Aycock's Simmons signs NLI with Dartmouth College
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 16, 2012 1:48 PM
Those daydreams of hitting golf balls for an Ivy League school are over.
They're finally reality for Tara Simmons.
The Charles B. Aycock senior inked a national letter-of-intent with Dartmouth College on Wednesday afternoon. She entertained offers from the University of Richmond and Rutgers, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to live her childhood fantasy.
"I have always wanted to go to an Ivy League school since I was little, so I've got my dream," Simmons said. "The opportunity that will come with a degree from there, the connections that I'll be able to make while I'm there ... hopefully that will lead to success in my life and that's what I'm looking for."
Simmons enjoyed tremendous success with the Golden Falcons.
She recently repeated as the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state champion, making her just the second athlete in CBA history to win back-to-back state titles along with two-time 3-A diving champion Devin Hall.
Simmons is the first-ever Wayne County athlete to win consecutive state golf crowns. She is just the third state title-holder overall along with Eastern Wayne alum Brian Mull (1989 Class 4-A champ) and Wayne Christian alum Eric Williams, who won the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A championship in 2008.
"It's been an enjoyable four years and I tell you I'm going to miss that young'un," Golden Falcons' head golf coach Roger Rhodes said.
Dartmouth, located in New Hampshire, recorded top-four finishes at its own Dartmouth Invite and the Rutgers Invitational during the fall. The Big Green placed sixth at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament. Dartmouth's Sarah Knapp shared medalist honors with Penn's Olivia Chang.
The Big Green won the ECAC in 2011.
Simmons expects to step in and immediately contribute to the program. Dartmouth plays several tournaments in the South, which will be advantageous to Simmons who has competed on challenging courses and adapts to the climate well. The Big Green will also visit Hawai'i during 2013.
NCAA rules prohibit Kirk from playing a round of golf with Simmons, but he has followed her scores online and viewed her swing video.
"He has said 'I'm here to support you, but I'm not going to be pushy with things. Obviously, you are doing the right things that are working for you'," Simmons said. "I know I need to put on some weight, gain some muscle and become a better all-around player under his coaching."
Simmons' best asset is her demeanor.
Errant shots don't rattle her psychy and she's learned to stay focused when playing partners aren't having good rounds on the links. A steady tempo and consistent putting on the greens have led to much of Simmons' success during her prep career.
"I really try to make sure that I have the same mentality after every shot no matter what it is," said Simmons, who plans to major in environmental engineering. "I received some wisdom from my younger brother, of all people, Wesley. He said 'you don't practice a day in golf and you lose a week in skills.'
"As a senior, it's going to be tough because I want to take some breaks and 'senior-itis' is in full swing. But I need to practice and keep myself motivated so when it gets to the fall season I can perform really well."
And live that dream as an Ivy League golfer.
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