In 2018, head coach Rafael Simmons wrapped up his forth season at the helm of the Neosho County men’s soccer program and third in charge of the women’s soccer program. In his four seasons in charge of the men’s soccer program Simmons has amassed a 45-28-3 (.612) record, winning the KJCCC East Conference in 2017 and breaking the program record for most winning and fewest losses in a single season (2017).
Under Simmons supervision, the Panthers were ranked in the NJCAA national poll for the first time in program history during the 2015 season. Then in 2016, Simmons led the program to the highest ranking in program history at #14 in the NJCAA national poll. Both men’s and women’s programs have been ranked amongst the elite in the NJCAA academically with the men’s team being ranked as high as #5 in the NJCAA for team GPA during the 2015 season and then #19 in 2017. While the women’s team was ranked #17 in 2017 for team GPA.
A developing women’s soccer program continued to see a lot of improvements on the field in 2018. After taking over a team that lacked numbers, were winless for over 2 seasons and without a conference win since 2014, Simmons guided the women’s program to a 7-11 record in 2017 and a 10-10 record in 2018. Both season saw the Lady Panthers win multiple conference games in a very tough KJCCC and in 2018 they earned their first NJCAA National Ranking as they received votes in the week 3 poll. They also manged to qualify for play-offs in 2018 earning a top 4 finish in conference.
Simmons began his coaching career while student teaching as the head varsity boys soccer coach at Prince of Peace College Preparatory in Clinton, Iowa. At the conclusion of his college playing career, Simmons moved to Dakota Wesleyan University where he was the men's soccer assistant coach for 2 seasons. While at DWU he helped guide the Tigers to their first winning season in 10 years. Working primarily with the defenders and goalkeepers, the Tigers defense was outstanding during his two season posting 12 shutouts while twice he saw his goalkeeper earn conference and national player of the week honors.
As a player Simmons had a lot of success at the college and semi-professional level with stops at Crowder College, Ashford University, Rocket City United (NPSL), Quad City Eagles (NPSL) and Hallen AFC (English Western Premier League). While at Crowder he twice earned NJCAA All-Region 1st team and NSCAA All-South honors before moving on to NAIA powerhouse Ashford University. He helped guide Ashford into the NAIA National Top 25 each season and also earned All-Conference honors. Following his senior season Simmons was named the Senior Student Athlete of the Year.
Simmons graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education from Ashford University in 2013, and earned his Master's degree in Education Administration and Policy from Dakota Wesleyan University in 2015. He holds a USSF C License, Premier Diploma and Goalkeeping Level 1 & 2 from United Soccer Coaches. Simmons was also the assistant coach of NPSL side Ozark FC in 2017.
Simmons and his wife, Sarah, reside in Chanute. They have 2 sets of twins, Mikael and Mylah who are 2 years old and newborns Avery and Annika.