect. It really has provide a greater sense of community for both schools,” said Rossiter.
“Yes we are sports rivals,” added Irvin, “but the reality is that the student athletes are all friends and they understand the difference between a game and the harsh reality of this disease. I think quite often adults -- whether it be parents or guardians and/or the media -- tend to make the intensity of the rivalry bigger than what it is. Ultimately they are young men and women playing games that they love and having fun. Afterwards they come together and in this instance work together to help a cause.”
It was Northwest Principal Lance Dempsey who went all-in and nominated Superintendent of Schools Joshua Starr and President of the Montgomery County Council Craig Rice.
Starr accepted the challenge this week and took the plunge allowing ice water to be dumped on his head on Tuesday morning. Starr upped the stakes again by nominating U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and Montgomery County County Executive Ike Leggett.
“All of this came about because a group of Northwest girls had some fun on the field with their coach during practice for a great cause,” said Rossiter.