Former Badger Jackie Simpson recently completed her first season of playing professional volleyball. The 6-0 setter played in Wiesdbaden, Germany along with former UW teammate Sheila Shaw. Their team finished fifth in the A1 League in Germany.
A 2006 second-team All-American, Simpson ranks second on the Wisconsin all-time list with 5,235 career assists. She was a two-time All-Big Ten and AVCA all-region honoree and earned seven all-tournament honors during her career.
What have you been doing since graduating and where are you living and working now
Since graduating last summer, I spent the fall coaching college volleyball at a D2 School in Minnesota. After the fall season, I decided I still really want to play, so I signed a professional contract with a team in the A1 League in Germany.
I am currently back living in Madison. A former teammate Sheila Shaw and I started our own business and I are running our own summer volleyball camps ( http://sportsup.org/default.aspx ). For the fall, I will stay in town to be the varsity coach at Oregon Hgh School and will begin to look for my next professional team overseas.
Talk about your recent experiences of playing professionally for the first time.
I played for 1. VC Wiesdbaden in Germanys top league. It was an amazing first year experience because I was on a team with players from eight different countries (USA, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Poland, Czech Republic, Brazil and China). I had two other Americans on my team including former teammate from Wisconsin, Sheila Shaw. This made the transition a lot easier especially because both girls had already played a season abroad.
The team was eighth in the league when Sheila and I arrived a few months into the season and we finished fifth in the league which was a great improvement. Our team holds the club record for longest winning streak in a season, including a win over the top team in the league.
Off the court I spent a lot of time traveling around Europe, including places like Belgium, Paris, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
How did your academic experience and/or your degree from UW assist you in your chosen career
I majored in sociology because I wanted to be a coach. This seemed like the right choice because I love to learn about how and why people act in certain social situations.
What is your fondest memory as a student-athlete at Wisconsin
Most of my memories come from the friendships I made in my four years. I loved my teammates and they truly became my family. I still keep in touch with all of them.
What was the best thing about being a Badger
When I was playing in Germany, my roommate told me that she had never met anyone with as much school pride as Sheila and I. We are Badgers for life. It truly is the best sports town. The fans are amazing, the school supports its athletes, the facilities are fantastic, the school is amazing. I really can't understand why anyone would want to play anywhere else.
What was your favorite part of campus Where did you spend most of your time
The Union Terrace was a great hang out. I loved being down by the water, but honestly I spent most of my time at the Field House either on the court or down in the locker rooms.
What advice would you give current student-athletes
Enjoy the rideyou will have your ups and downs, but NOTHING (even playing pro) can compare to your years as a Badger.