Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Checking In with Dan Adams '07

Where are they now? Where are some of the members of the Purple Pride who graced Fitton Field over the years? How did they get to Worcester in the first place? What are some of the special Holy Cross Football memories they carry with them? What would they say to the current contingent of Crusaders? Answers to these questions and more will be found as we "check in" with former HC gridders. 

Today let's check in with Dan Adams '07, 

      1. What attracted you to Holy Cross in the first place?

I grew up in Northern Virginia and my knowledge regarding Holy Cross was very limited when I first started receiving recruiting letters after my junior year. I attended a large, public high school that had nearly 4,000 students so while most of my friends were focused on big time scholarship schools (Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, etc) my interest was focused on schools that were interested in me. My size was a limiting factor so I decided to take my fate into my own hands by sending highlight tapes out to every school that I could.  I made a list of 5 things going into my senior year of high school that I felt were important to me in deciding where I would spend the next four years of my life. The list read like this: (keep in mind that I was 17 years old)

A.) Strong Academic Institution that will provide ample opportunities if I don’t make it to the NFL.

B.).I want to attend a school that believes in my abilities as a football player. I want to be on the field my freshmen year and play every snap over the course of my four years. I have four years to play football and the rest of my life to enjoy other pleasures.

C.) The college has to be in close proximity to a major city. Want to experience city life outside of Washington DC (meet girls, network, party with friends, and be able to utilize the relationships I built while in college as I transition into the work force).

D.) I want to attend a school that is outside of my comfort zone and in a place I have always wanted to visit. I want to get out of Northern Virginia and take some risks with my life.

E.) I want to attend a school with plenty of nice coeds. 

Looking back on my experience I could honestly check off four out of the five objectives. The reason “E” was not checked most likely was due to my focus on football and having the perception throughout my four years that the South had far better potential than the North. After I graduated from Holy Cross, I started meeting many HC alums at networking functions and realized that my own narrow perceptions limited me in fully maximizing my experience. This narrow focus also applied to academics which forced me to be in study hall for all four years. I used my study hall time to get assignments done and watch game film in the upstairs media rooms (not sure if coaching staff knew this). I would watch game films of the upcoming opponent and make defensive calls against the formations they would line up in. At this time in my life, football was all that mattered in my life. I thought that if I had a serious girlfriend, focused too much on academics, or any other activity outside of football that I would be letting my teammates down. This perspective was flawed, however, it was the only one I had at the time.

Lee Hull and Vince Sinagra were very persistent in recruiting me and gave me the opportunity to experience “WORCESTER” in person. I considered it a big deal since I had only been on a plane once or twice in my life. I had read the media guide front to back before my visit and was very much inspired by the achievements of David Dugan ’03. I can remember opening the media guide and wanting to be like Dave. He had a picture with his father (also a former Holy Cross Captain) and seemed to be a monster on the football field. We had grown up in the same hometown and after meeting him later that weekend I came to the decision that I wanted to be like him in every aspect of life. He was extroverted, walked to the beat of his own drum, was a leader, great character, hard worker, great with girls, and dominated people on the football field. What more could you look for in a person?
. Once I checked off four out of five objectives, the decision was really influenced by two people at Holy Cross. Dave Dugan ‘03 and my host Tim O’Hara ‘05. Tim was a LB, hard worker, but more importantly a person of strong character and leadership ability. The kid was always positive and never complained about anything. I thought to myself that being surrounded by people like Dave Dugan and Tim O’Hara would be a great thing in becoming the person I had always envisioned myself being.

2. Most memorable moment in your Holy Cross Football career?
I actually have two moments that were equally important. One occurred while I was playing and the other occurred post career in 2009.

