The Tulsa Eagles softball team took coach David Simmons on one final flight to the top last week before he passed away suddenly on Wednesday – one day after the championship.
Fittingly, the final game for ASA Hall of Famer Simmons was on the field at Durant Multi-Sports Complex, a stone’s throw from his boyhood home of Calera.
To the very end, Simmons was always encouraging young women to reach for the top – in softball and in life. On the day he passed away, three of his former Eagles were competing for the biggest crown in softball as members of the World Series-bound OU squad.
Simmons was a coach for more than 30 years, forming the Tulsa Eagles franchise for softball players from multiple age brackets. He formerly coached at Tulsa’s Union High School, and was inducted into the American Softball Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
But Simmons never abandoned his roots: The former Southeastern basketballer was the founder of the Durant Invitational Tournament – dubbed the “Invite” – which brought several elite teams to the area each year. Of course, his Tulsa Gold team won top honors this time.
“Durant should be very proud of his contributions to the softball community,” said his daughter Nicole Simmons of Charlotte, N.C. “He really changed the game for the state of Oklahoma.”
She said one of his proudest accomplishments was working with the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations to establish scholarships for Native American girls to play for his teams.
Now, assistant coach Tommy Rogers will coach the Eagles, who are scheduled to play in Dallas, Boulder, Colo., and the national finals in California over the summer. “There’s a strong desire that the legacy of this team will carry on,” said Nicole Simmons.