New Athletic Director Happily Joins SMC Staff, Looking for Longevity at the School

For the last four years Rhonda Hyatt was in charge of the 16 intercollegiate athletic teams at SMC and earlier this semester Hyatt left to take another position at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

At College of the Canyons Hyatt is now the director of the college's recreation management program where she is responsible for the development and organization of the new recreation management courses and curriculum. She is the only one involved in this program on their campus.

Hyatt commuted from her home in Santa Clarita every day to SMC. A move to a college that was much closer to her home was an important factor in her sudden change in career positions.

Hyatt's leave came soon after basketball coach Jesse Teplitzky accepted an offer with Cerritos College to coach full time.

With the sudden leave of Hyatt only a month ago there was a scramble to find a new athletic director as the new semester began and guidance was needed with all the changes happening. Gregory Simmons stepped up to take the position with a positive attitude and a lot of experience under his belt.

Simmons got his bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands in business management and then continued with his education at San Diego State University with a master's in education with a focus on counseling. Before he accepted the position at SMC, Simmons was the executive director for the San Diego Sports Institute where he spent five years.

His passion is in all sports but his favorite is track and cross country. "I've been into sports since middle school. Track and field that's my main sport," said Simmons.

He spent years coaching for all different kinds of sports and has always found interest in working with student athletes reach their goals but also with a great focus on the educational side.

He also spent time working at San Diego City College where he was the athletics counselor and head coach for track and cross country.

His experience coaching also comes from time spent at Los Angeles Southwest College as well as San Diego State University.

"This is the first time in about 19 years that I'm not coaching," he said. "I've been coaching track and field and other sports for a long time now."

All his experience will help to lead SMC in the right direction and make the focus more about the athletes.

"I want to focus on the student part of student athlete," said Simmons. He knows that the time students spend at SMC is short and most are working to transfer to major colleges and universities around the country. He wants to be here to support those students. "There are over 300 student athletes on campus. That's a large part of the population here."

Simmons feels he's the behind the scenes man and the focus shouldn't be on him and what he's doing, but to make sure everything is running smoothly for the coaches and the athletes. With his time at SMC Simmons wants to work intimately with the coaches and also increase the popularity of sports on campus.

The attendance of students for sports like women's soccer, volleyball, and track and field is lacking, "Our women's soccer team is doing amazing this year, we're sixth in the state and that's a big deal." He wants to work with local newspapers in Santa Monica to get the word out about SMC's different teams as well as reaching out to the student body through the Corsair newspaper.

Simmons started just two weeks ago and is scheduled to serve here until June 30, 2009. His hopes are to extend his career here at SMC past June 30 and work here permanently. Many new plans are being put into effect.

The football field is done laying down its new turf and Simmons has been working hard walking the field almost daily checking that everything is up to standard for the first home game of the season for the football team on Saturday Sept. 27.

Just as the football field is being finished the running track is about to undergo a face lift as well. From Dec. 9 through Jan. 9 the track will be redone to go along with the new football field.

Simmons was born in Los Angeles and has stayed local. With two children now attending college he is able to focus his time completely on his job and plans on staying involved with the campus by attending games and supporting SMC's teams and staying in communication with the different coaches on campus.

Working for SMC in such a capacity is a dream for Simmons: "I like it here, I want to stay here for as long as I can."