Celebrating Black History
LaTonya Sims was Wisconsin's first multiple Parade first team All-American and the Gatorade and AP state player of the year from Racine, Wis., who played for the Badgers from 1997-2001. She was part of the most successful teams to ever play at Wisconsin. Sims along with Jessie Stomski and Tamara Moore led the Badgers to the 2000 WNIT national title. The Badgers also qualified for the NCAA tournament in 1998 and 2001, and were the runner-up WNIT champions in 1999. This was the first time a UW team participated in four-straight post season tournaments. Sims was named a two-time WNIT all-tournament player.
The Badgers were 78-46 (.629) in Sims four years and she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1998, and a first-team All-Big Ten honoree in 1999. She is tied for first in career games played and consecutive games played with 124. She ranks sixth all-time scoring with 1,857 points and ranks fourth in rebounds with 882. She was UW's leading scorer in 1999 and 2000 and the leading rebounder in 1998 and 2000. She still owns the longest consecutive double-figure scoring streak at 45 games (over Jolene Anderson).
Today she is a software developer in Chicago and currently attending graduate school at Northwestern where she is earning a Masters degree in Computer Information Systems. She contributed these answers to this questionnaire for Black History Month.
1. What have you been doing since graduating and where are you living and working now?
After graduating I played basketball overseas in Poland for one year. Currently, I reside in Chicago and am a software developer for a Microsoft and Accenture joint venture company.
2. How has your academic experience and/or your degree from UW assisted you in your chosen career?
Well, I graduated with a degree in Business and am working in a technical field now. I made the switch to Information Technology about four years ago. Business is the foundation of every industry, so it has helped tremendously. I'm working with a lot of people that have years of technical experience. When I am writing code or designing a piece of software I always look at it from a business perspective instead of immediately diving into building the application. Putting the end users first and developing to suit their needs.
3. Did your experience in athletics influence you in your current vocation? If so, how?
Yes. Being an athlete has a tremendous advantage in every facet of life. In reality, a lot of the experiences as an athlete prepared me for a career as a technologist. The game of basketball is extremely faced paced and one has to be prepared for constant change. Technology is in essence the same. It changes constantly, one day there's a certain version of a programming language or technology and four months later there's a newer version that needs to be learned. Also, the leadership skills that are garnered by being an athlete are so valuable. These are skills that have transferred over to my new career.
4. What is your fondest memory as a student-athlete at Wisconsin?
I've had so many great memories. It's honestly hard to pick one. I've met so many great people in the athletic and academic department. If I had to pick I would say just being able to pride myself in wearing a University of Wisconsin women's basketball uniform and stepping on the court representing the university. As well as being a part of the Business School.
5. What was the best thing about being a Badger?
The best part of being a Badger is that there are Badgers all over the world! I meet so many alumni in Chicago and am part of a Badger alumni wine tasting group.
6. What was your favorite class at Wisconsin?
7. What was your favorite part of campus? Where did you spend most of your time?
My favorite part of campus was the Terrace and the Kohl Center. I spent a lot of time at both places.
8. What advice would you give current student-athletes?
Being a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin is a huge deal. Make sure to give 100% in the classroom and on the court or field. It's also very important that you are preparing yourself for a life after sports. A lot of companies respect former college athletes and are excited about the skills they can bring to the organization. If you are not able to play at the professional level, it's ok. All of the important lessons you have learned as a student-athlete will enable you to do incredible things.