In the mid 1990s, Jim, BA’80, and Kathy Simpson began taking their four daughters, Kellie, Katie, Jessie and Jackie, to Creighton women’s basketball games. What started as leisure outings for the Simpson family would, over time, develop into meaningful relationships formed by a shared vision and values.
“The games were fun for our girls, the coaches were like rock stars to them,” Kathy said. “At the time, we didn’t really think of it as anything more.”
As Jim and Kathy created family memories from the sidelines, they realized their daughters had a front-row seat to the practice of dedication and discipline. Jim and Kathy—with McCormick Endowed Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen and coaches Connie Yori, BA’86, and Jim Flanery, BA’87—immersed the Simpson girls into the world of Creighton women’s basketball. Jackie would even serve as an honorary women’s basketball bench coach. More recently, the Simpsons developed the same close ties with Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth and the Creighton women’s volleyball program.
“Athletics has been a way for our family to engage and be a part of the community. Getting to know the coaches and players has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us,” Kathy said.
With each passing season, the Simpson family came to know coaches Rasmussen, Yori, Flanery and Booth as more than leaders on the court advancing the basketball and volleyball programs.
“It’s not just about winning for the coaches, it’s about developing quality people,” Jim said. “The dynamics of coaching are so complicated, and, personally, it amazes me. You can see it in how well they all communicate, even when it comes to their non-verbal communication skills.”
Jim and Kathy believe that part of what makes Creighton unique is that values align across campus. They say that their family has been blessed not only by athletics, but also by the Jesuit community. Two of their daughters, Kellie Simpson, BSBA’12, and Katie Simpson, BA’05, JD’12, MBA’13, followed in Jim’s footsteps to attend Creighton.
“Father Schlegel, Father Lannon, Father Hauser… they all had an impact on our Creighton family experience,” Jim said. “Creighton dynamics all work together to develop critical thinkers and great leaders.”
Jim and Kathy are passionate about educating the next generation of ethical leaders. Jim made his first gift to Creighton University in 1986 as a recent alumnus. His $25 gift to the College of Arts and Sciences annual giving fund began the Simpsons decades-long philanthropic support of Creighton University.
For more than three decades, they have continued supporting student opportunities and diverse initiatives within Creighton Athletics, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Dentistry, as well as generously supporting the Rev. John P. Schlegel, SJ, Endowed Professorship.
Their gifts are representative of the values and the vision Kathy and Jim share with their partners across the University. In 2019, they honored the coaches who have significantly shaped the Creighton women’s athletic programs with a gift to the Ruth Scott Training Center.
“They excel at their jobs, but it’s more than coaching,” Jim said. “Their dedication is evident in the quality of character that Creighton female athletes embody both on and off the court. They are all family, and Kathy, the girls, and I are so blessed to be a part of it.”
With their names displayed in the Ruth Scott Training Center, the Simpsons’ generosity pays tribute to the legacy of former head women’s basketball coach, Bruce Rasmussen; former head women’s basketball coach and current program advisor, Connie Yori; current head women’s basketball coach, Jim Flanery; and head women’s volleyball coach, Kirsten Bernthal Booth.
“The Ruth Scott Training Center is more than just a place to shoot hoops,” said Jaylyn Agnew, women’s basketball standout and 2020 graduate. “It’s a place where my coaches and mentors have shown me and my teammates what hard work, teamwork and commitment mean. My experiences have been made all the more meaningful because of Jim and Kathy Simpson. The Creighton women’s athletic programs and future student-athletes will be impacted because Jim and Kathy chose to honor ‘the greats’ with their kindness.”
“Kathy and Jim’s support has been instrumental in creating tremendous opportunities for our female student-athletes. We can’t thank them enough for the example they set for others.”
– Coach Jim Flanery , Head Coach, Women’s Basketball