by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Joshua Simmons, a part of the Barton College baseball program for more than a decade and head coach of the Bulldogs since May of 2011, has stepped down in order to pursue other opportunities, school officials announced Monday.
In addition to his coaching duties, Simmons served for the past several years as supervisor of the Barton Outdoor Athletics Complex, which includes the baseball, softball and soccer/lacrosse fields, as well as surrounding practice areas.
"Josh Simmons has been my friend and loyal colleague for more than 15 years," Barton College Director of Athletics Todd Wilkinson said. "I am saddened by his departure, but I fully respect his decision to pursue other career opportunities and he will always have my support.
"His contributions as a coach, supervisor, campus and community member have been tremendous. Josh has been a true professional, and his departure will leave a void throughout the Barton community. Barton thanks him for his service, and we wish Josh and his family health and happiness as they engage in a new opportunity."
Simmons said the decision to step away from both Barton and baseball was an extremely difficult one.
"I have been afforded an opportunity away from baseball, and feel at this time it is best for my family and myself to pursue this opportunity," Simmons said. "I cannot thank Coach Wilkinson, Coach Gary Hall and the entire Barton College community enough for the opportunity to work with our baseball program for a decade. Barton will always be a place special to me and a place I will call home.
"The memories my family and I have made will forever be cherished. I would like to thank (former and current assistants) Robbie Monday, Justin Hay, Chris Rawlings, Dillon Rudio and Snooter Merryman for their countless hours and hard work. Ten years at Barton and a total of 17 years in baseball leads to a lot of players, both current and former. I can only hope I have impacted their lives a small fraction of the ways they have influenced mine. Those relationships are truly why I became a coach, and I will miss them the most. Again, this place is home, and I feel truly blessed to be able to say I had a small part in the history of this program."
Simmons first joined the Barton staff as an assistant baseball coach under Wilkinson, a long-time head coach of the Bulldogs. When Wilkinson stepped down from coaching in 2011 to become a full-time administrator, Simmons moved into the head coaching role.
Over six seasons at the helm, his teams won 129 games, including 31 during the 2015-16 campaign, the second-highest single-season total in the school's NCAA Division II history.
During his tenure, Simmons coached 15 All-Conference performers, including the 2016 Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, four All-Region performers and an All-American.
"I was so proud he accepted the baseball head coaching job in 2011," Wilkinson said. "I cannot begin to express my gratitude for his commitment to excellence the last six years leading the baseball program. His work at Barton has been exceptional."
Barton baseball also received more than 100 Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll designations under Simmons' direction, and one of its members was a two-time Conference Carolinas Scholar Athlete of the Year and Academic All-American. His program contributed heavily to Barton winning the conference award for highest graduation rate, the Allan Sharp Award, three years in a row between 2014 and 2016.
"Josh recruited outstanding student-athletes to the Barton campus," Wilkinson said. "The team was consistently one of the highest performing academic teams on campus. Additionally, his teams participated in numerous community service opportunities that have served Wilson well. The baseball team led the way yearly with raising money towards causes that were near and dear to their heart."
A search to fill Simmons' position will begin immediately.