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Dual-Sport Gaither Athlete Finds Joy in Leadership, Eager to go the Distance.

By September 20, 2019October 22nd, 2019Athlete of the Week

Tampa, Fl. – September 16, 2019 – Florida Orthopaedic Institute (FOI) is proud to announce James Simpson from Gaither High School as the ‘Athlete of the Week’ for the week beginning September 16, 2019.

Simpson was nominated by the head wrestling coach, Mike Drapeau, for taking the position of a leader and supporting his team, doing anything and everything necessary to make success happen for all.

“James leads by example,” Drapeau said. “He helps guide our young wrestlers even in the off season. He puts time in at practice and most importantly, in the classroom. James is a second year team captain of wrestling and first year captain on cross-country. He has the highest GPA on our team and is a born leader.”

A dual-sport athlete, Simpson has already set the gears in motion toward achieving his goals in both wrestling and cross-country. In the latter sport, he wishes for his team to qualify for Regionals for the first time in 13 years. In wrestling, he is eyeing the State Tournament.

“I started wrestling because I’ve done Jiu-Jitsu for six years now,” Simpson said. “I knew I wanted to participate in a sport and wrestling was the closest thing to what I had been doing so it seemed like a logical choice. It is a challenge; I am a big fan of challenges.” About his cross-country team, “they are like family to me,” he said. “They keep me running.”

Simpson does not shy away from recognizing the talent in his team and in his competition. Humility takes a strong presence as Simpson takes a step back and allows himself to assess and lead his team through other avenues than being the best athlete.

“I am not the best runner out there,” he said. “With cross-country, especially, I just have to know that even if I’m not the fastest kid on the team, I can help in other ways. As the captain, I can provide leadership in a different way than Coach can. With wrestling, it is hard to know that I am competing against kids that have been wrestling for their whole lives. To get over that, I just have to put in more work and stay focused on my goals.”

At the end of the day, Simpson says that no matter how hard you work, you have to find joy and happiness in what you do.

“My best advice is to find ways to make it fun,” Simpson said. “Especially in races, if somebody does something or says something and you cannot laugh or joke around with another team, then it isn’t fun. I live for those little one liners in races that makes everybody around, not just your teammates, laugh.”

Dr. Seung Yi is the Official Team Physician for Gaither High School.

Mia Pagano is the school’s Athletic Trainer with Select Physical Therapy.

Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s Athlete of the Week campaign is designed to focus on student-athletes, recognizing them for their hard work and dedication both on and off the field. The Athlete of the Week award can be earned by displaying one of the following characteristics:

Team Player: Athletes who are nominated for excellence in team play are chosen by a coach who feels the athlete does his or her best to put direction into action, makes a significant contribution to the team and continuously works to improve his or her skills, attitude and training.

Leadership: Athletes who earn the award in recognition of excellent leadership must exemplify strong relationship building skills, show excellent initiative and serve as role models for his or her peers.

To view previous award winners, please follow this link.

Florida Orthopaedic Institute

Founded in 1989, Florida Orthopaedic Institute is Florida’s largest orthopedic group and provides expertise and treatment of orthopedic-related injuries and conditions, including adult reconstruction and arthritis, chiropractic services, foot and ankle, general orthopedics, hand and wrist, interventional spine, musculoskeletal oncology, orthopedic trauma, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, sports medicine, shoulder and elbow, spine and chiropractic services, among others. The organization treats patients throughout its surgery centers in North Tampa and Citrus Park, two orthopaedic urgent care centers in South Tampa and Brandon, and 9 office locations in Bloomingdale, Brandon, Citrus Park, North Tampa, Northdale, Palm Harbor, South Tampa, Sun City Center and Wesley Chapel. For more information, please visit: and ‘like’ us on Facebook: