Nikki Simpson is about to get her first crack at running a softball program.
Running and softball, Simpson does quite well.
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The former All-Area outfielder at Glenbard South -- and granddaughter of Chicago Cubs great Billy Williams -- was hired this week as the new varsity coach at Glenbard East.
Simpson, 23, who graduated from the University of Illinois this spring, played the last four years in Champaign.
"I'm really excited. It's a great opportunity, especially at my age," Simpson said. "I'm kind of anxious to see how things are going to go but more excited than anything."
At Glenbard South Simpson led DuPage County in stolen bases with 30 in 2008, helping lead the Raiders to third place in Class 3A that spring. A two-time All-Area selection, she hit .365 with 26 steals as a junior and was named second-team all-state by the Illinois coaches association as a senior.
Simpson said she first caught the coaching bug as a high school sophomore. This will be her first head coaching job, but she's no coaching novice.
Simpson coached travel softball the last four years with the Orland Park Sparks and was an assistant at Mt. Assisi last year.
That combination of knowledge and youth was a great fit in the opinion of Glenbard East athletic director Omar Davis. Glenbard East is coming off a 9-19 season under coach Val Pinzker, whose resignation created the opening.
"Nikki comes here with a wealth of experience and knowledge. We feel she'll breathe life into our program," Davis said. "We felt we needed someone with enthusiasm to lead our program. She answered that call in the interview. She has what our program needs."
Simpson, who graduated from Illinois with a degree in community health and hospital administration, plans to begin taking online classes in December at Olivet Nazarene's Oak Brook campus to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse.
On the softball diamond expect Simpson's coaching style to mirror that of her mentor at Glenbard South, Julie Fonda.
"Fonda taught me that aggressively is the only way to play. You cannot play afraid," Simpson said. "I've always loved this game since I started playing when I was 5 years old. I think you have to be enthusiastic and express that love for the game to the girls. It can open so many doors for you."
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