For Olson, snap was much more than a play

first_imgDaniel Zhu | Daily TrojanWith under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, there wasn’t much left to see for the fans at the Coliseum who sweated through the entirety of USC’s win over Western Michigan on Saturday.Junior safety Marvell Tell III had just scored USC’s seventh touchdown of the game on a pick-six to put the Trojans ahead of Western Michigan 48-31, and fans started heading for the exits.But before freshman placekicker Chase McGrath kicked the final extra point, head coach Clay Helton curiously called a timeout. Then, he yelled at redshirt sophomore long snapper Jake Olson.“Are you ready?” Helton asked. “Let’s get this done.”Fans who wanted to beat the traffic stayed in their seats. Media members who just wanted the game to end perked both ears up. The announcers on the Pac-12 Network started giving background on Olson. His name was introduced over the public-address system to the roar of the crowd. Slowly, the realization of what was about to happen drifted through the Coliseum: A blind man was about to participate in a real, live college football game.Olson took a few practice snaps with redshirt junior placeholder Wyatt Schmidt, and then he was out there. On the field. In a game. Next thing he knew, he was lined up, the whistle had blown and it was “go time.” He didn’t even have time to be nervous.“Wyatt told me to put my hands on the ball and called the cadence right away,” Olson said. “There wasn’t much time to think about anything.”Of course, the snap was perfect. Of course, the kick was good. And in the ensuing hours and days, Olson’s moment of a lifetime has gone viral, making the rounds on social media and earning him airtime on ESPN and an interview with The New York Times.“What a pressure player,” Helton said. “Was that not a perfect snap? I’m very proud of him. He’s put a ton of work in.”To fully understand the gravity of that snap, you need to know what Olson went through to get to that moment. How he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma — a cancer of the retina — at birth, causing him to lose his left eye at 10 months. How the cancer came back eight separate times despite rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment. How, at age 12, his right eye was removed to prevent the cancer from spreading to the brain, rendering him completely blind.But the die-hard USC fan from Huntington Beach was determined to not just live while blind, but also accomplish his dream: wear the Cardinal and Gold on Saturdays. So he learned how to long-snap, perfecting the position over a summer in high school.“When I first started I couldn’t snap the ball,” Olson told the Daily Trojan in 2015. “I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. It took two or three months of really practicing hard to start seeing some progress.”Remarkably, he progressed enough to earn the starting long snapper position at Orange Lutheran, a football powerhouse in Orange County. And soon, he not only found himself at USC through a scholarship with Swim With Mike, an organization that helps physically challenged athletes attend college, but he also made the football team.He redshirted his first season, spending time on the practice field working on his snaps. And in one practice in fall of 2015, then-head coach Steve Sarkisian told Olson to jump in and snap the ball in a live field goal drill for the first time.“I felt ready,” Olson said. “It was something I did thousands of times. It was not letting the situation get in your head … Just do the same thing you always do.”Perhaps as a precursor to his first snap in a live game, that attempt was also perfect — as if there was ever any doubt. On Saturday, his family was in attendance, and they were probably more nervous than he was.“I didn’t want them to put him in when the game was so close because I didn’t want that pressure for him, even though I’m sure he would’ve done fine,” said Jake’s mother, Cindy, standing outside the USC locker room following the game.She was quick to add that she was speaking for herself and not her son, who does not lack any confidence. A few weeks ago, Olson was with his family in Atlanta across from the College Football Hall of Fame and the city where the National Championship Game will be played next January, for a speaking engagement, and officials offered to give him a tour. But Olson declined.“I’m coming back in January with my team,” Olson said, according to his mother. “That’s when we’re going to do it.”But Olson also has a sense of humility and appreciation for the opportunities he’s received. It took a concerted effort to set up Saturday’s moment, with Helton reaching out to Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester before the game, offering to not rush the Broncos’ first extra point attempt if Lester would tell his players to back off during Olson’s snap. Lester agreed.“I told my guys, ‘This opportunity for Jake is bigger than the game, you know?’” Lester told USA TODAY.Indeed, the moment was bigger than sports. On the scoreboard, it was merely a point — but for Olson, it was a dream come true. On Saturday, he showed that blindness can’t stop him from doing what he loves. From celebrating with his teammates on the field to being interviewed in the press conference room, Olson was treated to the full college football experience — not just as a 12-year-old when he spent a day with former head coach Pete Carroll and the football team before his surgery, but as an actual player on the official USC roster.  “This has come full circle because he got up there being on the team and actually contributing to his team,” Cindy Olson said.We probably haven’t seen the last of Olson yet, as Helton said he would try to work him into more games. Regardless, Olson has already done without eyesight what most of others haven’t done with vision.And on Saturday, instead of reporters peppering redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold with questions in the postgame press conference room, it was Olson who answered question after question — on getting the opportunity to play, on the emotions of walking on the field, on what surprised him and on his life coming full-circle. One-by-one, he gave thought-out, elaborate answers, but it was his last answer — the one in response to coming full-circle — that drew nods from Helton and junior running back Ronald Jones II and sucked the air out of the packed room.  “I just think there’s a beauty in it,” he said. “If you can’t see how God works things out, then I think you’re the blind one.”last_img read more

