A smattering of rain pitter-patters against slick aluminum bleachers overlooking the Southside high school practice field. In the stands, Industrial athletic director Kensey Allen watches FBU football athletes adorned in blue and yellow contrasting Adidas uniforms, running drills under the tutelage of former NFL professionals. Coach Allen focuses his attention on one particular student, a smiling receiver adorned with the number 43, running routes with the wide receiver unit. After overcoming obstacles for most of his life, Joey Adams isn’t going to let a little downpour drown his performance on the field.
“I’m going to do anything to help him out, because he’s that kind of kid,” coach Allen said. “He’s the kid that you want to coach. He’s what high school athletics is all about: kids that buy in and work hard and come from different backgrounds. Joey’s overcome a lot to get to where he’s at.”
After considering hundreds of applications, the Industrial high school junior was selected as the recipient of Texas HS Football’s scholarship award and attended the FBU San Antonio camp over the weekend. The give-a-way was created for underprivileged student athletes that normally couldn’t afford the costs of training, but strived for the position-specific technique instructions that the FBU camps provided.
“This year’s scholarship selection process was the most difficult I have been a part of,” TexasHSFootball CEO Brian DeMarco said. “The great majority of submissions were heart wrenching stories of difficult situations and extraordinarily dire circumstances. However, the letter about Joey Adams hit home for me. Small town kid, tough childhood, big dreams. But perhaps more important was how Kensey Allen spoke about Joey personally that turned the tide in his favor. Integrity, honor, pride in the work and the courage it takes to excel in football and in life. All you can ask for out of life is a ‘shot’…an opportunity to do something special. Joey seemed like a kid who was deserving and ready for a ‘shot’.”
Both Adams and coach Allen made the two and a half hour trek to-and-from Vanderbilt, Texas over the weekend; an underprivileged athlete intent on ascending from poverty and making his dream come true and a mentor willing to do whatever it takes to help fulfill the goals of his pupil.
Six months after Joey was born, doctors performed a mammogram on his mother and discovered that she had breast cancer. He grew up in a comfortable household; his father made sufficient money but was harboring a drug addiction; both parents separated when he was five years old. After his mother went into remission, the cancer returned and she eventually succumbed to the disease. Joey was just seven years old. His father died of heart failure shortly thereafter.
Joey’s older sister Susie became his primary caretaker and toils at a restaurant to pay the bills, living by scant means in a trailer park close to the school.
“I thank her everyday for taking me in,” Adams said. “Right now, I could be anywhere in foster care. I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you if that didn’t happen.”
The obsession with football provided a necessary reprieve from the struggles of his everyday life. Coach Allen joined the Industrial program when Adams was a freshman and watched his hard work, progress and tenacity throughout the last several years.
“There are times when coach Allen had to get me off of the field because I’ve had the field lights on at night and we aren’t allowed to,” Adams said. “That’s how my work ethic is. I wake up at 6 AM. I go there before school. I lift or go to my track practice after school. After track practice, I do hand-eye coordination, footwork with some of my friends.”
Frequently over the off-season, Joey phones Coach Adams and requests a key to the locker room. While most kids fight off the alarm clock before the sun crests, Joey gets up on his own accord, walks the block to school, and engages in both learnings in the classroom and on the field — dedication that he credits to the trials of his life. As a freshman, he was undersized, but has packed on 20 pounds of muscle and measures six foot; he will be a primary receiver in Industrial’s offensive scheme during the upcoming season.
“Any kid that works like Joey, I don’t hesitate to help out,” coach Adams said. “That’s the whole reason you get in the business of coaching. It’s to try to help young men become grown men. Ever since I got there, he’d always come up to me and ask ‘Coach, what can I do to help the team and try to increase my role on the team.’ As a coach, you want that in a kid. As a coach, your door is always open. You want your athletes to come ask you the right way. Puts the team first, but you always want him to try to increase their role in that team concept. Joey’s been a model of that since i met him.”
Last Monday morning, Joey requested that coach Adam write him a letter of recommendation for the FBU Scholarship. The Industrial athletic director did so willingly, authoring a note that won his student the contest. Happily, he took time out of his weekend to embark to San Antonio and watch Joey practice.
“The level of coaches that FBU has — Sean Salisbury and Nate Poole — ex-NFL guys that might have gone through some of the same things that Joey has gone through,” coach Adams said. “I think the level of coaching he received was phenomenal. Being in this atmosphere, being amongst some of the best kids in the area.”
Joey scrimmaged with some of the best in state: running routes, practicing footwork and getting off the line of scrimmage with athletes that boast DI offers. Under coach Poole, he poured over a plethora of game reel and soaked up schematic information like a sponge.
“Joey had really good work ethic,” coach Poole said. “He learns fast and he’s 1000 times better this session than the previous. He’s a nice looking high school receiver.
After high school, Joey would like to take his talents to the collegiate level and is willing to accept offers from any school. Primarily, his goal is to major in mechanical engineering and minor in business. Following graduation, he wants to join the Marines and serve as an officer, honoring his father and uncles who did tours in Vietnam. His ambition will certainly be supported by coach Allen, who serves as a father figure to Joey’s progress.
“Someone that could do that for me… I know i could trust them with whatever it is,” Joey said. “Trust and loyalty is everything to me.
“It means the world to me. It almost brought me to tears. I’ve been wanting to go to the FBU camp for three years, but I haven’t been able to afford it. It really means the world.”
A huge thank you to our sponsors at FBU for putting their camp on, for awarding Joey with a scholarship, and for making his dreams more possible.