By Kevin O’Rourke
Northwest High School celebrated two new additions to its formidable sports legacy Tuesday night with ribbon cutting ceremonies for a new track and a new scoreboard at its football field.
“About four years ago I started my campaign to get a new track,” said Northwest Principal Lance Dempsey told the crowd of students, coaches and parents. She told them that she would grab the ear of MCPS athletics administrators and talk up the school’s need for a new track. Any chance Dempsey had to speak with Montgomery County Public Schools, Director of Systemwide Athletics, Dr. William “Duke” Beatie and his second in command, Athletics Specialist Jeff Sullivan, she’d tell them about the poor condition of the track. “I’d tell them, ‘my kids are going to get hurt.”
All the ear-bending paid off in June when Northwest was approved to receive a new track at its football field.
“I know the kids are really excited about it,” said Dempsey, and who then called out Head Track Coach Robert Youngblood, who won championships last spring with both the boys and girls track and field teams going undefeated. “I expect a couple of more state championships to be won because of work that will be done on this new track,” said Dempsey. Funding for the new track came from the MCPS regular operating budget.
Northwest Director of Athletics Anne Rossitter said that work on the track started in late June and was completed by the first week of August.
While Dempsey is very happy about Northwest’s new track, she is even prouder of the new $60,000 scoreboard which now sits at the northeast end of the football field. “That new scoreboard is there because we are a community,” said Dempsey, telling the audience that the new scoreboard was paid for entirely through donations from the Northwest Boost Club and a large donation from the Pichler family. “Thank you to the Booster Club, which is made up of families that have students currently attending Northwest, but also many families that have children that have yet to attend our school, and of course, many booster have children that have already graduated. Thank you, Boosters.”
The ceremonies were part of the school’s second annual Fall Meet the Teams Night, in which students, athletes, coaches, and parents gathered to receive information about the upcoming sports seasons.
As Northwest Jaguars football prepares to defend their Division 4A Maryland State title, Head Football Coach Michael Neubieser was thankful for the new scoreboard, while understated about his team’s ability to light up the new scoreboard in the “The Black Hole” this year.
“The new scoreboard is a great plus coming off an amazing season last year,” said Neubieser. “That old scoreboard was so outdated that they didn’t even make parts to repair it anymore.”
As for the Jaguars outlook this season, “We will be physical and punishing as we always are, but we’ve been looking pretty sloppy so far in scrimmages this preseason,” he said. “We have a lot to work on, and we will get better. We open with Magruder one week from Friday and they have a new coaching staff and look to be improved.” The Jags will then play at Richard Montgomery who are returning a bunch of players, and be on the road again at Seneca Valley. “We need to get better fast,” he said.
And fast is exactly what Head Track Coach Robert Youngblood expects his runners to be on the new track. “You will see some history made on this track this year,” said Youngblood. He said that runner Diego Zarate, who had a phenomenal 2013 outing, “will do amazing things on this new track.”
“We were never able to practice on the old track,” he said. “We won track and field state titles last year practicing exclusively on the grass. When we would practice on the old track, it would kill the kid’s legs and we have to move to the grass.” Youngblood said he and his assistant coaches would go out on the grass and measure out relay distances. “Now, with the new track we get to train in meet conditions and that is going to make a huge difference.”
Youngblood believes the new track will also be beneficial to the football team, as well as the track teams. “We have a number of guys on the track team that played on the football team in the fall and run track with us in Spring,” he said, naming Devino Frazier, Andrew Daniels and Shyheim Wright who were all on the football team and the track team, both of which won state championships last year.
Youngblood looked at the new track and at the stands filled with students, smiled and said, “Coach Neubieser and I used to talk about how cool it would be if one day if, we could be head football and track coach at this school.” Youngblood said the two worked together as coaches at Damascus High School prior to coming to Northwest. “We would just sit and talk about how cool it would be, now look at us both state champs with a great new track and beautiful new scoreboard. It is pretty amazing.”
Top: Principal Lance Dempsey, surrounded by members of the Northwest track teams, cuts the ribbon officially opening the new track at Northwest High School.
Next: Principal Dempsey addresses the crowd at the school's Fall Meet the Teams event.
Next: Students, parents and coaches gather at the Northwest football field to celebrate the school's new track and scoreboard.
Next: The Northwest Jaguars fooball team and boys and girls soccer teams assist Prinicpal Lance Dempsey as she cuts the ribbon on the new scoreboard.
Bottom: The new track at Northwest, where according to Coach Robert Youngblood, "history will be made."
Photos by Germantown Pulse.