Sophomore Francine Simpson Excited for Outdoor Season

March 15, 2011

As the Kansas track and field team prepares for the outdoor portion of the 2010-11 season, one member in particular is especially looking forward to the comfortable weather of spring. Sophomore Francine Simpson, who hails from Jamaica, is used to warm weather year-round and has had a difficult time adjusting to the harsh Kansas winters.

“That’s definitely the biggest difference,” Simpson said when comparing the climates of Lawrence and that of her homeland. “The weather is warm and nice in Jamaica, not so much here.”

Simpson made the move from Chapelton, Jamaica just over a year and a half ago and has found a new home on Mt. Oread. Even though she may have had to make several big adjustments, Simpson has found it easier than anticipated thanks to the new found family bonds she has created with her teammates and coaches on the KU track and field team.

“We all just live as a family and we all support each other,” Simpson said. “That’s what I really like about being here.”

Simpson was a highly recruited long jumper and sprinter out of Edwin Allen High School when Kansas came calling. Before making her visit to Lawrence, however, she never really considered KU.

“To be honest, I didn’t know much about KU when they started recruiting me,” Simpson explained. “I finally came here on a visit and I saw the great school life. The team is like a big family and everyone is fun to interact with.”

After her visit, choosing KU was a no-brainer for Simpson. She quickly committed and, after moving to Lawrence, began working with long jump coach Wayne Pate. Coach Pate has coached several Olympians and even more All-Americans. With Coach Pate’s impressive credentials and immense knowledge, Simpson knew she would be able to reach her potential quickly under his direction.

“It’s really fun,” Simpson said of working with the two-time assistant coach of the year. “He’s a really good coach and he’s always pushing me and telling me that I can do better. I think that’s what keeps me going.”

There’s no doubt that Simpson has shown great promise in her first two years as a Jayhawk. So far this season she has KU’s best mark in the long jump at 6.22m (20-05.00ft.), which now ranks third in the KU history books. She also has eight top-four finishes in the event this season, including two first-place finishes. Simpson’s talents don’t only lend themselves to the long jump. She has also run the 60 and 200 meters at several meets during the indoor season, finishing no lower than third in each event. Simpson has the second fastest 200 meter time for KU this season, just behind fellow Jamaican Denesha Morris. She also competed in her first Big 12 Indoor Championships in late February and took home a fourth-place finish in the long jump. It’s safe to say that the future looks bright for this young Jamaican.

There are positive expectations for Simpson in the classroom as well. She has been admitted to the pre-sports science program and is majoring in community health. After college she is considering a job in the medical field but would like to become a public speaker that educates people about personal health and safety. In her down time, Simpson tries to focus on her faith by sitting down with her Bible.

“Reading my Bible is what keeps me going,” Simpson said. “Whenever I feel down I just read my Bible and that’s what gets me motivated.”

On the track, Simpson is preparing for the fast approaching outdoor portion of the season. After a very successful indoor season, she will try to improve upon her accomplishments thus far and isn’t shy in expressing her goals for the next few months.

“I want to PR in the outdoor events and try and get some school records,” she said. “I’m just going to try to stay healthy, train hard and stay focused. Whatever happens, I’ll be grateful.”

Simpson and many of her teammates will kick off the 2011 outdoor track and field season this weekend when they travel to Mayaguez, P.R. to participate in the Mayaguez Spring Classic.