Original article posted on Tallahassee Democrat by Jim Henry
Photo Credit: Mike Ewen/Democrat
At age 30 and retired from the NFL after eight seasons, Ernie Sims wondered where the next step in his life would take him.
Prayer, family discussions and a passion for health, sports performance and mentoring helped Sims discover that answer.
"The next chapter in my life is just beginning," Sims said. "The opportunity presented itself, I saw the vision and I just took off with it.
"This is what came out of it."
The former North Florida Christian and Florida State star linebacker has opened a training facility in Tallahassee off Capital Circle SW. The grand opening for Ernie Sims Big H.I.T.S. Performance is Saturday at 10 a.m.
The 10,000-square-foot facility features a synthetic turf field, traditional weights and fitness programs for youth and adults, men and women, from beginners to professional athletes.
Sims, selected ninth overall in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, also says his facility will assist with health, wellness, nutrition and reflect the name's (H.I.T.S.) mission statement - Helping to Instill Tools for Success.
In 2008, Sims started Ernie Sims Big H.I.T.S. Foundation, which is geared to providing support to community-based organizations that offer services to disadvantage youth and adults and to assist organizations that support animal humanity.
"When I thought about my passion and thought about how I was raised, my parents instilled values in me that a lot of youth in our community haven't had the opportunity to receive," said Sims, married with two young children.
"We want to help them not only in sports, but we want to help them in life. Sports is a great avenue that also taught me important
values – discipline, determination – good core values that we are going to build on in our fitness programs."
Sims, who played in 109 NFL games with 623 tackles, was often described as a player who played bigger than his listed size at 6 feet. Known for his athleticism and energy, Sims is determined to bring those qualities to his fitness programs.
His family has also offered its support.
Sims' mother Alice was an All-American sprinter at FSU, his father played running back for the Seminoles and younger brother Marcus, a linebacker and running back, also played for the Seminoles before he finished his college career at North Alabama.
"What he (Ernie) brings to the table with his qualifications and experience, it's going to be able to add what we already have in Tallahassee," Alice Sims said.
"It's just going to take us to another level."
Ernie Sims spent Friday making final preparations for Saturday's event.
He could barely contain his enthusiasm – and can't wait to take the next step in his life.
"Now that the ball is about to start rolling, I can get down to what I really love doing," said Sims, whose last season in the NFL was in 2013 with the Dallas Cowboys.
"That's working with individuals, trying to help them be healthier and fit. I love working with sports, helping kids and I think it's going to be great because it is something I have a passion for. I can't wait."
Ernie Sims Big H.I.T.S. Performance
When/Where: Saturday, 10 a.m., 431 Capital Circle SW
Operating Hours: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Information: Contact 850-575-7467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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