The Inspiring Moment Josh Speidel Scored in a College Basketball Game

After suffering a traumatic brain injury, doctors said Josh might be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. This month, he proved them wrong.

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- Posted on Mar 24, 2020

Josh Speidel is introduced on Senior Night; photo by Brian Jenkins

With 19:40 on the clock in the first half of the University of Vermont’s match-up against Albany in March, Josh Speidel caught a pass and scored. The crowd went wild, and the coaches and players of both teams hugged the 6’7”senior. According to ABC News, Josh announced, “I did it! I’m a college basketball player!” 

Making a single lay-up would be no big deal for the average player. But five years ago, Josh suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, only months after signing with the UVM Catamounts. The star forward of his Columbia, Indiana high school team, Josh had offers from 15 universities, but playing for UVM had always been his dream.  

After the accident, he went into a coma and the doctors told his parents, David and Lisa Speidel, that he might remain in a vegetative state or need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. But his parents never lost faith that their son would wake up, and agreed they wouldn’t tell Josh his terrible prognosis when he did. Not if, but when. “We knew God had us,” Lisa said. 

Four weeks later, Josh proved them right. Not only did he learn to walk and talk again, soon he was even working out. But as much as the goal of playing basketball was a driving force in Josh’s recovery, the most important thing was his unwavering faith in God to see him through.

Photo by Brian Jenkins

“Faith has always been instrumental in my well-being and having that relationship with God has always been first in my life,” Josh told the Burlington Free Press. “Sticking with that through the ups and downs, my parents never wavered in their faith, they never took a step back and questioned God.

Just a year and a half after the accident, he headed off to Burlington, Vermont to start college. With periodic arm tremors and short-term memory loss, Josh knew he would never play for UVM, but he watched every practice from the sidelines and became an integral part of the team. UVM associate head coach Kyle Cieplicki, who’d been Josh’s lead recruiter, said, “He’s shown me and the whole team how to handle adversity.” 

Now 24, Josh will graduate from UVM in May with a 3.4 GPA. He’s majoring in education and social services, and plans to work with kids. “Wherever God takes me,” he said, “I’m keeping my options open.” Josh tells people who are struggling with their own challenges, “Always have a goal in your head and chase after it as hard as you can. And whenever you need help, ask.” 

But in the end, Josh told an Indiana news station, “It’s a God thing.”

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