Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Blind long-snapper set to play for USC

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Sep 2015

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A blind athlete says he is set to join the USC Trojans American football team.

Jake Olson, a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles-based Trjoans, who play in the Pac-12 conference of collegiate American football, was born with a rare cancer of the retina in both eyes. 

Despite that condition, Olson tweeted on Monday: “Tomorrow I walk out onto Howard Jones field [USC’s practice facility] not as a fan or honorary member, but as a player for the USC Trojans! #fighton.”

ESPN reported that a USC spokesperson had confirmed it was “likely” Olson would participate at the team’s practice on Tuesday.

Olson, who was the starting long-snapper on his high-school team in Orange, California became a frequent visitor at USC practices and games as a young teen when the Trojans were led by Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

They developed a connection that grew stronger when Olson learned in 2009 that he would need surgery that would leave him blind.

Current USC coach Steve Sarkisian, an assistant under Carroll at one point, previously said he would welcome Olson with the goal to have him long-snap in a Trojans game.

Olson has reportedly been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) because he received a “Swim With Mike” scholarship, awarded to physically challenged athletes.

The NCAA had categorised the grant-in-aid as an athletic scholarship, meaning Olson could not be seen as a walk-on for the team and leaving him in limbo as the Trojans did not have a scholarship slot on their roster.

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