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Behind the basket: The story of UVM’s Josh Speidel

Behind the basket: The story of UVM’s Josh Speidel
Josh Speidel records his first collegiate basket for the Catamounts on senior night. (Photo: UVM Athletics)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (BVM) — You may have seen the viral clip of Josh Speidel as he takes the floor for the first time in his college basketball career as a member of the University of Vermont men’s basketball team. During the Catamounts’ senior night, Speidel was able to achieve a goal that he had always dreamed of – playing in a college basketball game.

This moment wasn’t the way that Speidel would have envisioned it when he first decided to go to UVM. After the tip off and a basket by Albany, Speidel was able to add his name to the boxscore with the first points of his career, a layup, on the Catamounts’ first possession. The pre-arranged moment was capped off by handshakes and hugs between Speidel, his teammates, and the Albany players.

Speidel’s story goes back to 2015 where, at the time, the Columbus North High School star was averaging 25.6 points and 9.3 rebounds. After a terrific senior season, he and fellow Indiana recruit, Everett Duncan, committed to play at the University of Vermont. The two had formed a friendship and looked forward to playing on the same team.

On Feb. 1, 2015, those plans that Speidel and Duncan had, would change. Josh Speidel was involved in a crash with an SUV, after pulling out of a fast-food restaurant drive-thru. The accident involving a passenger in Speidel’s car, along with three others in the SUV, resulted in only minor injuries for everyone else. Unfortunately, the car accident left Speidel in serious condition. Speidel had fractured his skull, was paralyzed on his left side, and would be in a coma for four weeks.

After coming out of the coma, Speidel had to relearn many basic functions like walking and talking. He had no memory of the car crash or his senior basketball season. Going forward Speidel would be unable to continue his basketball career because of recurring tremors in his right arm along with short-term memory loss.

Catamounts head coach John Becker still kept Speidel on scholarship after the crash and was able to watch him recover and become a student at UVM. While at the university, he has maintained a 3.4 GPA and graduated in May.

He attended many of the Catamounts’ games, where he watched his team get a bid to the NCAA Tournament twice. After five years of hard work, Speidel’s time paid off as he was able to receive the recognition he deserved at Patrick Gym on that special senior night. The moment capped off many emotions for his family and his teammates, and will be something that Speidel will never forget.