The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Meet the Coaches: Marty Simmons

Sia DeyKoontz
Eastern men’s basketball head coach Marty Simmons instructs his team against the University of Tennessee Martin Skyhawks.

Behind every team, there is a coach playing a crucial role in helping the players achieve their potential. 

Meet Eastern’s men’s basketball head coach: Marty Simmons. 

Originally from Clarksville, Simmons followed his brother’s footsteps in forming a love for basketball.

He started playing at a young age and was taller than most of the kids his age, so basketball naturally fell into his hands. 

As a child, he wanted to be in the NBA, but after getting a better understanding of what he wanted to do with the sport, his initial dream changed.  

“There was a professional league for guys 6 foot 5 inches and under. I played in that for two years, and then I played in the Continental Basketball League,” Simmons said.   

With such a supportive community growing up, Simmons wanted to play for legendary coach Ron Felling. 

Simmons later went to play for Jim Crews at the University of Evansville, where Crews inspired him to coach. 

After playing for a few years, Simmons wanted to settle down and coach. His college coach asked him to come back while still getting his degree and coach the men’s college team. 

Slowly falling in love with coaching basketball, Simmons knew this was what he wanted to do.  

“I coached for a year, and I fell in love with it,” Simmons said. “I really enjoyed being around the players and teaching it. I love the game and being around young people, not just the ability to coach basketball but to coach life.” 

Simmons was fortunate to receive a graduate assistantship offer from his previous college coach, which allowed him to further his career in coaching.  

“And I mean, the hardest parts are just getting in and having an opportunity, him giving me the opportunity,” Simmons said. “The rest is pretty easy; it’s to be able to work with young people.”  

Taking in everything, Simmons enjoys the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and watch them grow on and off the court, academically and socially. 

“[We make] lifelong relationships in four to five years and it’s awfully satisfying. I feel very fortunate to be able to do that for a living,” Simmons said.  

Looking back on his career and the impact his players and coaches had on his life, Simmons gives them credit for how they have an effect on him.  

“The things that I do as a father, a husband, a brother, I hope in some small way that myself and the coaches we have here can be good mentors and somewhat role models and play that kind of impact for our players,” Simmons said. 

Observing his players develop and get better over time is one of the most satisfying parts of coaching for Simmons. 

The growth of their team, both on and off the court, is something that Simmons is quite proud of.  

“It’s neat to see [them] grow and get married, have kids, get into the business world. A lot of guys go play professionally,” Simmons said. “We tell our guys all the time, as my college coach told me, it’s not a four- or five-year commitment. It’s a lifetime.” 

College basketball coaches are often seen as confident and composed leaders, but behind the scenes, they can experience a range of emotions, including nervousness and anxiety, especially before a big game. 

The morning before games, Simmons tries to ease his anxiety with shiatsu. 

Simmons meets with his assistant coaches before practice to discuss what they need to work on and refine to be more prepared for the game.  

Coaching never stops for Simmons. He said he is “making recruiting calls, talking to recruits, always recruiting 24/7, 365.” 

Simmons continues to work his way up the scale and coach Eastern’s men’s basketball team. The team is hoping to secure a high seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament starting March 6 in Evansville, Indiana. 


Payton Liggins can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 


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Payton Liggins
Payton Liggins, Reporter
Payton Liggins is a freshman sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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