Sims Changing Lives Just Like His Parents Did

Former FSU and NFL star Ernie Sims coaches up his players during a celebrity  football game put on by Sims for charity last Friday at Tom Brown Park. Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Former FSU and NFL star Ernie Sims coaches up his players during a celebrity
football game put on by Sims for charity last Friday at Tom Brown Park.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine




By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

When Ernie Sims, III decided to form a charity organization that he calls Big HITS Foundation, he wasn’t just trying to do what so many other former NFL players have done to give back to their communities.

Instead, he was inspired by his parents Ernie, Jr., and Alice Sims. For more than two decades, the couple has made mentoring young people their mission.
All along a young Ernie Sims took notice.

“Growing up seeing them with The Way Ministries and their track club (Capital City Christian Cruisers), it showed me an example of how to lead. How to lead with kids that don’t have that family structure like I did,” the younger Sims said. “I’ve veered off in different directions. When I went to college and the NFL, I’ve learned a lot.”

So he is passing on the life values he learned through his foundation that was formed in 2009, while he was still playing in the NFL.

For two days, July 10-11, Sims put on a charity weekend of activities as a fundraiser. The weekend culminated with a recognition banquet, but it was the two sports that he grew up playing – football and track and field – that were the highlights of the weekend.

Both a flag football game and an invitational track meet provided plenty of teaching moments for the young people that he is trying to reach, Sims said.
Just like his parents used to when they used competitions to inspire and motivate.

“Life is about competition,” Sims said. “I tell kids all the time: football is a great thing because it teaches you teamwork, responsibility and ultimately it teaches you how to compete.”

“In life, you have to have those values. You can’t hide from competition. You’re either going to compete or you’re not going to get the job done. My parents taught me how to do it and it’s engrained in my brain.”

That he has formed an organization that is impacting lives to the tune of hundreds might be surprising to some. But not his parents.

“We are glad that through our sons (Ernie and Marcus) watching us that they were able to (pick up) some of the things that we did in the community,” said Sims’ father, himself a former FSU football player. “I really am proud for that.

“The most important thing is he has matured to a point that he sees the importance of affecting other people. That’s the thing I’m most proud about. He is bringing people together.”

Indeed he did last weekend. Several of them were his former teammates at Florida State, where he was a star linebacker. The lineup on both teams in the flag football teams – one coached by the older Sims and the other by his son – also featured a cross-section of radio and television personalities.

A large crowd turned out at Tom Brown Park to witness it. They got plenty to talk about, especially the big plays from former FSU receiver De’Cody Fagg and former North Florida Christian star Lamar Hughes.

“I feel good to get out here and run around with the guys, while supporting Ernie and his charity,” said Fagg, adding that his 40-yard catch reminded him of a game-changing catch he had for the Seminoles against Miami in a season-defining game in 2005. “That catch took me back to ‘05 when everybody thought I didn’t have it and I got out there and showed them.”

Of course, not all of the participants that helped Sims get a 26-21 win over his father’s team were seasoned players. WCTV news anchor Shonda Knight was there primarily to support the cause.

“It can be intimidating because these guys are the real deal,” Knight said. “They kept plays and they called things that I’m not quite sure of (but) it was just fun. It’s all for a good cause and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

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