Exclusive interview with Simmons family: 'Great to be home'

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 12, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Willie Simmons' move from Texas back to Florida means a lot to his family and friends from his hometown of Quincy.

It's his dream job, but it's no longer a dream.

"I'm still waiting on somebody to pinch me," Simmons said.

Simmons says being FAMU's new head football coach is surreal.

"Words can't describe the feelings, the emotions. This is home," he said. "To be able to come back and lead this historic program that I grew up watching and following and playing on the field, is second to none."

His wife, Shaia, is also excited. This too is home for the Quincy native and fourth generation Rattler.

"For our children to be able to have this Florida A&M experience, to be on the Hill and to be raised with that same level of care and love. That excites me," Shaia Simmons said.

The first person Simmons called to say he's coming back home - other than his wife - was his 80-year-old grandmother, Mildred McNeal.

"I said, 'Oh good, good, good!' I'm glad to have him back home. Yes, Lord. I usually don't go to ball games, but, I said I'll start going to ball games," his grandmother said.

His football coach from Shanks High School welcomed Simmons back by wearing the championship ring Simmons led the team to win in 1998.

Coach Andy Gay said, "Just a pleasure to coach, very intelligent young man, great football mind. His progress as a football coach doesn't surprise me one bit. He's always been destined for great things."

Simmons and his wife had a deal when he was at Prairie View A&M that she was allowed to miss one game a year in Texas in order for her to attend FAMU Homecoming games. They're excited that now they don't have to worry about her missing any of his games.

Many people at the press conference officially announcing Simmons as head coach were residents from Gadsden County.

"Just the overwhelming support has been phenomenal. It's so refreshing to know that you're loved by so many people. People have been telling me how proud my parents would be. Again, just to be able to come back home."

Simmons has four kids: A 19-year-old son who's a freshman at FAMU, 11-year-old and 2-year-old daughters and a 10-month-old son.

The children are ready for their new life in Tallahassee.

"What's the name of our new college?" Mrs. Simmons asked their 2-year-old daughter, Shailoh.

"FAMU," the toddler answered.

"Where are we going?"

"Williehassee," Shailoh said.



 
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