Class of 2014 Success Stories: Overcoming Adversity

A story of courage, success and hope

Overcoming Adversity

By: Jacquie Nelson

He is quick with a smile, has the gift of gab and has never met a stranger.

His story began 23 years ago in the small Ohio town of St. Marys. Josh King entered the world two weeks late and pronounced clinically dead of meconium aspiration (the ingestion of fecal matter into the lungs). The whirlwind that followed included lifesaving acts by three doctors and six nurses that brought him back to life, followed by weeks in an incubator at Children’s Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, and a lifetime of challenges ahead. King’s ordeal left him physically disabled with a mild form of cerebral palsy and faced with an array of learning disabilities.

Now? He is days away from achieving a life-long goal.

The first-generation college student will soon be graduating from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. King never dreamed of going to college, let alone graduating, but this December he will have achieved what many thought was an impossible feat.

Always interested in sports, King began working in his high school’s equipment room and although he dreamed of college, he had never considered it an option. Instead, he enrolled at a branch of Wright State University in his hometown to work toward becoming a police officer.

Continuing his work at the equipment room, he eventually realized it was a career in sport management that he wished to explore. He discovered the program at BGSU, one of the best in the country, so he applied and was accepted.

“I was given the opportunity to go to college, even given my challenges.” King said. “BGSU gave me this chance – I was still able to go to college!”

Over the course of his career at BGSU, King has taken advantage of all the programs and services that the University has to offer. He has a record 338 visits to the Learning Commons where he received much-needed tutoring; his exams were taken at Disability Services on campus where each was read aloud to him. In addition, he participated in a practicum with Brian Daniels in the football equipment room and Scott Jess with the baseball and hockey programs and was a member of the Sport Management Alliance Group for a year. All of this while managing to keep up his grade point average (three times on the dean’s list) and completing his internship in the athletics equipment room at Wilmington College on Nov. 23.

“Josh is a wonderful student to have in our program,”said Dr. Ray Schneider, sport management. “He is extremely passionate and engaged in our class material.”.

King credits his family, friends, mentors and heroes for providing support necessary to achieve this goal and realize his dream. Tragically, as he was completing his summer semester and fall internship, he lost two of his three heroes in a three-month span – his grandfather, who had been ill, and his father, who passed away suddenly of a heart attack. Through all this adversity, he continued his internship at Wilmington College so he would graduate on time, noting, “I had to complete my degree for both my father and grandfather, and I just took it one day at a time.”

In his limited free time, King enjoys football, playing video games, spending time with family and friends and all Pittsburgh sports.

“I have known Josh King since my arrival on campus three years ago,” said Mark Nelson, director of the Learning Commons. “He has taken full advantage of our services within the Learning Commons to the tune of 338 total visits. Over the past three years we have enjoyed sharing our love of sports, and I have enjoyed watching Josh grow and mature as he pursues his dream of becoming an equipment manager."

What is after graduation for King? A career as an equipment manager, of course, and he is approaching that search with just as much fervor as he did his collegiate career. To date, King has delivered his resume to all Division I, II and III universities, all major league baseball and all national football teams. King is approaching this next step of the journey as he has his life to this point. “Wherever I have to go (for my career) is where I have to go.”

King knows that life is a journey, and that all face obstacles. Those who know him well agree he has endured more than his share. Despite this, Josh King is a friendly, generous, hardworking, giving human being who is passionate about his career path.

He is also passionate about those individuals on campus who have mentored him, those heroes who inspired him, and all those who continue to support him.