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The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

The rise of a leader: how Simpson started

Kate Miller
Captain Tre Simpson stands alongside countless North Penn trophies.

As the Knights trailed behind Central Bucks West, struggling to keep their heads above water, the crowd died down and accepted their inevitable defeat, but with just a few seconds to spare, captain Tre Simpson rallied the team closer to a victory than they had been all game. 

What seemed impossible just a few seconds prior had become reality, a 47-45 victory for North Penn. An overwhelming combination of pride and joy surged through Simpson’s body, for him this wasn’t just another win, it was a moment that would redefine basketball forever.

A North Penn senior, Simpson, was one of three varsity captains during the Knights 2023-2024  basketball season. Simpson has played North Penn basketball for three years, but the road to getting where he is today has been far from easy.

“I didn’t make the eighth grade team, and because of that, ninth grade was a Covid year and they only invited people from the eighth grade teams to try out, so they didn’t invite me,” Simpson explained.

Although he wasn’t given the opportunity to try out his freshman year, Simpson made the junior varsity team his sophomore year.

“My tenth grade year was really interesting because they brought me on as JV, but I didn’t even start JV, I was back up for a while,” Simpson shared. “I was back up behind a junior. It was hard because I thought I should be playing and it was hard to watch. Especially sitting on varsity because I didn’t even dress varsity. I had to watch all the games from the bleachers with the fans as a kid on the team, which was a really weird thing to do.”

Early in his sophomore season, Simpson suffered an injury, providing him an ultimatum: finish the season he had worked so hard to get to, or recover and come back stronger next season.

“It was a stress fracture in my right foot. I had started feeling pain a couple games into the season, but being in sports and stuff everyone just tells you to push through it until the end of the season,” Simpson said. “I pushed through it. It started as just a bruise and later a fracture because I kept playing on it. They told me I could either play it out, but I would be out the entire off season, or I could just sit out for the rest of the season and be back for AAU.”

Simpson made the difficult decision to call it quits on his sophomore season and spent the rest of the season benched, watching his teammates from the sidelines.

“It was discouraging for two reasons. One, because you want to play. And two, everyone on the team pretty much disregards you because you’re younger and they don’t get along with you as well,” Simpson shared. “You get jealous almost. You just think to yourself ‘I wish I was playing.’”

After a sophomore season filled with setbacks, Simpson took matters into his own hands and began training day and night.

“After sophomore year, I got in contact with my older cousin Nelson and his partner, Ryan Washington, who started training me. My work ethic went through the roof between my sophomore and junior year. That off season I worked a ton,” Simpson explained.

Coming back from his off season, Simpson had goals in place, one of many was to prove his worth regardless of what others thought of him.

It kind of puts a chip on your shoulder because you want to prove them all wrong. I wanted to prove all the upperclassmen wrong for treating me the way they did and being mean to me. I wanted to be better than all of them, and that motivated me a lot,”

— Tre Simpson

To his surprise, Simpson’s junior season practically mirrored his first. Spending another year on the junior varsity team, Simpson quickly lost that motivation he had spent so long building up.

“Going into junior year it was weird because I had that motivation, and I was outplaying a lot of the other guys in my position, but they put me on JV again. It flat lined my confidence and killed my motivation,” Simpson noted. “It was the same thing as last year, except this time I was healthy and I could be playing and I knew I should’ve been playing. I went through that same mentality of ‘I want to prove everyone wrong.’”

Compared to his sophomore year, Simpson’s current performance on the court is incomparable. As a captain, Simpson works hard to be a role model for underclassmen on the team.

“With all the work I’ve put in, I feel like my skill has taken off. I’ve gotten so much better. Sophomore me was, in reality, probably one of the worst ones of the team but now I’m arguably one of the best and a leader of the team,” Simpson explained. “From a physical sport aspect, it’s like night and day.”

Not only has basketball improved Simpson’s physical performance, but it has completely transformed his mental capacity to become a leader and a team player.

