Track and field is more than a competition for Simses
There was hardly a minute that Alice Sims didn’t have someone in front of her this past weekend during AAU Region 9 national qualifying track and field meet.
Sometimes she was under a tent, but most of the time she stood in the blazing heat.
She always had an answer, whether the question was from one of the 780 athletes or their coaches who came to town for the event.
Usually Sims’ husband, Ernie, is right by her side. But these days he doesn’t take the heat too well.
It didn’t use to be like that, but since being diagnosed with Lupus in 2011, he’s had to cut back on how much he could help.
The Simses remain the face of track and field in Tallahassee, though. It’s been that way since they started the Capital City Christian Cruisers club.
They just wanted something for their two boy children – Ernie Jr., and Marcus to do. But the bigger reason was to save young lives from becoming part of the criminal system.
They know the statistics well, being that they held down juvenile justice jobs.
Both of their boys went on to become star football players at FSU.
But Alice and Ernie will tell you that running a successful track program wasn’t all about their children.
There is plenty of proof of that in the lives that they’ve touched over the year. Perhaps thousands.
If the numbers aren’t enough, just look at the fact that their children have been out of the program for most than 15 years and the husband and wife duo is still at it.
They are teaching life value, they say.
“The community is our kids,” Alice said. “That’s why we keep doing this. It’s the passion and the love. We know it makes a difference in the kids.”
In the process, they’ve established one of the most respected track clubs in Florida. They led their team to more than 15 national titles and countless state championships.
The team isn’t as big as it used to be – just six athletes represented the Cruisers during the weekend. The commitment to training their athletes remain the same.
“We focus on really training the athletes and not just letting them run,” Alice Sims said.
Ernie Sims calls it a transition that the club is going through, as he and his wife take on more administrative roles with the AAU on the state level.
They don’t plan to let up any time soon. Ernie, especially despite his struggles with lupus.
“My faith tells me that every day that I live,” he said. “I live to impact people.
“It’s a job that we can’t retire from until our bodies quit. As long as we have strength to organize and the connections in the community we are going to do this.”