Michael Lewis

Simonin reaps the rewards of doing the right thing

by Michael Lewis December 11, 2011 in Women’s Soccer


Let this be a lesson for every soccer player or every athlete that is asked to move to another position.

Prior to the University of Memphis women’s 2010 soccer season, Lizzy Simonin was asked to move from forward to backline. Many players would balk. Simonin, on the other hand, has thrived and has been just rewarded

It should not be surprising that Simonin was named the winner of the Lowe’s CLASS award for women’s soccer for 2011 because she exemplified the award’s ideals—community, classroom, character and competition—on and off the field.

“I was very shocked and I would like to thank the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for choosing me,” she said. “It was stiff competition.”

And then Simonin said something that revealed a lot about herself.

“I couldn’t have done this without my teammates. I just come in every day and work hard.”

That is working hard on and off the field.

Just exactly how does Simonin accomplish all of that and then some?

“Time management is important as a student-athlete,” she said. “You have to take tests, be a student and go to practice. It’s pretty much like a job. I’m pretty much accustomed to it, having done it all my life. I know what I’m accustomed to – on the field and in the classroom.”

And that means being flexible. She was switched from the forward line to the backline last year and Simonin did not miss a step. In fact, she was honored as the C-USA defensive player of the year in 2010 and earned first team National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Central Region team honors.

She recently was named a semifinalist for the women’s Hermann Trophy - college soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

“Again, I was very surprised and shocked,” she said. “I am very honored to be one of the 15.”

As captain of the Tigers soccer team since her junior year, she helped the Tigers (22-1-1) to the second round of the NCAA Division I women’s tournament this year, where they lost to Louisville, 2-0, their first and only defeat of the season.

“We absolutely reached one of our goals this year,” she said. “I guess we can say we were not satisfied. We gave it our all against Louisville. It was just heart-breaking ending a season like that.”

In the classroom, Simonin has forged a 3.81 grade-point average, including a perfect 4.0 in the 2009 fall semester. She also is a three-year winner of the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal.

When she wasn’t excelling at school, Simonin found time to work at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, where she and her teammates have worked every January.

“There is an event every Martin Luther King Day,” she said. “It’‘s an amazing atmosphere. Thousands and thousands of people come in all day. It’s amazing about the history.

Simonin also found time to assist in the Americacorp Trick-or-Treat event. She and her teammates dressed in Halloween costumes and went around the city collecting donations for under-privileged youth. During Christmas each year, Simonin has been an Angel Tree volunteer as well. Simonin also has assisted in developing young soccer players in the various camps at Mike Rose Soccer Complex.

“We just wanted to give something back,” she said. “It’s something you want to do in the back of your mind. The coaches tell us what the opportunities are and we say, ‘Yeah, let me do it.’”

After she graduates, Simonin said she wants to become a physical education teacher. She also wants to coach high school soccer.

While growing up in Lee’s Summit, Mo., Simonin was a three-sport participant in high school—basketball, softball and soccer. She said she chose the latter because of her coaches.

“They made me want to keep playing and excelling,” she said.

And speaking of lessons learned, Simonin has learned so much more about herself on a different level during this four years at Memphis.

“I just learned that I’ll never know how good I can be unless I push myself every single day,” she said.

She was reminded about that when she came back from an ankle injury as a sophomore.

“It was more on the mental side,” she said. “I learned that I could do anything I wanted to do if I set my mind to it.”

Lizzy Simonin certainly has done that and then some.