The three wise men led Tigers to promised land
This is the second in a series of articles on the 11 members who will be inducted into the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor Oct. 28. The public is encouraged to attend the banquet which will be held at the high school cafeteria beginning at 4 p.m. B efore there were coordinators, position coaches, offensive packages, defensive packages or three teams going to the playoffs, Fred Johnson, Lew Simmonds and Dick Weigand simply put their heads together with versatility as a mantra.
Under their watch, Rockdale football and track athletes reached the pinnacle of their respective sports which has never been replicated.
This coaching trinity played to each’s strength to get the best out of the ability of each one they tutored.
In a rare occurrence, assistants Simmonds and Weigand will join the head coach Johnson in the Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor as a testament of how important all three were to the athletes and students that were in their charge.
With a stern sense of discipline both on and off the field, Fred Johnson was able to take an incredible stable of athletes, induce their full potential out of them and transform them into champions.
The architect of the “golden age of Rockdale athletics” Johnson guided Rockdale to its only state championship in football in 1976 and for his efforts, was named the Class 2A Coach of the Year after the 14-1 season.
Under his watch, Rockdale also captured its only state championship in track in 1977.
Johnson left Rockdale as the Tigers’ winningest football coach, a distinction he still holds 30 years later, with 70 victories, winning 75 percent of the games he coached in from 1973 to 1980, all winning seasons.
After his stint at Rockdale, Johnson continued his career at Midlothian and Rosenburg Terry High before retiring in 1989 with a 165-102-2 record. He also coached at Tivy, Mission, Gonzales and Angleton.
Johnson, an Army veteran, was also inducted into the Kerrville Tivy Hall of Fame in 2011, where he was a standout athlete. A Rice graduate, he also played football and ran track for the Owls.
Popular not only with the players he coached, but everyday students as well, Lew Simmonds left his mark not only on the field of play, but as someone who truly cared about the kids he influenced and taught.
While at Rockdale from 1973- 80, he helped coach two bi-district, two quarterfinals and one state champion football team as the Tigers won an unprecedented 70 games.
In his three seasons as RHS head track coach, the Tigers won three district titles and three Rockdale Relays.
This is not Simmonds first enshrinement. In 2008, he was inducted into the Texas State Hall of Honor where he was a standout in both football and track and field from 1962-65.
The San Antonio native was a running back on the 1963 Bobcat football team that went undefeated with a perfect 10-0 record and was an All-Lone Star Conference selection in 1964 before serving as team captain in 1965.
In addition, he ran for Texas State’s 440-yard relay team that was the 1964 Lone Star Conference champions. Simmons was also president of his junior and senior class.
After Rockdale, Simmonds served as both assistant and head football coach and head track coach at New Braunfels.
As head coach he led New Braunfels to a district and bidistrict championship. As head track coach, he led the Unicorns to several district titles and a regional championship and he was named the Comal County Coach of the year.
In 2007, Simmonds was awarded the Silver Unicorn, the highest award given by the New Braunfels ISD for distinguished service.
Dick Weigand got his point across the old fashioned way— he was a hands-on coach, who preferred to show you how to complete your task, rather than tell you.
He believed that every play offers a teachable moment whether it be a compliment or a correction.
Weigand had a quiet intensity that the players knew and respected. He was never an in-your-face coach, but always a stern and fair teaching coach.
Weigand led the Tigers to their one-and-only state championship in track in 1977. This after their successful title run in football in 1976 during which he was the line coach.
In his five years as track coach, Weigand led Rockdale to five district championships and five Rockdale Relays titles. The year they won state, the Tigers captured the district championship by almost 100 points.
Twelve athletes participated in the state track meet and five won gold medals during his time.
During his tenure as assistant football coach, the Tigers won 49 games and 16 playoff games as well as four district championships and three regional championships.
A native of Edna, Weigand played football at West Texas State where he was an offensive lineman.
He followed Fred Johnson to Rockdale from Angleton and the two successfully worked together for 13 years. He also had coaching stops at Eagle Lake and Canadian.
Hall of Honor schedule for Friday, Oct. 28
4 to 5 p.m.—Banquet and social time, RHS lunchroom.
5:30 to 6:45 p.m.—Induction ceremony, free and open to the public, RHS lunchroom. (Note: The entire event will be in the lunchroom with no activities in the auditorium.)
7 p.m.—Honorees introduced to Tiger Field crowd at halftime of the Rockdale- Giddings football game.