Sims Will Be Missed

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Sims Will Be Missed By Students, Players


The Ile Camera

A Heritage Newspaper

Sims Will Be Missed By Students, Players

By Jeff Pope, The Ile Camera

Grosse Ile High School lost a teacher and a coach when Steve Sims died last Saturday. But his students and players lost even more. They lost a close friend.

"He was the most popular teacher with students," senior Helen Casey said. "He had the ability to make you feel important because he knew something special about you."

Sims, 47, was known for his positive, upbeat demeanor and for keeping his students involved in learning.

"He would make it so interesting and funny," senior Scott Martin said. "He could make it stick in your head,"

He was an avid runner whose apparent physical health was matched by his positive outlook on everything. Sims’ death came as a shock to everyone who knew him.

Principal Peter Loso said Sims missed a couple days of school last week, but thought his symptoms were caused by the flu or allergies.

Friday night, a friend took Sims to Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton. Doctors treated his condition as a stomach problem and he was kept overnight.

On Saturday morning, his friend returned and joked with him about breakfast. He left just before 11 a.m. About 15 minutes later, Sims was dead.

Doctors said Sims died from a dissected aneurysm, which is caused when one of the vessels leaving the heart ruptures.

Sims was a fixture at the high school for 25 years as a teacher and as the girls’ track and basketball coach. Martin said it was fate that brought him to Grosse Ile.

"The other track coaches said he was driving around and got lost, and ended up here," he said.

What kept Sims on the island was how quickly the community accepted him.

"It’s a very positive atmosphere," Loso said. "If you perform here, you’ll be well accepted, and the parents will treat you well."

He was just as respected by his opponents. Grosse Ile High School Athletic Director Jim Oakler has received numerous phone calls from coaches around the league who all said "what a great guy."

Sims would never intentionally embarrass the other team out of respect for the coach and the players, he said.

Oakler ran against him and coached against him when he was at Huron.

"(I) always wanted to know how he was so competitive all the time," he said. "Coming over here and working with him, his personality was what it was that made his program so successful."

Senior Lauren Strong played basketball and ran track under Sims’ guidance. She called him the best coach she’s ever had.

"He was a really intense guy," she said. "He made practice fun, but he knew when to get serious."

His students and players said he was always making jokes and easing tension, but he knew where to draw the line between friend and teacher.

"He was the coolest and nicest guy here," Martin said. "He was easy to relate to because he had the same interests as the kids."

Sims was always promoting his alma mater, Michigan State University. He’d jokingly tell students wearing University of Michigan gear "to burn those clothes."

Some of his MSU gear is included in a memorial students made for Sims near his classroom on the second floor of the school. It contains the memories of some of his favorite things, including peanut M&Ms and a cardboard cutout of Joe Montana.

The track team decided to remember him by wearing black patches with his name on them on their arms. There’s a red heart over the ‘i’ in his name.

Senior Harley Rohloff said he’ll miss how Sims would ease tension after hard workouts in track.

"It won’t be the same without him," he said. "He inspired everyone on the team."

Martin said Sims would approach him in practice and say "nice job." Martin said it meant more to him as Sims was not directly his coach.

Sims’ life revolved around the school. He kept in touch with former players and organized alumni basketball games.

"His coaching was him," Oakler said. "It was a part of him."

Sims was just as effective in the classroom as he was on the playing field. He taught his students to see the good in everything, never have any regrets and never give up on their dreams.

His winning attitude and respect for everyone he met earned him the admiration of the community.

"A lot of the parents of the kids he’s had are his best friends," Loso said. "They trust him with their kids. That tells you something."



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Last modified: 01/14/05