For two weeks last spring, Quentin Sims flew back and forth between Albany and Cleveland, alternating between taking exams as he completed his first year of law school and playing in Arena Football League games with the Albany Empire.
Last month, the team secured the Arena Football League championship, defeating the Philadelphia Soul 45-27. Sims, a receiver, played a big part in that victory, ultimately being named Offensive Player of the Game.
But the most memorable part for Sims? Celebrating on the field with his two young children, surrounded by fans and falling confetti.
The championship capped off a year that Sims saw as a time to prove himself, both on the field and in the classroom.
Sims’ path to law school wasn’t exactly traditional. It wasn’t even part of his original plan, which included aspirations of playing in the NFL. When playing football at Georgia Institute of Technology, Sims saw his teammates get drafted. That’s when he realized the NFL was within reach, and it became his goal. He eventually transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he also played football.
In 2013, the New England Patriots invited Sims to play on its practice squad. After that, he decided to take a short break from football, as he and his wife had a child and another on the way.
“It was a little too unstable for us with two babies and having to get called and bounce around,” Sims said.
He worked as a logistics broker for a year before starting in the Arena Football League, spending some time with the Cleveland Gladiators. He came to Case Western Reserve for law school in 2018.
“I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to start over somewhat in law school and be a high-performing student,” said Sims, who noted this hadn’t always been a priority. “Being able to play football on top of that is just icing on the cake.”
Sims also is more future-minded than in the past. Previously, he operated on a season-by-season basis. But, especially after having children, he says he now thinks 10 to 15 years down the line.
“Law school opens a lot of doors,” Sims said.
While he can only speculate about what comes after he completes law school, he’s interested in drawing upon his experience with the Arena Football League’s players’ union, considering a path that involves labor law.
With the union, he’s served as a team representative and player vice president. His involvement in the league started during a collective bargaining agreement year, and he worked toward improving communication between the players and union executives.
“Maintaining unity was my main job and instilling in players [to] trust us, stay with us, and giving them reasons to do so,” he said.
Ultimately, Sims is grateful for the opportunities the Arena Football League has afforded him, and he hopes to someday help it expand.
“I really believe in the game,” Sims said of arena football. “It’s a good opportunity.”
Learn more about Sims in this week’s five questions.
1. What’s something you don’t know how to do but would like to learn?
I would like to learn how to golf well.
2. Who’s the best teacher you’ve ever had?
The best teacher I ever had was my karate teacher, Sensei Williams. Even though I remember very little of the karate he taught me, he instilled in me many important principles that I will always live by.
3. Where do you most like to travel?
I haven’t had many opportunities to travel leisurely. Currently, my favorite place to travel is the Bay Area because I love running up coastal mountains with great views and in beautiful weather.
4. If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself something, what would you say?
“Never use someone else as a measure of your success because that will cause complacency or doubt. You need to only concern yourself with doing your best and finding ways to continually improve. Heed my advice, younger version of myself, or be prepared to learn the hard way!”
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
Case Western Reserve is an awesome place, which makes it hard to pick a favorite. The entire staff in the law school and all my classmates make for a great environment. That being said, my favorite thing about Case [Western Reserve] has to be everyone involved in the decision to accept me during the admission process because they made it all possible.