It’s been a whirlwind of a year for young Mt. Juliet senior Jalan Sowell.
In the past two years, a young football phenom, who was known as a human-highlight reel in his promising football career, was told that he’d never play the game again with his battle with chronic pulmonary embolism – a disease that causes blood clots in his lungs. A very severe and sometimes fatal condition.
He was only fifteen years old, and he was no stranger to overcoming adversity. However, he wasn’t a stranger to the spotlight either.
If you’ve seen anything about the Make-A-Wish Foundation before, then you know their impact on so many kids across the world who are suffering with critical illnesses. This organization’s purpose is to find their dreams, or their “wish”, and bring it to life.
After overcoming so much with his condition and with the help of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Jalan Sowell was selected to have a wish granted.
But his wish was much different.
Sowell didn’t want to spend the day with his favorite athlete or travel to an unknown corner of the world. Instead, he wanted to write and produce his own special on SportsCenter that told his unlikely story.
With the help of ESPN’s Chris Connelly, he did just that:
Jalan’s story was such a success – so much so that thousands of kids and families have seen it and reached out to him in support.
He continued to thrive through the first half of his senior year at Mt. Juliet, assistant-coaching his Golden Bears (10-1) to a perfect regular season record, a division title, and outscoring their opponents 406-50 in 2017.
But it was like Sowell never left the team as a player.
Despite only coaching, Sowell dressed out every single game in full gear, participated in warm-ups, and led the pre-game hype with his teammates, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire others to stay positive and thrive through tough times and impossible odds.
Now, his story continues as Sowell was recently selected to become an honorary captain at the 2017 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl right here in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sowell will have right-of-way to participate in all of the events surrounding the bowl matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats (7-5) and the Northwestern Wildcats (9-3), as well as join Franklin American Mortgage President/CEO Dan Crockett on the field for the pre-game coin toss.
“Some of my most memorable moments from the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl have been getting to know extraordinary kids through Make-A-Wish,” said Crockett.
“Jalan’s positive attitude in spite of his setback is an inspiration, and the fact that he used his wish to spread awareness about his condition shows just how great of a person he is.”
But what some may not know is that, for Jalan, this is a really special moment.
“I am very honored and humbled to be the honorary captain of the Music City Bowl” stated Sowell. “It’s crazy to think that me and my brothers have been to every Music City Bowl… and now I’m (serving as) the honorary captain. It’s just a huge blessing.”
From attending it every year with his family to walking out on the field as a captain. This was the icing on the cake of Jalan Sowell’s dream come true.
But his story is far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Sowell recently chose his future by becoming a student-assistant football coach at the University of Memphis, who looks to make their 4th consecutive bowl appearance at the end of this month.
While enrolled at Memphis, he will study Sport & Leisure Management, while serving under current head coach Mike Norvell, who has led the Tigers to an impressive 10-1 record in just his second year as head coach.
“I just want to fulfill my goals of being one of the best coaches of my era one day, as well as be a successful business man,” Sowell declares about his future with Memphis and beyond.
Don’t miss the opportuntiy to see Jalan serve as the honorary captain for the 2017 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl this Friday, December 29th, 2017 at 3:30 pm. It’s a battle between the Wildcats as Kentucky takes on Northwestern – you can still purchase tickets to the bowl game here.
Sowell and Mt. Juliet head coach Trey Perry joined our own Braden Gall in studio over the summer to talk more about his story. Listen: