The junior varsity football team at Cathedral High School in San Diego finished its season with a 9-1 record, but its defining moment didn’t come during an actual game — one of their Most Valuable Players didn’t play a single snap.
This past summer, doctors diagnosed 16-year-old Brycen Newman with an aggressive form of brain cancer, ending any hopes of a sophomore season sacking quarterbacks.
As he battled cancer, Newman showed up at every home game to cheer on his team from the sidelines. His fight against cancer had an impact on everyone around him, and his presence gave fellow teammates courage.
A few days before the team's October homecoming game, players figured out a way to return the kindness and support Newman had shown them.
Newman was already scheduled to walk out as an honorary captain, but his teammates had their own tribute in mind. Right after the coin toss at midfield, in a moment captured by videographer Miles Himmel, the team directed Newman to a pregame huddle and took off their helmets to show him their 32 shaved heads.
Newman cried, and a few of his teammates did too.
"I’m not alone in this fight against cancer, because my teammates were there," Newman said of the emotional moment.
Jake Goddard, Newman’s good friend and the team’s other co-MVP, helped organize the team shave.
"When we took our helmets off and he’s like, 'Whoa,' that brought me to tears," Goddard explained. "It’s one of the happiest things I’ve ever gone through."
Though several weeks have passed, the moment hasn’t faded.
"Teams always have your back and when you’re alone, no one has your back," said Newman.
Newman’s fight against cancer continues and so does the enormous financial burden on his parents who’ve been forced to take time off work to help their only child.
Friend’s set up a cancer support fund to help Newman and his family. You can donate through a GoFundMe page here.