  1. The most memorable moment during my college career was the last game that I played in against Colgate in 2006. This was a huge game for my teammates and I because it symbolized everything we had been working for over the course of four years. I considered my class the first class under Head Coach Tom Gilmore (he was hired the spring of my freshmen year) and we had dealt with significant adversity in being able to get to this point. So much had happened over the course of four years that it was almost surreal what we had evolved into under Coach Gilmore’s leadership. I consider myself a positive person, however, to understand the emotion surrounding this game you need to understand the setbacks we had overcome.
    1. Head Coach Dan Allen passing in 2003. This was a very difficult time for Holy Cross because we were not producing on the field and there was great emotion and sympathy surrounding the illness of Coach Allen. It was very difficult for most to watch a man slowly wither away with a disease that many people didn’t understand at the time (it was later mentioned that he possibly had ALS). I can imagine it would be hard for most people to come to the realization that they would be slowly losing all physical abilities. This event was seen many different ways, however, it inspired me more than anything. Despite Coach Allen losing his physical abilities he was always up beat and positive. I had the utmost respect for the way he handled his suffering and hoped that his passing would be an uplifting force for the program and the continuing of his legacy
    2. Our team was 1-11 after my freshmen year. We had very little football knowledge and were not prepared to comprehend basic formations and defensive packages. My class also had very little discipline. It was unfortunate, however, during Coach Allen’s illness many people took advantage of the lack of rules and structure. As a program we stood for nothing and were nothing. Coach Gilmore’s arrival changed that and it consisted of weeding out the weak during the first year of his reign. It was a learning experience for all and only the people that wanted to be there survived. Looking back on it, despite it being hard and horrible at the time, it was completely necessary.
    3. From a defensive perspective I had four different position coaches and four different coordinators over the course of my four years. The lack of continuity wasn’t anyone’s fault, however, it was difficult at times adjusting to different systems. This can be viewed as a setback, however, I honestly believe it become a strength for our team over time. My teammates and I understood a wide variety of defensive concepts which allowed us to understand proper adjustments in a game environment.
    4. Our goal as a class was to become a Rags to Riches story. We wanted the fairy tale ending… 1-11 to Patriot League Championship in 3 years. That was the most important and only goal for 2006.
The 2006 Colgate game was a very physical one and we had overcome some setbacks to position ourselves to win the game in the waning minutes. Unfortunately, we did not execute on both sides of the ball like we could have over the course of the game and our last ditch attempt to pull out a field goal was unsuccessful. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the actual game. The only thing that really sticks out is being on defense and seeing a formation that Coach Gilmore and I had discussed during our weekly film session. I was able to diagnose the play and fit right were I was suppose to. I didnt make the play but I did my job and fit into the correct gap.  I remember looking up and seeing a look of approval on Coach Gilmore’s face and it really solidified my relationship with him. We had had our ups and downs (most of the downs were because of me) and in that moment I finally felt a sense of approval. The next moment I remembered was immediately following the game and coming to the realization that we had lost. I looked at the score board and remember looking at Coach Rodger’s face. I will never forget that as long as I live.

At 21 years old, everything was based on football and failing to accomplish the goal we had set out was crushing. I felt like I let down Coach Gilmore, the rest of my teammates, and the program as a whole. That feeling did not leave me for a long time after that game. It really wasn’t until I won the Gold Medal with the US National Team that I felt any type of emotion and even then it wasn’t a Patriot League Championship.

Fast forward to 2009 and the Patriot League Championship against Lafayette and I consider it the most memorable moment in my affiliation with Holy Cross. Players that were freshmen when I was a senior had continued working and overcoming adversity to put themselves in a position to finally win a PLC. They worked hard and prevailed. I felt as if I was on the team despite being stuck in the stands. I went to every game and was so happy to see the coaching staff get what it had been developing for so long. If patience is considered a virtue than Coach Tom Gilmore is one of the most virtuous people I know.

3. What would you like to share with your past teammates about your
Holy Cross Football experience?

Holy Cross has made me everything that I am today. I had pleasant experiences and I dealt with adversity. You want to surround yourself with strong people since “like attracts like” and football teaches life lessons in many ways. I would go to war any day on a football field with Tom Gilmore and the rest of the coaching staff. More importantly, I would call on any one of these guys or my teammates for any problem in life that I am experiencing. At Holy Cross you live and die by a set code of morals, leadership, character, and Jesuit traditions that will carry you through the rest of your life. You learn to trust yourself and provide light and leadership into the lives of others. If you understand that there is no other choice.

Please have high school seniors that are interested in the program call me.

4. What would you say to the current Holy Cross Football team?

Believe in what Coach Gilmore has to say and constantly be willing to evolve and change. Life is about reflecting and constantly changing your perspectives. You cant be rigid in your beliefs and expect to grow in any aspect of life. Don’t fear anything and embrace adversity as an opportunity to succeed. There are no failures in life if you perceive everything as an opportunity. The sky is the limit for who you can be and what you can accomplish. Envision your goals and dreams and go out there and get them. Life is what you make of it. You create your own realities.

5. What would you like to
share with the Holy Cross administration 
about Holy Cross Football?

In nature you or either evolving or your dead. The Holy Cross Football program has surrounded itself with people that are willing to help the program evolve, however, it is being met by people in the administration who have not accepted change as vital. I believe in Holy Cross Football more than ever because of the leadership of those involved with the Holy Cross Gridiron Leadership Council. I am willing to do whatever I can to back the ideas generated by this movement. 

In regards to the Holy Cross administration I say this, “Be willing to embrace change and pursue excellence. Dare to be great!!” Holy Cross has an excellent tradition that will continue to grow to levels many people cannot comprehend in the current moment. Great things are happening with the mentoring program, Ring of Fame, and Gridiron Leadership Council events. All you need is a spark to create change and I hope we can get a few conductors in the administration to get the fire burning. The time is now and we need to utilize the momentum of the 2009 Patriot League Championship to carry us through.

