Guntersville's Simone May was a naturally gifted athlete who did well in any sport she tried, from gymnastics to volleyball.
She was an equally impressive student who ended up getting a doctorate and becoming a member of the faculty at Florida State University. She was inducted into the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame last weekend.
Here's the biography that's on her Hall of Fame plaque:
Viola Simone May was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on February 25, 1988, to Brenda May and Steven Cottrell. She has three siblings, Khalil May, Ravan Cottrell, and Evan Cottrell. Her uncle, David Staten, was a member of Guntersville High School’s 1976 State Championship Basketball team and her cousin, Howard Cross, played football for the University of Alabama and the New York Giants.
From an early age, Simone was interested in many different activities. She played recreation league softball and basketball. Simone also took gymnastics at Joan Howard Gymnastics and dance at the Jane Kohl School of Dance. In junior high, she started playing basketball, volleyball, and track and field. It was here that teachers and coaches began to recognize the determination, work ethic, and skills that would characterize Simone’s future successes in athletic and academic endeavors.
In high school, Simone played forward and post for Wildcat basketball coaches Jim Embry and MCSHOF Nominee Miranda Keller McCoy. She was a four-time All-Marshall County selection in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005; All-Area 16 in 2005 and 2006; and Area 16 MVP in 2005.
In Track and Field at GHS, Simone excelled as a sprinter and jumper for Coaches Randall Taylor and Chris Bashaw. She won state track and field medals all four years that she was in high school. As a junior in the 2005 State Track Meet, Simone won first place in the long jump, triple jump, and 100-meter high hurdles. As a senior in 2006, she repeated this feat, also adding the 300-meter intermediate hurdles to her win list, to become a four-event winner in the State Meet. In addition, Simone was a three-time All-Marshall County MVP, Cullman Invitational MVP, and was selected as the Gadsden Times Athlete of the year in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
However, it was volleyball where Simone made her biggest mark in high school and college athletics. From her position as a middle hitter and blocker, Simone led the Wildcats to 4A State championships in 2004 and 2005. The Guntersville coaches were Jon Moseley, Dusty Cothran, and 2015 MCSHOF Inductee Laura Clark. As a senior, Simone was honored as the 2005 4A State Tournament MVP, 4A State Player of the Year, and a member of the North Alabama All-Star Team. She also received Academic All-State, All-Marshall County, All-Area, and All-Region honors.
Following her senior year, University of Georgia Volleyball Coach Steffi Legal-Riddle inked Simone to a Volleyball Scholarship. She played for the Bulldogs under Head Coach Joel McCartney from 2006-2011 as a Side Hitter and Blocker. Simone was an outstanding student at Georgia, making the Dean’s List and was on the Academic All-SEC Honor Roll for four years. According to the UGA Volleyball Media Guide, May finished her college career as a four-year letter winner with 283 kills and 88 blocks, playing in 70 matches and 196 sets.
Simone graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child and Family Development and returned to her home town to coach middle school volleyball and high school track and field. She also worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for the RAND Corporation. Over the next few years, Simone attended graduate school at Auburn University. She earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2014 and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision in 2017. While at Auburn, she received a fellowship from National Leadership in Counseling and an Auburn University Postdoctoral Instructor Fellowship. Simone was inducted into the Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society, was recognized as the Iota Delta Sigma Most Outstanding Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student, and was a Holmes Scholar.
During her time in grad school, Simone also found time to coach the Tigers Volleyball Club, work as a Residential Specialist at the Lee County Youth Development Center, serve as a tutor and mentor for Auburn University Student Athlete Support Services, and teach graduate and undergraduate classes. She also volunteers her time with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Samaritan’s Purse, Way to Serve Ministries, Blessings in a Backpack, the Jason Dufner Foundation, and teaches Vacation Bible School in her church.
In 2018, Dr. Simone May began a job on the Teaching Faculty of Florida State University. She also served as the Kaleo Shepard for the Kids Across America Kamp in Golden, Missouri.