We Need More of These

David Yon,


 The roar from the carnage at our schools, churches, malls and hotels seems to make us incapable of rational thought. If arming teachers or attacking the mentally ill is the best we can come up with… I must wonder how long we can claim to be a “civilized” society.

Then, just a few weeks ago, Alice Sims was inducted into the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame. During her career at FSU, she was a two-time National Champion in 1981, once outdoors in the 4 x 100-meter relay (43.73) and once in the 4 x 200 indoor relay. She was a 7-time All-American in both the long jump and relays. She soared 20’6” over the long jump pit to achieve one of her All-American designations and set the FSU record for the long jump. But that is not what made me think there is hope.

Certainly, these awards are important to her. After all, she is surrounded by a family of athletes, including some very talented football players. But she was quick to point out that the induction into the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame was about much more than who could run the fastest or jump the farthest.

The announcement made that part clear: “These distinguished individuals exemplify true leadership in the sport of track and field in the state of Florida. Because of their strong commitment to the sport of track and field, they have been chosen [for induction] by the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame.” Without any doubt, Alice has played a very important role in keeping the sport strong in Tallahassee. Whether it was organizing meets (especially AAU meets) or coaching kids, she has been there for more than 40 years. She serves currently as the Florida AAU Track and Field Association Chair.
But that still doesn’t identify what really makes Alice Sims special. If you know Alice Sims and have watched her for any length of time you know she is totally committed to her faith, her family and to her community. “Whatever you write,” she pleaded with me, make sure you tell people “Big Ernie has been right there leading the way.” Ernie and Alice tied the knot 35 years ago (they have us by 3 years) and they have never taken a break from trying to make their community a better place, even when it meant fighting some very challenging health issues.

Among the first to understand just what the couple has meant to our community was the husband and wife team, Jeanne O’Kon and Tom Perkins. In February of 2000, Ernie and Alice Sims received the Gulf Winds Track Club Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award. Jeanne wrote the award presentation and her husband Tom presented it. In part they said:

This year we honor a “dynamic duo” who have dedicated countless hours to promoting the sport of running and to mentoring the youth of our community. The coaches we honor tonight voluntarily put in long hours and hard work to organize the young runners and their parents, all of whom help raise the travel funds needed to support the club. Through car washes, concession stands, garage sales, and solicitation of sponsors, the coaches and their team have raised enough money to travel to state and national competitions year after year. As a result of their efforts many young runners have been given the opportunity to achieve and excel.
All of the team’s coaches help our community’s youth become good runners and great citizens. If you watch them in action with their team even once, you will know that it is working.

And so, you begin to understand how important family and community, especially our youth, are to Alice Sims. She was recognized by Governor Rick Scott with the Champion of Service award for mentoring and impacting young people through the Capital City Christian Cruisers (CCCC) Track and Field Club, a community-based organization dedicated to meeting the spiritual, social and physical needs of young people and their families. Through CCCC and many other ways thousands of local youth, many who would be labeled “at risk,” since its inception in 1994 have been given great opportunities. Not enough to convince you yet? Consider the following:

• Leon County Women of Distinction Award; March 1995
• Leon County Juvenile Justice Council Community Achievement Award; April 1995
• USA Track and Field Florida Association Youth Development Achievement Award; August 1997
• Florida Department of Juvenile Justice “Excellence in Volunteer and Internship Programs”; August 1998
• Gulf Winds Track Club Michael Caldwell Advancement for the Sport Award; February 2000
• Tallahassee Community College Outstanding Women of Today Award; March 2000
• Kids Incorporated “Champion for Children” Award; November 2002
• Florida Commission on the Status of Women Outstanding Achievement Award; 2004
• WCTV Television “She’s Got Game” Recognition; 2004
• FSU Champions Beyond The Game Hall of Fame; October 2005
• Governor Rick Scott’s Visit Florida Community Champions Award; January 2015
• Girls Scout of the Big Bend Women of Distinction Award; November 2015
• Day of Dialogue on Minority Health, Fitness and Wellness Award; February 2017
• Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency Distinguished Award Recipient Juvenile Justice, Chapters 2 and 7; May 2017
• State of Florida FCCD Distinguished Award Recipient Juvenile Justice; August 2017
• Inducted in Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame; January 2018

Alice Sims remains committed to making her community provide its children with a fair chance to succeed. She works in The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice as Assistant Secretary, Prevention Services. It is at best a very difficult job. I have no doubt however that she and Ernie have set an example we can all follow. There are many in our city who do follow their example. Obviously, it is not the complete solution, but it is a critical part.

Congratulations, Mrs. Alice Sims. It is recognition well deserved.