By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In the middle of the best postseason run in Millington Volleyball history senior Addison Coulter had to take care of a little business.
On Oct. 6 in the Millington Central High School Library, Addison joined her parents Melinda and Allen for her signing day to attend Bethel University in McKenzie. The inking of her national letter of intent was just one part of a memorable October for Addison.
The previous night in Ripley the Lady Trojans captured the school’s second District 15-2A Tournament title in three years. That was in addition to the team’s first regular-season district championship.
After officially signing with Starla Coupples’ Lady Wildcats that Friday, Coulter was a spark plug in leading the Lady Trojans to the school’s first Region title earning the Region 8-2A crown. Millington hosted its first Sub-State game coming up short to Jackson South Side.
All the on-the-court success was under the guidance of new Head Coach Whitney Horton. Horton’s whirlwind October had a few moments of reflection like when she attended Coulter’s signing.
“This is my first year coaching,” Horton said. “I am good friends with one of her previous coaches, Jenna Harper. She had her a couple of years ago. Coach Harper got her started and going into the right direction. I got to take her basically, well hopefully not, in her prime.
“Hopefully that’s when she’s in college,” she continued. “But she’ll definitely get better as she’s in college. In high school, she’s definitely one of those players you want to have. I’m glad she’s on my team and I don’t have to play against her. She’s definitely one of the biggest pieces of our program.”
Before Horton took over the program, Coulter was a All-District player under Harper. During her junior campaign under the leadership of Tamarah Brandon, Coulter was named District 15-2A regular-season MVP.
This past season Coulter earned Tournament MVP in districts to go along with another All-District selection.
“If it wasn’t for her, a lot of things that happened this season wouldn’t have been possible,” Horton said. “I can’t congratulate her enough on getting an athletic scholarship to play a sport she absolutely loves and desires to play each and everyday. I was blessed to be a part of her senior year and being able to coach her. She deserves it — well deserving of this.”
Melinda and Allen agreed their daughter has worked hard since the age of 13 to reach this goal. Blessed with height, Addison stood 5’11 at that age. She tried basketball but gravitated toward volleyball playing in middle school.
“She wasn’t aggressive enough,” Melinda said about her hoop days. “She would have to fight somebody for the ball. And she didn’t want to hurt anybody. She would rather hit the ball. She wasn’t going to fight you for the ball.”
Allen noted Addison’s days with the Memphis Juniors helped her hit the ball better. She groomed her game turning her height into an additional asset. Now standing 6-feet, 4-inches, Addison grabbed attention from several schools from California to Alabama.
Interest came from Ole Miss and West Alabama. And she received offers from multiple schools in Tennessee. But Addison formed a bond with Coupples and Bethel.
“She came in showing interest early on as a junior,” Coupples recalled. “I always want to give the kids a look at me and our school. And then I had her come and practice with the girls. Obviously the height helps, but she moves well for a kid her size. She’s a great fit for the college level. Plus we see her developing as well. There are some little things we want to work on and just wanting to see what she can do for us.”
Coupples is impressed with Coulter’s all-around game and ability to play the front and back rows. But the veteran coach is ready to take Addison’s game to the next level.
“We watched her a couple times and can tell she’s going to a beast once we get our hands on her,” she said. “As a coach you want to see kids with that winning mentality. They can come in and just not accept losing, doing everything they can to win on the court. It’s a different approach from kids who are used to winning. That’s a good thing to have from a high school or club kid that is used to winning and doesn’t want to feel anything else.”
Horton said Addison has the skills you need on the court and quality leadership skills Bethel will enjoy.
“Her best attribute on the court is killing it,” she said. “You will hear me yelling on the sideline, ‘Give it to her.’ She’s the her I’m talking about. She will slam it down their throats. Off the court she’s a different type of leader. She keeps the kids in check and keeps them going in the right direction. That’s one of her biggest attributes off the court.”
Melinda said she is happy her daughter’s hard work has resulted in a scholarship. And her legacy will live forever at Millington through solid grades, being a member of FCA and her days as a Lady Trojan Volleyball standout.
“It means the world to her that her team and her put two banners up on the wall,” she said. “I don’t think any volleyball banner had been on the wall before that. That says a lot. She’s just proud of it and she’s proud of their success.
“We are beyond proud of her,” Melinda added. “There are no words to describe how proud we are of this. This is a great opportunity for her. So many colleges beside Bethel wanted her. And she choice Bethel. That just means so much.”
Addison said it took a village to help her reach her goal. It started with the encouragement of her classmate and teammate Lily Morton pushing her to play volleyball. Now she leaves MCHS as a champion and the most decorated Lady Trojan Volleyball player.
“My teammates have been very important in helping me get here,” she said. “We just push each other in practice everyday. They pushed me to reach this level.
“My family and friends very important,” Addison concluded. “They’re always there to support me. I wouldn’t do well if they weren’t there to support me. So all of this means a lot. It feels good to know I’ll be remembered.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.