By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ever since a young
age, sophomore outside hitter Simone Lee had been on the court all her life
when she lived in Texas.
The basketball court, that is.
Lee never had plans to play volleyball. She was always the basketball star in
the family, while her sister, Chelsea Lee, was the one that participated in volleyball.
But one day, after moving to Wisconsin, an
opportunity came for Lee, and she never looked back.
"Chelsea never wanted me to play the same
sport as her, but one day, my sister played for the Milwaukee Sting in
Wisconsin, and their 14s team needed an extra player, so I was like, 'I'm tall,
available and have nothing else going on!'" said Lee. "I was 12 at the time, so
I signed up and that's kind of how it all happened. They asked me to play on
that team. Then, I tried out the next year, made the women's team and everything
just kind of went up from there."
A transition from basketball to volleyball
can be difficult for some people, but Lee always had her experienced sister to
help her along the way.
"My sister does play volleyball at Eastern
Illinois University," said Lee. "She is a rock star. I definitely look up to
her. She's always so poised and so composed every time she plays, and on and
off the court. She's one of my biggest role models."
Chelsea Lee has not been the only one
supporting her along the way because athletics actually runs in the Lee family.
Simone's mother, Karen, was a student-athlete who ran track at Drake
"My mother has always been so supportive and
helped me push myself to the pivotal point that I know that I could be at,"
said Lee. "She's just really supportive in everything me and my sister do...She
said that she's always going to love me no matter what, and I just always want
to do my best."
In high school, Lee was a four-year letterwinner,
a two-year captain at Menomonee, a 2013-14 Under Armour All-American and much
more. It's no wonder that she was recruited to play volleyball at Penn State,
and she had no doubt in her mind that this was the school that she wanted to
"Coach Rose is such a tradition, but just the
tradition of this school [is why I came to Penn State]," said Lee. "Penn State
is known for its excellence and ever since I've been here, it has lived up to
that. I love the campus. I'm majoring in broadcast journalism, and I'm really
enjoying the classes I'm taking. I enjoy the people I have met, athletes or
non-athletes. My professors are amazing, and just everything about this school
is everything that I could have wanted in a college experience."
Lee played in her debut collegiate match
against TCU in August 2014 and recorded six kills. She built on that mark for
the rest of the season and tallied 135 kills in her first season at Penn State.
In the NCAA regional final versus Wisconsin, Lee notched a career-high of 12
kills to help lead the Nittany Lions to the national semifinals.
She has advanced her skills greatly since
last season, but her biggest improvement has to do with more than herself.
"I've definitely been learning to keep being
a team player, no matter what," said Lee. "It doesn't matter if I'm on or off
the court, I always want to be supportive of my teammates. I always try to get
better in the gym, always coming and doing extra reps, but definitely being
supportive of the team and making sure I can do everything in my power to help
my team be successful."
Lee's biggest asset is her constant energy on
the court, and that is clearly helping the team to be the No. 1-ranked in the
"You'll hear me at the end of the bench,
screaming and shouting," said Lee. "I'm always the one jumping up-and-down and
shoving my teammates. I always try to bring as much energy as possible because
that's a big part of volleyball."
At the moment, Lee is motivating and pushing
her fellow teammates, but in the future, she wants to build on her broadcast
journalism degree in order to inspire and encourage others all over the world.
"I want to be a motivational speaker, that's my biggest goal," said Lee.
"Broadcast journalism just seems like the best fit because whether it's on TV, at
public forums, universities, wherever, I just want to public speak to people
about certain topics and social issues."
Though she aspires to motivate more than her
teammates in her future, Lee is making her main focus on the volleyball.
"We definitely want to come off strong,
especially versus Wisconsin in our first match in the Big Ten," said Lee. "We
want to continue playing strong throughout the Big Ten, and hopefully win that.
We want to continue working hard and playing Penn State volleyball. We know that
we're a very talented group of girls, and we know that we can do a lot of things
if we believe in ourselves and put our minds to it."
Nonetheless, Lee loves everything about Penn
State, and she would never change anything about it.
"My favorite part about Penn State,
volleyball-wise, would be playing with all my girls; they're like my sisters.
My teammates are awesome. I love them so much...Playing for this university is
awesome, and I know that my mom, my father and my sister are really proud of me
for earning scholarships and being able to play high-level volleyball," said