W&M Tribe kicker pauses senior season to donate bone marrow

Posted at 5:34 PM, Nov 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-06 08:57:16-05

Williamsburg, Va. - With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will need to start thinking about getting that special someone the perfect gift. And for one William & Mary student athlete, he has already given the greatest gift of all – the gift of life!

Tribe Football All-Conference senior kicker John Carpenter is the man the team relies on when the game is on the line. But there was another call he answered that would change his life forever.

John was a match for a bone marrow transplant.

John joined the donor registry earlier this year after being inspired by two local high school girls who spoke about the benefits of being a donor. In October, he became a match and needed to make the decision to continue playing football, or stop in the middle of the season to help a stranger in need.

“I was a little disappointed that it was happening right now – the beginning for football,” he said. “At the same time, I felt a little special, a little bit which is obviously not good, but I felt really good to do it – to make that choice to do it.”

To do it would mean to sit on the sidelines during part of his senior season. He’s considered one of the best kickers in the game and led the team in points a year ago. But he knew there was only one decision.

“The decision made itself. My favorite philosopher is Soren Kierkegaard,” he says. “Some of my favorite pieces written by him are about what it means to be a selfless person, what it means to live unconditionally. So when I thought about it, I knew this is something I immediately can do but at the same time, I am placing a burden on my team. It felt rough to watch from the sidelines. It’s not easy. But at the same time, I knew what I was doing was way more important. I know I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I would have thought there’s something that I didn’t do to help save someone’s life.”

John had the full support from his team and his coach.

“To be honest with you, we were kind of excited that he was going to be involved in this. It was never an issue about what game are we going to miss or this type of thing, but the way it played out, it was going to happen but there was never a second thought on our end or John’s in his opportunity to really help someone,” says Tribe Head Coach Jimmye Laycock

Did John ever think he would be a match?

“No – chances are one in 500-something,” he says. “I’m usually not the person to win anything like a raffle or anything like that. It’s cool that it got to be this. It’s really cool.”

And when asked if he would do it all over again…

“Oh yeah. Absolutely.”

John will return to the field this weekend when the Tribe host the Elon Phoenix on Saturday afternoon.