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Simmons to lead BPC Athletic Department
By Kelley M. Arnold
Interim Director of Marketing
MOUNT VERNON—Brewton-Parker College’s Athletic Director Sheila Simmons is looking forward to the coming 2008-2009 Athletic Season, as it will be her first as leader of BPC’s Athletics Department.
“It’s been very busy,” said Simmons, “especially trying to organize the new sports that we’re adding—golf, tennis, cross-country. We’re recruiting hard for all sports this summer.”
Simmons transitioned to the position from a faculty spot in the Division of Education March 12, and is just now catching her breath. She replaced former athletic director and men’s head basketball coach Steve Barker.
Barker led the Barons men’s basketball team for 18 years and served as athletic director for nine of those years. Simmons also served as a BPC coach, leading the women’s basketball team for four years before she “made a switch” to teaching while she made time for her mother.
“I stepped away from coaching last year to spend more time with my mom, during the time when she needed a kidney transplant. She passed away Christmas day,” said Simmons. “We’re a very close family. We’ve leaned on each other through this tough time.”
When asked what she thought her mom would think of her return to Athletics – one of her life callings– she believes her mom would be happy for her.
“She was always proud of everything I did. She knows I always worked my hardest and did my best at everything. I think she would be pleased,” said Simmons.
Simmons also served as assistant women’s basketball coach for Division I Eastern Kentucky University for seven-and-a-half years and head coach at Brevard College (N.C.) for three years before joining BPC. During her time as BPC coach, she led the Lady Barons to back-to-back trips to the national tourney. She had a total career head coaching record of 166-64.
Simmons believes one of her main challenges in the new position will be navigating the changes from the SSAC’s new administration.
“I think the biggest challenge is that we have a new full-time commissioner for our conference and he has high expectations for all the Athletic Directors as for the structure and organization of our individual offices. It is more of a process of adaptation to the expectations of the conference commissioner.”
Vice President for College Advancement Doug Baird, who oversees the Athletics Department, is looking forward to Simmons’ role in his leadership team.
“Sheila Simmons brings to the table a wide range of skill sets to the BPC Athletic Program. She has good administrative skills, is a winning coach, a proven recruiter and her retention record is outstanding,” Baird said. “She understands and is very sensitive to the needs of the conference and will represent the college in a very favorable light.”
Simmons adds she plans to strengthen BPC’s approach to athletics and academics for student-athletes.
“I (believe) every student-athlete is important. The individual matters. Whether they are the superstar athlete or the walk-on who just wants to be given a chance, we owe it as a director – as a coach – to mentor every student-athlete who comes through our doors,” said Simmons. “That’s part of our approach – our commitment. Number one is discipleship; number two, academics; and, three, athletics. That’s our three-prong approach in Athletics.”
She explains that all BPC teams are assigned chaplains who help both the coaches and the students in Christian discipleship.
Simmons practices her role as Christian leader both in the office and on the courts – both for BPC and for the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization. This summer she will serve as the athletic director for an FCA Athletic Camp in Black Mountain, N.C., with Vidalia FCA representative Brad Lane from the Altamaha Area FCA. She will also travel to the Virgin Islands on a mission trip with Englewood Baptist Church (Tenn.). She will facilitate a sports ministry outreach for area children.
She is the daughter of Rudolph Simmons and the late Blanche Simmons of Goodwater, Ala. She has two brothers and one sister, all residing in Alabama.
Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college in south Georgia. Affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, the college offers classes on its main campus in Mount Vernon and six external learning sites in Baxley, Glennville, Liberty County, Newnan, Norman Park and Savannah.
To learn more about BPC’s athletic teams and how to become a Baron, call the Office of Admissions at 912-583-3265 or call Simmons directly at 912-583-3184.