BATESVILLE, Ark. – "It's all for you, coach."
It started out as a simple, heartfelt expression of solidarity, but quickly took social media by a storm, grabbing the hearts and minds of people from coast-to-coast, while drawing national attention from major media outlets.
The expression sprang from what was supposed to be a scheduled day off for the Lyon College football team Monday, Aug. 26. The student-athletes were encouraged to use the day to prepare for their season opener this weekend against Missouri Baptist.
Instead, a group of about 16 players entered the football weight room, one-by-one, to shave each other's heads before making their way toward an office occupied by Kris Sweet, the team's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
Sweet had been undergoing chemo-therapy treatments since the beginning of August. He was greeted with a heartfelt surprise while preparing for the game against the Spartans, as the players, one-by-one, hugged him and expressed their gratitude.
"It's all for you, coach," was all they said, as they bared freshly shaved heads.
One of the football team's managers, Jordan Davis, a Lyon College student, recorded the heartwarming gesture on video. The video (which can be seen below), was posted on the football program's Twitter account (@LyonScotsFball) and instantly went viral.
To date, the video has over 621,000 views on Bleacher Report's tweet and over 100,000 views on the Lyon College Football Twitter account. Several large market stations, including ABC News, CBS News, ESPN, CNN and Bleacher Report caught wind of the video as the post garnered national attention.
"I want this to be about the student-athletes we have in the program and the compassion they showed," Sweet said. "It is easy for people to give up faith in the younger generation. What these guys did meant so much to me."
Sweet told each player who came into his office how much he appreciated them.
"For them to do that was pretty impressive," he stated. "These kids will be successful. Not because of me, not because of the school, but because they are great human beings."
Several of the players spoke with CNN's Amanda Jackson on the phone on Wednesday about the gesture they performed for Coach Sweet. "We are doing something greater than ourselves by shaving our heads," said Moise Occulis, a sophomore offensive lineman.
"He goes to the doctor and then comes to coach," Malcolm Howard, a freshman offensive lineman, told CNN. "He pushes us to be the best we can be."
The act demonstrated that sports can be about so much more than game-day stats or which team takes home the win. It is about the bond between players and coach that brings an entire team together.
Sweet did not want his battle with cancer to be a distraction for the team, and said he is "doing well." He hopes his challenges with the diagnosis will be in the rearview mirror by Christmas.
The Scots will open their 2019 season this Saturday night at home against Missouri Baptist with a 6 p.m. kickoff.
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