Jackie Simpson is no stranger to being recognized for her on-field accomplishments, but it’s what the former Bull does off the field that earned her a nomination for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Simpson, who recently graduated from USF, was awarded Second-Team All-Conference Honors and the AAC Defensive Player of the Year during her time with the Bulls.
“For me, (winning the award) would just mean all your efforts don’t go unnoticed,” Simpson said. “It would just be an honor, it’s kind of hard to put into words because it’s such a big award.
“It means so much that people recognize what you’ve done, even though you weren’t doing it for recognition. It just feels good to be even nominated for this.”
Over her four years at USF, Simpson blossomed into both a top-conference defender and an active leader in the community.
In Simpson’s sophomore season, women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown suggested that she join the Student-Athlete Advisory Council due to her leadership and desire to be involved in the community off the soccer pitch.
Before long, her peers voted her into the council.
In her time on the council, Simpson has helped lead her fellow student athletes and conceptualize several community events such as wheelchair basketball games on visits to the Boys & Girls Club.
“It was just good to have a voice,” Simpson said. “We talked about a bunch of stuff like concussions and life after sports. I actually got to go the conference meeting and be the USF representative so that was cool to talk about those things.
“We used to go to the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa and participate in wheelchair basketball. We would play games and go to their practices. It was really fun and it felt really good to give back and spend time with people who came to our games and supported us.”
Simpson, who trained with the Orlando Pride in the preseason, is hoping to once again get involved in the community if she winds up sticking with the team.
“I actually just got to visit one of the victims from the Pulse nightclub shooting,” Simpson said. “That was a great experience, her mentality was awesome. Just to see her attitude and strength and what she had to say, it’s kind of hard to describe.
“It’s kind of emotional actually because it made me realize that it can always be worse and you can be positive no matter the circumstances.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award will be announced Oct. 16 at the awards dinner in Indianapolis.