Hominy family hosts athlete far from home for holidays
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 25, 2010
12/25/10 at 6:02 AM
THANKS TO a Hominy family, Simone du Toit is experiencing her first holiday season in Oklahoma.
A Southern Methodist University shotput and discus thrower from Johannesburg, South Africa, du Toit is spending Christmas break with teammate Kylie Spurgeon.
"It's a nice feeling to see my name under the Christmas tree on presents," said du Toit, whose name is pronounced Si-mo-nay du-TWAH. "I don't feel like I'm visiting. I feel like I'm supposed to be here."
The Spurgeons are doing Christmas big this year for du Toit, getting their first real tree and decorating their new home. Chuck and Tami Spurgeon moved to Hominy from Owasso, where Kylie was the Tulsa World's girls track athlete of the year in 2007 after setting a state record in the discus throw.
For the teammates, this year is Christmas Swap Part II. Spurgeon spent the 2009 holidays in South Africa, where Christmas is celebrated much differently.
"It's pretty much a summer day, really hot," du Toit said. "We're all outside in our bathing suits and barbecuing."
Du Toit has had to adjust to being thousands of miles from home, where she hasn't visited since summer break.
"It's the small things that I miss," she said. "Everything that reminds you and gives you that feeling of security and love, I feel like I've found that with Kylie's family."
But the Spurgeons knew du Toit missed her sister Chane, so they flew her in from Mozambique for Christmas.
"I still can't believe she's here," she said. "It's crazy."
Spurgeon has been showing du Toit the local attractions, including the Center of the Universe in downtown Tulsa and the Blue Whale in Catoosa.
"There's a lot of things we've done before, but we went especially so she could see it," Spurgeon said.
Du Toit has taken an interest in learning about American Indians, oil wells and other things most people in the area have been exposed to all their lives.
She's trying to figure out football, which is important in the Spurgeon household. The youngest member, Trent, is a freshman offensive lineman at Arizona. The family, along with du Toit, will travel to San Antonio next week for the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State.
"I think you have to grow up with it (football) to understand it, but I love the atmosphere," du Toit said. "I don't have to understand it to enjoy it a whole lot."
After the holidays, the teammates will return to SMU and begin their season.
As a sophomore last year, du Toit placed sixth in discus throwing at the NCAA championships. She's continued to practice over the break and hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
For now, du Toit will enjoy time with her second family. While in Oklahoma, she's learned the holidays in America aren't as commercialized as everyone thinks.
"It's is very much all about family and getting together," du Toit said. "I feel like the right reasons are still there."
Original Print Headline: An Oklahoma Christmas
Kelly Hines 581-8452
SMU track and field athletes Simone du Toit (left) and Kylie Spurgeon. Du Toit, a South Africa native, is experiencing her first Oklahoma Christmas. Courtesy