This ESPN feature is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.
Being a hero isn’t always about dramatic gestures. Sometimes, it’s about quietly stepping up for a friend in need.
To show just how much she cared for a friend, Olivia Perez, a star volleyball player at Harrold High School in rural Harrold, Texas, decided to join the football team so her friend Brady Blakely could play.
Harrold is so small—this year’s graduating class had nine students—that they were at risk of not having the necessary six players to compete. In a poignant, long-form feature from Doubletruck, the storytelling wing of ESPN, we learn about how much significance her thoughtful move carried.
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Prior to joining, Perez was already burdened with a busy schedule of volleyball, basketball, working part-time at a local grocery store, and making the National Honor Society at school. Recently, Perez’s mother also suffered a stroke, and she’s struggled to deal with that, too.
Meanwhile, her close friend Blakely was going through a difficult time, and their hardships solidified their tight bond further. Blakely lost his father, who was also a football player at Harrold, to cancer in 2015. Football was a way for the high school senior to still feel connected to his dad and practice and games were something to be happy about during an otherwise tough year.
But since the Harrold Hornets only had five players in 2016, they would be unable to compete. Knowing how much football meant to her friend, Perez decided to join the team. In true teenage fashion, they settled the decision via Snapchat conversation. There are many more twists, turns, and nuances to this inspiring tale, and you can read the full story here.
This Sunday at 10 p.m., ESPN2 will profile the Harrold story as part of their documentary on 6-man football in Texas.
Translated from Latin, a famous quote from the author Virgil reads, “Perhaps one day it will be pleasing to recall even these hardships.” For this beautiful story, and even more beautiful friendship, we can’t help but think that one day it will.