The Syracuse Lacrosse team pours into the Lobby of an Annapolis hotel. The Orangemen are to scrimmage The Naval Academy the following afternoon, March 14, 1998. A few children in the lobby stare at the players and the equipment being carried to the elevators. "Hey!" Syracuse Coach Roy Simmons, Jr. calls to one of the kids, "You like lacrosse?"
The kid nods affirmatively.
"Let me introduce you to the great Casey Powell.", Simmons reaches into his sportcoat pocket and slips Powell something as he pulls him over to meet the gaping mouthed boy.
"This is Casey Powell. Have you heard of him?" The kid shyly nods again as Casey shakes his hand and gives him a small Syracuse pin, which is clutched quickly; a valued possession for many years to come.
Simmons continues to move around the hotel lobby pulling Pins from the pocket for each kid in the room, taking a second to ask them a question or introduce them to a player. We move to the hotel room he will share with assistant John Desko, pour a drink, and settle into a conversation which ends sometime after midnight.
E-LACROSSE: You scrimmage Navy tomorrow. Let's start with that.
SIMMONS: My dad coached the Syracuse Lacrosse team for 45 years and he had some great teams. But he never beat Navy. Great names in Lacrosse history are assigned to Navy particularly in the 30's and 40's. I came down here [Annapolis] in the late 70's and at Navy Marine Corp stadium I beat them and they said, "No. You can't beat us. It just can't happen." We came down here the next year and did it again and they said we were history! It stopped. I mean, 45 years and we kicked their ass twice and we're history? Haven't played them since. They'll scrimmage us, sure. Tomorrow we'll have a scrimmage. Next week I'm going to scrimmage Army. And in those 45 years my dad coached at Syracuse, he beat Army twice. And in the late 70's I got a little tougher team and beat them a few times and now we don't play Army anymore either!
E-LACROSSE: Would you like to play them now?
SIMMONS: Oh, I'd love the game now. I think the tradition of Navy and the tradition of Army is absolutely spectacular. See, I come from a different angle. Syracuse University had one of the best boxing teams ever in the history of intercollegiate boxing, which died in 1956. Army and Navy believe in the manly art of self-defense. Army and Navy had boxing teams and great rivalries with Syracuse. I guess getting a concussion didn't seem to fit in with getting an intellectual education and it died off in intercollegiate athletics. Army and Navy kept it. If you want to see great athletic endeavors; at Navy and Army they still have inter-platoon boxing. I had hoped to see it tonight as I did last year but the quarterfinals were this afternoon which I missed, and the semifinals are next week. These kids on the base fight; Marcus of Queensbury rules. A ring, one official, no time outs, no substitutions. Stand up and be accounted for.
I boxed for Syracuse and my father boxed for Syracuse. My dad was also a matchmaker for professionalism in the Syracuse area. He was one of the background people for Carmen Basillio. I hated to see the [college] sport die and now it's dying in the Olympics, at least in the USA. I hate to see traditions fall by the wayside. I'm upset about the demise of boxing and I understand it [boxing] more than the average man on the street but it's not the love of my life. I love Lacrosse and I like seeing good things happen to this sport.
SYRACUSE PLAYER MATT ALEXANDER, STOPS IN TO ASK A QUESTION AND THEN EXITS.
SIMMONS: The best defensive middie in the country, I think [Alexander]. I think defensive middies are so important. They're on the field so much. They can be on the field on the face off. They're on the field when you don't own the ball. When they turn the ball around, they can stay on the field 'cause you can't get them off. So I have a midfield, one long stick and two short sticks, that are pissed at me because they are not playing the glory position; getting goals. I said, "Look at the minutes. The first midfield only plays when we own the ball. You're on the field more than anybody." But you never hear their names. They play well. They get on and they get off. They deny goals, which is great. Sometimes they get goals and if they don't get goals, they allow the offensive punch to get on the field. And yet there is no place for them in all the applause.
The long stick is a fairly new position. We added the long stick as a fourth defenseman but kids come to me and say, "I don't play close defense. I play long stick."
I'm an old crusty guy and I say, "Shit, you play defense!"
