And a Happy Friday to all you good people out there! I know you’re all probably finding space in your house for all the hand sanitizer, toilet paper and canned goods you can find (the Coronovirus freakout is like a snowstorm hitting the South, times 100), but if you can crawl out from your shelter for a few minutes and read this blog post, I guarantee it’ll make you forget about the dude at your office yesterday who sneezed on your desk.
Seriously people, I know this virus is scary, I get it. But wow, people are losing their damn minds about it.
Anyway, it’s March, which makes me happy because you all know I’m a college basketball nut and this is the best month of the year for the sport I love.
Among the many reasons I love college hoops in March is because we get a plethora of great human-interest stories, as the seasons wind to a close and so many great kids get a chance to play for a minute, or a few minutes, to cherish the memory forever.
I’ve got two very different of those kinds of stories today in GNF, and a third little video from a true mensch that should give you a lift.
First up, a University of Vermont senior named Josh Speidel scored the first points of his college career this week, in the Catamounts’ final home game of the season.
Who is Speidel? He was a former high school star and big-time recruit who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident when he was a senior in high school.
From this excellent Myron Medcalf ESPN story: “When his parents reached the hospital, doctors told them that Josh had nearly lost his life and that the prognosis for the future was not bright. Josh was in a coma for five weeks. Doctors told his parents to prepare for their son living in a vegetative state and needing 24-hour care for the rest of his life. He would never read above a fourth-grade level, they said.
This year, Josh will graduate with a 3.4 GPA.
On Tuesday, Speidel made his first Division I start, on Senior Day, and he registered the first points of his collegiate career in a matchup against Albany.
In a prearranged moment, Speidel scored on his team’s first possession. With 19:40 on the clock in the first half, Speidel caught a pass from teammate Everett Duncan, took one step and scored off the backboard.
Players from both Vermont and Albany hugged Speidel before he went to his bench and hugged every player and coach. He also shared a moment with Albany coach Will Brown.
“I did it, I’m a college basketball player,” Speidel said after Vermont’s 85-62 victory. “I scored in a college basketball game.
“You can’t take that away from me. I’m just so forever grateful.”
Just awesome. What a wonderful, wonderful moment. Talk about resilience and perseverance.
**Next up, Alex Trebek is a broadcast television icon, and most of you are probably aware he was diagnosed a year ago with stage four pancreatic cancer. Things looked mighty bleak then, but look at Trebek now, as he gave us an update on his condition.
God bless this man, what an attitude, what a fighter. So great to see him doing well and still giving us the answers every night on “Jeopardy!”
**And finally today, let’s end on a lighthearted hoops note. Meet Thomas “Snacks” Lee, the student manager of Jackson (Miss.) State University’s men’s basketball team.
Snacks, as you can see, isn’t the most in-shape fella in the world, but he’s done a great job as manager and the team wanted to reward him in the final game of the year. So he was put into the game with two minutes left, and then the magic happened.
As always, my favorite part of these vids is the reaction of the dudes on the bench. Like they just advanced to the Final Four. I love it!