Joe Adams comes home to FC ready to reignite a winning tradition
By John Estridge, Sports Editor
Joe Adams is coming home in more ways than one.
A 2010 Franklin County High School graduate, Adams is in his first season as the Lady Wildcats girls basketball coach.
Assisting him is his father, Gus Adams.
After high school graduation, Adams attended Earlham College and played men's basketball there. He stayed at Earlham for five years and received a master's degree in teaching.
Adams took a job at Roncalli as a varsity assistant. He also helped with the youth program, coaching seventh and eighth graders in the Roncalli system.
Roncalli is coached by Michael Wantz, a 1993 Union City graduate, who is in 17th year with the school. He has led the Rebels to four sectional titles and double-digit wins in 16 consecutive seasons, both are school records.
“Roncalli was always known as a football school, but basketball is really good there,” Adams said. “They play really good schools. They have guys going to D-3 schools (colleges) beating teams with D-1 athletes. With just from the system he has, I feel like I learned a lot from him. He was a great mentor.”
Following Roncalli, Adams wanted to get back into the collegiate level of coaching so he went back to his alma mater with Earlham. He was working with the men's program when the women's coach and her assistant quit during the season.
Adams was tabbed as a special assistant to the women's basketball program. The interim head coach came from the administration and did not have a lot of experience with the ins and outs of coaching.
“I was doing the scouting reports, running practices and doing in-game adjustments,” Adams said. “That was a really good experience for me.”
He also enjoyed coaching female athletes so it broadened his perspective in regards to coaching basketball.
At Earlham, he coached with Jason Polykoff, the head coach of the men's basketball program. Polykoff has a storied high school career winning record while at Friends Central School in Wynnewood, Pa. He accumulated a 113-28 record in five years, winning four straight Pennsylvania Independent schools State Championships.
One of the players he coached while at the high school was Amile Jefferson who won a national championship at Duke and now has a contract with the Orlando Magic.
Polykoff was also an assistant coach at the Ivy League School, Penn.
“I learned a ton of offensive stuff from him,” Adams said.
And he also is the son of Gus Adams, who has operated with Avis Stewart the Hoop Busters basketball camps for many years. Gus is a social studies teacher at Franklin County High School and a varsity assistant coach.
“My dad has been a good mentor,” Joe said. “He works a lot with player development and skill work.”
While this is his first varsity basketball coaching position, Joe said he feels more than prepared for the challenge.
“I feel like I'm very prepared for my first year,” Joe said. “I'm a pretty young coach, but I feel advanced for where I am and ready for anything we have to face and come up against.”
He had several coaches during his playing career, and he believes that was a good thing. He had three different college coaches and two high school coaches.
“I've had a ton of people I've played for with completely different styles,” Joe said. “I've taken a little something from all of them and built my own style.”
Joe wanted the FCHS girls basketball coaching position because of the Lady Wildcats reputation for winning.
“Franklin County girls basketball has been a powerhouse in the past,” Joe said. “It’s always been our best sport at least since the 2000s. We’ve had really good teams. We’ve won sec-tionals. We went to semi-state that one year.
“We’ve won a lot of conference championships and had some really good teams,” he continued. “So, I think it’s here. The talent is here. The desire to be real good is here. They just need the right person to be in position to get that talent to come out, to get the girls to come out and be a part of the Franklin County girls program.
“I think being from Franklin County I understand that and know what it takes,” Joe said. “I know what it takes to make someone into a good basketball player and help them improve. Taking all those things together is why I wanted to take this job.
“The resources are here; the girls are here; people want to be good,” Joe said. “It just takes the right person.
“The support is here from the administration,” he continued. “They want to see the school be successful because it helps the image.”
Also, he gets to work with Gus and be around his mother, Linda.
Saturday, the entry-level girls in the girls basketball program had the Brookville Elementary gymnasium.
Girls in grades K-4 learned about fundamentals for part of the morning and then divided up into teams to scrimmage.
Girls from the varsity team helped coach the girls.
It is a departure from the way it has been ran in the past.
Joe said he did not want to burn young girls out on basketball. Instead, he wants to make it fun for them. He also wants athletes to play as many sports as possible.
“We did a second through eight skills camp to work on the basics,” Joe said. “Our seventh and eighth grade teams are playing in a travel league.
“We’re going back to our old ways when I think we had the most success,” he said. “We’re going to be involved in fifth and sixth grade school ball programs. We’re going to be present at practices and show them how we want them to shoot a ball; how we want them to play man-to-man defense, all those things.
“I think that’s going to help us build the program up more quickly as opposed to just waiting for them to get into high school,” he continued. “I think that’s going to bring out more girls, too, if they see that you’re going to be there to help and to want them to improve. I think that’s going to build numbers.”
After the fifth and sixth graders finish playing in the league for this area, they are going to be entered into an Indianapolis league, Joe said.
“That way we can see ‘this is what we worked on and now we can see that translated against some better teams,’” Joe said. “I think that’s what’s going to be the best for them and for the program.”
According to Joe, he believes it is important for the varsity girls basketball members to be involved in the feeder program.
“Me and my staff come in and teach them the basics: We show them how we want to shoot the ball; We show them how we want them to dribble; How you get into a defensive stance,” Joe said. “The girls are there sort of as reminders. They are going through the same things and they are learning at more advanced levels, but basically the same stuff.
“They are there to be present,” he continued. “The girls really look up to these varsity players, and they are who they want to be.
“The (varsity) girls are here putting in the time,” Joe said. “They really do care about the Franklin County (girls basketball) program. So, I think that is the most effective way to get the message across and help the girls improve.
“What better way to learn the basics, than by teaching them,” he continued. “The girls do a great job interacting with the K-4 girls.”
In the past, Joe has taught Spanish and social studies at the high school level. This year he is teaching special education at FCHS.
He said he likes his position at FCHS.
“I get to individually work with students, which I like,” Joe said. “Getting to know them and build those relationships.”