The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 13 of 83

INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS development of female varsity athletics at the University of Michigan, passed away on April 13. He was 102 years old. Simmons was the inaugural coach of the Michigan Kenneth "Red" Simmons, an instrumental leader in the RED SIMMONS PASSES AWAY AT 102 YEARS OF AGE women's track and field team. A graduate of Eastern Michigan, he is in the EMU Hall Of Fame, was named the very first honorary 'M' Man in 1990 and was the first member inducted into the Michigan women's track and field Hall Of Fame in 1994. "Red was a fixture at many sporting events and was always supportive of the department and our coaches," Michigan athletics director David Brandon said. "He lived a long, productive life and made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of others. Red will be missed by our athletic department, but his legacy will endure as an accomplished coach, a wonderful person and a great Michigan Man." Simmons had already lived a full, rich life before he even became associated with U-M. He won two state championships (low and high hurdles) before enrolling in Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michi- gan) to run track. He also participated in the 1932 Olym- pic Trials. Away from the sport, he joined the Detroit Police De- partment in 1934, a year after graduating, and eventually rose to the rank of detective sergeant. He retired in 1959. A year later, he was drawn back to the sport he loved so dearly. He created the "Michigammes, Ann Arbor's first such club for women. Over the next 17 years, Simmons built the Michi- gammes into one of the most dominant track clubs in the nation, producing an Olympian (Francie Kraker- Goodridge). Two other athletes who competed in the Olympics in other sports (Sperry Jones, sprint canoe, and Micki King, diving) also ran for the Michigammes. The success of the program led to the initiation of women's track and field as a varsity sport in 1976. Sim- mons, naturally, was named the first head coach, leading the Wolverines for four seasons before retiring in 1981. After his retirement, Simmons was an active fixture of " a track club in 1960, campus life, attending Wolverine sporting events with his wife, Lois, whenever he got the chance. He was also a noted workout enthusiast who won four gold medals in the 1995 Senior Olympics at the age of 85. "This has hit me like a ton of bricks, track and field coach James Henry said. "The person who has made me who I am today has just passed on. I feel heartbroken. I feel a little dazed and confused because I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for Red putting me in the position to have the type of life I'm leading now. "I'm doing what I love to do and that's coach and help " Michigan women's kids, and Red is responsible for that. He built a legacy of integrity, hard work and honesty. He has made my job easy —I live by his example as an individual and as a coach." 14 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 — Andy Reid Simmons was the first head coach of the Michigan women's track and field team. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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