“Coaching at the Air Force Academy is a dream job,” Simons said. “There is nothing more rewarding than to see my athletes maximize their potential as gymnasts and then go on to become the best pilots in the nation.”
Simons proved to be a top-level gymnast early on in his career, dominating the 1988 Jr. U.S. championships and the Jr. Pan American Games by winning 10 gold medals.
Simons went on to a successful collegiate career at Ohio State University where he was honored as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, team captain his senior season, a Nissen Award Recipient and the 1994 OSU Male Athlete of the Year.
A native of Bloomsburg, Pa., he was a four-year member of the All-Big 10 team, while earning four Big 10 Conference titles on the parallel bars (1992, 1994), still rings (1992) and high bar (1993). In addition, Simons picked up two NCAA All-America certificates, as the Buckeyes finished third at the national meet during each of his last three seasons. Simons graduated from OSU in 1996 with a degree in exercise physiology.
Following his collegiate career, Simons competed on two world championship teams, as well as the gold-medal winning teams at the 1994 Goodwill Games and the 1995 Pan-American Games. He also represented the United States as a member of the 1996 Olympic team that finished fifth (17th SR) at the Atlanta Games.
Olympian Kip Simons became the head coach of the Air Force Academy men’s gymnastics team in 2005. Simons came to the Academy after spending five seasons on the coaching staff for the California-Berkeley men’s gymnastics program.
He was an assistant coach from 2001-05 and then held the title of associate head coach for the final year of his stay in Berkeley. During his tenure at Cal, the Bears finished within the top-two at the MPSF Championships every year, winning the conference title in 2004. Simons helped guide Cal to a pair of third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships and coached 19 top-10 finishers, including four national champions.
In just five years, Simons has accumulated several coaching accolades.
In 2010 Simons coached the Air Force Academy to its first ever USAG Collegiate Division National Team Championship. In the process he produced two USAG Individual event National Champions and 8 All Americans. He was named USAG National Head Coach of the year. Later He was named CGA West Region Head Coach of the Year.
In 2009, he guided Jake Schonig to his second straight USAG title on the still rings, as well as a place among the national finalists for the Nissen-Emery award.
During the 2008 season, he coached Greg Stine to the Academy’s first NCAA All-America certificate in 15 years as Stine claimed top-eight honors at the NCAA Championships in the all-around and on the still rings. As a team, Air Force claimed a third-place finish at the USAG Collegiate Championships. Individually, Stine (all-around, parallel bars) and Schonig (still rings) claimed USAG titles, while four Falcons accounted for eight USAG All-America honors.
Following the 2008 season, he was selected as the USAG Coach of the Year and the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year.
In 2006, he was voted as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year. Honors: In September 2006, Simons was inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame by the Varsity “O” Association. Kip has a street named for him in Bloomsburg, PA called, “Kip Simons Boulevard.” Family: Simons was married in May 2009 to the former Kim Rich of Columbus, Ohio. He is the son of Dot and Bill Simons.
Sources: Air Force Academy Athletic Dept. website. Photos taken from the public domain by 2008-2010 Web Manager Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who-2010. Editing by Dr. Larry Banner, 1993 GHOF Inductee & 1894-2007 Web Manager, Ph.D. & Ed. D.