By TAYLOR NEFF
5’10’. 2013. 32. Her height. Her graduation year. Her basketball number. A dental hygiene student at IU South Bend, Courtney Simpson is drilling both on and off the court.
But did you know that this leading rebounder’s passion for the sport originated while watching her father play professionally in Spain? I was able to talk with Courtney about her father’s history and how it has helped shape her as a woman and as a Titan.
Simpson’s father was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1984, and then went on to play eight years in Europe. He played for teams in Greece, France, Israel, Italy and Spain.
“While playing for Real Madrid, he won the European Cup Championship and Spanish Championship,” said Simpson. “He was also recently named one of the Top 10 Three Point Shooters in Europe.”
Being born in Mishawaka, attending a local high school, and later scouted for IUSB, Simpson carried home from Spain a love for basketball and very cultured as a person.
“I lived in Madrid, Spain with my parents until I was four. As a person, living in Europe at such an early age made me much more open to other cultures and individuals. As a basketball player, the experience affected me in a positive way. A lot of my childhood stories are centered on the game and my father’s love for the game. Although it’s cliché, this game is truly ‘in my blood,’” said Simpson.
But does it come with a price? Simpson said that if she felt any pressure from her father’s history, it only motivates her and fuels her work ethic on the court every day at practice.
“My dad never really pressures me because I am already so hard on myself when it comes to my performance. I don’t think I have ever heard my dad say the words ‘good luck’ to me. He doesn’t believe in luck, but believes in working hard to accomplish what you want. This is something from my dad that I have carried with me ever since I was little, and it’s one of the many basketball lessons he has taught me that also applies to my everyday life,” she said.
Simpson wears the number 32, which was also her number in high school. While watching a recent game, I saw her old coach, Steve Neff (North Wood High School, Nappanee) sitting in the stands and watching.
Simpson said that he likes to come as often as he can. Another player he coached plays for Holy Cross, and she said that he comes to watch them battle on the court.
“Lindsey Steffen also played for Coach Neff and with me. Now in college, we always guard each other during games. It’s fun for him to come and watch both of us. It’s nice to know that your high school coach still supports your basketball career and is proud of you,” said Simpson.
She also commented on the chemistry this year, having five seniors graduate last year. While they are all best friends, practices are still intense to continue to rebuild and better the chemistry on the team.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that every single person on the team has your back—on and off the court,” said Simpson.
Want to see Courtney show off what she knows best? Senior night is Feb. 13 at 5:30 PM against St. Francis. Apparently they lost by just three points the last time they played them, so the game is set up to be intense.
“It will be an extremely bittersweet night for me. Tears are expected!” Simpson said laughing.