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HCHS leader honored

AHOSKIE – Hard work and dedication have their own rewards.

But, on occasion, those two traits are noticed by others and lead to different awards.

Last summer saw Hertford County High School in something of a dilemma.

Athletic Director Charles Simmons was looking for a new football coach, a new baseball coach and a new girls soccer and softball coach.

To say the least, it was a difficult task that awaited the longtime AD at Hertford County’s only public high school.

Methodically, he worked through each. First, he brought home Ahoskie High School graduate Greg Watford to assume the reins of the football program. He followed that success by naming Chris Towell head baseball coach, Carol Swain women’s soccer coach and Rick Heckler women’s softball coach.

While Simmons was busy filling coaching positions at his 3-A school, he was also serving as President of the North Carolina Athletic Director’s Association and was elected to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors.

And, he won the Northeastern Coastal Conference in basketball with a team that was not up to its usually high level of talent.

&uot;Coach Simmons is, in my mind and the minds of many, the premier coach in this region,&uot; HCHS Principal Larry J. Cooper said. &uot;I say that proudly because we have some excellent coaches in this region.

&uot;His offensive and defensive strategies are masterful, he analyses each of his players and understands what each one is capable of accomplishing on and off the court even when the young men doubt themselves,&uot; Cooper added.

Still, his coaching strengths are not his best traits, Cooper insisted.

&uot;Coach Simmons is not boastful or loud and does not seek the limelight the way too many people in the spotlight do now days,&uot; the principal said. &uot;Instead, he chooses to allow his years of experience to personify his skill. Most of all, he is a gentleman who understands how to cope with forces and foes seen and unseen.&uot;

In addition to having the support of his administrator, Simmons is also beloved by his coaching staff.

&uot;He’s just a great guy and a great family man,&uot; HCHS football coach Greg Watford said. &uot;Coach Simmons is incredible to work for. He’s supportive of all the programs at HCHS.&uot;

Watford said Simmons supported him and the football program even when they got off to a slow start during the 2004 campaign.

&uot;When things were going bad, he supported me and when things were going good he supported me,&uot; Watford said.

Women’s basketball coach Joan McCullough said Simmons was the type of AD that allowed his coaches to feel ownership of their program.

&uot;He’s great to work with,&uot; McCullough said. &uot;He gives you freedom and doesn’t micromanage. He makes me feel like the girl’s program is my program.&uot;

The coach also said she felt Simmons had looked out for her during her tenure at HCHS.

&uot;He will always have a special place to me,&uot; McCullough said. &uot;I feel like he has looked out for me and guided me through.&uot;

Another coach Simmons has guided over the years is Brian Overton. Simmons coached Overton at HCHS and then has hired him as an assistant coach.

&uot;Coach Simmons has taught me everything I know about the sport of basketball,&uot; Overton said. &uot;He’s been my overall coaching mentor in learning how to deal with the kids and professionalism. He’s an example and a top-notch guy.&uot;

Overton said he felt Simmons was a fair-minded athletic director who tried to work with every sport at Hertford County High School.

&uot;He’s very fair,&uot; Overton said. &uot;He tries to give every sport the opportunity to win and that’s why he does a good job.&uot;

Under his tutelage, Hertford County had two All-Roanoke-Chowan Coaches of the Year, one All-Roanoke-Chowan volleyball player, nine football players, two tennis players, one boy’s basketball athlete, two girl’s basketball athletes and three All-area soccer players.

(The Richard Murray Award recognizes excellence by an athletic director in the Roanoke-Chowan area. It is named in honor of retired Ahoskie High School and Hertford County High School Athletic Director Richard Murray. During his tenure, he symbolized excellence in that post which led him to be named to the North Carolina Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.)