College Heights secondary school graduate Oak Adams is off to Edmonton to begin the next chapter of his life and he's got two jobs lined up.
Both will involve having sticky hands.
One of them is working with his uncle on a paving crew, the other is playing junior football as a receiver for the Edmonton Huskies.
Adams had four other junior teams interested in his services on the gridiron and he decided on Edmonton, where his aunt and uncle will be on hand to provide the comforts of home.
"It's exciting, I'm leaving next Friday," he said. "I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and having a team that actually shows up for practice and everyone wants to play. We'll be practicing four of five times a week and we have (gym) workouts three times a week as well."
After two years as the Cougars' starting quarterback, sometimes working with a skeleton crew in the high school ranks, Adams will switch to slotback as a junior rookie this season. He's always had good hands, whether it's throwing or receiving and he doesn't anticipate he'll have trouble making the switch to receiver, even though he's still on the mend after separating his shoulder a few months ago while snowboarding.
"I enjoyed playing quarterback but there's only one quarterback on the field at a time," he said. "My shoulder still looks messed up but it works. We're going into war with duct tape."
Adams was always a gifted athlete with speed to burn and he started out playing lacrosse before he took up basketball and football. His focus switched to football during a Grade 9 gym class when one of the players on the College Heights team saw what he could do cradling a football in the hook of his arm.
"We started playing this football-type game and I took the ball and ran through the entire gym class and one of the guys who played said, 'You've got to come out and play football, you'll be one of the best.' So I went to a couple practices and started playing the game and I just loved it. The team atmosphere and everything in football is just great."
Adams has a stellar academic record at College Heights, except for math, and he plans to upgrade his marks in that subject this summer, now that he's been accepted to UNBC's forestry program for the winter semester in January. He's hoping to eventually transfer to the University of Alberta.
"Hopefully I can get there to play," he said.
Adams and Matt Kemp of College Heights were picked for the Matt Pearce Memorial Bursary which rewards high-achieving football players for their work in the classroom. The award is named for Pearce, a College Heights teacher/Duchess Park coach who played professionally as a fullback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"He coached every one of my basketball games and he coached at Duchess Park because his son played there," said Adams.
"He was super-involved in the community and that inspired me to give back. I do coaching with the seven-on-seven touch football coaching the younger kids and I got offered a coaching spot when I get back next spring."
Adams went to the Huskies' spring camp in May and made the team. He's the only B.C.-born player on the Huskies roster. He had a tough season last year at College Heights as one of the Cougar captains. The team played well early in the season but injuries and a lack of players led to the Cougars having to default their semifinal playoff against Nechako Valley. In 2017, they got to the P.G. Bowl final and as Northern Conference runners-up College Heights advanced to a provincial playoff game in Vernon.
Adams' cousin Connor also played for the College Heights senior team and Oak's 16-year-old brother Austin is a promising young running back/receiver who will keep the Adams family tradition going this year on the Cougars senior team.
"Austin is very quick, he's kind of small but he does laps around everyone," said Oak. "His lateral movement is unreal, he moves side-to-side like a rabbit."
The Huskies play in the six-team Prairie Conference with the Winnipeg Rifles, Saskatoon Hilltops, Regina Thunder, Calgary Colts and Edmonton Wildcats. The Huskies have won five national titles since their inception in 1954 and last year got as far as the conference final, which they lost to Saskatoon, the eventual Canadian Bowl champions.
The Huskies open their eight-game 2019 schedule at home at Clarke Park on Aug. 18 against Regina.
Seven other graduating Northern Conference players have made junior teams, all in the B.C. Junior Football Conference.
That list includes four Kamloops Broncos - receiver T.J. Nyberg, fullback/linebacker Tyler Frederick, lineman Cody Hawn and running back/defensive back Sam Maganda, who all played for the Kelly Road Roadrunners. From the Prince George Polars, running back/linebacker Gage Ridland and fullback/linebacker Gage Bernard are heading to the Okanagan Sun, while Polars running back/linebacker Gavin Murray has been recruited to the Chilliwack Huskers.
PGSS quarterback Braden Reed has locked up a scholarship with the Queens University Golden Gaels, the defending U Sports national champions. Reed did double-duty on defence with the Polars, as most local high school players do, and will play as a linebacker at Queens.