Thursday, November 20, 2008


This week's Left Field guest graduated from North in '95. His athletic accomplishments combined with his sartorial supremacy, allowed Kyle Simmons to enjoy high school, college and the life he's currently experiencing.

You graduated from Lutheran North in ’95 and won a baseball and basketball district championship that year. Which medal do you still proudly pin on your shirts each and every morning? That would be the basketball medal. Going into that district tournament everyone had already predicted a Clintondale vs. The Clem grudge match. We weren’t given a chance, but we waxed The Clem by 25 behind Big Mo as he dunked them right out of gym. The final was a classic. It was a back and forth game that could have gone either way and we were fortunate enough to come out on top. That team worked really hard to be in a position to win that championship and it was very satisfying to bring home the title. It also earned us an opportunity to get bounced by Shane Battier and Country Day, that makes for a good story.

While playing baseball for Oakland University, did you battle anyone who is now in the Major Leagues? Yes, there is actually a short list of players that are in “The Show”. We played on a lot of great campuses against some pretty good programs. It was pretty obvious to tell who was playing at a different level. Here is the list:
J.J. Putz-University of Michigan, closer for the Seattle Mariners
Mark Mulder- MSU-St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Pena- Northeastern University, Tampa Bay Rays
Aaron Heilmann- Notre Dame University, NY Mets

Other than using it for Huggy Bear’s wardrobe in the remake of Starsky and Hutch, what ever happened to that purple suit you used to sport during away basketball games? Well that suit is a classic and still hangs in the closet. Those in the know realize that fashion runs in cycles. Just like we used to seek out '70s clothes for Halloween or were forced to wear bell bottom warmups for JV basketball games, somewhere around 2020 somebody will want that suit for a '90s theme party.

Aaron is now a freshman in college. Pretending he was you, he used to run around the basement shooting jumpers on the Li’l Tykes hoop. How old does that make you feel? Now that makes me feel really old. I hope his shooting percentage was higher than mine, if not, sorry if you had to buy more than one hoop.
The first time the Left Field Czar noticed you was at one of your older brother’s baseball games at North. The Czar was coaching and you introduced yourself to me. Where does that kind of smooth confidence come from? As smooth as it seemed I am pretty sure my parents told me I had to. It's never too early to start sucking up for some playing time …right??.

You played football, basketball and baseball at North. You must have some incredible bus-trip stories. Can you recount one of your favorites for the Left Field bleacher fans? I am not sure the mode of transportation that today’s LHN athletes are furnished with, but we had some great options back in my day. We had access to the stylish yet functional 12 person vans. We would pile in 14 people and a bag of basketballs and be on our way. Good Times. I do recall a certain away game at Liggett, in which there was a heavy snowfall and the drive was treacherous. We pulled over several times to clear the ice from the wipers and then we pulled over another time because the author of this blog no longer wanted to drive. Current principal Reincke saved the day and got us there.

You also roomed with Lutheran North’s boys’ junior varsity basketball coach. He’s always hogging gym time by starting before he’s supposed to and ending well after his time limits. Was he that way as your roommate in college? Some things never change. I do recall strict rules with our mini fridge. It had 3 shelves in it, I think I was entitled to half a shelf. College dorms are barely big enough for two people, especially when one is 6”6”. Our dorm had to house his bike, I think it leaned against a wall for a solid semester without moving.

How are you collecting paychecks these days? I sell home and auto insurance at Simmons Insurance Agency in my hometown of Richmond.

What video do you remember from your Dunklau days at LHN? How a Bill becomes a Law, of course.

Question last must discuss The Shot that help produce the school’s only boys’ basketball district championship. Unlike those irritating play-by-play announcers who talk over the moment while attempting injecting their obnoxious presence, I’ll let you tell the story. Well, we were down a point with 5.1 seconds left and Clintondale was inbounding the ball from under our hoop. The kid inbounding it just got done celebrating with their Dragon mascot, little did he know the game was far from over. It sounds odd, but everything happened so quick yet felt like it was in slow motion. We were all denying the ball, the inbounder panicked and threw it over my guy's head and as that was happening I could see the ball headed directly to a teammate at half court. I faded to the corner in a wide open spot. I am pretty sure Big Mo was open underneath when I got the ball but I had no idea how much time had ticked off the clock when I received the pass so I pulled the trigger. I think it may have been the purest shot of my career. It is easy to say now but the whole time it was in the air I remember thinking there was no doubt it was in. The ball went through the hoop the same time the buzzer sounded and madness followed.

Follow up to Question Last: Is it true that several years later Coach Welch, now coaching Lutheran North’s girls’ team, was conducting practice and you went to the left corner of North’s gym, called him out and gave him an instant replay of The Shot? Unfortunately that is a true story. It was all meant in good fun, Mr. Welch is as nice a guy as you are going to meet so hopefully that is the way it was received.

Left Field Pop Flies
Defense or Offense? What’s defense?
Triples or lay-ups? Triples even on a breakaway
Golden Grizzlies or Golden Gophers? Grizzlies, of course
Rich Rodriguez or Rod Marinelli? Is neither an option
Troy Ginzer or Troy Aikmen? Aikman: TD’s are king
Change a flat tire yourself or call AAA? Make the call
Personal liability/personal damage or $500.00 deductible? You have a $500 deductible
Adrian or Olivet? Olivet, host a stellar team camp with great music
Kwame CrookPatrick or Kwame Brown? Brown
Charlie Brown or Larry Brown? Charlie


Dr. Steve Buuck said...

Mr. John Brandt and Mr. Kyle Simmons on one blog site - wow, two of the absolute best to ever teach/coach and learn/play at LHN!! The interview warmed my heart on a cool 70 degree day in December in Las Vegas.

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