Simonie Mendenhall recently completed her senior year of volleyball for Jefferson High, where she helped the Panthers to a record-setting regular season, and one-match shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
Ten days ago, Jefferson captured the District 5B’s regular season and tournament championship, while compiling an undefeated conference record. It was the program’s first district title since 1991, and the first time in school history that JHS’ volleyball team did not lose a set versus league opposition (39-0) heading into divisionals.
The Panthers then went 2-2 at the Southern B tourney in Belgrade, to finish at 19-3 on the year.
Mendenhall, a 5-foot-10 middle/outside hitter, led the team with 247 kills and 149 blocks. She holds the official school record of 10 blocks in a match, breaking the 1988 mark of seven held by Sheila Green, which was one of JHS’ oldest standards. Unofficially, Mendenhall blocked 12 and 14 spikes in two separate matches at the recent divisional tourney. Her personal record for kills in a match is 19.
Mendenhall’s parents are Scott and Audrey Mendenhall. Her dad played high school basketball and football in Wind River, Wyoming, while her mother was a hoopster and trackster for Billings Senior.
A three-sport student-athlete, Simonie is on pace to garner 10 varsity letters for JHS — three each in volleyball and basketball, and four in track and field. She has competed in five track events, including the high jump (PR of 4-10), triple jump, long jump and both relays.
1: Simonie is a unique name. How did your parents come up with it?
Mendenhall: When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad went on a mission to Niterozi, Brazil. While he was there, it was discovered that Mom was severely hypothyroid due to treatment for Graves’ disease. Hypothyroidism in pregnancy can cause deafness in the baby. There was a Brazilian lady working at the soup kitchen where my Dad was serving, named Simone’ which is a female derivative of Simon. It means “He hears from God.” With the worrisome news that I might be deaf, Dad said if I was a girl, he wanted to name me Simonie after the sweet, hard working young lady at the mission.
2: Who has had the most influence on your athletic career, and how so?
Mendenhall: My dad has always been pushing me to do better, to work harder and grow stronger. He constantly asks if I’m hydrated and makes sure I’m eating healthy. He has prayed with me before most of my games and goes to as many as he can.
3: What is your GPA, who’s your favorite teacher, and what’s your favorite subject?
Mendenhall: I don’t know it at the moment, but recently it was 3.924. My favorite teacher is Mr. (Mike) Hesford and he teaches my favorite class, advanced drama.
4: What are your highlights for the latest volleyball season, both individually and as a team?
Mendenhall: The highlight of my season was breaking the blocking record. I’ve worked very hard on my blocking technique as well as my vertical and it felt good to see my hard work pay off during game time. The highlights as a team were winning districts and going undefeated in our district. We all had the mindset that we were going to win each one. It’s difficult for any team to do that and it only happened because we all worked together and were in it for each other not ourselves.
5: Any college aspirations?
Mendenhall: I signed in late October to play volleyball at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.