Gray Simons, our January 13, 2014 luncheon speaker, was a two-time Olympian and member of seven Hall’s of Fame. Simons coached at ODU for 17 seasons compiling a 131-106-2 record, and 36 years overall, with a 324-194-5 mark.
“I really enjoyed my stay at Old Dominion, said Simons. “I feel fortunate to have been able to coach wrestling, something I dearly love, at this level, and I have been very blessed to have coached so many outstanding young men. I want to thank Dr. Jim Jarrett and Dr. Mikki Baile for giving me the opportunity to coach here, and for their support. The wrestling community is a very close one, and I have made a lot of great relationships which I will always cherish.”
In the 17 years at ODU, Simons has coached 27 wrestlers who have qualified for nationals, and five All-Americans. In 1994, ODU captured the CAA Championship and Simons was named CAA Coach of the Year. ODU competes in the CAA Championships this weekend (Mar. 5 & 6) at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ.
Simons began his coaching career at His alma mater, Lock Haven in 1964 where he remained there until 1970, winning two NAIA Championships, earning Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1966 and 1967 and amassing a 59-10-1 record. He then moved to Indiana State, where he led the Sycamores to a 42-21-0 Record from 1970-75. Simons next post was at the University of Tennessee from 1975-1986 where he compiled a 92-56-2 record and trained ten All-Americans before the sport was eliminated from Tennessee’s program. The year that the Vols program was dropped, the team was ranked eighth nationally.
“Gray Simons has successfully coached the Old Dominion University wrestling program for 17 years. Old Dominion wrestlers have learned from the very best; a national champion, a member of seven wrestling Hall’s of Fame, an Olympian, a quality coach and a great person,” said ODU athletic director Jim Jarrett.
“We are fortunate that Gray’s home is Norfolk and we at Old Dominion University can count on continuing to utilize his guidance and expertise. Gray Simons represents the best of what intercollegiate values are all about, adds Jarrett.” Simons wrestled for the legendary Billy Martin at Granby High School where He won a state championship in 1956.
As a student athlete, Simons enjoyed an unparalleled wrestling career at Lock Haven (PA.). During his freshman year, he was defeated twice in his first nine matches, but never lost again throughout his collegiate career. He garnered a record of 91-2, including 84 straight victories, before graduating from Lock Haven. In four years from 1959-62, he won four NAIA National Championships, three straight NCAA National Championships, was twice voted as the Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Tournament and was named outstanding wrestler in six of seven national meets, an accomplishment that has never been repeated.
Simons was a member of the 1960 and ’64 U.S. Olympic teams in Rome and Tokyo, respectively. Gray placed sixth in the 1960 Olympiad.
Sports Illustrated referred to Simons as “the best wrestler in America.” Simons has been named to the Helms Foundation (1971), the NAIA Hall of Fame (1975), The National Wrestling Hall of Fame (1978), Lock Haven State Hall of Fame (1981), The United States Achievement Hall of Fame (1982), the Pennsylvania State Wrestling Hall of Fame (1983), and the All-Time Collegiate Wrestling Team by Amateur Wrestling News (1988). Simons was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. He was also named the 33rd most important athlete of the century from the state of Virginia by Sports Illustrated in December of 1999. Simons retired from ODU on March 2, 2004.
SIMONS’ CAREER RECORD
LOCK HAVEN: 59-10-1
INDIANA STATE: 42-21-0
OLD DOMINION: 131-106-2(17 yrs)
OVERALL RECORD: 324-194-5/ 36 Years
Source: ODU Profile Page