Simmons to join AHSAA Hall of Fame
Published 7:08 pm Sunday, January 11, 2009
Larry Simmons is used to accolades.
The former Thompson High School head football coach and principal has coached in All-Star games, been named Coach of the Year and the Warriors’ stadium is even named after him, but Simmons will have a new honor placed upon him March 23: Hall of Fame member.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently announced the nine members who are to be inducted into the 19th Hall of Fame class, and Simmons is one of those inductees. The former Thompson coach will be inducted during a ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery.
Simmons came to Alabaster in 1968 from his hometown of Hayden, where he spent three seasons as head coach.
In 1971, Simmons took the helm of Warriors when Dan Martin stepped down, and Thompson football changed forever.
From 1971-82, Simmons led the Warriors to a 100-29-1 record, including a Class 3A state championship in his final season. Simmons was named the Class 3A Coach of the Year by several organizations that year.
Simmons credits the success of the 1982 team to timing and talent.
“The ’82 team was a special team and they always will be,” Simmons said. “You’ve got to get at the right place at the right time.”
But being the head coach he is at heart, it’s the games that got away that still stick in Simmons’ mind.
“We should have won it the year before (in 1981) and would have won it had we had better coaching,” Simmons said with a laugh.
Prior to his arrival, the Warriors posted just two winning seasons in the previous 15 years, and 10 head coaches graced the sideline in just 20 years.
His secret to turning things around?
“Winning breeds winning,” Simmons said. “If you win, the next group doesn’t want to be the one to mess it up.”
And win he did.
During his 12 seasons, the Warriors made the playoffs six times and finished the regular season perfect four times.
And although current Thompson teams have fallen on hard times, Simmons knows that with a community like Alabaster, the Warriors will rise again.
“They’re going to be back. I believe that,” Simmons said.
Thompson Principal Robin Thomas was one of the people who wrote a letter in support of Simmons’ nomination for the Hall of Fame, and Thomas said there couldn’t be a more deserving candidate.
“He was a great coach and a great administrator,” Thomas said. “It’s a huge honor for Coach Simmons and it brings notoriety and prestige not only to him, but to our school as well.”
Thomas also said Simmons’ dedication to the school and the community he loves is what makes the honor most deserving.
“His blood runs through Thompson,” Thomas said.
And Simmons doesn’t plan to change that.
“Alabaster’s my home. I love the people here and they’ve always been good to me,” Simmons said. “This is just part of my family.”