Despite the obvious obstacles, the story of Jake Olson‘s life has turned into one memorable moment after another.
Olson, without sight in either eye since the age of 12, made history last year by becoming the second legally-blind player to appear in an NCAA football game as a member of USC’s special teams. This week, Olson realized an off-field dream — driving a car for the first-time ever.
And not just any car, mind you, but a NASCAR stock car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with a very large assist from veteran Cup driver Todd Bodine.
That. Is. Awesome. Really, though, it’s merely a continuation of what’s been nearly a decade’s worth of awesome.
In 2009, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Olson, a teenage fan of the program at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old). It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.
Fast-forward a few years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015. He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game. While he didn’t see any real-game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates as the long-snapper on an extra point — thanks in large part to a very classy assist from WMU head coach Tim Lester.
Olson remains a playing member of the Trojans football team, and will be entering his redshirt junior season.