Irv Simone '41
When Irv Simone '41 was 12, he knew he wanted to be a coach. His determination never wavered, and he grew up to become one of Grinnell's most versatile coaches. After earning a degree from the American College of Physical Education in 1937, he transferred to Grinnell, where he was very active in the athletic department and worked in the training room. Simone developed a whirlpool to help treat muscle injuries, the first of his unique inventions to aid Grinnell's athletic programs. In 1939, Simone swam for the freshman team, securing victories in diving as well as the 40- and 100-yard freestyle events. By his senior year, he not only taught physical education and worked in the training room, but also helped coach diving as well. Simone graduated in 1941 and returned to Grinnell in 1947 to serve as swimming coach, track coach, and trainer. In 1951, he settled into what would be a 17-year career as the Grinnell College swim coach. He also coached soccer, tennis, cross country, golf, and football sporadically at Grinnell. His multi-sport winning average was 71 percent (172-72). His major coaching contributions, however, were to the swimming team, including two more new inventions: the Simone Sled, a Sakamoto Swimming Sled modified to better improve arm and shoulder muscles; and El Conejito ("The Rabbit"), a machine that ran lights along the pool designed to improve pacing. Simone originated the Florida training trips that are a staple of the season to this day. Simone led his swimmers to seven conference titles to Grinnell. Coach Simone was among the first to take into account how psychology and physiology interact and affect athletes in competition, and he integrated this into his coaching style. He wrote, "[It] behooves the physical educator to recognize that more than the physical being reports to the play fields for activities." This largely new coaching strategy made it possible for the team to bring home the first conference title ever for Grinnell in 1954. After
leaving Grinnell in 1966, he continued to work in athletics as recreational director for the Crocket State School for Girls in Texas. Simone taught diving to his grandson, who went on to become a championship diver. Simone also participated in the senior Olympics in his 70s. His love of swimming and athletics has sustained him throughout his life, motivating him to be one of Grinnell's most successful coaches.