They say, "No, I don't. I play long stick midfield."
And I say, "Ok, well, that's defense." So we've added a position as a selection to the all-American team [which can be filled by a defensive or offensive middie].
We are always looking to make the game better; to make the game faster. Used to be about two hours twenty minutes. We've tried to boil it down to under two hours. We've tried to make it a little shorter, a little faster tempo; take some whistles and horns out of it.
I've often said "Play international rules". Eliminate the long sticks and getting guys on and off and having dead time. Guys get off on their own, play with a handle that's 40 and if you're a defensive expert, play with a 44 or 46" handle which we don't have in this game anymore. I remember back there was a great coach at Herkimer, Paul Wehrum. He's spectacular. He played at Cortland with like a 53" handle. He played offense and defense. He played defensive middie, attack, and midfield. It's short enough to tuck the ball in and long enough to still help out on defense but not so long that he was a close defenseman. This was in the late 70's. That's what made Paul unique and different and wonderful. It's not allowed anymore.
E-LACROSSE: You played with Jim Brown at Syracuse and were an All-American yourself...
SIMMONS: Yeah. For a couple of years. People tell me that they played against Jim Brown and how great he was and they did gyrations guarding him or just watched him run by them. Some people had the nerve to say they knocked him down.
I say, "But do you remember me?"
And they say, "Did you play the game?"
And I played with Jim for three years. They don't remember me, but they remember him.
If everybody that tells me they played against Jim Brown, really played against Jim Brown, he would have had to play a thousand games a season. But that's what happens with age you know.
You get into time and then, "Oh yea, I played against him." or "I knocked him down." or "I held him scoreless." or "He had eight goals off me." It goes two ways.
I run into people who have great descriptions about playing Jim Brown and I was on the team. But they don't know it or that we didn't even play that team. But that's all right. These guys are all 60-65, impressing their second wives. I went in to a great department store in Boston … one year . [I ran into this] Hopkins player, gray-haired, had to be 60-65 with a young lady hanging on his arm. I thought it was his daughter. At the checkout counter he saw my hat and it said Syracuse Lacrosse and he said, "Oh, (in a bravado; a stage voice) did you play Lacrosse at Syracuse?"
And I say, "Yes, I did."
We didn't talk about [the exact] years and he looks at the girl on his arm and says, "Well I played at John Hopkins and I played against the great Jim Brown."
And I said, "Oh, really! That must have been quite an exciting time."
And he said, "Oh yea, we did this and we did that...", and the little girl's eyes kind of puddled up and she got a little closer to him and hung on his arm a little tighter.
And I thought, "This really isn't his daughter."
And [then] I thought, "When I tell this guy, in all honesty, because I was there, that Hopkins never played Syracuse, he's not going to get [lucky]."
So I said, "Boy that must have been a great experience for you!" I don't know his name to this day, but he owes me!
E-LACROSSE: You got the assist.
SIMMONS: Yes, I did!
My father was a great athlete at Syracuse. I went to an All-American banquet with him once in the mid 60's and guys stood up and took bows for scoring winning touchdowns, winning goals, and more baskets. And he'd say secretly to me, "He didn't play; That guy was the really the manager; he actually got cut."
And I'd say, "Dad, he just said he got the winning goal; the winning touchdown."
And he said, "That's what happens with years. People become All-Americans well on after graduation. And when you live as long as I do [lived to be 94], they think that nobody in the room knows."
You get greater as you get older. So, I've been around for a long time. There are far more All-Americans out there today than were ever really crowned. I'm not going to bust anybody's bubble, I'm just going to go with the flow.
E-LACROSSE: Who was the greatest; Brown or Gaits - Settle it here and now.
