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 its motto is, "Every child, every day."
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For the past six years, Simon has managed Mandeville's freshman team. "The coaches wear visors, a towel around their necks, and carry playbooks, and so does Simon," says LeCompte. He adds that although Simon has a speech impediment, he gives the pep talk before and after the games and the players all cheer like crazy.
On Wednesday, at the team's final game — and Simon's last game ever as manager because he'll be graduating in the spring — against Slidell High, the coach of the freshman 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." LeCompte and the other coaches had reached out to the rival team before the game to arrange Simon's thrilling moment.
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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 over-the-top excited," his mother told Yahoo Shine. "On the ride home he kept saying, 'Wow,' over and over." She adds that every year, the new players have completely embraced her son. LeCompte says that both teams' players, the coaches, and even the announcer "were just outstanding" and worked together to help make it happen. Score one for the good guys.
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