Simmers family familiar with success [Athletics]

June 18, 2012

When it comes to prominent sports families in Alaska, the Simmers are moving up the charts faster than a hit single.

Each of Jef and Sheldonia’s first four children played college sports while the other three are still in high school.

Chantal ran cross country for North Carolina Central, Anna plays basketball at Army, Malina did track for Dartmouth and Louisville, Debbiey plays basketball for Malone, and Gus, Nathan and Uri play basketball for Anchorage Christian.

No surprise, it all started with athletic parents.

The dad was a paratrooper in the Army and served 20 years.

“My average on the Army fitness test was over 100 points in each event,” Jef told me.

The mom also served in the military and was the Army’s European champion in the triple jump. In 1987, she won medals in the triple jump, 100 meters and 4×100 relay.

“All three of Shelly’s brothers played college basketball,” Jef said. “Their uncle, Kenneth Washington, was on a pair of consecutive NCAA championships at UCLA. Their cousin, Jason Heyward, is playing outfield for the Atlanta Braves.”

When it came to sports, though, the Simmers parents never pushed competition on their kids. It came naturally.

“The kids enjoy physical activity,” Jef said. “We engage in massive snow battles during the winter. We like cross-country ski trips through the trails above Anchorage. Picking berries is always a competition … hiking, fishing. We all try to have fun in The Last Frontier.”