Kim Sammons would be sitting in the stands for a Hamline soccer game. Her daughter, Jordan, would make an aggressive tackle or move to possess the ball, and the parents of rival players would not take it well.
“They would start saying things about Jordan and shouting at the referee to throw her out of the game,’’ Kim said. “I would have to get up and move. I was thinking, ‘Come on. This isn’t middle school anymore. This is college soccer.’ ”
Kim and her husband, Gregg, were divorced when Jordan was 4 and brother Shane was 2. The kids were raised with Kim in a townhouse in Burnsville. Kim ran a daycare in her home, worked in daycare facilities and had been at New Horizon for many years.
“My kids and the daycare kids … that was my life,’’ Kim said.
Jordan was a determined competitor willing to try any sport from her earliest years. She was playing baseball one day and wound up with an 18-stitch cut in her forehead.
“The scar is there, but it’s on the eyebrow line, so it’s not real obvious,’’ Kim said with a slight laugh.
Jordan was a standout in soccer and basketball at Apple Valley. The Eagles were not a power, and the recruiters from Division II with scholarships to offer never came calling.
Rachel Banham, the Gophers’ star basketball player, played at Lakeville North. Banham was asked about Sammons earlier this week, before Banham’s knee injury suffered Wednesday.
“Jordan was one of the best defenders in the Lake Conference,’’ Banham said. “She always played aggressive. She was the hardest worker on the court.’’
Sammons’ college choice came down to Hamline or St. Thomas. She was tempted by the Tommies’ tradition of success and athletic facilities but decided on Hamline because of its criminal justice program.
Jordan played soccer and basketball as a freshman and sophomore. Even in Division III, it’s tough to handle both a fall and winter sport.
“I love soccer, but I have a lot more passion for basketball,’’ Sammons said. “And I thought, if I’m not going to give soccer 100 percent, I shouldn’t be taking a spot on the team over someone who is going to give that much.’’
There are 12 teams in women’s basketball in the MIAC. The top six reach the playoffs, and that’s the reasonable goal for the Pipers at season’s start. They made the playoffs in 2013, Sammons’ sophomore year, fell back last season, and now are 1-2 in the MIAC and 5-4 overall after a 70-68 loss at Gustavus on Saturday.
The Pipers revolve around the 5-8 Sammons, and then some. She is averaging 24.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and has 34 steals in the nine games. She has been the MIAC’s player of the week twice.
Kim, 48, stood in small gyms and next to fields, and she sat in bleachers, for years, for every game in which Jordan competed. Now, Kim gets there on the nights that the treatments and the cancer allow it, and she gets there in a wheelchair.
What is Jordan’s reaction when she sees her terminally ill mother there — watching again as her daughter, long ponytail flying, uses her strong hands and relentless nature to force her way toward baskets, toward rebounds, to steals?
“It motivates me,’’ Jordan said. “And makes me proud that my mom has fought to be at another of my games.’’
Kim was aware for months of a lump under an arm. It started to get larger. She was urged by her children and co-workers to visit a doctor.
“I procrastinated,’’ Kim said. “If there’s a lesson in this, it’s, ‘Don’t procrastinate. Get checked.’ The lump was soft-tissue cancer. And by the time I finally went to a doctor, it was Stage 4.’’
There was surgery and chemotherapy. Two weeks ago, Kim was told the chemo had been ineffective. She’s now undergoing radiation, “to get a little more time,’’ Kim said.
“Jordan’s dealing with it,’’ Kim said. “Shane’s having a tougher time. I think girls do better accepting the reality of a situation like this.’’
Jordan’s intent is to use her Hamline degree in criminal justice to become a police officer. There’s no family history in law enforcement, just a personal desire.
“I want to help people,’’ Jordan said. “And it’s a job that keeps you on your toes, where you don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. I like that.’’
Somehow, you can see that adventurous attitude with Jordan Sammons on the court. It’s a joyful sight that her mother hopes to see a few more times.
“She’s out there to play,’’ Kim said. “She burns to win. And she takes it upon herself to make that happen.’’