Fall 2021 SS Magazine

High schooler Will Lambley keeps playing football, sharing his faith, even though legally blind

On every snap, as Will Lambley lines up at nose tackle, he can clearly see the football right in front of him, and the opposing offensive lineman. After that, everything is a blur.

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Lambley has a disease called Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, an extremely rare condition that kills optic nerve cells. And yet he continues to play for Rejoice Christian’s high school football team in Owasso, Okla. In his position, two feet of clarity is all he needs.

“We wanted to be an outlet for him,” Rejoice football coach Brent Marley told the Tulsa World last week. “He was dealing with so much. We talked as a staff and thought, ‘Well, we could move him to nose on the defensive line and put him right over the football.’ He was playing outside linebacker and secondary, away from the ball. We knew he could see figures, blurs and maybe he could make out the ball when it moves.”

It’s paid off. According to Marley, Lambley’s on-field performance has improved.

“If anything, Will has picked it up another notch. It’s a great example of so what/now what and rising to the occasion,” Marley says. “I shared with the team something Helen Keller once said: ‘The most ridiculous person is the one who has sight but has no vision.’ There’s a lot of people running around with sight, everything is fine, and yet they have no vision. Here, you have a young man who has lost a major part of his sight. But you can see his conviction. He has vision.”

It was last winter that Lambley went to a doctor and found out about his condition. The news instantly ended his baseball career, the sport he loves most, but he was committed to keep playing football. He told Coach Marley he would be a long-snapper if needed. He just wanted to stay on the field.

“I still get mad at times, say some things I shouldn’t. I think, ‘What if?’” Lambley said. “But I also know God gave me this for a reason … Jeremiah 29:11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ That just tells me no matter what the situation is, I mean, God’s got me.”

Last month, Lambley was invited to speak to the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, and he received a signed baseball from Tim Tebow after one of Lambley’s teammates mailed a hand-written letter to Tebow telling him Will’s story. All of this has given Will the opportunity to share his faith to those listening, letting them know there’s always hope.

And all the while, Lambley keeps lining up over the football, only able to see what’s immediately around him clearly. But for him, that’s enough.

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