JOSHUA TREE — Copper Mountain College is welcoming a new coach to the athletics department: Ken Simonds, who will lead the CMC women’s basketball team.
Simonds is joining the Fighting Cacti after working for five years as an assistant men’s basketball coach at the College of the Desert, leading them to the playoffs in the 2014-2015 season and helping many of his players receive scholarships to continue their education after leaving COD.
He also worked as the head boys coach at Palm Valley High School in Rancho Mirage and led this team to eight playoff appearances in the nine years that he coached them.
The Palm Desert local is now ready to take on his new team and is excited to start training with the players, all of whom should arrive to the desert by August.
“I have been around community college basketball for the last five years and I have never seen a community so excited for their local team,” said Simonds. “It is exciting to be part of a program that is supported by the administration, faculty and community.”
Simonds has already met with returning players and discussed the directions that he wants to take the team. He is also recruiting players, some of whom will come from out of state and some who are local and looking to go back to school.
“Some standouts include Lelisa Watson out of Page High School in Arizona, who I think is gonna be really good for us,” said Simonds. “Also expect great things from returning player Tusitusia Brown.”
Assisting Simonds this year will be Twentynine Palms High School Class of 2013 alumna Johnette Brown, who went on to play at Mt. San Jacinto College and at Adams State. Brown was a standout player throughout her basketball career and Simonds said it will be beneficial to have an assistant who knows the town and the players.
“I got a chance to see a lot of the schools we will be competing against while I was working at the College of the Desert, like league dominators at Mt San Jacinto,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t grow our program and play on that level.”
Simonds hopes that he can make the women’s Fighting Cacti a destination team for students coming out of the basketball programs at local high schools and all over the state.
“We have the start of a really good team here,” said Simonds. “ Go Cacti.”