Sports

Former Falcon to join Hawaii college soccer team

Trey Adams, who graduated from South Whidbey High School in June, is heading to the University of Hawaii at Hilo to play Division II men’s soccer. Below, he practices ball skills during a downpour July 23 at the Sports Complex in Langley.  - Ben Watanabe/ The Record
Trey Adams, who graduated from South Whidbey High School in June, is heading to the University of Hawaii at Hilo to play Division II men’s soccer. Below, he practices ball skills during a downpour July 23 at the Sports Complex in Langley.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe/ The Record

The South Whidbey Falcon soccer season is long over for Trey Adams, yet his workouts continue almost every day and every week.

Three days of field drills working on moving with the ball and sending it into the net, four days of weightlifting and cardio exercising, trail runs every other day, maybe a little rest and recovery Sunday, and then he’s back at it.

Adams, who graduated from South Whidbey High School this June, is preparing himself for the rigors of collegiate men’s soccer at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. He will leave Whidbey Island, the place he was born and raised and the only home he’s known, for another island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He does so for the only sport he has ever played, soccer, and without a guarantee that he’ll be on the 18-man travel team.

“I hate the idea of not being involved in soccer at some point in my life,” Adams said in between bites of a Greek roast beef wrap at Pickles Deli in Clinton after a rainy dribbling and shooting session at the Sports Complex this week. When Adams speaks, his words are deliberate and natural, much like how he played for the Falcons this past season in which they reached the quarterfinals of the 1A state tournament, and similar to how he’ll need to perform for the Hilo Vulcans.

Getting his shot

Earlier this spring, Adams was invited to try out for a spot by Vulcans head coach Lance Thompson. It was a surreal moment for Adams. Just back in April, during the waning days of his high school soccer carrier, he was beginning to accept the possibility that competitive soccer may be over soon.

As Adams and his mother, Holly George [whom he said put a soccer ball at his feet as a 4-year-old], flew to Hawaii, they came to a do-or-die conclusion. Either he would attend Seattle University solely as a student or, if he was offered a chance, that he’d be a student-athlete at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a NCAA Division II program.

At the “ID” camp [an abbreviation for identification that is essentially a showcase for college-hopeful soccer players], he impressed the coaches. Adams recalled taking a short water break from the more than three-hour camp. As he was speaking with his mom, Thompson strolled over and spoke with him. That kind of moment is the exact thing every would-be college athlete hopes for when they’re on display for recruitment, and it happened to the Greenbank-born and South Whidbey-raised Adams.

“He just walked up and sat down next to us,” Adams said. “I was really, really excited.”

Thompson, in his first full year as the men’s soccer coach and the university’s director of soccer, said he envisioned Adams as a forward. Changing from a defensive midfielder to a forward—from defense to offense—will be a homecoming for Adams. For most of his Falcon career, Adams patrolled the field looking for shots as a forward, until this past season.

“You never really know who’s going to show up,” Thompson said. “I didn’t expect somebody from the Northwest to hop on a plane and fly out.”

Out of the hundreds of athletes who turn out for the showcase days, Thompson said at most 3 percent are offered a roster spot. Grit set Adams apart in Thompson’s mind.

“For him to really battle through some climate issues, if you will, I was really impressed with him on the day,” Thompson said.

“He’s got another challenge now in front of him,” he later added.

Transitions

Playing for a premier select soccer team last summer, Adams was reassigned to the defense. His Falcon coaches took advantage of his talents - speed, touch, assertiveness - and moved him there as well.

Adams also took his senior season as an opportunity to become a team leader. He was promptly voted a team captain for gathering the players and being vocal in affirmation and reinforcement. This past season, his coaches and he acknowledge, was a step in his maturation from a temperamental teenager into a collected young man.

But it came after years of having a flashy temper. Adams admits he used to carry off-field issues and frustrations onto the pitch, and that it always negatively affected his performance. Sometimes he insulted opponents or he argued with coaches and teammates. At one point, Adams quit the select team with only a few games left in the season before being talked into rejoining the team.

“I knew I had to change,” Adams said.

One of his Falcon coaches, Emerson “Skip” Robbins, said he noticed the transformation at a team meeting before the 2014 tryouts began.

“Trey got up and told the varsity guys to work hard, that they’d go far in the playoffs,” Robbins said. “He showed this leadership. Right then and there, I was surprised and at the same time very impressed.”

No guarantees

On Aug. 14, Adams will board a plane bound for Hawaii. It will be the first time that he will be truly separated from the place where he has lived his entire life. He joked that many of his South Whidbey peers attending schools in Washington or even in other states may know someone from the island. But he will know nobody when he arrives for training camp.

All of this is happening for a chance, not a guarantee.

Adams was invited to try out for the Vulcans, which means he is not a scholarship athlete or guaranteed a spot on the travel team. He may end up with a spot on the roster, but will not go with the 18 players when they leave Hawaii.

“I know for a fact that I’m going to have to beat out one of the upperclassmen to get a spot,” he said. “… But I’m definitely confident. What else would I be?”

 

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