He has been sidelined with another injury. But just because Simon Roussel cannot be jumping for the Gorham High track team hardly means he’s idle.

Roussel, 17, a senior, is busy with his music and studies. He performs in both the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble (PYWE) and Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO), as well as district and all-state bands. Academically, Roussel is a National Merit Finalist with a challenging load of classes.

Adding to his schedule, Roussel made a last-minute decision to audition for the school musical, Cinderella, and was cast in the male lead. His sixth and final performance was last week.

Roussel is waiting for a strained calf muscle to recover so he can resume jumping again for the Rams’ track and field team. He qualified for the Class A outdoor track and field state meet last season and hopes to do the same this year.

Q: How did the indoor track season go?

A: I was only able to compete in two meets. I jumped 18-2 in long jump and 37 feet in the triple jump, which wasn’t that great. I think I qualified for states (in the triple jump) … But then (on Jan. 24) I strained my calf. I thought I felt something pop, so (a strain) is good news. I don’t know how long I’m out.

Q: Before you got hurt, your schedule seemed impossible. How is your time management?

A: It’s passable. I just kind have so many things to keep track of, I don’t bother keeping track … I just kind of like ‘do this now, then the next, and next.’ Just take it one step at a time. That’s the way it stresses me out the least. Kind of weird but it works. It’s been kind of crazy this year with indoor (track) and the musical. I’m the jumping captain so I was going to as many practices as possible. Sometimes I’d be late for rehearsal.

Q: When do you play your trumpet?

A: I only have rehearsal with PYWE and PYSO on Wednesday nights, although it’s 5:45 to 9 p.m. We have a concert in April … The district honor band festival was Jan. 19. The state band performance is in May. We rehearse for that on our own.

Q: And your studies?

A: I really only have lots of homework for Latin (IV) and AP Literature. (Roussel also takes Advanced Chemistry II, Advanced Financial Algebra, TV production, AP Music theory, and Band). That’s not as bad as last year.

Q: What was last year?

A: It was a nightmare. I started off my day with AP Language and composition, and then calculus at (the University of Southern Maine). Then Advanced Chemistry I, AP Physics, World History II, Latin 3, concert band, jazz band and chamber singing.

Q: When did you get involved in sports?

A: I played (youth) baseball. In sixth grade I ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track … I did running events and did pretty well. In eighth grade, in outdoor, I started high jumping. I got hooked on it. I watched videos of Olympic high jumping and videos on form every night. Practiced it every chance I could. That year I did summer track and was able to do high jump, long jump and triple jump. I cleared 5-5 in a meet. I was real excited for indoor my freshman year. First two meets were pretty good. I cleared 5-4. I thought ‘yes, this is going to be a good season,’ and then I hurt my back.”

Q: What happened?

A: My legs were tired all the time and I had stabbing pains in my back. I pushed through the issues the rest of my freshman year, but my jumping performance decreased … It wasn’t until a year later we actually found out what was wrong. A bone scan showed I had a slight disc herniation in my lower back, as well as a congenital disorder. My options were cortisone injections, super-invasive surgery or a back brace that I had to wear for 12 weeks. I chose the brace. It was my sophomore year and indoor (track) had started. I couldn’t do anything for the first six weeks. Six weeks of nothing.”

Q: How do you handle nothing?

A: I kind of went a little crazy. I definitely channeled some of that into playing my trumpet more and singing more (with the chamber singers).

Q: When did you start playing the trumpet?

A: In fifth grade they had people come in and demonstrate all the instruments. It was boring. Then this guy started playing the trumpet. He was playing the Indiana Jones theme and it was this glorious, exciting trumpet sound. I’m like ‘I want that.’ Kind of a love-at-first-sight deal.

Q: Back to track. When did you return from the back injury?

A: The outdoor season my sophomore year, I could only do running; no jumps. They said I shouldn’t high jump again, which made me sad. I really, really loved high jump. Junior year, indoor, I did mostly running and began incorporating jumps into practice. In outdoor, my long jump was OK. In the triple jump I jumped 38-9.5 my first meet and qualified for states. But then I got shin splints after that. I competed in states but I didn’t do my best.

Q: Speaking of doing your best, how was Cinderella? This was your first musical, right?

A: It’s something I always wanted to do but I was scared to do it … I have singing experience. I’m pretty comfortable with that. It’s the acting that makes me nervous.

Q: The calf strain might be better soon. Think you will be OK for outdoor track?

A: That’s the goal (Roussel is laughing). I just want one, full healthy season.


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