Ice Bucket Challenge holds special meaning for Metea soccer team

Members of the Metea Valley High School varsity boys soccer team are honoring the legacy of their coach’s former teammate by taking the plunge into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Coach Joshua Robinson played soccer for several years at the University of Illlinois-Chicago with Pat Grange, who died in 2012 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Although most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, Grange was just 29 years old when he died of the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

All 80 players in the Metea soccer program were charged with collecting $100 each to earn the chance to have 5-gallon buckets of ice water dumped on their head. Donations could exceed $8,000, they said.

Each year the Metea soccer program performs a community service project. In the past, the team worked packing food pouches for Feed My Starving Children.

Cindy Rowsey, parent liaison for the varsity team, said the Aurora organization is undergoing renovation work, so the team was looking for an alternative project. After seeing how popular the ALS challenge had become, she offered Robinson that as an alternative.

Little did she know how meaningful the suggestion would be.

“It hit close to home,” he said. “It is nice to be able to push for more awareness.”

“It was difficult to see one of the better soccer players deteriorate so quickly,” said Robinson of his friend, who died just 17 months after he was diagnosed with ALS.

The Metea coach said before his teammate died, Grange indicated the most important thing for him was making a difference.

“Clearly he wanted to give back,” Robinson said.

Metea soccer’s Ice Bucket Challenge is a small way to get out the word about ALS.

With 19 boys on the varsity team, Cindy Rowsey, whose senior son Dakota has played varsity soccer for four years, was faced with a challenge of her own: finding enough 5-gallon buckets so players would dump the ice water all at the same time.

Rowsey said The Home Depot in Naperville was more than happy to donate 25 to 30 big orange buckets. As far as the ice is concerned, Rowsey said she’s got that covered, too.

Metea soccer now has called out other sports teams, clubs and administrators at the school to follow suit. The varsity soccer team has buckets to pass along to whichever organization is willing to help out the cause. Rowsey said a banner was made that lists the names of all the soccer players who participated.

“We’ll add your name to the banner if you participate,” she said.

Metea Principal Darrel Echol already agreed to the challenge.

To learn more about ALS and Grange, Robinson asked his team to watch a 15-minute video produced by ESPN. Rowsey said after watching the piece, Dakota was even more inspired to raise as much money as possible.

In addition to ALS, in May 2014 Grange became the first soccer player diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological condition more often associated with sports like football and hockey where concussive injuries are more common. So far, the disease can only be diagnosed by studying the brain after a patient’s death.

Researchers suggest that Grange’s penchant for heading the ball over the years might be a cause of the CTE. A link between CTE and ALS also is being studied.

While no one is suggesting a ban on heading a soccer ball, Robinson said he tries to provide families with the latest research so they can make an educated decision.

“It’s important to inform kids and parents of what concussions do so they can make their own choices,” he said.

Tags: ,

0 Comments




Modal