Simpson honors Katch and Parkinson as student athletes of the month

Representing men’s and women’s Storm basketball, senior Jason Parkinson and junior Ashley Katch were named student-athletes of the month for February.

For the selection of each month’s award-winners, Sports Information Director Matt Turk compiles the stats and honors for in-season athletes. From there, he creates a ballot of the athletes with the best records for the month. Then the debating begins.

Athletic Director John Sirianni, Ron Peterson, assistant athletic director and head wrestling coach, and Lana Smith, senior women’s administrator and head volleyball coach, put their heads together to choose the winners-one male and one female.

“The basic principle is to make sure we get someone who had a great month athletically,” Sirianni said. “Character and how they represent their team and the school, those are issues that we do consider. We give it to the one that deserves the honor most.”

For last month, the honors go to Katch, a center from Urbandale, Iowa, and Scottsdale, Arizona’s Parkinson, a guard.

During the month, Katch took the lead in all of NCAA women’s basketball in blocked shots with a 5.1 per game, posting 152 blocks for the season. She blocked nine shots against Buena Vista and against Dubuque. Katch almost turned in a triple double against Buena Vista with eight points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks. She nearly posted another triple double against Dubuque with 11 points, nine blocks and eight rebounds.

“Ashley led the nation in Division I, Division II and Division III in blocked shots,” Sirianni said. “For her it was not just in the month of February but throughout the whole season.”

Katch beat out Division I player Alison Bales, Duke’s 6-7 center who averaged 4.5 blocks per game as well as Division II leader American International’s 6-3 center Jen Nnanna, ?who is averaged 4.0 blocks per game.

Katch also broke Kimber Kennedy’s (101) school record of most blocks in a season after blocking four shots against Loras Jan. 31. Kennedy set the old record during the 1997-98? season.

Parkinson averaged 23.7 points and 2.7 rebounds for the month. Against Central in the first round of the IIAC tournament, he posted a career high of 35 points including 28 in the second half and overtime. He had a shooting percentage of 53.4 in six games. Parkinson ended his career as the school record-holder for career three-point field goals with 171 and career three-point field goal attempts with 461. He finished eighth in school history in career scoring with 1,425 points.

“In the last several basketball games when the boys’ team was playing well, there were times Parkinson took the team on his shoulders and said ‘let’s go,’ and I think he’s responsible for some of those (wins),” Sirianni said.

Parkinson used past experience to motivate him in his last season and to make a difference on the court.

“Last year, I definitely didn’t have the year that I wanted to,” Parkinson said. “Personally, I felt like I had let my team down a little bit so that kind of sparked my competitive drive for this year. I worked harder in the summer than I ever had.”

Katch, however, says she looked toward her most loyal and devoted fans in the stands to motivate her on the court.

“I’ve always loved to play in front of my family,” Katch said. “Having my parents, sister, and grandparents at games has always made me work harder.”

Both athletes stress the importance of hard work. They advise underclassmen to start working now if they want to improve their game for next year.

“Definitely put in the work in the off-season,” Parkinson said. “You’re only going to be as good as what you do in the off-season because you can’t get it done in the season.”

Sirianni also values hard work. He believes that Student Athletes of the Month, including Katch and Parkinson, are outstanding individuals for how they represent Simpson as well as their specific teams.

“I have a strong belief that the more people you can recognize who are excellent is a positive thing,” Sirianni said. “I think it’s really a good program, and I am pleased that we’re doing it. It represents the good in what we’re trying to do.”