While Badger fans are watching a Wisconsin men’s basketball game they notice: the players running up and down the court, Greg Gard roaming the sideline, and the Grateful Red. Someone they probably don’t notice is student manager Joe Schubert. Joe was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect where his spinal cord failed to develop properly putting him in a wheelchair since birth. That certainly hasn’t stopped him from doing things he is most passionate about. Joe, who is 20 years old from Muskego, Wisconsin, is a Junior at Madison who aspires to become a school teacher after graduation. Schubert’s responsibilities are simple– just help the team in any way he can. Joe is currently doing online classes like other UW schools, but still took some time out to share his story.
Q: How did you originally get involved with the basketball program?
A: The position of student-manager is just like any other student job. It’s a lengthy application process with several interviews with various staff members. I was involved in athletics in high school, and I knew I wanted to continue that in college. Thus, I thought this would be a great opportunity.
Q: How has the program welcomed you as being a part of the team?
A: The team was extremely welcoming. Even though we don’t receive as much outside attention being a student-manager, the team recognizes and appreciates our work as an important role in the team’s success.
Q: What is a typical day like for you on a home game-day?
A: On a typical home game-day, we arrive to the Kohl Center between one and one half-two hours before tipoff. We usually have a manager’s meeting 90 minutes before tip, and we are assigned a specific role with specific duties (welcoming the visiting team, wiping up sweat on the court, folding towels, etc.). We then depart the Kohl Center between 15 minutes and one hour after the conclusion of the game, depending on the assigned responsibilities.
Q: What are you studying at Madison?
A: Elementary Education, with the goal of becoming an elementary or middle school teacher upon graduation in May 2021.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I’m actively involved in my on-campus Catholic Church, St. Paul’s. Hobbies include playing the piano and guitar, singing, and reading.
Q: What activities did you participate in growing up?
A: Played wheelchair basketball for ten years and wheelchair track and field for four years (in high school).
Q: What has motivated you to put your disability aside and continue doing things you love?
A: Just because someone has a disability, doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot do what may be considered an “able-bodied” activity. In many ways, being a student-manager does require “able-bodiedness”; however, by finding creative solutions to those challenges, an abundance of opportunities open up to take advantage of.
Q: Other jobs you have?
A: I work for the Milwaukee Brewers as a Guest Relations representative. You can usually catch me outside Miller Park on a Brewers game day in the summer :).
Q: Share any advice for others with Spina Bifida?
A: Don’t let outside noise change who you are and who you want to become. Be true to yourself, define and chase your dreams, and blaze your own trail.
Joe Schubert is pictured in the front row