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Reese Purcell is a perfect mixture of ambition and resolve. An eighth grader and a student-athlete at Shepherd Middle School, Reese applies the lessons she learns on the softball field to life. She’s achievement-oriented and maintains straight-A’s while playing softball and basketball for the Rams and softball for the Explosion travel team.

Success by Failure

Reese started playing tee-ball at four years old and never looked back. She started playing school and travel ball in fifth grade and continues to play softball for the Explosion year-round, practicing at Ottawa High School. While she plays center field for the Explosion, she plays catcher for Shepard and fills in at first. A student of the game, she feels that the game has allowed her to ‘grow not just as an athlete, but as a person.’ She credits softball, especially club ball, with helping keep her grounded but considers hard work and dedication her main takeaways from the game.

As someone who stands out, both on the softball field and in the classroom, it feels surprising when Reese credits failure as one of her most valuable teachers. “I’ve failed more times than I can count, but you have to have enough to keep trying. You’re going to fail so many times throughout your athletic career or in life. You just have to have the dedication and motivation to keep moving,” shares Reese.


She adds, “There’s so much you can learn from failure. It teaches you to be humble and to keep trying. It gives you more aggression and motivation to succeed, one way or another.”


Learning from failure is likely an essential lesson for someone with Reese’s ambition. When asked if she has plans after high school, she shares that she wants to play softball for a Division I school. She says she prefers Stanford as the school has a strong softball program she’s followed for years. She concludes by adding that it would be ‘really cool to be a surgeon,’ throwing out a neurosurgeon, a pediatric surgeon, and cancer research as potential specializations.


Like softball, Reese says that Shepherd Middle School was a good fit. She credits her middle school softball coach, Mrs. Schmidt, as an inspiration for growth and development. She considers history and social studies her favorite subject and enjoys learning about the past, especially the wars. She also enjoys English and shares that her teacher, Dr. Quinn, has a way of making reading, writing, and Shakespeare fun to learn about through her creative, out-of-thebox methods of instruction.


While Reese considers the beach her favorite place to visit, she considers Ottawa home. “It’s a very humble town of old friends who enjoy getting together. It’s just a clean, hometown-orientated community,” says Reese.


No matter what path Reese eventually journey’s down, it’s evident that she’ll go far. Maybe she’ll play softball for Stanford. Maybe she’ll become a neurosurgeon. Maybe she’ll take after her mother (whom Reese describes as a superhero) and become a school superintendent. But regardless of how many times Reese fails and grows stronger as a result or where she ends up, Ottawa will always be home.

There’s so much you can learn from failure. It teaches you to be humble and to keep trying.
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