Sims jumping back into track

Leaving Las Vegas wasn't an easy thing for James Sims, Jr. to do, but it's worked out. He doesn't get a chance to enjoy the warm nights like he did when he was living in the desert, but he'll gladly trade a little warmth for the opportunity to play both football and track in college. And besides, there's always the Dempsey Indoor athletic facility.

"I think outdoors is more relaxing and fun. Indoors, that means the weather is a little colder, but being in the northwest it's kind of cold all the time. It's not Vegas, I can tell you that," James Sims told this past Saturday with a laugh.

You see, Sims is really enjoying life right now. Even if it means he's a little more tired than normal. But it's a deal he's made with football coach Rick Neuheisel and track coach Greg Metcalf, and James is all about keeping his end of the bargain.

"They told us that if we wanted to do track it was cool but don't forget your first obligation," he said. "We have to keep that in mind when we come out for track. They expect us to do both and hopefully we pull it off and it's not that bad.

"I have track practice every day and then three days out of the week I have my football workouts. It gets pretty tiring. Sometimes when we have a meet coming up they may have us go a little lighter than normal with the lower body workouts but they expect us to do everything. As long as I get enough sleep I'm fine, but during mat drills I'm pretty tired anyways because you have to be up so early, working."

All the hard work is resulting in incremental changes for Sims, who could be compared to a modern-day Sisyphus. As a 50-foot triple jumper out of Valley High School, a lot was expected of James both on the field turf and the launch pad. As of right now, his best collegiate effort is 49-3.25, set this past February at the UW Invitational.

So why the move backward? For James, it's all about bringing together the two disciplines his body is so well suited for. "Every week I've been learning more and more with the coach I've been working with, Coach Pat (Licari)," he said.

"And everything's going well and every week I've gone further and further, so we'll see. Hopefully I'll get to fifty soon. That's my goal. A lot of it right now is just seeing that I can still do it."

Sims' evolution as a safety in Washington's two-deeps has been nothing short of a textbook lesson in hard work and perseverence. Now he'll have to push himself into uncharted waters to see if he can break that mark once established as a 18-year old jumping wunderkind.

"Well, I'm a lot heavier than I was in high school, so that's one thing," James admits, and there's no question he's bigger than when he first stepped foot on campus a year and a half ago. He's put on a good 10-15 pounds on his 6-foot, one-inch frame, now tipping the scales at right around 195 pounds.

"And a lot of it is working technique. Since I'm doing two sports at the same time, I need to remember how to run the way I run when I jump as opposed to running with football. So a lot is just practicing, getting more into things. And since I'm doing more track this year it's allowing me to get more into my routine, the way I used to be.

"It's been interesting. Every once in a while I'll pull something or strain something and it takes a lot out of you. I'm a lot more tired right now than I usually am. But once I get into it for a little while I get used to how it is, so hopefully that's where I am right now."

Having his friends around certainly pushes him, even though he's in the unique position of being one of the few football players that's specializing in a jumping event. Chris Singleton is going to long jump outside this spring, joining Sims. James can't wait for the sun to shine on Husky Stadium. As it is, the old lady and Sims are going to be seeing a lot of each other in the near future.

"As soon as we get to the outdoor season it's going to be a lot of fun because we'll all be out there together, hanging out," he said. There will probably be more joking going on. And with indoor, we all have our specific times that we do our workouts. As soon as I'm done with class, I come straight down and work with the jumpers. And all the other guys are sprinters, so I don't get a chance to work out with them as much. But having them around is cool. We get to hang out and joke around.

"It's fun." James Sims, Jr. Scout Profile Top Stories