Simmons named state’s top A-D
AHOSKIE – At first he didn’t believe he’d ever amass 500 basketball wins as a coach; and Thursday he’ll be honored for the other hat he wears at Hertford County High School.
Boy’s basketball coach and athletic director at Hertford County High School, Charles Simmons, will be honored in Chapel Hill at the annual meeting of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. During the morning meeting, at the Dean E. Smith Center, Simmons will receive the 2013 Dave Harris Athletic Director of the Year Award.
The award recognizes those “who have done the most for high school athletics over a period of time”, according to the NCHSAA website, rather than a single accomplishment or having an outstanding won-loss record. The award is named in honor of Dave Harris, former football coach and athletic director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and a charter member of the NCHSAA Hall of Fame.
Simmons, a graduate of East Rutherford High School in Forest City and who later attended Louisburg Junior College, UNC-Pembroke, and Appalachian State has been teaching and coaching in Hertford County since 1980 and has been the athletic director since 1990. As men’s head basketball coach he has earned over 500 victories and has been conference Coach of the Year 14 times.
Simmons has also served on the NCHSAA Board of Directors and as president of both the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association and the North Carolina Coaches Association.
“It feels good to be honored by your peers,” he said in an interview. “There are 399 high school athletic directors, so to be singled out is pretty special.
“I’ve just always hoped to well represent the student athletes of Hertford County and of our (Northeastern Coastal) conference,” he said.
With nearly 25 years in athletic administration Simmons credits many along the way as “lights for his path”.
“I have to thank (HCHS) assistant athletic director Paul Moore because he helps out in the winter when I’m coaching basketball and helps keep athletics focused. We’re really a family here at Hertford County High and we all put our heads together to get the job done,” Simmons noted.
Richard Murray, whom Simmons succeeded at HCHS, and who was himself honored by the NCHSAA with its 1990 Distinguished Service, or ‘Spirit’, Award, was another mentor.
“Before he left in the early nineties he had everything in place (for his successor) and had set it up so well that I could not fail,” said Simmons. “He also paved the way because he was familiar with other people in athletics around the state; and I also have to point out (Elizabeth City native) Jerry McGee, former state director of the NCHSAA.”
Simmons says putting first the success, both on and off the playing field, of every Hertford County High student-athlete is what counts.
“We try to provide all the sports the state association offers, “he says. “It’s about getting the kids to participate and finding quality coaches.
“We also make sure our coaches are on-campus for the kids and are part of the school administration.”
When asked what he’d like to see improved for A-D’s across the state, Simmons points out that every school is different.
“That’s tough because some schools in large cities and counties have athletic budgets while others run their programs almost exclusively on gate receipts (from athletic events),” he says.
As for his legacy, Simmons says that despite having sufficient years to retire, he isn’t heading out the door any time soon.
“I’ll just take it one year at a time,” he said in 2011 after coaching his 500th career basketball win.
“I want it to be when you say Hertford County High School you’re talking first class,” he says now. “We try to do it the best way, the honest way, and to give all our athletes a chance to achieve on the playing field as well as in life.”