SIMMONS: Well you can't compare. I mean, Bronco Nagurski was a great fullback you know, as was Larry Czonka, another great Syracuse player, but you can't go comparing generation to generation. Paul and Gary were, and are still, very unique. They had a Canadian upbringing and a Canadian style. The one thing that people don't understand about Jim Brown and / or Gary and Paul Gait, is how big and tough they were and are. I mean, we talk about a Lacrosse midfielder; about 6'1" or 6'2" and about 185-190 pounds. Now you're talking Jim Brown about 6'2", 230 pounds. Ran like the wind. Ran as hard and as fast as he had to. You can't tackle in this game but he puts his shoulder into you and it feels like it. He also didn't learn Lacrosse in college [as is popularly believed]. He was from Manhasset, Long Island; a Lacrosse mecca. He picked up a Lacrosse stick long before he picked up a football. [He was a] polished stick handler. A classic stick handler by the time he was like 10, 12, 13 years old. Went to college at age 16 and was still A men among boys; a physiological specimen. His waist to this day is 32. He's still tough. He's incredible.
Paul and Gary never lost one minute of one day, game or practice, because of injury. Any kid in this game today that can be 6'2", 230 lbs., can run, and has stick skills is going to rule that position. Sure we have kids that are that big, but they don't have the skills or extra ingredient that a Paul and Gary and/or Jim Brown had.
This game is a unique game. I love the game. We're not driven by pituitary glands. We don't have the 7 footer or 280 pounder and all those special skill [requirements] like vertical leap. We just have good athletes; kids with great heart. And generally, they are not genetically unique. I think Jim Brown and the Gaits, for this game, are genetically unique with skills. Paul and Gary, they're tough guys, real tough guys. I've never known them to miss a game because of injury and that's a great ingredient. You can't put that chemistry together.
E-LACROSSE: Do you stay in touch with Jim Brown? Does he get involved in Lacrosse any more?
SIMMONS: Later on after he left the pros, he wrote several books that were angry [about racial inequalities]. Very angry about Schwartzwalder [legendary Syracuse football coach] and Paul Brown [legendary pro coach]. Angry about college and the pros. But there were shining moments when he talked of my dad. May Dad never saw color. Never. I was a teammate of his [Brown] so I saw, or felt, or heard the derogatory remarks about racism to Big Jim.
It was very evident; very loud and clear. He was uniquely black in Lacrosse, which was unheard of then. He got a lot of racial slurs and I heard them, I was there. We went to hotels where we were not welcome. We came to Baltimore a couple of times and the hotels said we couldn't stay there because Jim was with us. When we were in the Cotton Bowl, for instance in 1957, we were not allowed in the city of Dallas proper because we had a black player. We stayed in the fringes at a hotel that would accept him. I've been on a field standing right next to him in a ball game in which referees and coaches made racial slurs. And it must have been tough to fight through. He worked very hard. It's really what he dealt with, not what I dealt with. I was just the son of the coach. When we were on the road, he felt the most comfortable with me because if he had to deal with any situation, he was with the son of the coach. I roomed with him but nobody could really be close to him. I felt like when we played Lacrosse, I was probably as close as anyone there. I feel very good about Jim Brown and I think he feels good about me. I think we're pretty good friends.
I was with him two years ago. We were in New York and he was being honored at the Waldorf Astoria that weekend for the College Football Hall of Fame. He was already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. A two-time Heisman winning got up and introduced him as the greatest football player ever. I thought that was amazing that this guy who won the Heisman back to back introduced him [Brown] as the greatest football player ever. There were a lot of football players in the room but it was a great night for Lacrosse. That afternoon we had a special luncheon for Jim; a Syracuse luncheon in New York City. We sat around talking for hours before he was to receive his award and somebody said, "Jim, what was your favorite sport?" He didn't even miss a heartbeat, "My favorite sport's Lacrosse." He loved the sport but there wasn't going to be a career in it for him. I had sent him some sticks a number of years ago. Then Sixty Minutes or somebody was doing a documentary on him and they showed his home in the Hollywood hills and they went out to poolside and there he was, playing catch [Lacrosse]. Big Jim hasn't forgotten anything.
E-LACROSSE: Casey Powell is tough too. Does he get too much attention out there, physically?
