Jake Olson became the first completely blind football player in college football history when he successfully long snapped a point after try for the University of Southern California (USC) against Western Michigan on September 2nd, 2017. Jake's story of overcoming retinoblastoma and going blind at the age of 12 has served as an inspiration to many people across the world.
Born on March 26th, 1997, Jake's first battle with cancer came when at 8 months old, he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. Two months later, the disease claimed his left eye. In November 2009, after battling the cancer for 12 years, Jake lost his right eye. During Jake's battle, he confronted many challenges and encountered many setbacks- but he remained strong. He has used his experience to inspire and motivate others by authoring two books, establishing a non-profit foundation to support cancer research and visually impaired children, and by sharing his story openly and impactfully as a motivational speaker.
Jake is also a life-long USC football fan. In high school, he learned to long snap and earned the starting spot on his high school's varsity team as a junior and senior. After being accepted to USC, Jake was offered a walk-on roster spot on the legendary Trojans football team. This made him the first-ever completely blind Division I college football player. He saw his first live-action in 2017 when he snapped in USC’s home opener on September 2nd and was named the Pac-12 special teams’ player of the week. In his college career, he had a total of three successful PAT snaps, earning his spot as one of the top two most inspirational stories in college football's 150-year history. His story has been featured on ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Fox Sports, Hallmark, TBN, The Golf Channel, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, etc.
Since graduating from USC, Jake has gone on to win an adaptive golf championship, spend time with his dog Quebec, build on his already long-established presence as a motivational speaker, and become an entrepreneur. Inspired by his experiences being booked for speaking and marketing engagements, Jake co-founded Engage, an online platform that digitizes the process of booking speakers, athletes, and other talent for events and experiences. In 2022, Engage closed a pre-seed round that valued the growing startup at $30 million.
Jake's partnered with Callaway on a recent campaign. Check it out here.
Speaking Topics -
FINDING THE SETUP IN THE SETBACK
Jake shares his incredible life journey of battling cancer eight times, going blind at the age of 12, and making history in athletics, business and more. Using a mix of personal stories, a lot of humor, and some unique life philosophies, Jake helps audience members change how they perceive adversity. He helps audiences realize that often what feels like a big setback can be a setup for something much greater in life if they take the right approach to confronting their adversity. During this talk audiences will laugh, think, and maybe cry a little bit. They will leave more grateful and with an entirely new way to perceive and tackle adversity. This talk is a huge hit for sales teams, schools, and anyone trying to help their team develop more grit, level up in their business, or improve their perspective and accountability.
FINDING A WAY - HOW AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE MAKES TEAMS BETTER
Cancer may have taken Jake's eysight at age twelve, but it did not take his will to achieve. In this talk Jake discusses how the will to succeed was his, but because of his blindness, he needed to find a different way to achieve his goals. That way was leaning on other incredible people around him who were willing to adapt and meet Jake where he was. Whether it was a math teacher learning braille to better teach him, coaches devising a whole new scheme for long snapping so he could play football, or his colleagues helping him use the newest technology so he could excel in his work, Jake know first hand how impactful being surrounded by inclusive people is. He also knows that everyone is better off frrom it in the end. In this talk Jake talks about how DEI can make teams better and that amazing things happen when coworkers recognize the will of their teammates and work to help them find a way.