‘The coolest moment’ | SteamboatToday.com

‘The coolest moment’

CU's Joel Adams gives up skiing for football

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs alum Joel Adams, No. 35, practices with his CU Buffaloes teammates recently. Adams is a walk-on who has garnered the acclaim of team coaches.

— Joel Adams always knew he’d have to make a decision.

Play football or ski at the University of Colorado.

What he didn’t expect was how easy the decision would actually be.

Adams, who earned a spot in the 2005 NCAA National Championships in Alpine skiing and was part of last year’s CU national championship skiing team, saw his first significant playing action on the football field this fall.

When the season wrapped up, Adams said football became the clear choice.

“I don’t know, the skiing, it’s still an individual sport,” said Adams, a 2003 Steamboat Springs High School graduate. “I have two more years after this to play football. There’s nothing else like going out there and playing with 10 other guys. You find out a lot about their personalities and it’s always more fun to celebrate with a team.”

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Adams said he’s “not closing the door completely” on a return to the ski team – even thinking about competing in several non-school related races. For now, though, he’s completely focused on getting stronger and faster for football.

Adams hurt his knee in the second game of the football season during his senior year in high school. With a scholarship already locked up to ski at Colorado, it looked like fate had picked the sport he’d compete in.

But after being convinced to try out for the football team, Adams made an early impression, earning defensive scout team player of the year in 2005. But if Adams played football, he would have to forfeit his skiing scholarship per NCAA rules.

Still, it was a chance Adams said he had to take.

Then on Sept. 23 – the Buffs’ fourth game of the year- Adams saw game action for the first time since he walked on. With Colorado playing at Georgia, Adams said he wasn’t expecting to play at all – much less in front of a crowd of more than 90,000.

But with the normal starter battling a shoulder injury, Adams was told he was on kickoff coverage.

“That was awesome,” said Adams, who was on the field for 67 plays this year. “There were 90,000 people there : I’ve had a lot of cool experiences, but that was the coolest moment I’ve ever had with sports.”

Adams’ hard work in practice continued to pay off. In the weeks after the Georgia game, coaches rewarded him by placing him on kickoff return, punt return and punt coverage teams.

“On film, I was always the first one down there,” Adams said. “After the Georgia game, I steadily went up.”

The season came full circle when in the final game of the year against Nebraska, Adams made two unassisted tackles on special teams.

“This season was a lot better than people think,” Adams said. “I had a lot of fun.”

Instead of taking to the slopes, Adams will now head to California to workout with friends on the team, before returning to Boulder Jan. 16 to continue team workouts.

While Adams said he’ll always love skiing, it’s football that has always been in his heart.

“Being a walk-on, it’s always a fight,” he said. “But now that I am going to get to play, I just can’t wait to get on the field next year.”