Clicking "like" on a YouTube video could help Ocean County College's women's basketball team win national recognition for their efforts following Superstorm Sandy.
The Vikings team, led by coach Dana Kovich, held their first practice this season on Oct. 27, 2012, just days before the storm hit. Since then, team members have participated in recovery efforts and turned a shaky start into a winning season, according to their video entry into the "Together We R" Team Award sponsored by Russell Athletic.
Along with the Vikings, vying for the fans' choice are Cal State Fullerton, Purdue University and the University of Oklahoma, all of which have faced struggles this season.
"These teams have had to go through difficulties that would set back any team, but they overcame them by banding together in an impressive manner that we hope any team would if they experienced these circumstances," said Women’s Basketball Coaches Association CEO Beth Bass in a statement.
The video that gains the most "likes" will receive an additional vote when the selection committee picks its winner. Voting will end at 5 p.m. on Friday — OCC's video, produced by professor Ralph Bertini with editing by student Paul Whitehead, can be found and "liked" by clicking the thumbs up button here.
"It's really cool for the community," Whitehead said. "To think that our work can compete across the nation is an amazing thing."
Whitehead credited college staff, especially the video department, for giving them the education necessary to produce a video that is competing against universities from around the country.
"Each of these teams deserve to be recognized for their determination to continue on with their season," Bass said. "The scenario that each team had to face is tough, but fighting through the situation as a team made it much easier."
Despite Sandy and its impact on the team, the Vikings went on to secure the 2013 NJCAA Division III Region XIX Women’s Basketball Championship.
The winner of the award will be announced at the WBCA Awards Show on April 8 in New Orleans.