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Catching Up With ...
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-05-20

Roberta Simmons

            Playing field hockey and swimming at Upper Perkiomen High School

Roberta Simmons

reinforced a lesson Roberta Simmons learned growing up: that she wasn't the center of the universe. As a middle child, she understood that implicitly.

            Simmons, a 1975 graduate of Upper Perkiomen, initially made her mark as an athletic trainer. She's currently in her 13th year as a full-time health, physical education and aquatics teacher at Pennridge High School while continuing to serve as a substitute trainer. Most of her recent time on the sidelines covered the district's middle school teams.

            "I like seeing the kids in that environment," said Simmons, who lives in East Greenville. "They get to know me differently."

            Competition drove her in high school. She played on the Indians varsity field hockey team as a ninth-grader. In the pool, Simmons said her favorite stroke was the freestyle, but she emerged as the Tribe's top performer in the 100 breaststroke. The athletic experience taught her the value of teamwork and patience.

            "I loved the competition," she said.

            Simmons served as an assistant athletic trainer at Penn State, Lehigh and Bucknell universities before moving into a clinical outreach position at Southern Lehigh High School through Orthopedic Associates of Allentown. During a 25-year career with the organization, her experiences expanded to include training at the Olympics. During the Barcelona Games in 1992, she worked with the U.S. Whitewater Canoe and Kayak team. Four years later in Atlanta, she worked with numerous sports through the U.S. Olympic Committee.

            Currently, Simmons is doing her best to deal with virtual learning. She's working on an archery lesson for home-bound students who do not have a bow and arrow. Quizzes and videos are occasionally attached to the lessons.

            "I have to work harder this way," Simmons said. "In some aspects, the students do, too."

            Personally, she's doing her best to cope with the current pandemic with four- to six-mile walks and multiple rounds of golf.  She says her lawn looks better than ever.

Kurt Werkheiser

            Spring was the busiest season for Kurt Werkheiser at Upper Perkiomen High

Kurt Werkheiser

School. The 1978 graduate played baseball and threw javelin for the track and field team.

            "There was a lot of schedule checking," said Werkheiser, whose father Dick coached the track and field team. "A couple of times there was a game and a meet on the same day, and I would have to make a decision. Occasionally I was able to get my throws in before the baseball game started."

            Originally, baseball was his best spring sport. However, he said that designation eventually shifted.

            Werkheiser – who currently lives in Virginia Beach and works for a mortgage company – described football as his top overall sport. He played quarterback and linebacker for the Indians and went on play at Bloomsburg University.

             The coaching Werkheiser received in high school taught him the importance of working with his teammates. He figured out the lesson a few years later in college.

            At Bloomsburg, Werkheiser punted all four years and started at quarterback as a junior and senior before graduating with a degree in business. His best season came in 1981 when he was named to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's second team at both positions.

            "Looking back, I could tell the coaches at Upper Perkiomen prepared us to play in college," Werkheiser said. "They were better than the coaching I had at Bloomsburg, especially during my last two years."

            The Tribe's coaching staff, headed by Bill Keeny, relied mostly on discipline to compete against teams that pulled from a student population two and three times the size of its school, according to Werkheiser. He said they did not tolerate cursing or trash-talking by the players.

            "The coaches took some chances putting certain guys in specific positions," He said. "Some of those paid off in the long run. They did a good job projecting those players' performances."


 

 

 

 

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