When Josh Speidel made his commitment to play for John Becker at Vermont, he was expected to be a significant contributor upon his arrival. However tragedy struck in February, as Speidel suffered a major head injury in a car accident. While the rehabilitation process has been a difficult one for Speidel, he has remained a part of the program he committed to joining while in high school.
And that commitment goes both ways with Vermont doing everything they can to make sure Josh is part of the program, from weekly phone calls to even sending him film to study. And thanks to a waiver granted by the NCAA, Vermont was allowed to have Speidel on the bench with them as they took on No. 23 Purdue at Mackey Arena.
Speidel, who played at Columbus North (Indiana) HS and was an AAU teammate of Purdue’s Ryan Cline and Grant Weatherford, was honored prior to the game by Purdue. Per a source, Vermont did not know of Purdue’s plans to honor Speidel before the game until about an hour before tip when Purdue coach Matt Painter informed the team.
Cline and Weatherford led their teammates over to greet Speidel on the court, and the student section chanted Josh’s name.
Vermont’s Ernie Duncan discussed the opportunity to have Speidel on the bench, as well as his emotions as Purdue’s players greeted Speidel before the game, with Nathan Baird of the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Ernie Duncan, who scored 18 points in the 107-79 Purdue victory. “To have him around the guys and feel like he’s a part of our team is a great thing. When I saw what Purdue did to come over and hug him — it brought tears to my eyes.”
Vermont has and will continue to honor Josh’s scholarship. With Speidel continuing to make progress in his recovery, hopefully it won’t be long before he’s able to make the trip to Burlington to watch his teammates play a home game.
Saturday was a special day for seniors at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana, as their four years of hard work culminated with graduation day. The afternoon was special for another reason: Vermont signee Josh Speidel, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in early February, was able to graduate with his fellow seniors.
Speidel, who was released from the hospital less than two weeks ago, received his diploma as the entire crowd rose to give him a standing ovation. As he continues to recover from the injuries suffered in the accident, Speidel will defer his enrollment at Vermont until 2016.
Speidel was an Associated Press third team all-state selection, and he was named to the Indiana All-Star team that will take on Kentucky’s All-Star team in two games next weekend.
Video credit: RTV6/The Indy Channel
Vermont signee injured in car crash speaks first words in more than ten weeks
Last August Columbus North (Indiana) HS forward Josh Speidel made his verbal pledge to the Vermont basketball program, making him the fifth Indiana native to commit to the Catamounts in the last three years. Speidel’s trek to Burlington took a tragic turn on February 1 however, as he was severely injured in a car crash.
Among the injuries suffered was a serious brain injury that left Speidel unable to speak. Speidel’s steadily made progress, and according to the Indianapolis Star Speidel spoke his first words since the accident on Thursday. His first word was “Mom,” which he said multiple times with his parents at his bedside.
“I just broke down crying,” Lisa Speidel, Josh’s mother, said. “He said it a couple more times and the nurses came in and were celebrating with us.”
Lisa posted on her Facebook account Thursday night: “Do you know what is the sweetest sound EVER….hearing my son say, ‘Mom’ for the first time in 10 ½ weeks!!!!! YES HE DID!!!! PRAISE BE TO GOD!!!”
That was just one of several breakthrough moments this week for Speidel, a 6-8 standout senior basketball player from Columbus North. He said his sisters’ names, said “grandma” and looked at pictures of his basketball team and identified his teammates.
When Lisa asked him who was No. 32, Josh said: “Me.”
According to the Star Speidel’s spent the last three weeks at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, and the ability to speak is the latest of multiple breakthroughs that he’s been able to make. Here’s to hearing even more good news regarding Josh’s health in the coming weeks.