Eastbrook's Jeff Adamson humbled to be part of elusive group

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Some football coaches have aspirations of making it to the collegiate or professional ranks at some point.

When it comes to Eastbrook's Jeff Adamson, though, he believes he has already reached the pinnacle of his career.

"It's the only place that I'd ever thought about or dreamed about coaching," said the 1982 Eastbrook graduate. "When I really made a commitment that that's where I wanted to go into education and I wanted to coach and it's really the only place that I ever thought of.

"As it would turn out, right when I graduated (college at Manchester University) late in the summer (of 1986), an opportunity came and I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I never looked at anything else, but I've always been grounded here.

"Here's the bottom line, all those people that I talked about as being so important in coaching are all right here. I met my wife (Kandi) here. My kids have gone to school here. My son-in-law went to school here. There's just so many good people here that it's almost a thing at times that you take for granted because everyone you meet is a good person, but I think it's just a perfect fit for me. It may not be for everyone else, but I love our school corporation. I love the community and I really love the people who are in it."

Instead of taking a graduate assistant position at Mississippi State, Adamson chose to stay home to teach social studies and serve as assistant football and baseball coach at his alma mater.

Nearly four decades later, the Eastbrook High assistant principal is now one of just 11 high school football coaches in the state of Indiana to reach the 300-win plateau.

Adamson achieved this milestone on November 5 when the top-ranked Panthers (11-0) downed No. 6 Tipton, 28-21, to claim the Class 2A Sectional 36 crown.

In addition to now earning 16 sectional crowns, he also has seven regional titles and four state runner-up finishes on his resume.

"I've been blessed to be around a lot of incredible people regardless of where I've been in my life," recalled Adamson, who is 300-91 overall over 33 years at the helm. "I think as far as football coaching, I've got a tremendous wife, who is supportive beyond description. You know those times where you take your spring break and you go visit a college to learn more about football instead of going to Florida you know comes to mind several times. There are those late-night times where you're late for birthday parties and those other kinds of things so many times when she's been right there for that.

"My dad (Dave) has also been an incredible rock. Just a man who is brutally honest when you don't wanna hear it sometimes. He is just also a great example with his faith and the way he treats other people. The way he deals with other people I think is always kind of been an example of how I want treat everybody that I'm surrounded with in coaching.

"There is also Bob Cornell (his football coach at both Eastbrook and Manchester University. What a big influence he's had on me as far as how I wanted to coach and treat players and those kinds of things. I still have contact with him and he still remains a big influence on me as well."

Another influence both on and off the gridiron is Oak Hill's Bud Ozmun, who has been mentoring student athletes for nearly a quarter of a century.

"Jeff and I have been competing against each other for over 20 years, but we were friends long before our first game as opposing coaches," explained Ozmun. "He's a man that I believe would be there for me if I ever needed anything, even though I coach for the hated cross-county rival.

"Jeff has become one of the elites in the Indiana high school coaching ranks. but through it all he has remained true to his small hometown roots and his alma mater. It is a privilege to call Jeff a colleague but even more so to call him a friend."

Being in the same group now as Indiana Football Hall of Fame coaches like Larry "Bud" Wright (Sheridan), Jerry Brewer (Jasper). Chris Geesman (Penn), Don Howell (Hobart), and Dick Dullaghan (Indianapolis Ben Davis) is very special for Adamson.

"I'm not sure that I belong in that same company," said Adamson, who is a member of the Grant County Hall of Fame. "I have heard all of them speak at a clinic and have aspired to professionally try to match some of the success that they've had or try to incorporate something that they spoke about or something I talked to them about somewhere just trying to learn football from. It's very humbling to think about. I'm not sure I belong in that group of elite coaches, but I'm certainly proud to be able to represent Eastbrook in any fashion I can."

Being able to win 77 percent of his contests during his tenure has also been very satisfying for Adamson.

"When we started, we weren't very successful, so it was a commitment on the part of a lot of people part to get it to a place where we could be competitive every year," explained Adamson. "I remember something I heard from (Penn's) Chris Geesman at one of the first times I ever heard him talk. He said, 'One coach is worth five good players.' In my mind, I thought I'm not sure that's accurate, but the longer I've coached, the more I really understand how true that is because we've got some incredible coaches here at Eastbrook.

"For a small school, we're one of the few programs that still has 90 percent of its coaches in the building. We have former players who are coaching that have an incredible attachment to the program and they're just incredible role models for high school guys and they're great at developing players. I think that that allows us to avoid some of the cyclical ups and downs that you have with a typical small school program. When kids come in as freshmen, sometimes we're thinking, 'Man, this guy is never going to be able to play.' However, by the time they are a junior and senior, they've gotten time in the weight room and have been in practices long enough that they're really getting it.

"I think that goes to the second part of it is that we've got a lot of players who really commit to what we're going and are willing to buy in. So, I think it starts with the coaches, but we've got a great group of players who are willing to put in the time as well."

Accomplishing all of his success with the Panthers is something Adamson is very proud of as well.

"I did want to bloom here and want to continue to do so here," said Adamson. "It's hard to put into words how meaningful this whole place is and by that, I mean the people, the school, and the community. It's important to me.

"One of the neatest things that you miss when if you leave to go to another school is that opportunity to see the guys that you have coached and what they have done after they've left the program. Like right now, most of our coaching staff consists of former players. We're coaching so many guys right now who are kids of former players and every Friday night after a home game and even away games, we have somebody come into the locker room who is a former player.

"The most meaningful thing that you could ever have been is to be able to continue those relationships with those guys and see how they're doing long after their playing career is over. So many of those guys have continued to grow and do well in our community and it's just neat to be able to see them and see how they're raising their own kids. It's just an awesome thing to be able to run into those people every time you go out to eat, every time you go to the grocery store after ballgames. We're running into former guys all the time and it's just a special thing."

Adamson begins his quest for the 400-win mark on November 12 when Eastbrook travels to No. 4 Eastside (12-0) for the regional championship.

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