In Mililani, Hawaii, yesterday it was 73 degrees, in Ann Arbor
26 degrees. Given a choice, most people would choose the former
over the latter. However, for Vera Simms of the indoor track team,
Michigan was the easy choice.
When high school students are choosing where they want to go,
academics is usually the most important thing, and for athletes the
right balance of athletics and academics. One other important
factor is the weather. For some people, no matter what, they will
not go to a cold climate. Simms was no different.
“Initially I said I didn’t want to go to a cold
weather climate,” Simms said. “I didn’t even know
what cold weather was.”
However, Simms saw that Michigan had the right balance of
academics and athletics for her. Those were enough to make up for
the cold weather.
Luckily for Michigan coach James Henry and the rest of the track
team, she decided she could deal with the cold weather. When she
arrived though it was a shock.
“Initially it was hard being away from home, and it felt
so cold,” Simms said.
But she didn’t have time to dwell on the weather or be
homesick. She was too busy with the indoor and outdoor track
seasons. As a freshman she ran the 400-meter in the Indoor Big Ten
Championships, placing eighth and ran the 400-meter hurdles in the
Outdoor Big Ten Championships, placing seventh.
“I was real busy, so I didn’t think about
homesickness,” the senior quad-captain said.
Just talking on the phone can be a pain since Hawaii is five to
six hours behind the eastern time zone, depending on the time of
year. But Simms said that she does not get homesick anymore – she
just likes to go home.
“I go home a lot, as much as the average student does,” Simms
As a senior captain on the track team, it is up to her to set an
example and provide leadership for the underclassmen. This is even
more important as the Big Ten Championships are just around the
corner, next weekend. Simms often talks individually to women on
the team to reassure them of their abilities as the Big Tens
“I talk to the girls individually, and try to get in their heads
that this something they can do,” Simms said.
“It’s possible for them to achieve what they set out to do.”
Many on the team believe that the hardest part now is getting
ready for the mental aspect of the meet.
“My main concern is making sure we perform well under pressure,”
senior Robin Landfair said.
Unlike the past two years, Simms does not think Michigan is the
favorite, so the meet will have a different feel.
“Its going to be very competitive and different from the last
couple years when we were the favorites,” Simms said. “A lot of
people are going to be in places they haven’t been before, its
going to be very intense.”
Simms and the team have put in the work, so now it is just a
matter of execution.