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Spirit of a Warrior

Washburn remembering a life cut short by senseless tragedy

Dwane Simmons playing football

From The Ichabod - Fall 2019

The image of two inseparable friends and teammates training for the most important moments of their football careers sticks in the mind of Washburn University Coach Craig Schurig.

Unfortunately, that memory from this spring is one of the last Schurig will have of Dwane Simmons after he and his friend and workout partner, Corey Ballentine, als ’19, were shot April 28 after attending a party where they celebrated Ballentine’s selection in the NFL Draft. Simmons was killed in the tragedy. Ballentine said he has recovered physically.

“I still have strong visions of him on the field training with Corey and the enthusiasm you could see,” Schurig said. “One is working toward going to the NFL, the other one’s working to finish his career.”

Fighting back from two knee injuries, Simmons would have been a senior defensive back for the Ichabods this year. Ballentine is a rookie defensive back for the
New York Giants.

The Washburn community will memorialize Simmons with an endowed scholarship in his name. A different player will wear his number 17 jersey during every game, and teammates will wear a helmet decal that says 17DS. A sign reading “17DS Dwane Simmons ‘Spirit of a Warrior’” hangs in Yager Stadium where the players enter and exit the field. Simmons’ family will be on the field with other seniors and their families on Nov. 9 during Senior Day.

Teams and individuals from around the country sent the Ichabods and Simmons’ family tributes. Representatives from the Giants attended his funeral, and Chiefs Coach Andy Reid and General Manager Brett Veach presented Simmons’ family a jersey during a summer minicamp. Army West Point sent a signed football saying Simmons had “the spirit of a warrior.”

“I remember how upset Dwane was when he got that second knee injury,” Schurig said. “But he just never backed down. We’ll try to represent that spirit on the field. His energy and excitement he had to play the game and to play it for his teammates, that will be our message before every game.”

Like what he earned on the field, his good grades in the classroom came from hard work. Kristen Grimmer, ba ’10, assistant professor, taught three of his mass media classes as he pursued a career in public relations. She said he especially excelled in the upper level courses and class projects last year.

“He would do whatever it took to make a good grade,” she said. “And he was always there whenever students needed him. He definitely went above and beyond his share of things. He wanted to be involved.”

Washburn will recognize his academics with a posthumous degree during the December commencement. Grimmer said it’s well deserved after he excelled in numerous upper-level classes.

“He was a really vital part of that senior class of public relations students,” she said. “He would have been incredibly successful, and unfortunately, somebody stole that from him.”

Schurig said their focus this season will be on remembering and honoring his legacy.

“You can see his closeness to others, not just Washburn football, but Washburn Athletics and the University as a whole,” Schurig said. “We’d like to have his legacy be as strong as possible.”

National Tribute

A Tweet from Army football team saying Dwane Simmons has the spirit of a warrior.

Contribute to his Legacy

A number of donors reached out to Coach Craig Schurig, to Dwane's family and to the Foundation with the intent of funding a scholarship named after Dwane. They felt strongly about creating a legacy for him in this way. They quickly contributed enough money to endow the scholarship, and now we want to give you the opportunity to contribute as well. If you choose to memorialize Dwane in this way, your gift will provide future Ichabod football players the chance to compete on the field and excel in the classroom with the same dedication and enthusiasm Dwane had. Learn more.

 

Ichabod Magazine 2019 fall cover, Ichabod Plaza statue at sunset

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2019-20 fall edition online and look for it in mailboxes in October.

View past editions

 

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