By Kate Thurston Rushville Republican
---- — A 1988 Indiana All-Star, a varsity starter for every game over four years, scorer of 1,447 points, “glass cleaner” with 896 rebounds (which is still a school record standing) and now a real estate agent with a son who plays for Indiana University.
You might ask who are we talking about? Melissa Nelson is who we knew her by in her epic years of high school basketball; a fierce basketball player who, in her freshman year, helped the Lady Lions make a trip to the state finals. A player who averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds a game. Teams were 78-18, including four sectional championships, two regional championships and one semi-state championship. She also still holds the single-game record of 24 rebounds in one contest.
Now she goes by Melissa Nelson Hartman-Compton.
Compton received 12 varsity letters in her high school career.
It all began in third grade.
“I grew up in Arlington on a farm,” Compton said. “We were kind of isolated growing up there. All my family lived around us out there. I started playing basketball in the barns and driveway. When I was in third or fourth grade I became a manager for the fifth grade team and I would play with them. Principal Paul Smith was fabulous.”
Compton continued playing basketball and became a star in high school.
“High school basketball was fun,” Compton laughed. “Rushville was a smaller school and I had a lot of fun playing there. We would all get with one another and put together a game and play for fun. I remember the wrestling coach playing together with us. I also did track and volleyball in high school. I loved sports.”
After her successful high school career, Compton went on to play ball at Butler University.
“I played basketball there until I blew both my knees out and that was it,” Compton said. “I went to Butler for about a year and a half then went to the University of Nebraska. There I received my Bachelors in Business with emphasis in marketing. I lived out there for about 12 years then moved back to the south side of Indianapolis. Now I sell real estate and support my kids. I have been living in Fishers now for about 10 years.”
Compton married her husband David and combined their families. She has a step-daughter, Hannah, who is a sophomore at Purdue; a step-son Austin, who is a senior; her son Zach, who is also and senior; and Collin, who is a freshman at IU after earning a full ride scholarship in basketball.
“If you play basketball for fun, just play it for fun. If you’re playing for advancement and to go somewhere in life with it, know it’s a sacrifice. There is a sacrifice, but that is outweighed by the outcome sometimes,” Compton said. “It’s truly a gift. Whether you have the height, agility, athleticism or whatever, you need to cherish it. Let it take you where it will.”
Compton cherishes the moments she had playing and won’t forget them.
“There were so many moments that I will remember and just too many to tell,” Compton laughed. “The experience is unforgettable. Coach Brown gave us such a wonderful experience. She really made us amazing. The support for the Lady Lions is unreal. I didn’t realize that until later in life. Then I really saw the support. It’s just really cool to think about it all, it’s something that will never die.”
Contact: Kate Thurston at 765-932-2222, ext. 105