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Ella Whistler cheers on teammates at volleyball invite in her honor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Ella Whistler was stalking familiar territory along the sidelines at the Ella’s Invite volleyball tournament, which took place at the Academy Volleyball Club in Indianapolis Sunday morning.

Two years ago Ella scrambled the floor and attacked the net on the same courts.

Two months ago she was seriously wounded in a Noblesville West Middle School shooting allegedly by a classmate.

Still wearing a neck brace to support recovery from her wounds, Ella said it was good to be back with teammates who make her laugh.

“They’ve just been happy and making jokes and just having a lot of fun,” said Ella. “It feels really good. I feel good getting back to a normal schedule and being able to do the normal things that I would usually do, and it just feels really nice.”

Ella was wounded in the face, neck, hand and upper chest area for a total of seven injuries. She underwent lifesaving surgery after the May 25 shooting, which also wounded teacher Jason Seaman.

“People just seem so eager to participate and get involved for Ella and her family,” said Academy Executive Director Emily Hawthorne, who invited 80 teams to play. “It was just a couple weeks after the incident at Noblesville West that we thought this would be a great way for the community to get involved and our families and our players.”

Hawthorne expected to raise $25,000 to help the Whistler family pay Ella’s medical bills.

Ella said there has never been any doubt that she would be ready for the first day of school after summer break, which ends with a Back to School Bash in Noblesville on Friday.

She’s looking forward to once again playing volleyball and rejoining show choir.