Playing more than just basketball

by Ben Frotscher

Her dad played college sports and has coached high-school sports for years. Her mom was an accomplished musician on the clarinet and a drum major in high school.

Everyone’s parents had their favorite activities in high school and college, but it’s rare for an interest in these activities to transfer to their kids. However, junior Kara DeNoon has been taking part in everything her parents were involved in, and more.

DeNoon, a center on the women’s basketball team, is involved in the wind ensemble, flute choir, Presidential Search Committee and is a student ambassador.

“I just enjoy being involved on campus and just getting to know different people,” DeNoon said. “It’s a major part of getting a college experience for me.”

DeNoon admitted that she can get in over her head. An instrumental-music education major requires a student to take 97-98 credit hours over four years, and that can take up a lot of a person’s time.

“It’s very easy to get overwhelmed, but I try to stay organized and work ahead when I can,” DeNoon said.

Her basketball coach, Brian Niemuth, thinks that she does a great job staying on top of things.

“The special thing about Kara is that she’s used to being busy,” Niemuth said. “She’s used to being in position of having to juggle her schedule.”

Neimuth said he’s never had a music major on a team before in 18 years of coaching. He said he didn’t know many other people who are as active as DeNoon.

While any major can be stressful, DeNoon said music majors may not recieve as many credits for their time.

“I think every major requires time commitments, but music is a major that requires commitments that you receive little or no credit for,” DeNoon said.

Commitment is one area of common ground DeNoon can see between music and the women’s basketball team. In her freshman and sophomore years, she played in 41 varsity games. Even with her busy schedule, DeNoon has made time to improve in all aspects of her Simpson experience.

“Her skills have gotten better [since she came to Simpson],” Niemuth said.

This year is no different for the athlete from Olathe, Kansas, who has averaged 7.7 points per game and five rebounds through three games this season.

“In both music and basketball, you need unity among your members, discipline to practice and a good worth ethic to make yourself better,” DeNoon said. “Anything that applies to one, applies to the other.”

Even with a lot of common ground between music and athletics, DeNoon has had to miss or be late to practices in both departments. But that hasn’t caused any conflict between coaches and professors.

“Both sides have been wonderful,” DeNoon said. “They realize that each of them is very important to me and as long as I communicate that I am going to miss practice, it will be okay. They have been really supportive of me.”

Niemuth agreed that this unique relationship between the music and athletic departments has worked well.

“The music department has been great with allowing this to work,” Niemuth said, who added that the only dilemma has been working around her music schedule. “We schedule around her band practices on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.”

On these days, practices usually are at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m., unlike the normal 4-6 p.m. practice.

Despite her long days on campus, DeNoon said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“All the activities that I am involved in contribute to my college experience and if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have the same experience,” DeNoon said.