Yvonne Michelle Simmons, a distinguished girls basketball coach and former athletic director at Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama, succumbed to a prolonged illness on Thursday, January 11, 2024. She departed at the age of 70.
Simmons stood as a trailblazer and a revered figure in the realm of high school sports, particularly in girls’ basketball. Leading the Carver Wolverines for an impressive 29-year tenure, from 1985 to 2014, she achieved remarkable success, securing 12 state championships, 18 regional titles, and 25 area crowns. Her coaching prowess extended beyond the court, shaping the careers of notable players like DeWanna Bonner, Bianca Jackson, and Shaquera Wade, who went on to excel in college and the professional arena.
In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Yvonne earned a place in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, marking her as the first African American female coach to receive this prestigious honor. Her excellence also garnered attention on a national level, with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) acknowledging her as a finalist for the national coach of the year award in both 2008 and 2014.
Simmons transcended the role of a mere coach; she embodied the essence of a mentor, a role model, and a maternal figure for countless players and students. Beyond imparting the intricacies of the game, she dedicated herself to instilling life’s values and principles. Discipline, teamwork, leadership, and excellence were not just components of the sport for her; they were life lessons she imparted. She urged her charges to pursue academic and career aspirations and to actively contribute to their communities.
Hall-of-Fame @Carver_FB girls basketball coach Yvonne Michelle Simmons has passed away. The AHSAA confirming the news tonight. Simmons led the Wolverines for 29 years. She recorded 558 wins while coaching at Carver. She had one state title in 1993 and 12 state tournament… pic.twitter.com/ZrxSNrFLo9— Rosie Langello (@RosieLangello) January 12, 2024
Yvonne garnered love and respect from colleagues, peers, and even rivals. Her reputation was built on a foundation of passion, unwavering dedication, and utmost professionalism. A trailblazer and advocate for women’s sports, particularly in a state dominated by football, she played a pivotal role in elevating the status and popularity of girls’ basketball. Her influence resonated with numerous young women, motivating them to tread in her footsteps.
After retiring from coaching in 2014, Simmons continued to contribute actively to the Carver High School community, serving as the athletic director until 2019. She extended her impact beyond the local sphere by being a board member of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
The passing of Yvonne Michelle Simmons has created a profound void in the hearts of those who knew and cherished her. However, her legacy will endure through the numerous lives she influenced and touched. Her imprint on Alabama’s history as one of its greatest coaches and educators will be a lasting tribute.
Expressions of condolences and tributes have poured in from the Carver High School family, the Montgomery Public Schools system, and the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA). Plans are underway for a memorial service and a celebration of her life, details of which will be announced at a later date.