Jake Olson
Blind long snapper Jake Olson, right, fulfills a childhood dream to play Trojan football. | PHOTO BY PATRICK GEE

“Adversity shouldn’t stop you. It’s just something you’ve got to work through.”

Sophomore Jake Olson’s words to his football teammates last fall carried special weight: The Trojan long snapper knows a lot about adversity.

Born with a rare cancer of the retina, Olson lost his left eye at 10 months old. At age 12, he learned surgery was required to remove his right eye. Undeterred by his blindness, he became a long snapper for his high school varsity football team. After arriving at USC, the self-professed “ultimate Trojan fan” not only earned a spot on the football team, but also received a Swim With Mike scholarship.

In 2015, Olson donned Trojan jersey No. 61 for his first official game. “Putting it on was an honor,” he says. For his strength in adversity, Olson won the Rare Diseases Champion award from the nonprofit organization Uplifting Athletes in February. Next up? More studying, more training and, no doubt, more inspiration.

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