As their football coach started chemo, the players wanted to do something special to show their support – so they shaved their heads.
Their decision to stand in solidarity with their coach was an easy one, several players from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, told CNN. They said their coach never gives up on them and therefore they aren’t giving up on him.
The players recorded the emotional moment they showed Kris Sweet, the team offensive coordinator, their new look. Sweet was sitting in his office on Monday as the players walked in one by one with bald heads.
“This all for you coach,” one player is heard saying.
Sweet stands up embracing each of them. The video has since gone viral of on Twitter.
During a team meeting at the beginning of training season, the team was told that Sweet was diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, in July.
“I didn’t want this to be a distraction and for everyone to just move on,” Sweet, 46, told CNN. He wanted the players to be aware in case he wasn’t at practice or on the sidelines one day.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is the most common cancers in the US and accounts for about 4% of all cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. B-cell lymphomas make up about 85% of all NHL cases in the US.
“He goes to the doctor and then comes to coach,” Malcolm Howard, a freshman, told CNN. “He pushes us to be the best we can be.”
Sweet started chemotherapy in August. That’s when he started losing his hair.
“You would never know this was going on when you see me,” Sweet said. “The only reason you know is cause I’m bald.”
The players wanted to find a way to show their support.
“Seeing him go through this, he never shows that it is getting to him,” Jaylan Beard, a sophomore, told CNN.
On Monday, on their day off, some of the players showed up in the weight room – but not to workout. Instead, they started shaving their heads. All together 16 players joined in, said Sweet.
“We are doing something greater than ourselves by shaving our heads,” Moise Occulis, a sophomore, told CNN.
Sweet said he doesn’t like the attention being drawn to him but that this was the “most touching and emotional thing” that he’d been through.