After a college football player named Brian Dooley noticed his teammate was juggling multiple jobs, he made a selfless choice to help him.
“Zack Conti has had to pay his way to school for four years. And in the fall, the guy was selling his plasma to be able to pay the bills,” Head Coach Chris Creighton told the Eastern Michigan University football team during a meeting on Aug. 3.
Unfortunately, the team couldn’t give out any more scholarships. But financial help was still coming Conti’s way.
Creighton explained to the players that the NCAA allows the team to provide 85 scholarships each year, and they’ve given them all out. Creighton asked for an 86th scholarship, but the answer was no.
“Until Brian Dooley comes into my office,” Creighton said. “And he says, ‘Coach, that guy has earned it. And I’ve talked this over with my family. And if there’s a way to make this happen, I am willing to give up my scholarship as a gift to Zack Conti.’ I’ve never heard, I’ve never seen anything like that ever before.”
At that moment, Dooley walked over to Creighton and handed him an envelope that held his scholarship. The team broke out in cheers.
After the now-viral moment, Conti said he was “so honored and so thankful.” He said he knew the coach and Dooley were trying to help him get a scholarship, but didn’t know Dooley’s scholarship would be presented to him during that meeting.
“It feels like all of my hard work is finally being rewarded,” he said.
The senior paid his way through school by working and donating plasma, which usually pays $50 to $100 a session.
“Sometimes asking for help’s not easy. The team would usually see me coming back from work or going to work and they would know what was going on, and they were supportive. It wasn’t really hard to be open to them about anything,” he said. “They got my back.”
Conti also said his mother has polycystic kidney disease and needs a transplant. He urged people to visit the Kidney to Save Karen Facebook page.
Dooley said Conti earned the scholarship and explained his motivation for helping his teammate.
“I did it because I’ve seen Conti grow over the years. Seeing him walk away from something that he loves did not sit well with me,” he said. “He works hard and gets extra work with me all the time. In my eyes, he earned it 100%. Giving up my scholarship so he can stay and play means everything. I’m proud of what he has become and cannot wait to see what he does on the field.”