Playing to a packed house at Memorial Gymnasium was nothing new to Mark Simmermon and other local basketball players during the mid-1970’s. Then again, in those days, basketball was the main attraction on any given Friday or Saturday night in small towns across the Hoosier state. At the time, slam dunks were not allowed and the game was played without a 3-point line.
What stands out most about Mark Simmermon from that era was not his 6’4’’ frame, so much as what he was about to do with it on a basketball court. During his four years at Rushville Consolidated High School (1970 to 1974), Simmermon played in 77 games and scored 1,241 points for an average of 16.12 ppg. Forty years later, that point total has stood the test of time and still ranks as the pinnacle for an RCHS Lion basketball player.
Simmermon credits his basketball career to being teamed with equally good players and coaches. He also said his parents Phil and Patty Simmermon made major contributions to his successes in his life, not only from an athletic standpoint, but also to the person he became. Two of his earliest basketball memories are connected to his parents.
“I was always tall for my age and when I was seven-years-old, my dad came home one night with a gym bag and said Nick Singleton had a travel team at the Rushville Boys Club made up of 9 and 10 year olds and wanted to know if I would like to play with them. I played with the team later that night, got in the game and scored. The second moment was when my father brought a basketball rim home and nailed it to the side of our barn,” Simmermon said.
During the following years, the youngster spent hours honing his shot on the rim nailed to the family barn.