By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH — For Bill Simmons, 2018 was a good year.
“That year was why I wanted to become an athletic director,” he said.
Serving five years as an assistant girls basketball coach at Stonewall Jackson High School under Jeff Burner, Simmons saw what it took to build a program. In 2018, the Generals went to the state Final Four. That same year, Simmons lead a girls tennis team to the state tournament as well. State tournament appearances are rare for the Generals, and Simmons had just helped lead two Stonewall teams deep into the postseason.
“It was awesome to see that pay off…I did so much work behind the scenes for both of those teams, I told my friend…I want to do this for everybody [as an athletic director],” Simmons said. “It’s awesome to see the hard work of coaches pay off, and it takes time.”
On July 1, Simmons took the reins as athletic director at Page County High School. He replaces Keith Cubbage, a 1985 PCHS alum who filled the role for 15 years at his alma mater.
Prior to arriving at Page, Cubbage had served as a teacher and coach at Stonewall Jackson for 17 years. Cubbage, 54, previously coached football, volleyball, boys basketball and track at Stonewall. On July 1, he became Stonewall’s (now Mountain View High School) new athletic director.
“My principal traded me for a first round draft pick for Keith,” Simmons joked of the two switching schools in the same role. While he was not officially the athletic director, Simmons assisted with athletic director duties at Stonewall last year.
Simmons graduated from Central High School in Woodstock, earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree from Old Dominion University. He was a teacher and coach in Shenandoah County Public Schools for 16 years and spent two years in Warren County. He taught nine years of Algebra I and spent nine years teaching special education. Simmons has also coached a number of sports, including boys and girls basketball, track, girls tennis, girls soccer and youth football.
Two things that interested Simmons in Page County was the current success of many sports programs and how invested the community was in Panther athletics.
“There is a quality cache of coaches in this building,” Simmons said. “Page County has amazing coaches and programs across the board, established coaches that have had great success, and Page County has a great community support program.”
“I just want to be a part of that…not to come in and change anything…but take something that’s great and keep it great, or even see if we can improve on it,” the new athletic director continued. “My lens is so wide, and I can see all the things that go into it, and it takes all those things working together.”
PCHS also recently announced the hiring of new coaches for volleyball and cheer.
PCHS alum Ashley Henry was named the new head volleyball coach for the 2021-22 school year. She replaces longtime coach Alan Knight, who will focus his efforts on softball. Coach Henry previously served as assistant volleyball coach for the past two years under Knight. Henry played for Page County for all four seasons of her high school career. She serves as Event Tournament Manager at Horizons Edge.
“Coach Henry is a knowledgeable and passionate coach who will provide her players of all skill levels with opportunities to grow,” Simmons said.
PCHS also hired three alums as the new cheer coaching staff — Tonya May, varsity cheer coach; Robin Cubbage, JV cheer coach; and Ashley Childress, middle school cheer coach. All three cheered for both the sideline and competition cheer squads during their high school careers. They have more than 27 years of coaching experience in cheer at various levels between them.
“It’s an exciting time for the cheer program,” Simmons said. “Coaches May, Cubbage and Childress are extremely passionate about Page County Cheerleading and are focused on working as a team to help continue the great tradition of Page County cheer.”
Here’s a breakdown of upcoming events leading up to the fall sports seasons:
• FOOTBALL — Equipment handout from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 at PCHS; first practice will be Thursday, July 29.
• VOLLEYBALL — First tryout date is 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2. at PCHS gym.
• CROSS COUNTRY — First practice at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2 at PCHS football stadium.
• GOLF — First practice Thursday, July 29 at Luray Caverns Golf Course.
• CHEER — Varsity and JV tryouts begin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29 in the PCHS commons.
PCHS will also host a Fall Sports Parents Meeting at the school for all fall sports athletes and parents at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5.
To check schedules, rosters, results and standings, see the Bull Run District website.