When the whistle blows at halftime of Woodland Hills High School football games, one Wolverine stays on the field while his teammates head off to the locker room.
It’s at that moment that Jaden Weems sets down his football helmet and picks up his trumpet. Weems is a senior running back and linebacker for the Wolverines football team, but he’s also part of the Woodland Hills High School Marching Band and Images Visual Ensemble. It’s double-duty that he’s performed for the past three years.
“Once I figured out I could do both I said, ‘Why not?” Weems said. “They’re both fun, so why not?”
Weems has played football since he was five or six years old, and he’s played the trumpet since he was in fourth grade. The two passions intertwine every fall, making his schedule a little busy. On Mondays, Weems heads to the Wolvarena for football practice. But on Tuesdays, he’s at the high school making sure he has the intricacies of the band’s halftime show down pat. Wednesdays and Thursdays are marked for more football practices, setting up the hectic double-duty on Friday nights.
“I’ll come out and play with the band, then come back in the locker room – or sometimes, they’ll already be out there, so I’ll just stretch,” Weems said. “I’ve gotten used to it. At first, it was a rush. Like, how do I get on the field and to band at the same time? But after a while, it just got real smooth and real easy.”
It makes for some late nights, but his schedule doesn’t get any lighter in the winter or spring. Weems is a three-sport athlete, as he wrestles in the winter and plays baseball in the spring. He’s also involved in the performing arts program.
As a trumpeter, Weems has been inspired by jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. But he also listens to modern stars like Trombone Shorty and even gets inspiration from a movie soundtrack.
“Anything smooth, I guess it just caught my ear. I thought it would be fun to play something like that,” Weems said. “I think one of my biggest influences was the movie the Princess and the Frog. They had a couple of trumpet solos in there that I like. I always wanted to play those, because that’s my sister’s favorite movie. So, I picked it up and started playing.”
Now he’s playing every Friday night, just before he runs back off the field, grabs his helmet, and gets ready for the second half of action for the Wolverines.