SGA’s Parker Adams, right, graduated this past season with more than 1,000 career points during his standout Warriors career, including an average of 20 points a game.
DAMASCUS -- When Southwest Georgia Academy Athletic Director David Byrne got the call, he was surprised -- but then again, he wasn't.
"When we got word, I couldn't believe that one of our kids -- from tiny ol' Damascus -- had been chosen for this award," Byrne said. "Of course, our kid was very deserving."
That "kid" was none other than former SGA three-sport star and school salutatorian Parker Adams. And that "award" was the Bigger, Faster, Stronger High School Male Athlete of the Year.
Adams was chosen out of a pool of thousands of kids nationwide by BFS, a nationally renowned and accredited weight training program since 1976 that teaches high school student-athletes the secret of reaching their strength potential without the use of steroids.
BFS was first introduced at SGA several years ago by former SGA coach Beau Johnson, who nominated Adams -- now a freshman at Troy -- for the honor before leaving this past season to take a job in Taylor County. The qualifications and requirements for the award were both athletic and academic -- and Adams easily fit the billing for both.
"One of the requirements of being eligible for the BFS High School Male Athlete of the Year award is being a good student as well as a great athlete. Parker Adams is great in both, excelling in multiple sports and having the second-highest GPA in his class," the BFS organization said in a press release announcing the award. "He was the president of the senior class and won numerous academic awards. To name a few, he won the Outstanding Student Award in Precalculus and American Government, the Early County Historical Society Scholarship Award, the Scott Widener Scholar-Athlete Award, and the Bank of Early County Scholar-Athlete Award."
The press release continued: "The culmination of these academic accomplishments was receiving a full academic scholarship to Troy University in Troy, Alabama. Athletically, Parker was the Region 3-AA Basketball Player of the Year; he played in two all-star basketball games and scored over 1,000 points in his career. He was (also) all-region in GISA baseball, region champion in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles at the Region 3-AA track meet. And to top it off, he received the BFS "Bulletproof" Award by attending the most BFS workouts in the summer of 2010."
Adams, who scored a career high 42 points his senior season, graduated from SGA with a 4.1 weighted GPA. He also played third base for the baseball team and was a star hurdler on the track & field team.
Adams, who decided not to pursue sports at Troy and is instead focusing on academics -- he's majoring in criminal justice and is considering joining the U.S. Coast Guard -- told The Herald on Tuesday he was beyond honored to receive the award.
"When coach B called me, I didn't believe it at first because he's always messing with me," said Adams, who also received a three-page spread in the upcoming BFS Magazine telling his story. "But he said it was for real and I was just really happy because I put in a lot of hard work (in the BFS program) and it was nice (to see it recognized)."
Johnson, a clinician for BFS for years, said he couldn't imagine a better student-athlete for the award.
"Parker is an outstanding young man," Johnson said. "He worked hard and got respectable numbers for his body type. He is exactly who we are talking about when we talk about the 'Be an 11 athlete' (which is the highest level that can be achieved in the BFS program). He's an awesome kid with great personality."
Byrne wouldn't disagree with a word of that.
"Parker Adams is by far the best student-athlete I have ever worked with in my years of coaching," said Byrne, who started coaching at SGA when Parker was a freshman and is now the A.D., and boys and girls head basketball coach.
Byrne says he remembers early on in Adams' career when Adams was small and uncoordinated as a freshman and struggled on the court, scoring only three points his entire first season at SGA. But when Adams was introduced to BFS that summer, all that changed seemingly overnight.
"That summer you could begin to see a change in his attitude. He began to spend more and more time at the gym. By the summer after his sophomore year it was like we were looking at a new kid," Byrne recalled.
Adams said the BFS workout regiment changed him from the inside out.
"The program focuses on three core lifts: squat, power clean and bench press, and then there's this stretching program that really made me a lot faster, quicker and more flexible," Adams said. "I noticed the difference right away."
Byrne said Adams never missed a workout the rest of his career, and he always made sure his teammates were making their lifts as well.
"He led by example on and off the court every single day. Everyone on the team looked to Parker for advice and leadership, and he took on the role without a complaint," Byrne said. "When things were going bad, I never had to worry about talking to the guys about it because I knew that Parker was going to handle it. He would gather the guys before practice and discuss what was going on. While I was having the girls practice before the boys practiced, Parker would have the guys in the locker room watching game film on the next team. Not once did I ask him to do these types of things -- he just did them because that was the type of player and teammate he was."
Byrne recalled an example of how much the players wanted to play well for their captain, and that occurred during their last regular-season home game. The Warriors were facing region top dog Brookwood, and the game was tied with less than six seconds to play.
Byrne will never forget what Adams did next.
"Parker missed a jump shot, and junior Dillon Driver tipped the ball in as the horn sounded. When Dillon was interviewed about his game-winning shot, all Dillon could say was he was glad that he was the one who could hit the shot that allowed Parker to win the last home game in his career," Byrne said. "Everyone just wanted to do good for Parker because they knew how much he put into it. The hours he spent in the gym just shooting by himself on weekends showed his commitment."
Unfortunately, Adams' story -- at least as far as his athletic career goes -- didn't exactly have a fairy tale ending. In the region title game against Brookwood -- SGA's first appearance in a championship game in 20 years -- Adams suffered a concussion after coming down hard during a rebound attempt and wasn't allowed to return. SGA lost that game, then Adams wasn't cleared to play by team trainers the following week when the SGA opened the state tournament. The Warriors were knocked out in the first round after an overtime loss to Heritage.
"I was satisfied as a whole with my career, but I definitely think about that moment (of not being able to play in the region title game and in state) a lot," said Adams, who finished his SGA career with 1,034 points. "The highlight for me would have to be reaching my 1,000th career point, but I always wondered what could've been -- how far we would've gone -- but I had to accept it. After all, better safe than sorry."