Late in the fourth quarter of Navy’s Saturday game against UConn last week, senior slot back Calvin Cass Jr. caught a game-changing punt to run 26 yards down the field, which set Navy up for its game-winning touchdown.
However, for the first time since Cass Jr. join Navy’s football program, his mother was not at the game.
Cass Jr. revealed during the post-game conference that Marshella Cass, his mother, was unable to make it due to being hospitalized. On Tuesday, he reported that she has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS, is a rare disorder in which one’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and paralysis.
"She's receiving treatment for that and is slowly, but surely, getting feeling back in her legs," said Cass Jr.
Her symptoms began after returning home from the Sept. 3 season opener against Fordham. She experienced severe cramps, and as the pain began to increase, Cass Jr.’s father, Calvin Cass Sr., decided to drive his wife to the hospital.
Doctors spent the next day testing her, eventually coming up with the diagnosis.
Marshella Cass spent the week in the hospital, watching the Navy vs. UConn game on television. On Wednesday, she was transferred to a New Jersey rehabilitation center where she will work to get back on her feet before beginning out-patient therapy, meaning she will probably have to miss the Tulane game. However, Cass Sr. reported that their goal is to be at the Air Force game.
"My mom's a fighter. She put up with me for 20 years. So I'm not worried. I have faith she'll keep improving day-by-day," Cass Jr. said.
While he admitted he has had trouble focusing on school and football since his mother entered the hospital, Cass Jr. looks to continue a strong final season with the Mid-Shipmen. Last year, he posted 140 yards with 16 carries and a single touchdown. Now, he seems to be determined to continuously improve and, again, make an impact for Navy in his final year.
#NavyFootball SB Calvin Cass said when he went back to return the final punt he could hear his mom screaming to make a play from New Jersey— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) September 10, 2016
"It seems like whenever we call a pass play, Calvin is open. And when Calvin's open, he catches the football," said Navy slot backs’ coach Danny O'Rourke.