The Ellison girls basketball senior class of 2013 is one of the most accomplished in program history.
Not only did the class win the first of what have become two straight district titles for the Lady Eagles, but it has the unique distinction of being a senior class in which every member is playing college athletics.
For Codi Simmons, a member of that class, the reason for that success is simple.
“We were a family, that’s why,” Simmons said.
That same reason may also be why Simmons is still a member of the Schreiner Mountaineers, along with former Ellison teammate Chris Jones.
If it weren’t for Jones, Simmons might have bypassed the chance to play college basketball altogether.
Like Jones, Simmons was getting looks from interested schools, but that interest was one-sided.
Simmons simply had no interest in playing at the next level.
Jones, however, didn’t want to see her closest friend miss out on a great opportunity.
“I just didn’t want it to be a waste of talent,” Jones said. “I felt like she was really hard on herself for a certain reason throughout high school, so I didn’t want her to let that all go to waste just because she felt like something didn’t go right or just because she was having difficulties.”
Eventually, Simmons listened to her friend, but when she finally expressed interest in a school, it wasn’t one of the ones that had been recruiting her.
Schreiner had been interested in adding Jones to its class, and when Jones decided she wanted to attend SU after her first visit, Simmons took matters into her own hands.
“When I found out she was going there, I emailed the coach to see if he could use a shooter,” Simmons said.
After an open gym visit, Simmons decided she wasn’t ready to end her hoops career and decided to join Jones at Schreiner.
But that wasn’t the last time she grappled with her decision.
While Jones transitioned smoothly into the backup point guard role last year, Simmons had to sit and watch mostly as she dealt with inflammation in her chest and a sprained foot.
While Simmons can now say that having to sit was ultimately good for her, it was difficult to deal with at the time.
“I think (having Jones there) made it a lot easier,” Simmons said, “because if I was on my own …”
“She probably would have quit,” Jones said, finishing her sentence.
But Simmons said she has learned to deal with the inflammation in her chest and that her sprained foot is healed.
And now the two are ready to lead the Mountaineers after reaching the semifinals of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament last season.
“We made it to the semifinals our freshmen year, we were one game away from winning a ring,” Jones said. “So we definitely want to go back and have a second chance to beat whoever is in our conference and get a ring and just be one step closer because we’re definitely going to work our butts off.”
And, as always, the former Ellison duo plans to do it all together.