Relocating more than 500 miles to a new city to attend college can be frightening. Joining the wheelchair basketball team in addition to this transition, and the pressure can become enormous.
But if you’re Charlotte, N.C., native Will Speed, a junior at Edinboro University studying Sports & Recreation Administration and Journalism, the only option is to forge ahead at full capacity. Not only does Speed succeed on the court, but he’s also active in Highland Ambassadors – a group dedicated to University leadership and personal development.
“As a Highland Ambassador, we give back to our community through volunteer work, and this has helped grow a name for EU and myself throughout the Erie and Crawford counties,” said Speed, who is also earning a minor in public relations.
See why Speed chose to travel north for his education – and why he hopes one day to offer recreational programs to less-fortunate and underserved populations – in a Q&A with the Fighting Scot.
How has Wheelchair Basketball helped provide a well-rounded EU experience?
I came to Edinboro to play wheelchair basketball, but quickly realized that the college experience is more than just athletics. Being part of the team has paved the way for my other successes. As an athlete, I have to stay on top of my grades, which forces me to be a better student and that, in turn, prompts me to join clubs and be a part of the EU experience.
How has Edinboro University helped you reach your highest potential?
Edinboro has helped me reach my highest potential by offering me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. I never thought I would be good at college, and if you look back at my high school career you would agree. However, after coming to Edinboro from North Carolina to play wheelchair basketball, I realized that I am not only an athlete, but I am an academically gifted athlete.
Who played an important role in your success in and out of the classroom?
My biggest supporter in my life is my mother. She always knew I was capable of being the man I am today and continues to push me to become better than I was before. Here in Edinboro, my biggest supporter is my coach. Coach Jim Glatch believes in me and the things that I can bring to the team, whether they are academics or athletics. He supports whatever things I need.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far at EU?
For me, every A is an accomplishment. I barely graduated high school, so to be able to come to a higher-learning environment and ace classes is very significant. I believe my proudest moment was in the 2016-2017 season, when I won an Academic All-American award in the collegiate wheelchair basketball division.
How do you balance your academics with your participation in athletics?
The balance between academics and athletics can be tricky, but I feel as though I have a good grasp on how to be most productive. I manage my time by using spare moments to get ideas jotted down into Google Docs. Then, later on after practice, I sit down and elaborate on those ideas before going to bed. I am a student that sticks to a strict time schedule and has everything planned out beforehand.
How have extracurricular activities helped you grow as an individual?
I don’t typically have a lot of free time, so to be able to add extracurricular activities – like the Highland Ambassadors – into my schedule can be tricky at times. However, I believe that being a part of the Highland Ambassadors is well worth the added pressure. I have made new friends and professional acquaintances that have led to successful opportunities.
How has Edinboro University prepared you for your future career?
Edinboro University has given me the opportunity to pursue a degree in the field that I am most interested. This has opened the door for educational and professional opportunities. What I love the most is that the professors here seem to take an interest in my success and personally recommend me for opportunities they know of. Edinboro has become the roadway on which I drive my car to success.
What is next for you after Edinboro University?
After Edinboro I have many opportunities I would like to pursue. The reason I came here was to learn enough wheelchair basketball skills to make a professional team overseas. I would still love to do this. I have recently been thinking about continuing my education by joining Slippery Rock University’s master’s degree in adapted physical activity which would continue my dream of offering sports and recreational programs to those individuals with disabilities. However, the world is an oyster, and I just go with the flow.