Nov. 25, 2002

By Emily Harris
OU Media Relations

As a walk-on who battled injuries, senior Stephanie Simon has fought hard to come out on top.

"In high school I didn't know for sure if I was going to play college sports," said Simon who was recruited by several Division II and junior college teams for both tennis and basketball. "I didn't know what I wanted to do at the end of my senior year but Bo Overton (assistant coach) encouraged me to walk on at OU."

Then, at the end of her senior year, Simon tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the All-State game.

"I was so discouraged for awhile. I didn't know if I still wanted to play sports in college," said Simon who grew up as a Sooner fan in Clinton, attending football games since the age of seven.

Overton had the team doctor work with Simon and help her rehabilitate after her June surgery. Simon and her teammate Kate Scott were "recruited walk-ons." Oklahoma's coaching staff knew about them and followed their high school careers. At the end of their prep careers, they were heavily encouraged to try out for the team.

They both became part of the team but in January of Simon's freshman year she re-tore her ACL. This time it was during pregame warm-ups against Texas.

"It was very discouraging. I hadn't really gotten to play. I had just come back and then tore it again," said Simon. "I hadn't been able to play enough to even prove to Coach (Sherri) Coale she should keep me on the team. Most walk-ons' goals are either to earn a scholarship or prove to their coach that they deserve to be on the team. Being injuried was making it real hard for me to do that."

Her teammates watched and supported Simon aas she struggled to make a second comeback.

"She has never given up," said Chi Omega sorority sister and teammate Kate Scott. "Even when she was sitting on the sidelines, she was very supportive of the team. She's been mentally tough throughout the whole rehabiliation process."

Coach Coale saw Simon's determination and hard work and awarded her and Scott with scholarships in January, 2002.

"Steph and Kate made themselves indispensable. They are dependable, reliable, hardworking and upbeat. They are an important part of the moral fiber of who our team is. I wouldn't trade them for anyone," said Coale. "Steph is probably one of the toughest kids we've had in our program."

Both Simon and Scott were surprised to get scholarships, especially during the middle of the season.

"It was really exciting," said Simon. "I didn't ever feel like I wasn't on the same level as everyone because we're all teammates. We were never treated as walk-ons. It just brought home that we had actually earned that scholarship."

During Simon's four years at Oklahoma she has seen the women's basketball completely turn around.

"I'm pretty spoiled," said Simon. "I had no idea what it felt like to the players who were here before and went through the same practices and preseason and lost a lot of games. I feel really lucky coming in and having this opportunity to not only play here, but to enjoy winning seasons and success."

Simon will graduate in May with a degree in political science and a minor in French. She hopes to attend law school in the fall and study either European community law or international law. Simon is active in the Crimson Club, Young Democrats, Chi Omega, and the French Club.