Rowdy Simon saw it as repaying a debt.
That’s why the Phoenix Male Prep Athlete of the Year, while already on campus at the University of Tulsa and battling as a walk-on for a spot on the football squad, is taking a break to participate in the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Games.
“I just feel like I owe it to my town to be here as a way of representing them for supporting me,” the Vian High School graduate said Sunday. “It’s an honor to be selected.”
It wasn’t the only choice Simon, who enrolled in summer classes at TU, had to make.
Another was selecting between football and wrestling. He was an all-state selection in both.
“Football’s my first love,” Simon said. “I’d do both if I could.”
Four Vian athletes were selected in some sport, but only Simon and Landon Decker are taking part. Decker, a Connors State signee in baseball, will be on the diamond with the Small Schools East squad on Tuesday. Tre Locust withdrew from wrestling.
Rob Boyd, who is on scholarship in football at TU, will bypass teaming up with Simon on Friday at Union-Tuttle Stadium due to classes. Kerwin Thomas of Wagoner, another TU signee, is also choosing to remain on campus.
Muskogee’s Kelsey McClure, a Division I signee with Central Arkansas, was an alternate selected earlier this summer. She’ll join Fort Gibson’s Brooke Palmer, among others, on the Large East team that plays Wednesday night.
“I asked my coach and she was good with it. She knew it was an honor not many kids have the opportunity to enjoy and I’m handling my course load since reporting in July,” said McClure, the All-Phoenix MVP on the girls side of the hardwoods this past season.
McClure along with Fort Gibson’s Jordan Hill were late selections to the games, which will be held in conjunction with the OCA’s annual clinic. The All-State games will be in the Tulsa area for the fifth straight year and will remain until at least 2014. Nearly 8,500 coaches are expected to attend the clinic.
Action begins today with golf at Cherokee Hills Golf Course in Catoosa and swimming at Jenks High School. Oktaha’s Kailey Campbell, Faith Lassiter of Eufaula and Tahlequah’s Emily Pippin are competing in golf. Hali Martin and Hannah Cantrell off Fort Gibson’s three-time state champion swim team will participate in the water.
Two other Muskogee athletes will compete on Wednesday in wrestling: Nigel Harris and Joe Andrews. Fort Gibson’s Jake Gandara (football) is the other Tiger going this week.
The week's schedule and participants from area schools:
(8:30 a.m., Monday, Cherokee Hills GC)
Kailey Campbell, Oktaha; Faith Lassiter, Eufaula; Emily Pippin, Tahlequah.
(6 p.m. Monday, Jenks HS)
Hali Martin and Hannah Cantrell, Fort Gibson.
Small East (4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson Stadium, ORU)
Landon Decker, Vian
Small East(6 p.m. Tuesday, Bixby HS), Bristen Graves, Okay
Large East (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mabee Center): Brooke Palmer, Fort Gibson; Kelsey McClure, Muskogee.
Small East (7 p.m. Thursday, Mabee Center): Jacob Richardson, Porter.
Large East (8:30 p.m. Thursday, Mabee Center): Jordan Hill, Fort Gibson.
(7 p.m. Wednesday, Bixby HS)
Large East, Nigel Harris and Joe Andrews, Muskogee.
(7 p.m. Friday, Union Tuttle Stadium)
East offense: Jake Gandara, RB, Gibson; Chance Douthit, OL, Gore; East defense: T.J. Ponds, LB, Wagoner; Rowdy Simon, LB, Vian.