The Cedar Park High School football team is often on top. Whether it's on the scoreboard or in the state rankings, many find themselves looking up at the Timberwolves. Lance White looks up to the Timberwolves.
"I want to be like them," Lance admitted.
It wasn't tunnel vision - it was T'wolf vision. The goal of one day suiting-up for the Cedar Park varsity is what motivated Lance to practice so hard in middle school. But last year, during the first week of his eighth grade season, something just wasn't right.
"We were trying to get to the bottom of what was going on," Priscilla White recalled. "Was it the heat? Was he just tired?"
It wasn't a football injury, but Lance, a linebacker, was about to tackle his toughest test.
"My mom told me I had leukemia," Lance revealed. "I was like 'no, no, no, no, no."
The diagnosis was T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and the treatment took Lance out of school and away from football. But not entirely. The very first get-well poster he received in the hospital was from his 8th grade coaches and teammates. Lance sent this video message in response.
"When I first found out I had cancer, I just wanted to die," Lance explained in the video. "I just wanted to curl up on the floor and lay there. But as soon as that first poster came in, it reminded me that I have a whole big family back in Austin for me."
And that family has grown - along with Lance's collection of get well cards. He's now in ninth grade, and although in remission from leukemia, White has to undergo chemotherapy for another two years. If the spinal tap isn't enough to cause him to miss school, the nausea usually is. But he's not on this journey alone.
"It's a joy to see him out there and doing the best he can to be a part of what we're doing," said Cedar Park head football coach Carl Abseck.
You know that varsity football team of which Lance so wanted to be a part? Now he is. The undefeated and top-ranked T'wolves, led by Coach Abseck, have taken Lance under their wing. The same group that once served as his inspiration is now using him as theirs.
"What we're doing here is not just about athletics," Abseck added. "It's not just about football. It's about people."
"Every single step I've taken, they've been with me," Lance noted. "I don't know what I'm going to do to repay them."
During his treatment, Lance was contacted by the Central & South Texas Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was told to "dream big, really big" about the wish he'd be granted. But instead of meeting a celebrity or going on an exotic trip, Lance wants to start his own foundation - one that will help kids battling cancer.
"He's been an example to follow," a tearful Priscilla shared. "He's made some decisions and choices that have just amazed me."
"The younger kids, the toddlers, the babies, I heard the cries and screams," Lance said of his time in the hospital. "I want to help them to feel like it's going to be okay. Someone's here for you."
"God knows who the strongest person in our family is," Priscilla said smiling. "It's Lance. I've been so incredibly proud of him."
One day, the scoreboard and the rankings might not be as kind to the Timberwolves. But even then, there will still be plenty worth looking up to in Cedar Park.