Columbus North Girls Playing Game For Injured Star On Boys' Team

Courtesy Richard Gold

Wearing #JoshStrong T-shirts, the Columbus North boys' team returned to the court Tuesday with an outpouring of support from the entire community and beyond.

When the Columbus North girls' basketball team celebrated its Senior Day last Saturday afternoon at its gym in Columbus, Indiana, Josh Speidel was right there in front, leading the cheers.

Now it's the girls' turn to support their fellow student and basketball player. In a much bigger way.

Speidel, a star 6-foot-7 senior center, was involved in a two-car accident Sunday evening and has been hospitalized with a severe head injury since.

The girls' team, led by Notre Dame recruit and McDonald's All American Ali Patberg, will play a game Saturday against Hauser (Hope, Indiana), and coach Pat McKee said all proceeds will be donated to the #JoshStrong fund.

"We're just a drop in the bucket," McKee said. "This is a community thing to honor a kid and to try and help his family."

Columbus North, ranked 15th in the nation in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, was able to tack the game onto the end of its regular-season schedule after a game scheduled for Thursday was canceled because of winter weather.

Athletic director Jeff Hester came up with the idea to donate the proceeds to help offset Speidel's medical expenses and reached out to Hauser, a nearby school in a smaller classification, to schedule the game. The Hauser players, Hester was told, had been asking about Speidel's condition and agreed to play the game.

Courtesy Richard Gold

Columbus North stars Josh Speidel and Ali Patberg were honored as McDonald's All American nominees last month.

"He's a friend to everybody," Hester said of Speidel, a Vermont recruit. "He's just one of those few kids you come across in life that you know you'll never forget."

The Columbus North boys' team returned to the court in an emotional game Tuesday against Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Indiana), and a pregame pasta dinner drew about 500 people and raised nearly $9,000 for Speidel's medical expenses. Fans and players for both teams showed their support for Speidel with signs, chants and T-shirts, according to the Indianapolis Star.

"Even though people were mournful for Josh, there was an energy there," McKee said. "I'm inspired by all this."

A campaign on GoFundMe.com for Speidel already has raised nearly $35,000.

Now, after a surreal week full of tears and cheers for Speidel, the girls are hoping to add to that total.

"Josh is a terrific kid," McKee said. "[He] came to almost every game we played. We're doing this because it's the right thing to do."

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