Leading, playing from the heart

Girls lacrosse: A simple but deep love for the game has given Jess Adam a work ethic and joyful spirit that motivate her Severn teammates.

High Schools

May 02, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

If Jess Adam had her way, the Severn girls lacrosse team would be the story.

The only pertinent numbers would be 11-1-2 and 9-1-2 - the team's overall and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference records as the league tournament opens this week.

Just one goal would be mentioned - not any of the 40 Adam has scored this season or the 48 she has assisted on, but the No. 4 Admirals' ultimate aim of winning their first league championship.

For Adam, arguably the metro area's most complete player, it's about playing hard, helping the team win and enjoying each moment.

"Jess is as pure a competitor I've ever coached, and I say that because she loves to play the game more than anyone I've ever met. When practice is over, she's genuinely sad," said Severn coach Renie Sotiropoulos.

So how do you go from the JV as a freshman to a varsity starter as a sophomore and then all of this: becoming a two-year captain, thriving on the winning U.S. under-19 world championship team last summer, and receiving telephone calls from men's basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Gary Williams of Maryland to help recruit her?

"There's been a lot of hard work," said Adam, a senior. "I think making the [National School Girls' championships] my sophomore year was a big milestone for me. And the jump from JV to varsity, it was kind of a next level thing and from there the intensity kept picking up."

Countless hours with a lacrosse stick in hand have paid off for Adam. She combines smarts, shifty quickness to make room for shots and passes, and has a knack of letting the game come to her.

"She's just a rock-solid player - deceptive on attack and smart defensively in that she sees the whole field," said U.S. under-19 coach Wendy Kridel, who also coaches at Bryn Mawr. "She works as hard as anyone I've seen, and I tease her a bit because she doesn't know how to slow down. There's no `down time' with Jess."

Adam, who carries a 3.75 grade point average, had 10 college choices before deciding between Duke and Princeton.

With a grandfather and an uncle who played lacrosse at Maryland and the rest of the family "pretty much hardcore Terp fans," as Adam puts it, imagine telling them that Duke won out.

"They're coming around ... slowly, but surely," Adam said with a laugh. "Right now, it's, `We'll cheer for you and the women's lacrosse team, but that's it.'"

Before Duke, Adam is making sure to savor every last bit of her last year at Severn.

After the "unforgettable, can't-put-it-in-words" experience she had as part of the under-19 national lacrosse team over the summer, Adam directed her attention to field hockey and then basketball before jumping back into her top sport this spring.

She made the All-Metro team in field hockey as a midfielder and, at 5 feet 9, was a first-team All-Anne Arundel County center on the Admirals' basketball team that won its first IAAM B Conference crown.

Adam averaged 9.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists, but it was qualities like hard work and leadership that most impressed coach Chuck Miller.

"To look at Jess on the floor you wouldn't say, `Wow, what a great basketball player.' But when you talk about intangibles ... every game she amazed me," he said. "I said it at our awards banquet - every once in awhile you get somebody that not only makes her teammates better, but also the coach better. That's the way Jess is."

Adam developed leadership skills that not only has her teammates following, but also her coaches at times.

When the basketball team was down one point in a playoff game going into the fourth quarter, she asked for a couple of words in the team huddle: "I said, `Sure, I'm ready to shut up and listen," Miller said.

Said basketball and lacrosse teammate Sarah Meisenberg: "We're in a close game and she said, `Guys, I'm going to put my hand [in the huddle] and then go give everything I've got this last eight minutes; you all do the same because this could be our last game.' Coming from her, you know she's going to give everything she has, and it makes you want to work that much harder."

Earlier in the lacrosse season, the Admirals were enjoying a three-win week with a half day of school for Good Friday not permitting the team to practice in the afternoon, so Sotiropoulos gave the team the option to take the day off.

The team captains had another idea.

"Jess was like, `How about practicing before school?'" Sotiropoulos said. "So we're out there on the field at 6:15 in the morning, and even though some of them didn't want to be there, Jess creates this aura where, of course, we have to practice. It's just a natural ability to have people follow her because she leads for good reasons."

It's nothing new for Adam's younger sister, Anastasia, a sophomore in her second season of varsity lacrosse.

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