Right wing Jack Adams was drafted by the Red Wings in the sixth round, 162nd overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-5, 204-pound Boston native is one of four Red Wings prospects writing for our Taking Flight blog series, which chronicles the players' ups and downs as they work their way to becoming Red Wings. Because of a significant knee injury in 2019, the 2018-19 season was the last season Adams played competitive hockey as a sophomore for Union College, which is a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Here is his 12th blog entry of 'You Don't Know Jack.'
You Don't Know Jack - Entry 12
by Jack Adams
Needless to say, there's a lot of uncertainty for athletics during this fall and beyond. Scores of athletes dedicate their entire lives to mastering their craft to give them a chance to help their teams win. Thousands of hours and repetitions are essential for an athlete to get to the top of his or her sport. And even for the athletes that do not "make" the highest level, the lessons and relationships that a sport can teach you make it all worth it. However, this uncertainty of the virus (COVID-19) could change sports quite drastically.
It was on March 17, 2019, the last time I played in a competitive hockey game - Cornell 3, Union College 2, we lost by a goal. That was 20 months ago and it feels like an eternity. To be honest, outside of the Red Wings Camp scrimmage during development camp in June of 2019 - where I tore my ACL and MCL - playing hockey seemed so far away.
But now that I've been cleared to play, I feel the best I've ever felt in my life physically. I had a goal to get back to where I was before the injury and I'm confident that I'm a much better player than what I was before. I can't wait to compete again … whenever that is.
However, mentally, the uncertainty of the future of our season has been taxing. It was really wearing me down and honestly frustrating me quite a bit. As a result, this uncertainty of our season has me thinking of my brother. A lot. The denial of his passing is gone and hockey's been the only thing that has distracted me from the loss of my best friend. I was kind of lost and I miss him more each day that passes.
I was spending a lot of time alone and reflecting, trying to find solutions to get out of the funk, and I realized that it really isn't that hard if you ask for help. Having an uncomfortable conversation is not easy, but the results are always positive afterward. Recently, I called my buddy Kurtis Gabriel on the phone and we just talked for two hours about my brother, Roo. It's strong to be able to admit when you need help and my phone is always open for anyone who wants to discuss things in life.
Like I said earlier, there is so much uncertainty going on in the world right now with the virus. And honestly, there's so much uncertainty in life, too. "Worrying is not existing" was something Kurtis reiterated to me on the phone. It's so accurate and something all of us can do a better job at. We can't control what is going to happen an hour from now or tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed and we must cherish and enjoy every moment!
Being back at school has been exhilarating, but when I walk into the rink each day, it's just not the same. Temperature checks, masks, spacing out, you name it. But the joy and excitement my teammates, coaches and I feel every day walking into Messa Rink is the highest it's ever been.
Our coach has often emphasized throughout the offseason how this year will be the most different and likely most difficult season of our lives. Not only do we not have a schedule yet, we're not 100 percent sure that we're playing. All of these factors of uncertainty make it difficult to stay mentally sharp as an athlete.
My teammates and I have taken this challenge head on and I'm confident that we'll play. I'm confident that we'll play because we need sports. All of us.
Hockey isn't just a game. It's everything. It's every decision you make. It's teaching you how to be a good person. I truly believe that student-athletes across the country will really struggle if they aren't allowed to compete. Human beings love competition in all facets of life and hockey is the epitome of just that.
Selfishly, I want this season so bad. My family, trainers and I have put an insane amount of time into this process, and this is the best I've ever felt. I have so much to prove, but more importantly, my team has so much to prove.
We're spoiled at Union with the love and loyalty we receive from our fans. They want to watch us play just as bad as we want to compete, and I strongly urge decision makers across the country to allow student-athletes to compete this season.
As I stated earlier, hockey isn't just a game. The amount of lessons I've learned from this game, this rehab process, and all the amazing people that I've learned from are so important. And while we won't have fans in many of our rinks this season, I'm confident that these games will be extremely exciting.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not respond to messages I see on social media saying, "College is for learning and sports do not matter." You have no clue what you're talking about. You're wrong. We NEED sports. As I touched upon a bit earlier, sports are being canceled, and there is a lot of uncertainty going forward about the upcoming season. Nonetheless, there is so much uncertainty in life, too. If you focus on today, you'll give yourself a better chance to be successful tomorrow.
We. Want. To. Play.
Please let us.
On June 29, 2019, the last day of Red Wings Development Camp, Adams tore his ACL and MCL on a seemingly harmless check during the Red and White Game. He did not play for Union College last season (2019-20). Instead, he dedicated himself to an intensive rehab regimen, which he chronicled in his blog entries. Adams is now cleared to play and is hopefully awaiting the beginning of his junior season for the Union Dutchmen.