By Jameson Carter
To many in attendance at the Final Four in April, “The Road Ends Here” banners plastered around AT&T Stadium indicated the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament coming to a close. For Isaac Spence, though, the scattered signage meant much more than that—rather, it signified celebrating his five year journey as a Panther with one final experience that’ll most definitely stick with him the rest of his life.
Since stepping foot on campus at Florida Tech in 2011, Spence has been extraordinarily active, volunteering at numerous local organizations and serving as president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition, he acted as the driving force behind the men’s basketball squad joining forces with Team IMPACT in signing Jesse Youmans, a local 5-year-old who suffers from the congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot.
Back in February, the 23-year-old became the first men’s player from the Sunshine State Conference to be selected to the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, an award for his special dedication to the community and selfless acts to better the lives of others. With the honor came an all-expenses paid trip to his old hometown in Houston, Texas, where he was able to interact with nine other student-athletes from across the country like himself and meet and learn from legends such as Clyde Drexler and Dick Vitale.
“I was born in Houston 23 years ago and now, through a lifetime of basketball, was awarded the opportunity to finish my basketball career with this amazing event,” said Spence. “It was humbling because it shows that even though basketball was always my main focus, it has also opened up a platform where I could give back to the community. That’s what this was really all about.”
Along the way, Spence had the opportunity to share his gifts during a youth basketball clinic with the Special Olympics of Texas, specifically teaching dribbling techniques to those in attendance and even Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Spence was also treated to police escorts and tickets to the memorable, buzzer-beating title game during his stay, but was most fortunate to soak it all in with none other than his father by his side.
“Since I was 5, I’ve been playing basketball, and he, along with my mom, have been my biggest fans,” Spence said gratefully. “To have him there was nice. This weekend was just a slight piece of everything he’s done for me. He was in as much awe as I was. It was more for him than me because I wouldn’t be in the position I am if it wasn’t for my parents.”
With his playing days now in the rearview mirror, Spence is set to graduate in May with a dual degree in both aerospace and mechanical engineering. While he may be unsure exactly what the future holds, he knows for certain that he’ll be leaving Florida Tech with no regrets.
“I know looking back I’ve made mistakes like everyone else will,” he said. “What I’ve been able to accomplish, though, from both an athletic and academic standpoint is extremely rewarding. Even more so, what I’ve been able to do in the community, I’ve hopefully been able to leave a legacy.”