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Mercer Co. soccer coach seriously hurt in crash returns to the field with hopes to inspire players

Mercer Coach.JPG
Posted at 10:49 PM, Sep 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 08:36:40-04

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Mercer County soccer coach is back on the field a year after a serious car crash put him in the hospital.

Josh Culver said he feels lucky to be alive.

He was driving to a soccer game when he was involved in a head-on collision. Culver was trapped in his car and had to be airlifted to a local hospital. The second driver died in the accident.

Culver underwent several rounds of surgery. He said he had four breaks in his pelvis, two breaks in his spine, broken ribs, a fractured arm, and a broken hand.

But his spirits remained high throughout the long recovery and he pushed forward.

“I wanted to be able to walk without a cane by March. I met that goal,” he said. “I was like, ‘There’s work to be done, and the only way I’m gonna get better is to put the work in.”

The Mercer County Senior High School Girl’s Varsity team describes the entire experience as ‘shocking’ and ‘scary.’ They found out Culver was in the hospital minutes before their game started.

Senior Emma Kiernan explained the team was given the option to not play the game.

“We all decided that we needed to play for him and get the win for him,” Kiernan said.

They won the game that night.

Months later, Culver is back on the soccer field, pushing them the way he always has.

“It just feels awesome that he’s out here,” said Ryleigh Sipe, a junior.

“Each day we saw him getting better and better and it kind of gave us hope,” Kiernan said.

“We want him to know that we love him and we support him in every step of his journey. We’re always here to cheer him on just as much as he cheers us on,” said Marlie Charles, a senior.

Culver said he worked hard every day in rehab and often showed the players his progress on Zoom calls with the hopes of inspiring them.

“I hope my situation has shown them that they can overcome whatever they need to in life,” he said. “I just want them to play every game, every practice, like it could be their last one.”

“That’s how we’re starting to be. We’re starting to be like if he can push himself then we can too,” Sipe said.

Culver said his body is about 80-percent of where he needs it to be. He can’t run drills with the team yet, but he said he knows he’ll get there soon.

“Still got a ways to go, but I’m still working at it and I’ve got a great support system to help me,” he said.