LOMBARD – After spending four years playing for Illinois softball, Nikki Simpson is coming home.
Well, almost. Simpson, a Glenbard South grad from Wheaton, will take over as the new softball coach at Glenbard East.
Simpson will hope to bring what she learned from the winning tradition at Glenbard South and her time at Illinois to the Ram program.
“I definitely would focus more on player development and learning the fundamentals of the game," Simpson said. "Just loving the game and working hard and having fun.”
While Simpson's coaching experience is limited to an assistant job with Mt. Assisi during the past spring season, her primary coaching mentors have strong resumes.
At Glenbard South, Simpson played under Julie Fonda, who has won a regional in all eight of her years with the Raiders, has five state trophies and state titles in each of the last two seasons. Simpson was a captain on the 2008 team that placed third in Class 3A.
For her college years, Simpson played under Terri Sullivan, who is entering her 15th year at the school. Simpson, an outfielder, played all four years, earned a starting spot her senior year and was a part of two regional qualifying teams.
Simpson said playing under those coaches is part of what made her want to get into coaching herself.
“Being a player and playing the game for so long and having coaches I really looked up to like Coach (Julie) Fonda and Coach (Terri) Sullivan and my dad," Simpson said. "I really want to see what I can do to motivate these girls.
“I loved every moment of playing with Coach Fonda. She definitely has a way of getting the most out of her players. You can definitely learn a lot from her.”
Fonda helped Simpson look for coaching jobs after Simpson graduated as a health education major in December. Simpson is back in Wheaton and pursuing a nursing degree.
“It’s right in my backyard," Simpson said. "It’s good to be in the Glenbard school district again.”
Simpson hasn't had a chance to talk to any of the players or familiarize herself with any of the feeder programs, but is looking forward to getting started.
“I’m enthusiastic about the program and I’m excited to teach them new things," she said. “I just want the girls to look up to me as a role model and a mentor and understand I want them to be successful on and off the field.”