Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Antonio Simmons was laid to rest on Friday as family, friends, coaches and players packed the Berkeley High School auditorium to pay their last respects.
Simmons, 34, died on July 21 from an apparent heart attack.
Simmons was remembered as a man who gave his all to both his school and his community.
“Coach Simmons bent over backwards for every program he touched,” said Cross High School athletic director and football coach Shaun Wright. “Antonio's death will undoubtedly change the lives of those who he coached and befriended. It just makes you realize that we should show our appreciation to each other while we are alive.”
Wright and Cross High School will make sure the spirit of Antonio Simmons lives on at the school where Simmons helped bring home the first state championship.
“We will always remember him and his spirit will live on at Cross High School as we will name our newly renovated field house after him,” Wright said. “It will be Simmons Fieldhouse.”
Simmons brought the pedigree of being a state champion to Cross, playing on a pair of state championship teams while at Berkeley in 1994 and 1996 before moving on to Charleston Southern where he was twice voted an All American at safety.
Berkeley athletic director and football coach Jeff Cruce was a Stags assistant coach in 1994 when Simmons was a sophomore.
“Antonio was a great young man,” Cruce said. “(He) really had the track program at Cross firing on all cylinders. He was an inspiration and a role model not just to the young men of Cross, but the young women, too. He has done a great job influencing a lot of young men and women in coaching both track and football.
“It’s just a tragic thing, a sad, sad day for Berkeley County, Cross and Berkeley High School.”
Dionte Evans, a member of the Trojans 2012 state championship team, said Simmons was more than just a coach.
“In the words of my best friend and coach, he told me, ‘Bouncy don't let none of these kids bring you down from being successful. You have the talent to do big things in life and I will continue to push you as long as I'm here. Anything you need, remember I'm one phone call away.’”
Timberland Athletic Director and football coach Art Craig said Antonio Simmons came from a special era of athletes in Berkeley County that went on to do special things.
“The group of guys he played is represented by just about every high school in Berkeley County and that group of coaches are some the best coaches in our county,” Craig said. “Antonio was a matter of fact guy with a big old smile. The Timberland athletic department would like to tell the Simmons family, Cross High School and anyone else hurting today that our prayers are with you guys.”
Toxicology results from an autopsy performed by the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office last week will be available in several weeks.