Destined to coach since day one, Todd Simon remembers playing basketball with his GI Joes and watching Magic Johnson on TV- someone who grew up just 30 minutes from Simon’s hometown. Now, as Simon and his family make their way to Cedar City, he finds himself making his dreams a reality as he steps up as the new Southern Utah University Head Coach of Men’s Basketball.
Coach Simon grew up playing basketball in small-town Fowler, Michigan. He knew that he would play the game as long as he could, but looked forward to stepping up as coach someday. After high school he attended Central Michigan University where he double majored in Sports Studies and Management Information Systems. Afterwards, he lived in Los Angeles for a year, moved to Vegas where he earned his master's degree in Sports Education and Leadership at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), helped start Findlay Prep (a premier high school basketball program) and returned to UNLV to be an assistant coach before taking the helm at Southern Utah University.
His coaching experience, ranging from assistant to interim head coach at UNLV, has taught him a lot. Though Coach Simon has always studied basketball, there were some parts of coaching he could not have learned or did not make sense until he was leading practices and standing courtside during the game.
“I think you underestimate the bigger part of coaching, which is not the X’s and O’s but the part where you have to be a tactician and study the game in order to know how to teach,” Simon said. “The part that gets overlooked is that these are people. We say all of the time in our meetings that we are not recruiting athletes, we’re not recruiting players, we are recruiting people.”
Throughout all of the moving and coaching across the nation, his wife Kati stood by his side. The two of them grew up just five minutes apart, dated throughout high school and college and started a family together. They now have three boys, Rece (5 years old), Raylan (3 years old), and Ryder (7 months old). Todd and Kati have loved their move to Cedar City, reminding them of their small hometowns, which are roughly thirty times smaller than Cedar. They said it is taking them back to their roots and away from the craziness of cities where they have lived over the past few years.
“More than anything I just love the community here; the people here are unbelievable,” said Simon. “I feel like if I’m going to drop something, there’s going to be two people there to pick it up before I even have a chance. It makes me want to rush, sprint in fact, to hold open a door for someone.”
Though Coach Simon and his family are looking forward to visiting the parks and eating at local restaurants, he is also excited for all of the hard work that his team is putting in for the upcoming season. He said that he knows they have a long way to go, but he cannot wait to showcase these players and the new program.
As for the community and fans, he’s hoping for a little bit of blind faith from everyone. The team, just like any team, will need cheers and support from not only the crowd at the games, but the community as a whole.
“Understand that everything is new,” said Coach Simon. “It’s a new era for these players and it’s a new era for this program. It’s easy to wait back and see how we do. It’s a lot harder to say 'hey, I’m going to support these guys and grow with them while this program develops - I’m going to be a part of it from the ground level'.”
Coach Simon, along with his staff and team, will start their preseason this fall. They all look forward to bettering their record, bettering themselves, and making an impact on this community.