North Middlesex football head coach Sandy Ruggles completes the ice bucket challenge after Tuesday’s practice.
North Middlesex football head coach Sandy Ruggles completes the ice bucket challenge after Tuesday's practice. (Nashoba Publishing/Ed Niser )

TOWNSEND -- North Middlesex players lined the bleachers at John E. Young Memorial Field and one-by-one had buckets of various sizes filled with ice splash down on their shoulders. While it was fun and frigid, the Patriots did it for a fallen football brother, Glenn Roberts, a class of 1982 football graduate, who lost his battle with ALS in 2012 at the age of 47.

Glenn was the captain of the 1982 North Middlesex football team, who compiled a record of 7-4 that year under then first-year head coach Sandy Ruggles. Ruggles is still with the Patriots as their head coach today, but he will never forget the impact Roberts had on the football program.

"He was a very special kid," Ruggles said. "He was one of the first people I met here. Glenn as a player was all about team-first. He was the ultimate 'we' player. He was a two-year player, a captain and he gave 110-percent on every single play."

Glenn, who settled in Ashby, used to periodically stop by coach Ruggles' home in Townsend to just shoot the breeze on his way to his parents' home in town.

"He was just dying to stop," coach said. "He was just dying to stop. Usually, we would talk for about an hour. He always played in our golf tournament every year to raise money for NM athletics."

Two-years prior to the Thanksgiving morning clash with rival Nashoba, Ruggles received a phone call that Glenn had been diagnosed with ALS -- commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The Roberts family had a fundraiser for Glenn's treatment.


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Ruggles attended the fundraisers, and it was at that time he asked Glenn to become involved with the program.

Glenn came to practices and talked to the team and stressed the life lessons that football teaches to young men.

"He sent every kid a nice letter about what Thanksgiving is all about," Ruggles said. "The kids who are juniors and seniors know about him. Glenn was everything you wanted in a person and an athlete. He was a tremendous worker and role model."

Last week, Ruggles was sitting around in his living room when he learned of the ice bucket challenge to support the ALS foundation. Ruggles goal was to challenge the team to do it and make a donation to the ALS walk held in October with the donations being made in Glenn Roberts' name.

"Glenn is known throughout North Middlesex football," NM quarterback John Boutwell said. "My father was a captain with him and really his whole life, he cared about everyone more than himself. I went to the fundraiser and to see him the way he was still fighting was very remarkable. That Thanksgiving game when he read that letter to us, it hit us all heart-to-heart. Even though he has passed, he is still with us."

Boutwell recounts part of Glenn's letter as saying 'ALS has beaten me, but you guys can still beat Nashoba.'

Matt Wetherell, a senior captain and wide receiver, remembers when coach Ruggles read Glenn's letter before that Thanksgiving morning game with Nashoba.

"You could really hear his voice behind it," Wetherell said. "The entire locker room went silent. We came out all charged and fired up after. We have played for him since then."

Glenn's family was on hand Monday morning to witness the Patriots take the ice bath before practice.

"Coach is so big on tradition and he invited my brother to talk to the players," Troy Roberts said. "It impacted the players and we give a scholarship in Glenn's name every year to a North Middlesex football player. This is really great to see the kids raising money to support the ALS Foundation