CIAC honors Simmons as Scholar-Athlete


Contributed photo

Daniel Simmons swimming freestyle at the CIAC LL Trials.

Jerick Gonzalez, Staff Writer

The time has come for students all over the state of Connecticut to be recognized by the CIAC and receive their deserved Scholar-Athlete Awards. The recipients of the award, for DHS, were seniors Julianna Carney and Daniel Simmons.

The Connecticut Association of Schools created the Scholar-Athlete Awards to recognize two students from each high school in Connecticut and to commend their athletic and academic careers. The Scholar-Athlete Awards Program has honored more than 4,000 students since its creation in the early 1980s.

Simmons — D.J. to his friends — serves as the captain of DHS’ boys swim team. “I was surprised, I didn’t really think I was notable enough in either category to win such an award,” Simmons said. “ I’m very honored to have received it.”

Athletics director Chip Salvestrini said, “Dan exemplifies the role of the scholar -athlete in the high school setting. Athletics are secondary, not primary; getting an education is the most important thing a student can do.”

The Scholar-Athlete Award emphasizes the importance of academic achievement as well as athletic achievement.

“Your education is the most valuable thing you can have, so I really want to do the best that I can and really prove that I can do well,” Simmons said.

Simmons plans on going to UConn with a merit scholarship. At UConn he plans to be a mechanical engineer and will continue to swim but will do club swimming instead.

Simmons holds a GPA of 4.28 and according to his most recent transcript, he holds the rank of being 53 out of the 607 in his class.

Having the desire to excel in academics has helped Simmons receive the award but so has his participation in swimming.

Simmons said: “Being an athlete keeps you healthy and keeps you occupied. So if you’re not that what good are the brains?”

Simmons’ specialty event is the 100 yard butterfly in which his best time is 57.31 seconds.

Co-captain of the swim team and Simmons’ friend, junior James Lukasik, is proud of Simmons’ achievement.

“I’m so happy that D.J. received the Scholar Athlete Award,” Lukasik said. “He definitely deserves it.”

Despite Simmons’ achievement, he remains humble and true to himself. “DJ never gloats or brags,” Lukasik said. “He’s a serious competitor.”

This kind of attitude from Simmons motivates his teammates to succeed and sets an example of what everyone should strive to be. “He encourages our new swimmers, provides excellent coaching, and is kind to everyone,” Lukasik said.

“He’s a competitive athlete as a swimmer,” Salvestrini said. “I think that speaks volumes on the dedication he has in the classroom and as an athlete.”

“A ‘scholar athlete’ describes DJ Simmons perfectly,” Lukasik said.

The Scholar-Athlete Award is the ideal award to be honored with. It shows that its honorees were students that had both the brains and brawn to succeed.  Simmons said, “I think you’re as much physical as you are mental, so I feel you have to be both.”