Simon Roussel, a senior with Down syndrome at Mandeville High School in Louisiana, loves football. And it's a serious sport in his part of the country. "Football is big and competitive in our entire state," varsity coach Guy LeCompte tells Yahoo Shine. LeCompte says he noticed Simon's enthusiasm for the game in a special education PE class, and so the school made him an assistant to the coaching staff. The school system has the largest population of special needs kids in the state and their motto is, "Every child, every day."
For the last six years, Simon has managed Mandeville's freshman team. "The coaches wear a visor, a towel around their neck, and carry a playbook, and so does Simon," says LeCompte. He adds that although Simon has a serious speech impediment, he gives the pep talk before and after the games and the players all cheer like crazy.
On Wednesday, at Simon's team's final game-and his last game ever as manager-against rivals Slidell High, the freshman coach plucked him from the sidelines, told him to suit up, and put him in the starting line up. "He had no idea he was going to dress out," his mom, Barbara Roussel, told WWL News. "That was just a total surprise."
After the opening kickoff, Simon took the handoff and blazed down the field wearing a bright white jersey. Surrounded by a throng of his teammates, he ran 80 yards and scored the first touchdown of the game. "He was just in another world," said his mother, "It's a memory he'll have forever." LeCompte says that both teams' players, the coaches, and even the announcer "were just outstanding." Score one for the good guys.