At a certain point, it would be wise to just leave the Chelsea High record books in girls’ track blank until junior Stephanie Simon graduates.
Chelsea High junior Stephanie Simon is putting together another outstanding indoor track season this year, and will head to the National Championship meet in New York this weekend. When she’s not on the track, though, one might find her weaving in and out of the streets on her skateboard.
The champion jumper, runner and hurdler
tends to break most school records, and then break her own records time and
time again. At a certain point, her coaches say, they will probably fill it all
in after she graduates.
Simon, 16, comes from a strong athletic
family – and her sister, Martine – is the only runner to have ever beat her in
a meet. Now, she has focused in on jumping events and has put together a string
of wins during the indoor season this winter.
Recently, she took first place in the
Division 2 state long jump, and took second place in the New England Championship
meet. Earlier this year, at the multi-state Dartmouth Relays, she took first in
the long jump and high jump.
This weekend, she will travel to New York
City for the second year in a row to compete in the National Championship
But back in Chelsea, if you see a young lady
cutting it up on a skateboard, that might be Stephanie Simon.
“When I’m not training or practicing, I like
to ride a penny board,” she said. “I ride it everywhere, even to school. I
think that’s why I can jump. I think that’s something every jumper has to have
to be successful and that is being able to take a risk. You have to be willing
to take a risk to throw yourself in a pit of sand or give it everything you
have to flop up and over the high jump bar. It’s the adrenaline I like.”
Simon was born in Chelsea to Hubert and
Mathilde Simon, who originally came from Haiti. Her older brother, Norbert, was
also a track standout, as was her sister, Martine, who graduated last year. She
said her younger brother, Emanuel, has potential in the 200 sprint.
She attended the Early Learning Center, the
Berkowitz School, the Clark Avenue Middle School and has settled in at Chelsea
High – where she keeps a 3.4 grade point average and is active in academics.
But her cool demeanor likely comes from
having to contain herself on the track. Unlike with the sprints – where she
also has great success within the conference meets – she said she has learned
that a jumper (whether high jump, long jump or triple jump) needs to stay in
“Adrenaline is good for running, but for
jumping you have to kind of put it in a bottle and use it to motivate you and
counter it with technique,” she said. “For jumping and sprints, unlike distance
running, it’s half mental and half physical.”
It will be a very important quality when she
arrives at the New York City Armory this weekend with her coach, Cesar
Hernandez. Last year was her first indoor national meet, and she said it was
“Last year, stepping into that building was
so overwhelming,” she said, noting that there hasn’t been another Chelsea
runner since Bobby Goss decades ago to go to nationals. “Every runner there was
working hard and wanted to win. I didn’t do so well, but it made me even more
determined to do better at the national outdoor meet in North Carolina last
spring and I did.”
When she went to the Dartmouth Relays
earlier this year, she said that same New York feeling came upon her, but she
was able to shake it off, which is something she said she will do when she goes
back to New York this week.
“I told myself it’s the same events and the
same sand,” she said. “I was able to recover and move on.”
Amazingly, Simon was never a runner until
she got to high school, unlike many top runners who have been at it since grade
“My freshman year I didn’t even run that
first season,” she said. “I liked soccer. I was able to make varsity my
freshman year. In the winter, I played basketball. Then I did outdoor track and
I was really good at it. In track, there was so much support and it was like a
big family. My freshman year I was trying to figure everything out. Everyone
kept telling me I had more potential in track. I listened to them and I’m glad
Simon credited Coach Hernandez with helping
her take bigger and bigger steps as a runner and, especially, as a jumper. As a
raw athlete, she had talent, but she said Hernandez helped her to develop
technique and pushed her not to just rely on athleticism.
“If he wasn’t my coach, I would not be doing
what I’m doing,” she said. “He fits the kind of coach I need.”
She also credited her teammates for being a
great support system.
She also credited her family, who she said
has been very proud of her academically and in sports.
“In our family,
everyone has their thing they are best at,” she said. “I guarantee I win at