Jake Olson lost his left eye as a baby due to a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma. He later lost his right eye at the age of 12. Olson walked on to the USC Trojans football team as a long snapper and last Saturday, he made his lifelong dream a reality as he made it into a game, executing a perfect extra point snap of the team’s 49-31 win over Western Michigan.
Olson joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio Thursday and talked about the days leading up to their season opener and preparing for the enormous moment that would surely bring world wide attention to the 20-year-old.
“Thursday, Coach Helton told me probably there’s a really good chance,” Olson said about his potential playing time. “Then came Friday, and he confirmed it. He said, ‘Everything is set in place, so get everything prepared.’ So I definitely was nervous going into Saturday.
“I trusted in my technique, I trusted in my ability, and it’s something I’ve done thousands and thousands of times, but at the same time, I realized the significance of the moment and just what was going to be a very special moment for USC football and really all of sports in the world.
Olson continued, “I definitely wanted to execute and knew it was going to be a really, really cool experience, just something I could inspire millions of people by doing. So I was a little nervous, when I was out there and was able to warm up a little bit, the nerves went down, and obviously when I was going out there, and I just wanted to execute so I really I just tapped into my fell, technique and delivered a good snap and it was quick and it was very fun.
“As soon as it was over, I just remember feeling oh man I want to do that again.”
After the game, Olson posted a thank you on his Instagram account to his family, coaches, and former USC head coach Pete Carrol. Olson talked about Carroll and how he and his 2009 Trojans team took him in during the process of losing his second eye, and embracing him as a member of their family.
“Coach Carroll is my mentor, my friend. We built an amazing relationship,” Olson said about the current Seattle Seahawks head coach. “From introducing me to the Trojan family, being around me in my darkest hours, just taking me under his wing and the whole Trojan family and the team back then to just making sure I was loved and supported, and I was around my heroes when I was going through that difficult time.”
Olson believes he wouldn’t be where he is today without Carroll’s continued kindness, love and interest in him after first meeting him in 2009.
“Just the grace he extended to really make a part of that team and then to be my friend after my mentor,” Olson said. “His mindset is a lot like mine in how we face adversity and just always competing and winning forever and kind of having that mindset. So to be around one of the greats, who really understands that is something I really took to heart when I was facing my biggest challenge in life and something I really wanted to apply and learn from him. And he’s just an awesome, awesome guy, obviously one of the better, the best coaches ever to coach the game of football, but beyond that just one of the best life coaches as well.”