SGT Matthew Spang, Veteran

Current Location:

  Colorado Springs, Colorado


Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)/Current Occupation:

  Training in adaptive sports; Member of Denver Rolling Nuggets wheelchair basketball team


WTU of Recovery:

  Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas


Hometown:

  Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin


School(s):

  Lincoln High School, Wisconsin


Events:

  Track and Field, Wheelchair Basketball, Swimming, Sitting Volleyball

Injury or Illness:

  Bilateral below-the-knee amputee, traumatic brain injury (TBI)


“When you first get hurt, you think ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that’,” said retired Army Sgt. Matthew Spang, who now plays wheelchair basketball competitively for the Denver Rolling Nuggets. After two improvised explosive devices struck his vehicle in Afghanistan in December 2011, Spang ultimately lost both of his legs below the knee. A basketball player and golfer since childhood, he was unsure of what sports he would be able to play after the injury.

Spang was introduced to adaptive sports at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. “I forget about my injuries when I am playing sports. It’s part of my therapy,” said Spang. “Sports help a lot with calming me down and getting my mind off my injuries and my lack of some capabilities.”

“I’m excited to be a part of the whole Warrior Games event. I want to represent the Army and myself,” he said. “I’m doing it for my Family and my kids. I want to give them a good role model and to show them that if you do get injured, you shouldn’t stop what you’re doing because you get a little scratch.”

Spang’s Family supported him throughout his military career. His father in particular, a retired Army National Guard officer, was part of the reason he initially joined the Army, and is a resource to him now. His support system encourages him to reach his long-term goals of participating in the Warrior Games and eventually a Paralympics team. “I definitely feel like I am representing the Army—the wounded Veterans side of it,” said Spang. “I feel like it’s an obligation to push myself because I have a lot of people involved. It’s not just about swimming and being a part of the Army and doing this for myself. It’s a lot bigger than that.”

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Year Event Results

2014

Warrior Games Bronze 50mfree (Swimming)
Bronze 100mfree (Swimming)
Silver (Wheelchair Basketball)
Bronze (Sitting Volleyball)