Adison Purcell

Adison Purcell watches her Loretto teammates during the Class A volleyball state tournament.

MURFREESBORO -- As Loretto pursues a third volleyball state championship game appearance in four seasons, Adison Purcell would much prefer to be on the floor with her Lady Mustang teammates.

Given the past two months, though, Purcell is content to support them from the sideline.

“It’s a lot different not being out there, but I’m just so proud of my team and what they’ve done. I’m happy I get to cheer them on right now,” said the junior, who suffered a mid-August head injury while helping with a family project that required surgery and a nearly month-long stay at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Loretto improved to 39-8 on the year with Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Eagleville in the opening round of the Class A state tournament at Siegel. The Lady Mustangs will face South Greene, a 3-0 winner over Halls, in a winners bracket semifinal contest at 9:30 a.m.

“Up until this point, we didn’t know if she was going to get to come to anything,” Loretto coach Nick Quillen said. “We just keep playing for her. We take it day by day. She came to practice the other day, she came to Camden (for Thursday’s sectional). She came to practice (Monday and Tuesday), and she made the trip over here with us.

“It’s awesome that she’s able to not only be out, but be out and be able to come and support. That’s just more fuel for us. Our whole thing all year has been, ‘play for Adison’. We’ve got a banner in the gym. No matter what you’re doing -- if you play for your teammates, play for yourself, play for her first and foremost.”

Returning his entire roster from last year’s state runner-up campaign, Quillen had plans for Purcell as the season opened.

“We were kinda looking at her on the right side,” he said. “We always managed to change our lineup three or four times during the season, bue we were looking at her coming on.

“A couple of other injuries happened in the summer that kinda hurt us, but obviously here situation was more than ‘she’s not going to be able to play’. At one point it was, ‘is she going to survive?’ Whether she played or not, her presence alone has been a big factor.”

The youngest of Scottie and Jennifer Purcell’s four children -- and the only girl -- Adison’s recovery has been medically deemed nothing short of miraculous. Currently taking classes on a home-bound basis, she still faces a surgical procedure in December to replace the cranial flap that had to be removed to address brain bleeds after she was struck by a portion of a frame for a metal building.

“She’s worked hard to get back to where she’s at,” Scottie said. “Hopefully after December, we’ll be in the healing process of getting her back. Hopefully she’ll be able to go back (to school) the second part of next semester. That’s what we’re shooting for.

“From everything we’re hearing and everything we’re seeing, once she gets the flap back in, they’re looking at 100 percent recovery.”

That prognosis is markedly different from what the family was initially hearing.

“Everybody that worked on me said I should be dead,” Adison said.

“It’s been really hard, but the support of the community -- they’ve all reached out, sent letters -- that’s really helped me get through it.”

While she’s not winning on the court, the victories like driving to the Lady Mustangs’ sectional game -- “that was the first time I’d driven since (before the accident),” she said -- and joining her team in Murfreesboro this week are important.

“Just knowing (that) when I get to come back, my team’s still there to support me, no matter what, that’s very special,” she said. “I’m just proud of them.”

That pride goes both ways.

“She’s a miracle walking,” Scottie said.

Maurice Patton is sports editor for Main Street Maury. A Franklin native, an MTSU graduate and a journalism veteran of 30-plus years, Patton is a 2021 Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame inductee. Follow on Twitter @mopatton_sports.

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