Cross reels from loss of popular coach
Students, coaches, parents and the entire Cross community tried to comprehend the news Sunday of the loss of one of Cross High School’s most promising young coaches.
Antonio Simmons, 34, assistant football coach and head track coach for the Trojans since 2009, died of an apparent heart attack on Sunday morning. Cross Athletic Director Shaun Wright confirmed the news Sunday afternoon.
“This is a very sad day for Cross High School and the community of Cross,” Wright said. “This was very sudden, a very tragic thing. Antonio was one of the good guys.”
A graduate of Berkeley High School and member of the Stags 1994 and 1996 state championship teams, Simmons played collegiately at Charleston Southern University, enjoying a breakout season in 1998 when he led the Buccaneers in tackles. Simmons was a two-time All American safety while at CSU.
Following graduation Simmons was an assistant coach at Fort Dorchester and Kingstree before joining Wright at Cross.
“Antonio helped me put this whole thing together,” Wright said. “I depended on him a lot. He was a true man who loved our kids.”
Information about Simmons’ passing began being spread on Facebook early Sunday morning.
“This rocks the community to its core,” Wright said. “Players are just starting to find out what happened.”
Timberland football coach Art Craig called Simmons a homegrown success.
“Antonio was a dedicated and hardworking young man,” Craig said. “He always had a smile on his face and was one of the funniest people I have ever been around. He was dedicated to his friends, players and his job.
“I am glad to have known him as a friend. My heart and prayers go out to the Simmons family and to Shaun. They were like brothers.”
Wright planned to call a team meeting this week to discuss the loss with players.
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be posted on the Independent’s website and Facebook page when they become available.