“Seeing how the leaders were in my sophomore and junior year and realizing how bad they made me feel, it motivated me, from a mental aspect, to be the opposite,” Simpson revealed. “One of my big things going into my senior year was being a leader for the guys and making everyone feel included by changing the culture that we had.”

Simpson felt that there was a considerable divide between the junior varsity and varsity players on the team, bringing them together to create a stronger team bond was his main goal as a captain.

“The culture we had was where JV and varsity were separate. The starting players on varsity were their own friend group and everyone else was cast aside, even the boys and girls teams were separated,” Simpson explained. “Beside my physical performance, one of my main goals was to build a family and a culture, and I think we did that.”

Simpson has been playing basketball since he could walk. At the young age of four Simpson started the lifelong journey he would learn to love, but it wasn’t until later that he started taking the sport seriously.

“It was always something I did for fun, I didn’t start taking it seriously or doing it consistently until seventh grade. I started to really immerse myself in it over quarantine,” Simpson shared.

Because Simpson has spent most of his life on the courts, many of his closest relationships have stemmed from a mutual love for basketball. 

“Anyone that I know outside of this school is because of basketball. Through workouts and my AAU team, basketball has had a hand in almost every relationship in my life,” Simpson said.“They instilled my love for the game to what it is now. As for my confidence, they did so much for me, especially in a time where we didn’t interact with anyone.” 

Simpson attributes a large amount of his success to those who have helped him achieve his goals. Simpson’s strong relationship with his family has helped him surpass his goals and has given him an unwavering support system.

“My older cousin Nelson helped me a lot with basketball, especially the off season things. Before I could drive, he would take me to the workouts and I met his partner, Ryan Washington,” Simpson acknowledged. “My mom specifically has poured an unreasonable amount of time and money and energy to support me playing basketball. Her and my siblings and my cousin Maddie coming to my tournaments, taking me to games, buying me things so I could play, it’s actually insane to think about. I wouldn’t even be close to where I am right now without them.”

The tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into being a high school athlete is a side of North Penn that not every student gets to experience. For Simpson, basketball is the remedy for a bad test grade or a lousy day.

Basketball has kept me sane and probably saved my life,”

— Tre Simpson

“Mentally, it’s given me an outlet for everything. When I’m upset, I’ll go shoot around by myself. When I’m happy, I’ll go shoot around with friends. Basketball has honestly been like therapy for me,” Simpson shared.

Basketball has brought Simpson some of the greatest and worst experiences of his life, like many athletes, it’s the price you pay when investing so much time into something.

“Especially this year, I’ve had some of my highest moments in the sport, along with the lowest,” Simpson said.

Through every hard practice or lost game, Simpson knows that the exhilarating moments of winning a game or scoring a three during the last quarter make everything worth it.

“In games like our CB West game this year, when we kind of came back and I got an and one at the end, to bring us within striking distance, there’s probably a video of it, but I was standing there screaming at the crowd and everyone was getting hype. Everyone was standing, cheering, and clapping. It was probably one of the most electrifying feelings I’ve ever had. One of the purest moments of joy,” Simpson said. “Those experiences are addictive, it’s pure bliss.”

One of Simpson’s last goals involving North Penn basketball, is to be the first student to go to college for basketball during his three years at the high school.

“I want to be the first kid to go to college for basketball in my time at North Penn,” Simpson explained. “I have a couple visits and a couple interests from college, but I definitely want to pursue college basketball.”

Becoming a leader of the basketball team has also inspired Simpsons next steps after high school. His coaches, teammates, and even teachers like Ms. Dixon and Mr. Mccreary have helped Simpson choose the field of secondary education.

“I want to go into secondary education. The reason I want to be a teacher is to impact kids and be an influential figure to the next generation. I’ve always loved working with kids and being a leader, but especially this year, being the leader of the team along with Norm and Corey, seeing the impact I’ve had on the lower classmen’s lives, not only as basketball players but people in general, has really motivated me,” Simpson said.

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