It will be like Christmas in June for St. Francis de Sales' senior Kemari Simmons when he steps onto the field at U.S. Cellular Field today for the Catholic League vs. Public League All-Star Game.
"I feel honored just to be there," Simmons said. "A Major League field, where the White Sox play. To play a game there is just one of the great opportunities in life."
Simmons, the Catholic League Red player of the year, helped St. Francis de Sales to the conference title. The shortstop, who also played some games as a catcher, batted .454 and led the team with 39 RBIs. He credits the whole team for winning a title.
"We all played together and that was one of our goals," Simmons said. "Me and Mikey Roggenkamp, our second baseman, we were a pretty good (pair) at short(stop) and second."
The Pioneers played the bigger Catholic League schools and several will be on his team for the 2 p.m. game. Simmons will walk on at Eastern Illinois, but hopes maybe a college scout may take notice.
"I am just going to play my hardest like I always have," Simmons said. "There are a lot of great players in this game and the one thing is we want to win it."
Hard work is nothing new to Simmons, who taught himself how to hit with a cone and a Wiffle Ball on top of it. For pitching, he taught his beagle Max to fetch the ball and bring it back.
"It really taught me discipline because you couldn't adjust the cone, you had to focus on the one spot," Simmons said. "I didn't have the latest (equipment) or lessons, but I was willing to work at the game I love."
So he wouldn't damage the garage walls, he used an old mattress as a net. He now has a hitting tee that his mom bought for him and said she plans on getting him a net.
"I don't want to put a hole in our fence," Simmons joked.
Simmons said his leadership role was just as important as his numbers.
"We had some young guys who might have been intimidated playing against seniors, so we had to give them confidence," Simmons said. "As a senior and captain, you have to tell them not to worry, go out and do a good job."