Long snappers are among the most unheralded of football players — unless something goes terribly wrong. This skill is precise and deliberate, often executed under tremendous pressure if a team needs the points to win. This year, though, everyone was talking about long snappers for a different reason.
Jake Olson had a form of retinal cancer. He lost sight in one eye at 3, and by 12 had to have both eyes removed. But he didn’t get stuck. Jake didn’t stop from pursuing his athletic dreams. Shortly before the second operation, USC Coach Pete Carroll heard about this boy’s story. And knew Jake was a loyal USC Trojan fan.
The coach brought 12-year-old Jake to the field and team members embraced him, supporting him in his time of change. They made him feel part of the team. He came to all the games he could, listening to play-by-play narratives and cheering on his teammates.
The years went by. Jake knew he only had a remote chance to play football for USC. He practiced and practiced as a long snapper, never giving up.
Fast forward to 2017. It was the 4th quarter and USC was playing Western Michigan. Then something magical happened. An agreement between the teams, negotiated by the head coaches, led to Olson’s opportunity to play on the field.
“Coach Hilton (USC) told me what the kid meant to the team. I told him we’d be happy to be a part of it,” Western Michigan Coach Tim Lester said. He basically told his team to stand down. “What we’re about to do is bigger than the game. This is about what kind of people we want to be, what we represent; this is bigger than us.” The players took their positions, but never moved or tried to rush Jake.
With his hand on a teammate’s shoulder, 6’3″, 225 pound long snapper, Jake Olson jogged out onto the playing field. Jake successfully long snapped and the ball was placed for the punter. The kick was good. He was never stuck. And according to him, nothing is impossible. And that’s the truth.
Ever been in a situation where you got stuck in the impossible? If you’re still there, think of the smallest thing you could do to begin getting unstuck. It could be something as tiny as a positive affirmation on your bathroom mirror. Catching yourself when you have a negative thought and reframing to the positive. Or something as large as the decision to go back to school. Or plan a different chapter for the next years of your life. You can put feet on your dreams and get unstuck. Jake says so. Nothing is impossible.
Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, “I’m possible.”