Playing the trumpet is no easy task, but Science Hill freshman Owen Grosserode still smiles intermittently as he plays along with the Topper Marching Band. Because playing the trumpet is one of the easiest tasks for Grosserode to tackle.
Grosserode was born a congenital amputee, that left him with his right arm and enough of his right leg to wear a prosthesis, which is noticeable due to the bright orange color of his favorite college, the University of Tennessee.
And while people have thrown around the word inspiration at the sight of Grosserode performing in the band, a simple smile from the 14-year old lets everyone know he doesn’t typically agree with that statement.
“I just see myself as a guy playing the trumpet,” Grosserode said through a smile. “I’ve been called an inspiration by many people that don’t really seem to know me at all. Because if they did, they wouldn’t call me an inspiration, because I am just as lazy as the next guy.”
That witty sense of humor makes him a favorite as he maneuvers through the hallways of Science Hill and it made him fit in quickly with the Topper marching band members.
“Owen really is just like the next guy,” said Science Hill Assistant Band Director Dan McGuire, who helps push Owen to his formation in the marching band. “As silly as that might sound that is what makes him so remarkable. As people we tend to focus on our differences. With Owen, it is so much easier to focus on how we are similar.
“It is harder for Owen to do things that many take for granted, but he does not appear to allow that to impact him in any way. He has a fantastic sense of humor: really dry, but very witty. When I push his wheelchair out for the band’s pregame performance, we dance during the drum cadence. I remember saying to him that we should dance and he didn’t even hesitate. He’s one of us, just like anyone else, and he’s awesome.”
Grosserode started playing the trumpet at Indian Trail, where he also wrestled. The wrestling has stopped for Grosserode, who is the youngest of four siblings, but the music continues to be an outlet for him. With the help of the Shriner’s Hospital, the family was able to get a custom made harness to help Owen hold his trumpet.
“Our goal for Owen is the same as the rest of our kids, they are going to leave our house and live successful adult lives. And kids can’t do that if you baby them,” said Owen’s mother Rae Grosserode. “So we don’t baby him and he is expected to use his brain and behave just like anybody else.”
Owen embraces those expectations and said that he can’t imagine life any other way, and that includes him playing his trumpet.
“I can’t really imagine not doing it,” Grosserode said. “It’s a part of my schedule. I wake up in the morning, I eat breakfast, I go to school and then I play my instrument. It’s just second nature to me.”
The next big task for Owen will be getting his learner’s permit. Beyond that, he said he isn’t quite sure what he wants to do with his life. He has kicked around the idea of being a psychologist or owning his own restaurant, but he eagerly admits he isn’t thinking that far ahead in the future.
“I guess it really depends on what TV show I’m watching, that’s what I want to be,” Grosserode said.
Adjusting to high school has had its ups-and-downs for Grosserode. He said recently he has thought about how his life would be different if he had more of an able body. However, those thoughts don’t slow him down.
“It never mattered to me, until this year,” Grosserode said. “This year, I started realizing that I will never be able-bodied. I’ll never be able to run and jump like other kids. It’s hard, but it’s just something you have to live with…When I was younger, I also wanted to be blonde, but I got over that.”
The witty sense of humor is a staple for Owen and it is something that his mother said helps him get through some tougher times. But even after enduring the toughest of times, Rae said she wouldn’t want her son any other way.
“Everyone has things in their life that are more difficult, some you can see and others you can’t,” Rae Grosserode said. “I can’t imagine Owen any other way, because I love Owen and if I changed something then he wouldn’t be the same person.”