SIMMONS: He's taken a lot of hits and I've talked to a lot of coaches who admittedly and not bashfully or apologetically, said that they keyed to shut him off from the ball, double him. Their game plan is to hit him. Hit him now. Hit him late. Hit him maybe from the side or maybe when he turns from the back, figuring, he won't be with us in the fourth quarter and we can beat you in the fourth period when Casey's not in the ball game. Casey is very good in the fourth period and I don't know why. But that comes with the territory, fastest gun, you know. I always enjoyed the wild west. Every guy who had a gun on his hip was undefeated. If you are willing to carry the gun, and you're still walking after carrying it for a while, then you're damn good. And I think Casey understands that. Case in point, last year we got into the semifinals, we were playing Loyola again at Hofstra and they had a game plan and they're very good at that. They had a week to prepare for us. They had played us once before at Memorial Stadium and they understood that our trigger man was Casey. So they were going to shut him down and shut him off from the ball. They were going to double team him and slide to him. And they did all those things. He did not score. He set a NCAA record with assists; eight. Eight assists in a game is notable, it's an NCAA record for a playoff game. He's all encompassing; a total player. They didn't take away his ego, they took away some of his game but he gave it to somebody else and there's something to be said for that.
E-LACROSSE: Dick Edell [Maryland Coach] said Casey was the best player he'd ever seen.
SIMMONS: Dick is a smoothie. He really had his kids zeroed in on Casey [1997 NCAA semi-final]. I tell my kids that NCAA ball is like slipping into a warm bath. I mean, you see the bath tub but you don't jump in. It might be too cold or too hot and be very uncomfortable. You want to go into that game and see what you can get away with. Now that's kind of a derogatory term, see what you can get away with. On a slide you give a guy a whack; no call. He drops the ball then next time, I'm going to slide a little later and hit a little harder. And I tell them it's a whole other level that you can't understand. I've got 18-19 year old kids. They've just played 13 games. This is game 14, 15, and times have changed. The rules are the same, [but now there's] national television; 32,000 people. "They [the referees] are more frightened then you are to make a mistake", I tell my kids. There are 30,000+ fans and no official wants to make a mistake. No official wants to have his call control the game, win or lose. Number one, they are special officials that have been chosen for that game, the night before actually. They don't tell them so nobody gets a bite out of them. They all sit around and they know they have been chosen for that weekend but they don't know which game so nobody can get to them and they haven't got any pre-thoughts.
So, you got to go out there, feel around and test the waters and Dick is very good at that. I thought his kids did a great job. I think it's a great system when you can adjust during game time. I think any coach worth his salt can adjust Sunday morning. You sit down, look at the tape, read the paper, and say, If I had . .. The object is in one hour, (which actually stretches out to two hours and ten minutes,) you meet a glitch, you have a problem, and you get out of it. You have to be able to take a game plan and re-adjust it. If you got them [the players] so set that you're going to do this, and in one hour it's over and they say, "hey coach if we had done that…" That's the difference between a great team and a good team. A great team can adjust game time, change their plan and get everybody into it I tease Bill [Tierney]. I say, " When it takes 1650 [SATs] to get into school versus 1300, you can say something once and I have to say it three times!" I know that's entirely untrue but I like to say that.
Pete Carill [Princeton Basketball coach recently retired] was a great coach. All you need to say is wins and losses but some people say, "Oh God, he ruined basketball." He was one of the winningest coaches ever. He was at a cerebral university. He had medium height white kids with high IQs and he could still beat a lot of teams. Back door, fourth quarter, they win by two with the back door and everybody'd say, " Who the hell scored?" Could have been anybody. Sometimes you have to adjust and work with what you've got. I can remember a great coach years ago and I won't name the team but [he] was a national champion and I was a fledgling coach; struggling. Struggling so hard you wouldn't believe. So I said, what's your formula.
He said, "It's very simple. When recruiting, I get the very best in that position. And then I recruit the second best in that position. So I put the very best in that position on the field. I've got the second best sitting on the bench. And I know who I'm playing against. I'm playing against the third best!"
And I said, "That's a great... formula!"
E-LACROSSE: Is the Hobart - Syracuse rivalry special to you?
