Simoens elected into the Triton Hall of Fame
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Those that are familiar with Bay Port High School athletics have heard the name Simoens before.
In this case, it’s not Mike Simoens, the highly-successful head baseball coach who has won two state championships at the school, but his father, Gary.
The 79-year-old Ashwaubenon resident was recently elected into the Triton Academic and Athletic Hall of Fame, largely in part due to his 12 varsity letters while attending St. Norbert High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball.
“I have fond memories of my high school playing days,” said Simoens, who still substitute teaches at Bay Port on occasion. “I could still tell you details of certain games, even 60 years later.”
One of those games he could tell you about was during his senior basketball season in the 1957 WISAA state championship game.
“I made the last four points in the last 15 seconds of the championship game,” Simoens recalled. “We were down by a point with 17 seconds left and we eventually ended up winning by three. I will never forget that moment – it probably helped me get into the Hall of Fame.”
Simoens was all-state in football and basketball in 1956-57 and played in three state final basketball games, winning two of them during his junior and senior seasons.
He mentioned that one of the criteria to be elected into the HOF was that you had to be a member of a state championship team and from one of the seven Catholic high schools in the Green Bay area at the time.
Basketball was probably the sport that Simoens excelled at the most, but he said he enjoyed them all.
Simoens attend St. Norbert College after his high school days and is in the Green Knights’ HOF for football and baseball as well, where he earned 10 varsity letters.
He even had a tryout for the Baltimore Orioles and manager Earl Weaver in Appleton during his senior year of college.
“They offered me a contract, but I turned that down so I could continue with school at St. Norbert and graduate,” said Simoens. “I wanted to become a teacher and I knew the odds of making it to the Major Leagues were pretty slim.”
Just as important as his accolades on the playing field, Simoens is proud of the fact that he was an educator for 57 years, with the last 50 of those being at Bay Port as a physical education and drivers education teacher.
Simoens took his successful playing career to the coaching ranks as well. He coached basketball, baseball, softball, girls’ tennis and cross country for both genders. He won a conference championship in baseball and softball.
“I coached baseball for 10 years, but when my son Mike was a sophomore in high school, I quit coaching because I wanted to watch him play,” he said. “After he graduated, I took the softball job for 10 years. I also did a lot of officiating in my days. My wife Sharon, who passed away 12 years ago, was obviously very supportive. I retired from coaching in 1994 and from teaching in 1996.”
Besides Mike, the Simoens had three other girls named Amy, Kris and Tricia.
Ironically, Simoens’ granddaughter, McKenzie Johnson (daughter of Tricia and Chad), a junior at Bay Port, recently won the 2018 WIAA D1 state championship with the girls’ soccer team, so the athletic blood runs in the family.
His grandson, Cade Johnson, a 2018 Bay Port graduate and McKenzie’s older brother, was also an integral part of the boys’ basketball team his junior and senior seasons.
“That soccer team will really be going strong for a few years now,” Simoens said. “They will be good at basketball, too. McKenzie already has had a nice career, but as I can tell you, it’ll be hard to repeat as state champs next season – everyone is after you.”