By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- Bill Simmons knows that building a successful boys basketball program at Stonewall Jackson will be more arduous than effortless.
After all, the Generals lumbered through a grueling season last year: They soured at the bottom of the Shenandoah District, were the lowest seed in the district tournament, and saw their season promptly conclude with a 66-22 loss to Luray in the first round of the playoffs.
But the Generals' newly hired boys basketball coach explained that Stonewall Jackson's recent blunders can hardly be blamed on a lack of team athleticism -- the Generals' soccer and track and field teams are proof enough that athletes are in abundance at Stonewall Jackson.
What is most wanting in Quicksburg is a passion for basketball that seeps into the youth levels.
"I met with the players before school was out and we basically talked about bringing ... excitement back into the program," Simmons said. "That's where we need to start -- we need to have the kids loving to play basketball."
Which is why Simmons will host a basketball camp for youth players this summer. Should local athletes develop a love for the game at an early age, Stonewall Jackson might reap the benefits in the coming years.
But for now Simmons will work with what he has, and what he has is a roster of multi-sport athletes capable of playing any number of basketball styles.
Simmons quickly scanned his team's roster, and liked what he saw.
"There's a lot of kids who did track that are on there, so they've had a taste of success, they know what success is like," he said.
The Generals do lose the leadership of Dylan Dawson -- a Shenandoah District honorable mention selection who graduated in the spring -- and will be splattered with youth next season, but Simmons remains optimistic.
"You can't take away from someone who's hard-working and a leader like [Dawson] was," Simmons said. "You can't replace that stuff on the floor, so obviously he's gonna be missed.
"But overall we have a good group of young kids coming back."
Simmons coached JV and varsity boys basketball at Massanutten Military Academy, and spent four years coaching the girls team at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.
In his one season as MMA's varsity boys coach, the Colonels had a 9-9 record and were Cavalier Athletic Conference runners up.
Simmons, a Virginia Tech graduate, will teach special education at Stonewall Jackson in the fall.