Augustine's Prunty overcomes obstacles to play college volleyball


Jen Bowen shared a long embrace with her graduating athlete, Zoey Prunty, Friday morning.

The embrace came after Bowen shared some heartfelt words about Prunty, and then Prunty did the same.

Prunty is the second athlete in the history of Augustine School to sign a college scholarship with the first coming a year ago when cross country runner Jonathan Litscher signed with Union University.

Prunty was one of Bowen’s players on the first volleyball team Augustine fielded three years ago, and she admitted on Friday she didn’t really want to go out for volleyball.

“When I was younger we lived in Texas, and I played some volleyball then but I didn’t really enjoy it for some reason,” Prunty said. “And a few girls talked to the administrators about getting a volleyball team together here, and they said yes if enough girls wanted to play.

“They talked me into playing, and Coach Bowen made it a lot more fun than I remembered.”

And coaching Prunty was fun for Bowen.

“Within a half-hour, I could see that Zoey had the ability to pick up on concepts that not a lot of other athletes can pick up on nearly as quickly,” Bowen said. “Like she was doing things in minutes that some athletes need weeks or months or even years to pick up on.”

The team took its lumps that first year, but as a whole, they began to pick up the game even more, get their timing down better and began to compete better against their opponents than they were at the beginning of the season.

That improvement continued through last season when the Lady Knights won the MSCA Conference championship last fall.

Prunty had no intention of playing collegiate volleyball until a friend told her about a relative that played volleyball at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, an NCAA Division III college.

“I wasn’t familiar with them, but I was interested and contacted the coach,” Prunty said.

They made an appointment for Prunty to come up for a visit, and she saw how timing can be important in college athletics.

“I’m a hitter, and I went up there and was talking with the coach, and he told me he’d had to move his best hitter to libero to fill in for an injury,” Prunty said. “And she’s doing great as a libero.

“So great that he needs a new hitter, and he and I both felt like it was God’s timing that it worked out that I was there when I was and everything was going on with his team. That connection made me think God wants me to attend college at Grove City, so that’s where I’m going.”

Prunty’s development on the volleyball court and her intent to play in college is made even more remarkable by the fact that she plays with a prosthetic leg.

She was adopted when she was a toddler after being born with a condition that results in being born without an ankle. After being adopted, her parents made the decision to amputate because that was a safest option for her.

“It was amputated when I was really young, so I don’t really remember much about having two legs,” Prunty said. “So I just naturally developed with a prosthetic and got used to living with it, and that included running, playing, jumping and everything else a child does.”

Prunty said the chance to play volleyball while getting a college education is something she’s glad to have, but she’s glad to have the experience of having helped start Augustine volleyball.

“Coach Bowen, my teammates, everyone here at the school – they’re all great people,” Prunty said. “And I thank God that I’m here with them.

“I feel bad about leaving this program behind, but we’ve got a lot of good players on the team, and I’ll keep watching them and keeping up with what’s going on from Pennsylvania.”

Brandon Shields,

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