Speidel shows us dreams are in reach

Josh Speidel is an inspiration for anyone who has been faced with long odds in pursuit of their dream.

The University of Vermont recruit was off to a fine senior season at Columbus North when he suffered a severe brain injury on Feb. 1, 2015, in an auto accident.

His journey to learn to walk and talk and take care of himself has been difficult, requiring many months of hard work with therapists.

Communities in Bartholomew and Jackson counties rallied on his behalf.

In the fall of the 2015-16 school year, Seymour Superintendent Rob Hooker and the school board approved hiring Speidel to work as a classroom instruction assistant at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.

His mother, Lisa Speidel, is the assistant principal at Brown, while his father, David Speidel, works for Frontier Communications in Seymour.

He worked with students individually and in groups, he helped them with class lessons and talked about life in general.

But this summer Speidel took another big step toward his dream of playing college basketball when he left for Vermont to begin his freshman year, a year later than originally planned. The university, to its great credit, has honored his athletics scholarship despite the injury.

Speidel has been taking classes and working out with the team. Although he is not ready for game action, Speidel has taken incremental steps in regaining the basketball skills that led to him being chosen as an Indiana All-Star his final year of high school.

The NCAA, to its credit, allowed Speidel a waiver to be around the team without sacrificing any of his playing eligibility. That gives him extra time to work at an appropriate pace to make greater strides toward his goal of playing. His team, by the way, will be in central Indiana on Dec. 21 when Vermont plays Butler in Indianapolis.

Some may have thought Speidel’s dream of playing college basketball had been dashed by the auto accident, but he is proving every day that a burning determination makes anything possible. His efforts are a model for people facing challenges who may initially think their dreams have slipped out of reach. Speidel is determined to prove that assumption wrong.

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