Speidel honored at Musial Awards ceremony

It’s been a year since Josh Speidel won the prestigious Musial Award, but it wasn’t until last weekend that he was able to be honored in St. Louis.

Columbus North’s all-time leading scorer gained fame in March 2020 when he made a layup in a prearranged play in his only college basketball game on his senior night at Vermont. That came a little more than five years after he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident late in his senior season at North.

The 2020 Musial Awards program originally was to be last October, then was moved to November before finally going virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 awards were last weekend, and Speidel and the other 2020 winners were invited.

The Musial Award, which is named for former St. Louis Cardinals slugger and Baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial, recognizes honorees from all over the country “for their extraordinary displays of sportsmanship and overall class and character.” Speidel and his parents David and Lisa drove to St. Louis on Friday, went up in the Arch on Saturday morning and went to the awards program on Saturday evening.

“It was as good as you can imagine, just to meet all those people,” Josh said. “There’s so much good in the world that doesn’t get shared publicly. To listen to these stories first-hand, and helping share our stories, I couldn’t be more thankful. That they considered my story inspirational to be alongside those others, and the way they treated me and the weekend they gave me and my parents, I’m so thankful.”

Josh was hoping to meet baseball legend Hank Aaron, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award last year, but Aaron died in January. Josh was, however, able to talk to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who, along with his wife, won this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Arguably the greatest hockey player ever to play the game, even me not a huge hockey fan, but having watched hockey, you’ve heard the name Wayne Gretzky, just to be in the same room with him and shake his hand, that was something I won’t forget,” Josh said.

Josh, who graduated from Vermont last year and walked in the school’s graduation ceremony this year, is in his second year as a teaching assistant for the Life Skills class at Schmitt Elementary. He also is an assistant coach for the Northside seventh-grade boys basketball team after being an assistant for the eighth-grade boys last year.

“It’s going good,” Speidel said. “Going from eighth to seventh, it doesn’t seem like it’s a big jump, but it is different. But I love it. I’m still coaching the game of basketball, and I still love it.”