As with all high school students searching for a way to fit in, three years ago Jacob Golias became a dedicated member of the Mayfield High School Varsity Football team (a suburb in Cleveland, OH). It turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s made. Not only did Jacob gain confidence and build his self-esteem, it changed the way he thought about himself and how others viewed him. Two strips of eye black transformed him from a nervous wreck to a man with swagger.
Jacob took great pride in being a student manager. During the season, he participated in every practice and game, hydrating the team, assisting with setting up drills and team events such as dinners and car washes. During the off season, Jacob would voluntarily workout with the team, rising at 5 AM twice a week and dedicating his Sunday evenings, greeting his teammates with a big smile and serenading them with heavy metal tunes. Jacob has a remarkable sense of school spirit, inspiring the team before each game and many practices with his pre-game speeches delivered with passion and emotion, often shedding tears as he did so. He took every loss personally, as hard as anyone on the field, yet he was there to console his teammates when they were down or injured.
Jacob quickly bonded with his teammates. During Jacob’s second season, he formed a very close friendship with Senior Kolton Bodnovich who became Jacob’s role model. Kolton once wrote, “My friendship with Jacob has left a deep impression on me and influenced me profoundly. It has crystallized the importance of embracing the simple and the profound in life, and it has redefined the importance of honor and trust.” During Jacob’s final season, he gained another close football friend, Senior Matt Gype. Matt supported him through thick and thin throughout the school year and on graduation day when Jacob’s nerves got the best of him and he became ill just before the ceremonies began, Matt was there for him and continues to keep in touch.
For anyone out there thinking football players are bullies and big tough guys, think again – they are sensitive, kind, caring and tender on in the inside with big hearts. Jacob has become pretty well known throughout the community. We can’t go out in public without him running into somebody he knows. Introductions remain difficult; when asked who that person was; his answer often is “it’s in my head.” At the grocery store I was approached by a parent who shared with me how her son never allowed anyone to hug him. After he had just played his final high school game he was down on one knee all alone on the sidelines while everyone else was celebrating the win. Jacob noticed him, went over to him and gave him a hug - which was allowed. Once introduced by his siblings as “my little brother Jacob”, his brothers, Mike and Nick, are now introduced as Jacob's brothers.