For the first time in more than a decade, the Richland College baseball team will begin a season with a new baseball coach at the helm after long-time coach Joe Wharton retired with four national championships and more than 500 wins. Coach Simmons said he is excited about having the opportunity to join an athletic program that expects excellence.
“I want to come in and continue the tradition and build upon it,” said Simmons. My goal is to bring in outstanding student athletes who want to be a part of the best (NJCAA) DIII baseball program in the country.”
Before joining Richland College, Simmons coached at Frank Phillips College in Borger, Texas, where in 2003 he led a baseball program that didn’t have a winning record in years, to the best record in the schools history at 31-20. During his tenure at Frank Phillips, Simmons had two 30-plus win seasons but despite his previous success, Simmons understands that there is a different mindset at Richland College.
“Here, everyone wants you to succeed and because of the tradition, the student athlete will expect to succeed also,” Simmons explains. “There is a pride that comes with being a ThunderDuck. You see it and feel it every day. I am extremely proud to now be able to say I am a part of that.”
As for what his players and Richland College can expect to get from Simmons as the new coach, he says they can expect him to work hard, put the best possible team on the field and develop his players to be the best students possible.
“My goal for each of them is to earn an associate’s degree as well as continue their baseball careers,” Simmons concluded. “When a player leaves Richland College, I want him to be prepared for the university, be a well-rounded athlete ready to compete at the highest level and be a person who understands that giving back is important.”
The T-Ducks open the regular season with a double header at home, Sat. Feb. 5 at 2 p.m against Eastern Oklahoma.