By Seth Vanderwest

KENT CITY–At birth, William Oberg was dealt a tough set of circumstances. Despite that, he has pushed forward and now is heading off to college to play wheelchair basketball.

Oberg, a recent graduate of Kent City High School, signed his national letter of intent earlier this year to play wheelchair basketball at Edinboro University.

Oberg was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth. Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spinal column does not properly develop. Oberg’s condition severely restricts the use of his lower body. Though he has some ability to move and control his legs, he is unable to walk for long periods of time and uses a wheelchair to get around.

Oberg searched for schools with wheelchair basketball and a solid engineering program. He was approached by Edinboro coach Jim Glatch while at a basketball tournament. Glatch gave Oberg a letter of intent and he officially signed in late May.

Oberg has spent the last several years playing for the Mary Free Bed Junior Pacers. This past season, he averaged about 15 points per game and made an appearance with the Pacers at the NWBA (National Wheelchair Basketball Association) Tournament.

Oberg is very excited for the opportunity at Edinboro, but will miss Kent City and the memories he made there.

[Kent City] is a great school,” he said. “There are a lot of really nice people. I met all of my best friends at Kent City.”

In high school, Oberg was a member of the band. He helped the Marching Eagles to two state championships in 2019 and 2021, playing the mellophone. Oberg was able to march on the field starting with his sophomore year with the help of friend and fellow band member Logan McVicker.

McVicker pushed Oberg’s wheelchair, which was fitted with a third wheel to make it more mobile.

Oberg also found success in the Kent City Winter Winds program. Kent City took home a WGI World Championship in 2021 and an MAPA Championship in 2022. In the shows, Oberg was pushed by another band student, Zach VanSlooten.

Marching band helped me learn a lot,” said Oberg. “I had a lot of cool experiences, and getting two state championships was pretty cool.”

In addition to band and basketball, Oberg was a member of the Boy Scouts in elementary and middle school, and he played hockey with the Grand Rapids Sled Wings throughout middle and high school.

Edinboro University, recently renamed in a merger with two other schools to become Pennsylvania Western University, competes nationwide against other schools with wheelchair basketball. Last year, the Fighting Scots’ schedule included games against the University of Michigan, Illinois University and Auburn University. Oberg will look to help them bounce back from a losing campaign in 2021-22.

Glatch is eager to have Oberg on the team.

I am incredibly excited to have William sign with the Boro,” Glatch said. “He is going to be an incredible student-athlete who should make an impact early in his career. I have a great deal of confidence that he will shine both in the classroom and on the court.”

Glatch believes that Oberg’s abilities in the paint and his calm disposition will be assets to the Fighting Scots.

William will give us some much needed inside presence that we lacked last season,” Glatch said. “Since we are going to be a young team again, I think his ability to lead and be level-headed will have an impact on the team, especially the other freshmen.”

Coach Glatch is entering his 28th season at Edinboro and shows no signs of slowing down.

Being around college students keeps you young,” Glatch said. “Having an opportunity to watch them grow in the 4-5 years while they are in college is awesome. It is just one large happy family.”

Oberg graduated from Kent City with a 3.0 grade-point average while studying at the Kent Career Technical Center (KCTC). He was a member of the Mechatronics class, where he learned about industrial computer systems and industrial machines.

I am so happy that Edinboro chose me to play basketball, and I’m very excited to learn more about engineering too,” Oberg said.

Photo courtesy of Mary Wilson