His first organized basketball experience began at the since closed Webb School and continued a few years later when the family moved to New Salem. During his years at New Salem Elementary and Junior High School (also now closed), he was teamed with some very talented basketball players, and a teacher and coach that remains special to him today, Dick Dunn.
“I was very fortunate to play for Mr. Dunn and the guys I played with were also very good - Keith Rice, Bob Emmy, Rudy Wesling and Greg Cook and others. Every one of those guys could play,” Simmermon said.
It was during his time at New Salem that Simmermon became in part, responsible for a rule change because of his basketball ability. While in grade school and playing in the county tournament as a member of the fifth and sixth team, he also played for the seventh and eighth grade tourney team. A few years later, depending on the students grade in school, a player could play for only an elementary school or junior high team, but not both. Another unprecedented point to note is that until 1970, when Simmermon first walked the halls of RCHS, basketball teams he played on had never experienced a loss.
“When I got to high school, there was some uncertainty as to if the coaches were going to move me up to varsity or not. I played one game for the freshman team coached by Ken Stanley and during that game I scored a lot of points. The next day, I was called to the coach’s office and told I was moving up to the JV team,” Simmermon said.
As a member of the junior varsity, Simmermon dressed for varsity games although his playing time was limited until near the end of his freshman season when his fortune was about to change.