(LOS ANGELES) — A blind football player at the University of Southern California (USC) helped lead his team to victory earlier this month, and now he’s opening up about his remarkable story.
Jake Olson, 20, the team’s long snapper, made his debut as a Trojan in a game against Western Michigan University.
Late in the fourth quarter, Olson snapped for an extra point. The Trojans won the game 49-31.
“It was emotional,” Olson said Friday on Good Morning America.
He added, “Just the pure bliss and just knowing that I accomplished a goal. I was able to give Trojan nation and, really, the entire sports world a message of inspiration and hope.”
Olson, now a junior at USC, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was 1 year old and lost one of his eyes. The cancer came back eight times.
In 2009, at the age of 12, doctors told Olson he would lose his other eye.
Before he completely lost his vision at age 12, Jake told his parents that he wanted to see one last USC Trojans game. His wish reached then-Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, and Olson became a part of the Trojans family long before he joined the team.
Olson set a mission to play on his high school football team and tried out in his junior year at Lutheran High School of Orange County.
“I wanted to be out there so badly, and so I started thinking what position could I play that wouldn’t require me to have sight,” he said. “And then came upon long snapper. I was like, ‘Whoa, okay, yeah, it’s all feel.'”
After relentless practice, Olson landed a spot on the team.
His teammates supported him by clapping to let Olson know the distance of the snap, and then tapping on his leg to let him know when he could snap.
Olson walked on the USC team in 2015 as a freshman.
He is also the author of a book about his experience, Open Your Eyes to a Happier Life.
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