By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Quarterback Nic Shimonek realized a dream Wednesday in Mildred, signing and faxing in his national letter of intent to play football at the University of Iowa.
Now comes the planning part for his family. Instead of short trips to Blooming Grove, there are long trips ahead to Big Ten country.
Iowa City, Iowa is a 13-hour car drive and a two-hour flight from Mildred. State College, Penn. and Madison, Wis. are even farther away.
But Kenny and Tresa, Nic’s parents, say no matter the cost, they’ll be there when Nic throws his first pass for the Hawkeyes, just like they were when he twirled his first spiral in the sixth grade.
“It’s going to bittersweet I guess,” said Kenny Shimonek, Nic’s father. “If he’s playing, we’re going to try and go every time we can.”
Nic Shimonek earned his way to Iowa. He led Mildred to the Class 2A Division II state championship game. He’s the all-time leading passer in Golden Circle history with 8,215 yards. He threw 99 touchdown passes for his career.
Shimonek, the 2012 Del Thrash Player of the Year — given by the Daily Sun to the area’s MVP — said he’s relieved and like his father, feeling a little sentimental.
“I was watching my highlights earlier,” Shimonek said. “Knowing that I won’t play on that field anymore again, that’s hard. At the same time, it’s time to go to the next chapter. Pass the torch like I said in that speech after the state championship game and see where I go from here.”
Shimonek isn’t the only Golden Circle player to sign Wednesday. Rice senior running back Ragan Henderson signed with Sam Houston State.
Henderson rushed for 2,109 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. He had one game where he had 488 yards and five TDs.
“Under Coach (Willie) Fritz, Sam Houston State University football has become one of the elite programs in the country,” Rice coach Jerry Baldridge said. “By nabbing Ragan and other recruits this morning, I can't help but feel they've gotten a little bit better.”
Several Navarro College Bulldogs signed in football and soccer, highlighted by Mildred and Corsicana High School standout Thomas McDonald, who will play safety at Louisiana Tech.
“It’s a great feeling,” McDonald said.
Shimonek is thought to be the school’s first two Division I football players.
Shimonek first played football in the sixth grade when youth coach Shannon Wiggins begged Kenny and Tresa to let him come out for football.
“I said, ‘Shannon, no, he’s going to get hurt. He’s a baseball player,’” Tresa said. “Shannon said, “I promise you he won’t get hurt. I’ll take care of him.’
“He had never picked up a football, never played anything,” Tresa said. “And he went out there and threw it and I was like, ‘holy cow.’ And he was hooked on football.”
Patrick Harvell, who coached Shimonek for four years at Mildred, said he knew right away the potential his future quarterback had.
“I knew the moment I saw him in the eighth grade that today could be a reality,” Harvell said.
Shimonek is a likely redshirt his freshman year at Iowa. But football players are always an injury away from playing.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said during Wednesday’s Iowa signing day press conference that everything he’s learned about Shimonek — from him being a 3-sport star to seeing him on film — excites him. Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who had the same position when Texas won the national title in 2005, recruited Shimonek.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of him he’s a thrower,” Ferentz said. “So we’re excited about him. Greg got to see him practice last spring. They practice spring football in Texas. He was impressed from the start. We had seen his film but watching him throw live (was impressive). He’s led them to two very successful seasons now. He’s had great production on the field but more importantly his team’s winning.”
Sounds like a pretty promising marriage, and an thrilling time for the Shimonek family.
Those long drives or plane flights to Big Ten country will eventually happen. And the Shimoneks will be ready.
“We haven’t missed anything yet, so we don’t to miss anything now,” Tresa said.