Sammie Simmons remembers being five years old going to watch her older sister play domestic basketball. Those days she would just play on the sidelines.
Today, Simmons’ tenacity sees her topping the number of steals and points for Mornington’s Division Two Women in only her second year of Big V.
Not to mention, she’s achieving these figures after a knee dislocation in Round One that sat her out for several games.
“I think what defines me as a player is my ‘never give up’ attitude,” Simmons said. “I really value doing the 1% stuff - the things that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet - and I have a real desire to win the ball at all costs.”
This mentality stems from the support Simmons recalls having from her most early of days in basketball. She said the unwavering aid from her parents drove her to the best version she could be, in life and in sport.
“Throughout my junior career my parents drove me to every Friday night game, every Sunday morning training, every domestic game, every ITC morning session, and every extra individual training,
“What I love about my parent’s support, is they have never pushed me into anything. All they have ever wanted for me is to be happy, enjoy what I’m doing and be a good person.”
In the Big V landscape, Simmons is a bit of a newbie. Her arrival to the league comes with an embellished resume though.
“Prior to this I played SEABL, now called NBL1, at Frankston,” Simmons said. “I started my basketball career at the Frankston Blues as a junior in Under-12’s and played all the way through until I made my SEABL debut when I was 16 years old.”
Simmons starred in Frankston’s SEABL team for 11 years and played just over 200 games. She also held time as captain for the team.
While her ability to top the statistics and perform relentlessly on the court appears an innate talent, Simmons begs to differ.
“I haven’t always been a stat leader,” she said. “I would say growing up and coming through the Frankston program, I was more of a role player and pigeonholed myself as a player who got limited minutes and fulfilled my role.
“I know that it can sometimes be disheartening to spend time on the bench, but I think during these times it’s important to really take the opportunity to learn and use your desire to get on court as motivation to work hard at training and work towards getting more court time.
“When you are spending a little bit of time on the bench, it’s important to make sure you make the most of your time on court and really enjoy yourself when you’re playing.
“Coming into Mornington, I think I was just given greater responsibility and opportunity, which in turn helped my confidence develop as a player.”
Although Mornington’s Division Two Women look to fall short of finals this season, having only won two games, for Simmons the season has meant more to her for the moments off the court with close companions.
“I think if COVID-19 and the past 18 months has taught us anything, it’s that we have absolutely no idea what the future is going to look like, nor can we predict what is going to happen.
“It has been a really unsettled season for our team this year, and as a relatively new team we’ve been riddled with injuries that have had people coming in and out.
“While our season hasn’t been as successful as we would’ve liked, we can be really proud of the way our team has stuck together through everything.
“I do have to mention one of my teammates Lauren McInnes. She is hilarious and one of the wittiest people I have ever met, never failing to make me laugh all season long.”
As a Primary School teacher outside of Big V, it comes as no surprise Simmons’ decision to play for Mornington lied in the association’s family values.
“I chose to play at Mornington because of the people and its ‘family club’ feel,
“I knew a few of the girls in the team prior to joining and I knew Steve, our coach. It’s nice to play the sport I love with people who are genuinely some of my closest friends.”
As a senior player with the Breakers, Simmons has taken on responsibilities that take her beyond the four quarters on court.
At the beginning of the 2021 season, she worked with the Youth League Women running their pre-season fitness and collaborating closely with the Breakers coaching staff.
“I think being a senior player at a relatively big club comes with the responsibility of being a good role model to the junior players,
“I feel that the biggest way I can give back to the basketball community is by being someone who is approachable and willing to share my knowledge and experience with junior players to be a source of encouragement for them.”
As another season of Big V nears the end, Simmons looks to preparations for next year. For her, consistency is key - always.
“I think the key to playing consistent basketball is all about attitude and mindset,” she said. “I know there are games where my shots aren’t dropping, but I know that there are so many other ways I can contribute to the team,
“Whether that means working extra hard on defence, or locking down a particular player, or providing my teammates with opportunities to score; there is always a chance to contribute to the team.
“It’s important to keep your head up and maintain a positive attitude, even if things aren’t going your way.”
Sammie Simmons had to answer these five questions as fast as he could. How did she go?
Go to post match snack? A granny smith apple
Current song on repeat? Good 4 u - Olivia Rodrigo
Best dad joke? What do you call it when Batman skips church? … Christian Bale
Netflix choice? Someone Great
Nothing is better than... A dip in the ocean