SIMMONS: It may be less important now that they've joined division one. Long before there was division I and III, there was Lacrosse an there was Hobart versus Syracuse. Syracuse started Lacrosse in 1916. I'm not sure what Hobart's first year was. Hobart had a great defenseman by the name of Babe Krause. Syracuse University had a great defenseman by the name of Roy Simmons.
E-LACROSSE: Roy Simmons, Sr. ?
SIMMONS: Well, he wasn't Senior then because he wasn't married. Dave Kraus was the hero of the Hobart team and Roy Simmons was the hero of the Syracuse team. And they played. Hobart is about 40 miles from Syracuse. And we both played Lacrosse. It's a natural rivalry. It's one of the oldest rivalries. I don't think we can beat Rutgers-Princeton or Yale-Harvard or anything. I think if you look back in the history of collegiate Lacrosse, Syracuse-Hobart goes back to probably 1916. If Syracuse played a Maryland or a Hopkins, and they sometimes did, it wasn't as big a game as Hobart and Syracuse. So Dave Kraus graduated from Hobart in 1925and joined the coaching staff. My father graduated from Syracuse in 1925 and joined the coaching staff. So Dave Kraus and Roy Simmons went at it for 45 years. My dad coached three sports: Football, Lacrosse and Boxing. The first game I can barely remember, I sat in my mother's lap in the stands at Boswell field at Hobart.
Then Cornell entered the picture. They are also upstate. We're in a little triangle here. I remember one year being so embarrassed. Cornell won division I, Hobart won division III and Syracuse just played the game. And we used to add it up, too. And we had an upstate champion. There was no league or any kind of credibility to it. It was bragging rights for upstate NY.
They won a lot of them because Syracuse wasn't strong for a while. Syracuse gained it's great strength in the late 70's and had some great teams. I remember walking off vanquished and nobody wanted to talk to me and walking by Guy Van Arsdale, a great goalie, great athlete, coach at RIT. Four time All-American at Hobart. And I hear him say, "This means everything. A national championship isn't as big as beating Syracuse!" And that lit me up. I thought, "Wow, I am a trophy." He's won three national titles in division III but feels hollow. Today, he feels like a champion. Just a mid-season game. Hobart beats Syracuse. Division III beat Division I. They played the likes of Alfred, Hartwick, Carson, and St. Lawrence. I was playing Hopkins, VA or whoever. I mean, "how dare they beat us!"
Dave [Krause] died some years ahead of my dad. My dad coached a few more years and then retired, and I took over the helm. And I'd go down to Geneva, NY to play Hobart and the newspapers always asked about the great Kraus-Simmons rivalry. And I said, "You know what? There should be tradition formed here." Mike Hanna and I created a trophy called the Kraus-Simmons trophy and it is in it's 11th or 12th year. It's passed back and forth. Now that Hobart's division I, it's lost some meaning but we drag the trophy into the locker room and the kids hold it up and cheer. I know the Simmons part and the Kraus family are in the stands. The kids haven't got any idea what's going on, but it's still a fun thing. It's important to me because I've been around a while. I used to sit on Babe's lap as a kid and my dad was with me until just a few years ago. To me it's something special.
Johns Hopkins used to play Washington College and it used to be a great game. I used to go to it, when I could. It was the only time I could see Hopkins. I'd take the Wednesday off and go down to Chestertown [Maryland]. Washington College had some great teams. They had some great players: Peter Jenkins, John Cheek, Bryan Matthews [AD now at Washington College].
E-LACROSSE: Dave Urick was the coach on that particular day which Hobart beat you and, of course, led Hobart to such prominence? Then he moves to your Big East Rival, Georgetown...
SIMMONS: Dave and I are good friends. We respect one another; at least I respect David. He said [when he got to Georgetown], "Let's get together."
I told him, "Get your team together and tell me when."
He told me then [that] he needed a couple of years. When they were ready we didn't have a Saturday, either one of us. So we met mid-week which is not comfortable with travel time. He sacrificed some class time Monday or Tuesday and I certainly sacrificed a lot last year; went down to Georgetown midweek and he knocked me on my ass. We were coming off a big win [Virginia] and we were coming in with no real game plan. I'm not making any excuses. The proof is in the pudding. David is a great coach. And that's a unique school. Lacrosse is a wonderful, preppy sport. People talk about Exeter, Andover, Deerfield, Choate, Lawrenceville and all those wonderful bastions of private education. They all hope to go on to Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown. You mimic where you hope to go [with your High School choice]. Georgetown getting into Lacrosse is smart.
