Later today, the #15 ranked USC Trojans will open their 2018 season against the UNLV Rebels. In last year’s season opener, we witnessed the amazing story of Jake Olson (#61) who is USC’s backup long snapper.
You may remember Jake snapping the final PAT against Western Michigan just one year ago. He went on to be the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week as well as USC’s Most Inspirational Player of 2017. Why was this so special? Jake is blind.
Jakes story began when he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, when he was only 8 months old. Although he had tumors in both eyes, doctors managed to save his right eye. At the age of 12, the cancer returned and he was told that his only option was to remove his left eye, leaving him blind.
Despite his circumstances, Jake continued with his passion for sports and USC football.
Jake admits that many thought the idea of a blind kid playing football was “absurd” and improbable.
As a kid, he attended practices and even joined his high school football team (although he anticipated riding the bench for the duration of the season). Still, Jake didn’t give up. He practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. He eventually earned a starting spot on the varsity team.
Through perseverance and determination, Jake received an invitation to join the USC Trojans football team. Although he didn’t get on the field for two years, he continued to practice. He told coaches that he only wanted to play if he had truly earned a spot. One year ago, on opening day, he received that opportunity and his dream came true. He was called to snap against Western Michigan in the fourth quarter. How’d he do? You guessed it…he nailed…it and the Trojans went on to win the game.
Jake has shared his message as a motivational speaker, on ESPN specials and even by co-authoring a book. Jake states “out of everything that I have learned throughout my journey from losing my sight to snapping in Saturday’s game, one of the most important principles has been the power of resilience.” He believes that he can excel at anything he puts his mind to. He shares that he wants to be an example to others so they can “find the courage inside themselves to face their fears and go dominate life.”
Last year, Jake shared about wanting the opportunity to snap again. He stated “I hope I get to do it against UCLA,” Southern Cal’s crosstown rival. Whether or not he gets a chance to do that today, we can’t be sure. However, we do know that he’ll be ready if he’s called upon.
What’s next for Jake? Well, he’s mentioned that he would like to play as the first blind player on the PGA Tour. I’m