|A LIFE-CHANGING DECISION...
Haley Adams committed to play softball at the University of Northwestern Ohio and credits her opportunity to a life-changing moment when she was twelve years old.
APRIL 2, 2014 - COVINGTON
One moment changed the life of Covington High School senior Haley Adams, who recently committed to continue her softball career at the University of Northwestern Ohio in front of family and friends on the Covington softball field.
The moment is one Adams points to as the turning point in her life - and it came as a result of a tough decision by Dean Denlinger - a decision he made long before he became the head softball coach at Covington High School.
"When I was twelve years old trying out for the Blaze travel team, Dean cut me," laughed Adams.
It was something Dean Denlinger would rather forget as he took plenty of heat over that decision from his own family.
"Oh, my family was all over me," Denlinger said. "They couldn't believe I cut Haley Adams, but quite frankly, I had twelve players who were better at the time. My own wife and kids never let me hear the end of it."
It all turned out for the best as Haley Adams used the rejection as motivation.
"At the time I was mad, but I made up my mind that it would never happen to me again," Haley said. "Dean changed my life when he did that because I worked so much harder on getting better and look at where it has gotten me."
Where it has gotten Adams is to three straight state final four appearances in each of her first three seasons of high school and now an opportunity to play at the collegiate level at UNOH, where she will join her former Lady Bucc teammate Casey Yingst.
"Haley wouldn't be where she is today if it wasn't for Dean Denlinger," said Haley's father Bryce Adams. "Dean is an amazing coach and he has prepared her for the collegiate level. There's no doubt in my mind she'll be successful because of what she's learned from Dean."
Denlinger isn't the only coach who has had an impact on Haley. Former Denlinger assistant and current Northridge coach Dan Cain was instrumental as well.
"To think, Dan Cain coached Haley in rag ball and then Dean was her first softball coach when she was eight or nine years old," Bryce continued. "Both of them coached her three straight years in high school and all three of those years she gets to play at state in Akron. Not many kids get to do that. We can't thank them enough for what they've done for our daughter."
Haley's mom, Carrie Adams agreed.
"She's had the best coaching," she said. "But it's not only the coaches, it's Covington. Covington is family. There's an expectation of winning that's instilled in these kids and that has brushed off on Haley."
The same attributes Covington has is what led to Haley choosing UNOH as her college of choice, even though she was strongly recruited by other programs.
"UNOH is just like Covington in the way they do things and what is expected," Haley explained. "The program is run just like Dean runs the program here. Everything is upbeat and the expectations are high in regards to winning."
Winning is something Haley is accustom to, but it hasn't come easy as she has suffered through her fair share of adversity due to a hip injury that has required surgery and forced her to miss several games her freshman and sophomore seasons.
"It's been tough," Haley said of her misfortunes with injuries. "I missed some games my freshman year and then the beginning of my sophomore year three of us were in casts. They called us the Mash Unit."
Still, Haley has never let anything stand in her way of getting back onto the field - even if it meant doing extra work on her won.
"She never let it get her down," said Bryce. "She was never the type of person we needed to push. She was always the one asking to go to the (batting) cages or out to the diamond. Haley's always been self motivated."
Adams' toughness and determination is something Denlinger as been privileged to witness over the years as her coach.
"She's a tough kid. Great kid," said Denlinger. "She's one of those kids you know will be successful at the next level because of her attitude and work ethic."
And that attitude and work ethic can be attributed to a decision Dean Denlinger made years ago - one that changed Haley Adams' life.