State-champion track athlete Ciara Simms of Dutchtown moves quickly. She recently signed a letter of intent to attend Virginia Tech.
She leaves for school Wednesday.
Simms won back-to-back state championships in the 100 meters — a Class AAAAA title at Luella in 2010 and a Class AAAA crown for Dutchtown last season. She also won the Class AAAA 200 meters for Dutchtown, 23.80 seconds. She teamed with Victoria Ingram, Kayla Mitchell and Aisha Atwater in the 400-meter relay, helping Dutchtown finish second in the state with its best-ever time of 47.34 seconds.
Assistant coach Charles Foster, in charge of the sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers at Virginia Tech, established a rapport with Simms that swayed her away from Georgia and Jacksonville.
"I really connected with the coach," Simms said Monday. "He's down to earth and knows what he's talking about."
She also had offers from Indiana, Florida A&M, South Carolina State, Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern and Middle Tennessee State.
"She had quite a few options," Dutchtown coach April Tate said. "Virginia Tech had been looking at her, but they were a late runner. Ciara ended up taking the trip up there and was very impressed — she liked the coach, liked the facilities and all they had to offer a student-athlete."
Simms said she plans to major in communications and felt Virginia Tech had a slight edge over Georgia and Jacksonville when it comes to post-collegiate employment opportunities.
"They have so many connections," Simms said.
Tate said Virginia Tech should consider itself fortunate to land a person of Simms' character. The coach said she is "still in awe" that an athlete of Simms' petite size has "so much power" and carries it with so much humility.
"Anyone who gets Ciara gets a blessing and an athlete," Tate said. "You wouldn't know looking at her that she's a track athlete. I've been around track six years and you're only so lucky to have a kid like her. You don't always get kids like that."