A blind football player at the University of Southern California 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 today 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.”
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The Olson FamilyJake Olson poses for a photo with former USC Trojan Kris O’Dowd in an undated family photo from a visit when Olson was a youngster.
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.
The Olson FamilyJake Olson, now a long snapper for the USC Trojans, meets former USC football head coach Pete Carroll during a visit when Olson was a child.
“I’ll never tell anyone that life is fair,” Olson said. “Everyone is dealt with an unfair set of cards in some way … but I do tell them that at the end of the day, it’s your decision.”
“To sit there and feel sorry for myself and be angry… it would be pathetic,” he continued. “It would hold me back in life. I really wanted to make sure that blindness and going through cancer was not going to stop me…and so, being grateful is another thing that really just helped me move on to accept my reality of not being able to see.”
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.
Juan Lainez/Marinmedia.Org/CSM/RUSC long snapper, Jake Olson, right, who has been blind since the age of 12, runs off the field with teammate Wyatt Schmidt after he snapped an extra point.
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.
Juan Lainez/Marinmedia.Org/CSM/USC long snapper Jake Olson, who has been blind since the age of 12, snaps an extra point attempt.
Olson walked on the USC team in 2015 as a freshman. He has snapped in the past two spring games, according to ESPN.
Olson is also the author of a book about his experience, “Open Your Eyes to a Happier Life.”