Like many college football players, the dimunitive JP Bolwahnn, a running back, has already mapped out exactly what he’ll do for his first touchdown celebration. But unlike his 18-21-year-old peers, for the 34-year-old sophomore, his celebration will be filled with a bit more meaning than just scoring six points—it will be in honor of three of his friends, and comrades, who died while performing military service.
Following a 13-year stint as a Navy SEAL, Bolwahnn, 17 years removed from the last time he played competitive football, will be back on the field for the University of San Diego Toreros. The 34-year-old—who is older than six of his 10 coaches—initially showed up at USD to work on becoming a competitive body-builder but the strength and conditioning coach there suggested he instead try out for the football team. Still featuring eligibility, thanks to his military service, Bolwahnn did, subsequently made the team and now, is preparing for his first foray into football since the 1990s.
It’s not going to be an easy road for Bolwahnn, who stands 5’6″ and weighs 185 pounds, but he sees this as an opportunity to be a big brother to his teammates, while also living out his dream.
Getting to the endzone this weekend, just a day before 9/11’s 10th anniversary, would be particularly meaningful for the former commando and he knows just what he’ll do: he will turn toward the American flag and salute, in honor of his fallen comrades.
Go get ’em!