E-LACROSSE: Is the North-South Lacrosse rivalry real or mostly hype?
SIMMONS: There's a thing about Lacrosse; south of the Mason Dixon line versus north of the Mason Dixon line. Hopkins vs. Syracuse and all those things. But you know what, John Tucker today is coaching Gary Gait and he would tell you that Gary Gait makes him a great coach. Gary Gait will tell you that John Tucker IS a great coach. And when we played, the greatest rivalry and great fabled hatred, was Dave Pietramala vs. Gary Gait. I'm telling you today that Dave Pietramala and Gary Gait are as close as you can get. What the public perceives or wants to perceive and reality [are often very different.] If you put Tucker, Peitramala and Gait in the same room today, you couldn't find three closer friends who revered, admired and respected one another more. But when they were playing, everybody wanted to believe that John Tucker hated Syracuse. I don't believe that.
Quint Kessinich, God bless him, was led to believe that Syracuse was [evil]. It's like SMU-Notre Dame or the Catholics and the Protestants. But Quint Kessinich today, I admire as a broadcaster. I think he should have come to Syracuse. Quint Kessinich will respect and honor my program like he does Hopkins. I mean, if you listen to him today, you couldn't tell where he was from. I think he's great. He got out of Hopkins and he got into an intern program for some channel in Baltimore. So he's like a gofer, bringing in the tripod, setting the cameras up and all that. Now, people carry wires and cameras for him.
Quint is the ultimate in broadcasting Lacrosse. I love his attitude. You know a couple of years ago I went down to play Hopkins and they wanted me to go to Mt. Washington Tavern. I went to the Tavern and Quint was upstairs doing the radio program. Quint hated me with a passion. I mean, he was a Hopkins goalie. And I went up there and I bit the bullet and I said it's good for Lacrosse and it's a Friday night leading up to the Syracuse game and I'll do it. I walked in and I'm not that comfortable with Teddy Bower and I wasn't comfortable with Quint Kessinich although I'm very comfortable with him now. And I sat down …with Dave Cottle and we were talking about Lacrosse and Quint was the mediator and I thought, "Wow. You wouldn't even know this guy hated Syracuse a couple of years ago." He was absolutely spectacular. I think Quint Kessinich is very good for the game and I think he's a real gentleman. I think it's a mark of a great broadcaster when you don't know where he went to school or if he's left or right. I think Quint Kessinich is one of the greatest things publicly, for Lacrosse, and don't forget he's still a great goalie. His world games trials were super. He was right on the edge. We would have taken, based on tradition, three goalies [on the world team] and Billy [Tierney, of Princeton] decides two. You don't play three but you usually take three.
I said, "Two goalies out of this mix? Wow! It's like a who's who!" I'd love to be the coach of the backup team!
E-LACROSSE: John Desko [Assistant Coach] has been with you a long time. Will you pass the team on to him when you leave?
SIMMONS: Yes, most definitely.
E-LACROSSE: But no time soon?
SIMMONS: Probably soon.
E-LACROSSE: Really? Are we hearing that first here on E-Lacrosse? [a shameless plug]
E-LACROSSE: What do you mean by soon?
SIMMONS: I'm the oldest. I'm the winningest coach. You know, I woke up August 6th, 1997, last summer, and my wife turned to me and said, "Congratulations! You just won another award."
And I said, "What's that?"
"You're the oldest, winningest Division I coach today."
I have a lot of interests you know. I love my institution. I love my team. I love my coaching staff. You know, they've given me credit for running the team from the fall of 1970 but I graduated from Syracuse in '58 and coached the freshman team, which I'm not given credit for [in coaching statistics], from 1958 to 1970. So I've been coaching for like 39 years. You know, enough already. I love the game. I don't think I have a lot more to add but I've got a lot more things to do. So I am looking left and right.
