PREP TRACK: Central's Adams back to coaching a year after accident (04/26)

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By Josh Claywell

Just over a year ago, Brandon Adams’ life changed.

Last April 14, Central Hardin’s head track and field coach was involved in a motorcycle accident on Western Kentucky Parkway.

Adams was westbound on the parkway when he lost control of his 2003 Suzuki bike and into the path of an eastbound Chevrolet SUV. He was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville with several injuries.

Adams broke his back in six places and one of his legs and suffered road rash. He had to have skin grafts on his leg and was told he’d have to wear a brace on it for the rest of his life. Even getting back into coaching was a long shot.

But don’t ever tell Adams he can’t do something. That brace he was supposed to wear? It’s never been used. And there was no chance Adams wouldn’t return to coaching the sports – track and football – he loves.

“When a doctor tells you one thing, it just makes you want to do the opposite. It just gives you more determination to get out of the bed, to walk again and to do all that stuff again,” he said Tuesday. “They told me I’d have to wear a brace for the rest of my life; I still haven’t worn that brace and I’m walking just like I would have been before. Everything is good.”

The wreck changed everything for Adams, perhaps most notably his outlook on life. It’s taught him not to take anything for granted, like getting to spend time with his longtime girlfriend Lindsey and their two children – 6-year-old Jenaya and 2-year-old Jayvin.

“I thank God every day that I’m able to live my life to still help kids achieve their goals, that I’m able to spend time with my family and watch my kids grow up,” Adams said. “I feel like it’s made me a better person as far as a coach, a family man and spiritually. It got me back in church, I tried to stop my profanity and I’m living my life.

“I had a pretty severe leg injury, but I’m able to walk and I’m able to talk,” he added. “I’m just thankful every day that I’m able to walk and able to accomplish everything I want to do. A lot of people say they’re lucky; I say I’m blessed.”

Scars provide a reminder of what happened, but Adams doesn’t remember much from that day. Part of that is because he chooses to block it out, but it’s also because he only remembers waking up and being told he had just been in a wreck.

Word of the accident spread quickly among Central Hardin athletes and coaches. Junior Mackenzie Pennington said there was a sense of uncertainty for the first few practices without Adams.

“It was a lot of chaos at first because Adams was in control of everything,” she said. “For the first couple of days, we were unsure of how the season was going to be. But we really recovered. The coaches and athletes really stepped up and we ended on a good note.”

The Bruins and Lady Bruins dedicated the rest of the season to Adams, who kept in touch with the teams through coaches Tim Pennington and Kristina Covington.

Prior to the state meet, Adams sent Pennington a text message saying he wanted the Bruins’ 400-meter relay team – 2012 graduates Jared Cromartie, Antoine Keys and Malon Kennedy and current senior T.J. Gordon – finish in 43.70 seconds. They placed seventh in 43.67.

Little things like that are what kept Adams going when he couldn’t be with his athletes.

“Being without him wasn’t as difficult as you think,” Central Hardin senior Michael Price said. “We started transitioning our season not only for us but to run for him. If we didn’t run well, we felt like we were doing him a disservice. To finish like we did at State was a great achievement.”

While Adams was recovering, Elizabethtown coaches Jeff McNeil and Dickie Jones offered to help Pennington and Covington any way they could, be it running a meet or helping with practice.

That good will has been returned to Elizabethtown, which has used Central Hardin’s facility for practice this season and is hosting its Panther Twilight Invitational there today. The meet starts at 5:30 p.m. with field events, with running events beginning at 6.

“We enjoy working with them and have never had any issues,” McNeil said. “When he had his wreck, Coach Jones and I reached out to them and said we’d help them with anything they needed. Anything we could do to help, we were happy to do. And it reciprocated for us this year.”

When Adams returned to coaching, Mackenzie Pennington said it was as if nothing had even happened, as if Adams was the same old guy his athletes had grown to love.

That’s just the way he is. Adams isn’t one to let anything keep him down for long, especially when all he wanted to do was get back to working with Central Hardin athletes and his students at West Hardin Middle School.

“In the hospital, it was up and down. But I’m glad to be coaching again, I’m glad to be able to see my kids every day and I’m glad to be working at West Hardin with those kids,” Adams said. “My life revolves around kids. Everything I do is about kids and that’s what I try to live my life for.

“There ain’t too much stuff that can hold me down,” he added. “I count my blessings and pray every day and thank God every day that I’m alive. It means the world to be back out here. I’m out here for a reason. I’m going to roll with it and live for the moment.”

Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.