6. What are you doing currently and what impact did Holy Cross Football
specifically and the college at large have in bringing you to your
current place in life?

Holy Cross was the major force in shaping who I am today. I believe that every experience helps to shed light on who you are and the time at Holy Cross was definitely a defining moment.. Here is a list of what I took from my experience.
    1. You are in control of your life. You are not always in control of externals, however, you are in control of how to react to them and perceive them. (Obtained this through all the ups and downs during my four years)
    2. There is nothing to fear in life. Fears are only perceptions and the only thing that holds you back from accomplishing anything is yourself. (Learned this from my fear of Coach Gilmore during my first 2 years with him. Was afraid to make mistakes and awknowledge the fact that I didn’t know.)
    3. Develop your own perspective and don’t worry about opinions or criticism. You must follow what you believe in and if you believe it is the right path go for it. There is no wrong and there is no right. You will learn from every one of your decisions and will constantly evolve into who you want to be. (Learned this from constantly getting yelled at and being the whipping boy for 2 years. I did what I believed was right even though it was viewed as wrong by the coaching staff and I wasn’t willing to change. I eventually got it though)
    4. Don’t live the dreams of others, especially your parents- I choose Holy Cross because it felt right to me and I choose my current job, hobbies, and interests because I love them. People that do what they love “glow” and have an energy for life that is not explainable or comprehendable. I surround myself with people who follow this code and try to help shed light on people who did not understand this yet.
    5. You can do whatever you want in life. The sky is the limit. (I learned this from leading the nation in tackles my junior year at 5’8” 195 lbs.. I don’t mean this in an arrogant fashion, however, this taught me that there are no limits to what I can accomplish or what others can accomplish. People are capable of change and you have to go through life with that view if you want to see and feel the great things in life. It is all about having a growth mindset.. I can date who I want, I can be who I want to be, I can do what I want to do with my life. The key lies within you.
    6. Attitudes are contagious- I look back on my career and was always in constant fear that I would miss a practice and let my teammates down. I wanted to lead by example and also follow the lead of others that had great traits about them. I was fortunate to never miss a practice due to injury, sickness, etc during my four years and my work ethic was inspired by others. The two players that stand out in my own experience was Joe Hogan  ’07 and Eric Gendron ’07. Joe Hogan did not receive a lot of playing time due to our large group of receivers but the kid never missed a practice during his four years. He didn’t let adversity hold him back. He came out ready to work every day and that just fueled my own personal fire. Eric Gendron ’07 played football in constant pain my senior year. He played with a knee injury that would have kept most people sidelined the minute it happened. He knew it was his last year and toughed the year out to make sure he contributed to getting to the team’s goal. That is true sacrifice and I was happy and inspired to be surrounded by people like that. You live and die by your own personal code and I will never forget that inspiration for the rest of my life.
    7. I got on the US National Team and got to play in Japan because of Coach Gilmore. I got on Pros vs Joes and had the opportunity to compete against Pacman Jones, Rich Gannon, and Priest Holmes because of Steve Silva ’05. I got my current job at Sun Life Financial because of the career center at Holy Cross. See the correlation?
    8. I have met some of the most intriguing people through the Holy Cross Network. You want to be around go getters? Hang out with Larry Doyle, Craig Cerratani, or Bill Maloney for the day. See greatness in living form and take some notes.

Please forward this to Father McFarland to let him know that a football player is capable of upholding the values that he deems important to the school’s traditions. Football is just as important as any academic program on campus. I can run circles around a kid that sat in the library for four years with the life experiences I obtained from playing football. I became educated in the game of life and who I am which is far more important than anything I can memorize in a book or obtain from someone else’s lecture. How about you interpret those thoughts and develop a perspective about how it applies to your life? They don’t seem to like to do that in our educational system which forces society to be dependent consumers that lack any type of ingenuity or independence. That is a separate topic I suppose, however, everything learned on the football field can be applied to life. Once you free yourself from your own insecurities, set perspectives, fears, arrogance, resentment, jealousy, etc you will find true freedom. You are bigger than all of these emotions and the problems you experience in life are often self created through false perception. You will find that you can be anything you want to be and the only thing that ever holds you back is yourself with the self created boundaries you construct. Break through and live the dream… Everything you have ever wanted is waiting for you.

I keep in envisioning putting on the purple again and flying around… I guess it will have to wait for the 2011 Spring Game…

Go Cross…

Dan Adams ‘07
HC Captain ‘06

Thanks for the passion, Dan!! Any eligibility left? You certainly have not lost any of the adrenaline!!

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