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Justin Rose and Charley Hull become England Golf Ambassadors

first_img Justin Rose and Charley Hull have agreed to become England Golf Ambassadors to champion the work of the organisation.Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, and Hull, the youngest-ever Solheim Cup player, both represented England as amateurs before embarking on their stellar professional careers.David Joy, Chief Executive of England Golf, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Justin and Charley as our Ambassadors and look forward to working with them. Their support will be invaluable as part of our strategy to inspire new golfers and spread the message that golf is a game for all”.”He added: “We are aware, like many other sports, golf faces challenges around declining participation.  We now better understand these issues and are committed to delivering our strategy – Raising Our Game – halting the decline in participation and membership and bringing growth back to golf in England.”Raising Our Game sets out a vision of England Golf at the heart of a network of partners, working together to tackle the challenges facing the game and create an even brighter future for golf. The strategy’s aims include increasing the number of regular golfers, creating stronger clubs and improving the image of golf.Rose remarked: “My career started at county level and representing my country is among my fondest memories, playing at a very, very high level and developing skills.”He also paid tribute to the “thousands of volunteers working for England Golf and helping to create many great players, now and in the future.”Charley Hull added: “Golf can get you hooked. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.“You can play with your friends, it’s quite relaxing and you can burn 600-700 calories playing golf.As an amateur Justin Rose won both the McGregor and Carris Trophies – English U16 and U18 boys’ championships – in 1995. He went on to win the 1997 St Andrews Links Trophy and in the same year became one of the youngest-ever Walker Cup players, aged 17 years and 10 days. He turned professional in 1998 after finishing fourth in the Open Championship.In 2013 Rose won the US Open championship, becoming the first Englishman to win a major since 1996. His Ryder Cup record includes a key role in the 2012 Miracle at Medinah, when he secured a vital point against Phil Mickelson in the Sunday singles. He was Europe’s most successful player in last year’s victory at Gleneagles, when he was undefeated in his five games.Charley Hull first made golfing headlines as a nine-year-old when she won a national ladies’ competition. By the age of 15 she was England’s top woman amateur, having won the English and Welsh stroke play titles among other events.At 16 she played in her first major, the Kraft Nabisco, and finished in the top 40, before going on to represent GB&I in the winning Curtis Cup team of 2012. The following year she turned professional, was runner-up in five consecutive events and became the youngest-ever Solheim Cup player when she was picked for Europe’s winning team. She finished the season as Rookie of the Year and topped the Ladies European Tour order of merit at the end of 2014.Caption: (Top) Justin Rose with David Joy (Image © Getty Images) 23 Jun 2015 Justin Rose and Charley Hull become England Golf Ambassadors last_img read more

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