Shepard football coaches touched by players’ Ice Bucket gesture
The 2015 football season opens on Friday night and Shepard’s squad will have the challenge of trying to erase an 0-9 season in 2013 from Astros’ fans’ minds when it heads to Niles North in Skokie for a non-conference game.
Before that challenge, the Astros faced another challenge.
For the past couple of weeks, the phenomenon of having people take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has blazed across the world thanks to social media. Everyone from Michael Jordan to former President George W. Bush to heavy hitters in Hickory Hills (see page 5) have had buckets of ice water dumped on their heads to support finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- commonly known as ALS and more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
That brings us to a football practice last week on the Shepard campus in Palos Heights.
Student athlete Mark Albrecht dared his teammates and coaches to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The dousing produced hoots, hollers and hilarity among a bunch of emotional teenage boys.
But more important, the cold drenchings warmed the hearts of two Shepard assistant coaches.
Ryan McGuire and Brendan Meany lost family and friends to ALS and the players’ gestures meant a lot to the two of them.
“I know someone who personally lost a battle to this disease. It is great to see the response that our students, athletes and our community have shown. It’s just another great example of excellence at Shepard,” McGuire said in a news release.
“As someone who lost a family friend to ALS this year, it was an honor to be part of the ice bucket challenge,’’ he said in a news release. “And it was awesome to see our kids so excited about such a noble cause.”
Head coach Dominic Passolano’s splashdown caused the most noise among the players.
“It was awesome to see our kids take the initiative in helping others and have a clear understanding about the cause,” the coach said in a statement. “It was a great way to help bring awareness to ALS, a nice way to kick the school year off and bring our school community together.”
ALS, which is fatal and has no cure, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
Now for the challenges ahead…
Passolano, a former Providence Catholic player, came to the school in 2009 and the Astros made the playoffs just once in the previous 14 years. He took the team to the postseason four times in his first four years before last year’s 0-9 finish.
The team hosts Marian Sept. 5 before heading to the South Suburban Red Conference.