E-LACROSSE: Would you like to win the championship and go out on top?
SIMMONS: You got it!
E-LACROSSE: You're not doing a farewell tour?
SIMMONS: No! No farewell tours. Absolutely no farewell tours. As Dean Smith said, " I couldn't accept that many rocking chairs."
E-LACROSSE: They could cheer and boo you at every stadium.
SIMMONS: I love that [the boos at opposing venues], actually. I've even had a lot of garbage thrown at me. I was stalked. One year, I had a detective with me the whole year. I was stalked by a psychopath.
E-LACROSSE: Was it Lacrosse related? A fan?
SIMMONS: Yeah, it was very Lacrosse related. The FBI never let me in the loop as to what he was. But I had a detective with me. Finally, the kids said, "Coach, your friend never watches the game. He always stands next to you with his back to the game and his face to the crowd.
Finally, midway through the season I said, "Guys let me tell you something. This guy is not a friend and he doesn't know the game. He's here to protect me." With winning, comes a lot of fun things. When I go to Hopkins, a lot of guys give me a lot of heat in good fun. When I'm at Syracuse, I'm ok because I'm the winningest coach in town. I'm entertaining. I'm not a bad guy. You know, there is no money in Lacrosse and my ego is very small so that's fine.
E-LACROSSE: Where do you see Lacrosse going?
SIMMONS: I see a great struggle in Lacrosse. It's an extremely difficult sport. I wouldn't have said that Prop 48 or Title 9 [would be issues] ten years ago, but I see it now. I see the real crunch of being "even" with the ladies. What you do for the men you do for the ladies. You do it as an athletic department and you do it as a sport. That's going to hold it back a little bit. Dollars are important at educational institutions. You can't spend dollars without qualifying it. If you are spending dollars and you're not bringing it back from NCAA Bowl games or TV Contracts, it's hard to justify anything better than intra-murals. If you put a football team together and it costs a million dollars, you better bring back a million. If you don't, where is it coming from? It's coming from the fee to go to college. We are in the entertainment business. We [Syracuse Lacrosse] are right on the cusp. We have basketball and football, and then we have non-revenue sports, and Lacrosse teeters right in-between. We probably pay for ourselves; one of the only programs in America that does, I'm sure. There are dollars spent for the 57 athletes and certain percentages on athletic scholarships. There is a formula there that's really delicate. I'll never know but we probably come close. And then at the end of the year we go to the NCAAs; first round is so much money, second round is so much money, third round is so much money. It's not big money. It's not like basketball.
E-LACROSSE: I guess Boehiem [Syracuse Basketball Coach] has got the corner office?
SIMMONS: Oh, no doubt about it.
E-LACROSSE: You are an artist off the field; a sculptor.
SIMMONS: I'm an artist at heart. I'm very interested in the stick; the old stick and how it was made. I collect them. I've been at the base of the tree when it was felled. I've helped drag it into the shop. I've helped split it and bend it. I've seen it shaped, carved and strung. I have a great affinity to the sport as it was.
I said to my dad once, "There's something wrong with the wooden stick because when it breaks you're so devastated. It's gone and you have to replace it with another hand carved stick and you can never replace it in the same way."
And because I was a sculpture major, I created a mold, which I had the capacity to do. I created a fiberglass stick like the old wooden stick. It was very cumbersome but it was made chemically. I showed it to my dad and he said, "It will never go."
So I went down to Dupont, the Chemical Company in Delaware. I showed it to the manufacturer down there and told him about the sport and the fact that the stick was uniquely carved by an Indian and strung by and Indian and they were all uniquely different. They warped. They broke. I asked if they could be done in a production line basis like a boat or a fishing pole, both of which were being made of fiberglass at the time. And he said, "I don't think that the cost of the mold and the uniqueness of the sport would pay and son. If I were you, I'd forget the idea." which I did. Three or four years later, I got into the coaching realm and the plastic stick came out.
I said "Damn it, I had this three or four years ago and somebody put me down about it and I didn't follow my dream."
And to this day, any dream I have, I follow.