A Panora woman who played basketball for four years at Simpson College has been named to that college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Katelyn Whiton Brelsford was inducted October 5 at the annual Red & Gold Celebration held on the Simpson campus. She and other 2018 award winners also were introduced the following day during the Simpson-Coe football game.
Membership in the Hall of Fame is reserved for individuals who have lettered in a varsity sport at Simpson, have outstanding athletic and academic backgrounds, and have been successful citizens since their college years.
Nominees for the award must have graduated from Simpson at least 10 years ago. Since Brelsford graduated in 2008, she was chosen for the honor the first year she was eligible.
Brelsford was a key component to the most successful run in Simpson women’s basketball history. She led Simpson to two IIAC Championships, three IIAC Tournament Championships, four NCAA tournament berths and two Sweet 16 appearances. She was a two-time All-American, a three-time All-IIAC First
Team member, the 2008 IIAC Most Valuable Player, West Region Player of the Year, and WBCA First Team All-American.
In her 118 games at Simpson, she amassed 1,592 points, which ranks third in school history career points. She is fourth with 700 rebounds, second with 230 steals, and 10th with a 52.5 field goal percentage.
Brelsford is the daughter of David and Melodie Whiton, who have lived at Lake Panorama since 1983. She and her brother Jackson attended Panorama schools as young children.
David was co-owner of the Whiton Feed Mill in Perry, and in 1994, Melodie opened a State Farm agency there. The family owned a second home in Perry, and decided to open enroll Katelyn and Jackson in the Perry schools so they could participate in more school activities.
Brelsford was recruited to Simpson while playing on the Perry girls basketball team. She was part of Perry’s 2002 Girls State Tournament team, with a 28-0 record.
During her acceptance speech, Brelsford said her four years at Simpson were priceless. “Not only did I receive an education that is unmatched, but the experience of being a student athlete helped shape me more than I could have ever hoped,” she said. She praised her head coach and teammates for helping give her the “opportunity to dream big, set high goals, and then accomplish every one of them.”
She thanked her family and friends for their support, singling out her parents. “They were at every game since I was in grade school. That is a lot of practices, games, commitment, sacrifice, motivation, lessons, wins, loses, injuries, and most importantly, support,” she said.
Brelsford also singled out her husband, Colby, who was her boyfriend at the time she played basketball at Simpson. “He is my rock. He played a more important role than he will ever know then, and an even bigger role now,” she said. The couple built a home at Lake Panorama in 2013. Their daughter Fran was born in February 2018.
Brelsford continues a family tradition, as Melodie Whiton was a Hall of Fame athlete in basketball and tennis at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Brelsford graduated from Simpson in 2008 with a degree in business management. She began a career as a State Farm underwriter in Lincoln, Nebraska. While in Lincoln, she also was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Nebraska Wesleyan, where her mother is in the Hall of Fame. She moved to Milwaukee as a State Farm agency field recruiter in 2010, and has been an agent for the Melodie Whiton State Farm Insurance Agency in Perry since January 2014.