Josh Speidel had a couple of things on his to-do list when he returned to Columbus last week for Christmas break, such as visiting with friends and enjoying his mom’s cooking.
The former Columbus North basketball standout, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident near the end of his senior season, just completed his third semester at University of Vermont. He is home until Jan. 15, when he will return to the college in Burlington for the spring semester.
Speidel has not yet been cleared to play or even practice with the basketball team, so his role is limited to supporting teammates from the sidelines while continuing his individual conditioning and workouts. As he did last year, Speidel has been traveling with the basketball team and sitting on the bench at home and road games.
He is doing better than he was last year, but Speidel is still dealing with a tremor in his right arm, a result of his Feb. 1, 2015 accident near Taylorsville, Vermont coach John Becker said.
“He’s definitely itching a lot more to get out there and play,” Becker said. “He seems very anxious for that. The odds are really against him. He still has a lot to overcome, but his desire to get out there is there.”
Speidel, like last year, has been doing individual workouts with Vermont coaches and has been running on the sidelines. He works on shooting and dribbling, works out with the strength coach and works on agility with the athletic trainer during practice.
“He’s just part of the team,”Becker said. “He’s always laughing and carrying on with the guys. He’s always joking around. He’s still an inspiration and someone that we really value and care about. I’m glad he’s part of the team.”
But Speidel continues to work toward his personal goal of someday returning to the basketball court.
“I’m working out with the coaches. And whatever the coach wants in the workout, I do, whether it’s shooting or it’s conditioning,” Speidel said. “I’m still not on the court.”
Off the court, Speidel said he is doing well in classes and is considering declaring a major in education. Like many college sophomores, however, he is still figuring out what his future may hold.
“Just getting used to everything and getting used to the campus and how college works, and basketball and school and combining the two, that’s a lot easier now that I have a year under my belt,” Speidel said.
Vermont, which made the NCAA Tournament last season, is 7-5 going into tonight’s home game against Quinnipiac. The Catamounts visit Harvard Jan. 2 before opening America East Conference play Jan. 4 at UMass Lowell.