2016-04-27 12:10:00 CET
Athletes darling Tim Simmons turns 69, but leaving the World Tour is out of the question
When coming to a FIVB World Tour stop it is always a little confusing in the beginning. Every venue is different, you need to orientate, maybe you even feel a little lost. But the moment you face the big smile of Tim Simmons, it feels like coming home.
“I can always count on his cheery attitude and smiling face to greet me every tournament he works. It automatically puts me in a good mood“, says April Ross, who just won the gold medal at FIVB Fuzhou Open. She knows the FIVB Media Delegate from Colorado as long as she has been playing at the World Tour. The jovial, Santa Claus lookalike, who is wearing is Crocks everywhere, is a staple at the World Tour. “My tour experience would not have been the same all of these years without his presence“, says April.
Tim, who was public relations director with the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association in the mid-1970s, started his involvement with Beach Volleyball in 1990 while managing the sports, regional and young adult marketing departments for the Coors Light brand at the Coors Brewing Company. In 1999, the FIVB employed him as a Beach Volleyball Media Delegate. In this function, he has already been to 137 FIVB World Tour stops in 29 countries. His daily on-site routine is to oversee and ensure the effective implementation of FIVB requirements for media operations at each World Tour event in conjunction with the local press officer.
“I got to know him as a cola-drink-addict“, says Olympic champion Jonas Reckermann. “His liquid intake consisted of 15 cans per day. Then he hid it from his wife, because she wanted him to live healthier. At the end of my time at the World Tour, he finally drank water sometimes, he either caved in or he saw reason, I don’t know.“ Besides this funny characteristic, Tim has some more qualities: “In an environment that's often extremely serious, he always seems to lighten the mood in just the right way“, says April Ross. “He’s definitely a bright light within the FIVB tour.“
The second bright light is Tim’s wife Lynn. Tim and Lynn Simmons are in their 41st-year of operating media rooms around the world with experience at six Olympic Games. “They are a great couple and an example how to grow old together“, says World Champion runner-up Reinder Nummerdor from the Netherlands.
Working for so many years at the World Tour, Tim and Lynn accompanied a lot of players in their development. “That is one of the nicest thing about the job, seeing young people develop as players, but more importantly, as people”, says Tim. Nevertheless, he took a break between 2010 and 2014. “After working eight-straight seasons of FIVB events, it was a time to take a break“, he says. But in 2014, press officer Richard Baker called him to return. “Richard has been a great person to work with and the FIVB was looking to expand various elements of the media team“, Tim explains.
At his first tournament back in charge, all the players gave him a little standing ovation at the technical meeting. “I was there, it was really nice to see how everybody was clapping and shouting for him“, says Madeleine Meppelink, who won the European Championship in that year. “Sometimes one person starts and than everyone starts clapping. But this time everyone started at once.“
The athletes appreciate Tim, because he knows about the meaning every game has for them. “With each match I have witnessed, I share the excitement of the winning team's success and the disappointment of defeat for the losing pair“, he says.
Tim loves watching the excitement of success and the incredible experiences when a player accomplishes something special. “I will never forget the stunned look of Vasso Karantasiou and Vasiliki Arvaniti of Greece after they upset Juliana and Larissa Franca in the 51-minute dockside gold medal match on July 2, 2005 for Greece's first-ever FIVB World Tour title. Or feeling the excitement that Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger enjoyed when their parents traveled from Austria for the first time to watch their daughters play in a FIVB World Tour medal match on August 15, 2009 in Kristiansand, Norway“, remembers Tim.
By turning 69, stepping back isn’t a topic for Tim. He and Lynn have already planned to work at the stops in Sochi, Moscow, Antalya, Olsztyn and the Rio Olympics. But he is most excited about the magnificent tour stops of the Swatch Major Series.
“Only Louis Armstrong can sum it up for my wife and I with our travels on the FIVB World Tour“, Tim says. His song ‚What a Wonderful World’ was played at his father's memorial service in April 1990. “Once I started traveling the world with beach volleyball in 1999, I realized why my father requested this song. It summed up his view of life and it really does sum up my life.“