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Blind Football Player Snaps for Extra Point in a USC Win – New York Times

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Jake Olson, a long-snapper for the University of Southern California, leading the marching band after a win over Western Michigan on Saturday. Olson, who is blind, snapped for the final extra point in his first college football game.

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

A blind football player for the University of Southern California participated in his first college regular-season game on Saturday, snapping the ball on the final extra point in the fourth-ranked Trojans’ 49-31 home victory over Western Michigan.

The long-snapper, Jake Olson, lost his eyesight when he was 12. He has been a lifelong fan of U.S.C.’s football team and was eager to take the field at the Coliseum after two years of high school football and two years of practicing alongside his college teammates.

“It was an awesome moment,” he said in a phone interview Saturday night, adding that it all boiled down to practice. “It’s muscle memory — it’s not like magic,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘I hope this goes right.’ If you do it correctly, it will go right.”

After U.S.C.’s season-opening win, Olson, 20, said he planned to celebrate with his teammates.

When he was 10 months old, Olson had his left eye removed because of a cancer called retinoblastoma. When he was 12 years old, his right eye also had to be removed. He learned to live without his sense of sight, and in high school he became passionate about joining the football team.

Chuck Petersen, who coached Olson at Orange Lutheran High School outside Anaheim, Calif., said he proved himself as the best player for the position. Petersen said that in two years, Olson had only two bad snaps — the first and the last of his high school career.

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