May 24, 2024

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The Sports Fanatics

Simmons Named to National Wrestling Hall of Fame

NORMAN – Oklahoma women’s gymnastics director of operations Melissa Simmons was named to the 2022 National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the organization announced Wednesday. Simmons, who wrestled at Oklahoma City University from 2008-2011, has served as the director of operations for the Sooners since 2019.

Simmons is the first ever female selected to receive the Medal of Courage by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The Medal of Courage recipient is a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, providing inspiration to others.

In 2005, Simmons tore her ACL and two months later her teammate and best friend, Toni Copeland, drowned in Lake Superior. A year later, Simmons was in a car accident on the one-year anniversary of Copeland’s death. Simmons suffered from a fractured eye socket and retina damage due to her face colliding with the steering wheel. After several surgeries and an orbital implant, doctors feared she would never be able to open her eye and never be able to wrestle again. Later that year, Simmons, with a face mask she had designed to protect her, returned to the wrestling mat.

Wrestling for Oklahoma City University, she had a career record of 73-18 with 42 falls, winning a national championship in 2008 while finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011. Simmons helped OCU capture three team national championships and three National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals titles.

Originally from Ridgefield, Washington, she began competing in wrestling in elementary school and won seven national titles and All-American honors as a youth. Simmons graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science. She worked as an assistant coach for OCU and as the director of operations for North Carolina State’s wrestling program.

While at NCSU she earned her master’s degree in parks recreation, tourism and sport management, in addition to a degree in sports & entertainment venue management. Simmons also served as coach for several USA Wrestling teams including University Worlds, Junior Worlds, Pan Am Championships and was the first women’s director for the state of North Carolina.

 In 2019 Simmons returned to Oklahoma and accepted her current position as director of operations for the University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team.