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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

KP’s Adams: A Coach for All the Right Reasons

John Adams, holding banner at right, and the KP wrestling team celebrate his 200th victory, which came against Canton.

His Wrestling Teams Earned Their Success

By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
When John Adams announced that he no longer would be King Philip’s wrestling coach, a familiar, four-word phrase quickly emerged — end of an era.

John Adams “held student-athletes accountable, rewarded excellence and applauded self-improvement.’’


Those words are so often applied to coaches who retire, but in Adams’ case they’re not only appropriate, but also 100 percent spot on. The numbers confirm the phrase, but more importantly, his style and philosophy turned teenaged boys into young men because he was demanding but fair. He also stressed a variety of other key factors.
“I held student-athletes accountable, rewarded excellence and applauded self-improvement,’’ Adams emphasized. “I also believe that hard work, willpower and the proper instruction combined with respect and pride are the ingredients that would get the program back on track.”
Before he took the coaching reins, KP’s program was struggling. “The team had three coaches in five years and the program came close to being dismantled,’’ he recalled.
During his 10-year stint at the Warriors’ helm, Adams had nine winning seasons. The only sub-.500 campaign came during the pandemic when the schedule called for only nine matches. KP finished at 4-5. 
The 54-year-old Adams’ career record at KP was 149-77, but successful coaching stops at Hopkinton and Norwood during a seven-year stretch gave him a career win total of 215. His 10-year tenure enabled the Warriors to crown 12 sectional champions and 3 state champs.
Adams, who’s been a guidance counsellor in the KP school district for 23 years, is also leaving education. “I accepted a buyout,’’ he said. “I will no longer coach or remain in education. With my military background (Navy), I have expertise in safety and security protocols. We’ll see what the future has in store.’’
Adams is a native of Ipswich and lives in Walpole with his wife (Jennifer) and 11-year-old twin daughters (Sarah and Krista). A three-year varsity wrestler at Ipswich High, he learned the sport’s nuances from coach Bill James, who later moved on to coach at Methuen. 
“Bill is my best friend,’’ Adams said. “He was best man at my wedding and I was best man at his. And, he and I are both godfathers for our children. Unfortunately, he’s now a quadriplegic.’’
Adams graduated from high school in 1988 before enlisting in the Navy. During his four years in the military, he was on active duty in the Middle East and is a decorated veteran of the Gulf War.
“I wrestled in the Navy for two years,’’ he noted. “In places like Chile, Argentina and Hawaii. I served for four years and concluded my tour as a Petty Officer Third Class.’’
Adams enrolled at Bridgewater State after leaving the Navy. And, that’s where his wrestling career took an unusual turn. An injury cut short his freshman year and ended his competitive career. While working on a degree in psychology, college administrators offered him an assistant coaching job.
“For the first time in Bridgewater State’s history, their policy changed and the precedented-setting action enabled me to coach for three years as an undergraduate,’’ Adams said. “I eventually was offered the head-coaching post when a vacancy occurred but I turned it down. I didn’t think I was ready. During my three seasons as an assistant we had three winning seasons and my last year produced a 13-6-1 record.’’
One of Adams’ friends at Bridgewater was Bob Anniballi, who currently is Natick High’s head coach. A Hall of Famer, Anniballi has coached at Natick for 35 years. Graduating in 1998 from Bridgewater State, Adams joined Anniballi and for four years was his full-time assistant while working in special education in the Natick system.
“I learned a lot from Bob,’’ Adams said. “There was good team chemistry with him.’’
Adams eventually was hired at KP in 2001 at the Middle School as a guidance counsellor. That same year, he became Hopkinton’s first wrestling coach and led the fledgling program for three seasons. “We had good numbers there and our teams finished .500 or better,’’ he said.
Adams left coaching but it didn’t take long to get a phone call from Norwood High’s administration. “They needed a coach,’’ he said. “I was hired and led that program for four years. Like Hopkinton, we had success there.’’
Adams began his KP career as head coach for the 2014-15 school year and strung together six straight winning seasons. His 100th and 200th wins came as KP’s coach.
“I was attracted to the sport in high school,’’ he said. “What I liked about it was the individual-team aspect. It’s a combative sport that encourages goal-setting and bonding with teammates.’’
Adams’ coaching style encouraged wrestlers to set goals, to overcome adversity, to be resilient, and to lead. 
“Wrestling also is performance based and outcome based,’’ he noted, “and it teaches student-athletes how to be comfortable with discomfort. Competitors strive to excel as individuals while helping their team score points. It also teaches kids how to rise to the occasion in a pressure-packed moment. It also lets participants know that what you get is what you deserve.’’
Adams said that his assistant coach, Mike Poirier, who’s been with him for nine seasons and teaches special education at KP, “should be the choice to succeed me.’’
Asked to choose his top thrill during his stay at KP, Adams focused on several areas.
“I enjoyed seeing the boys better themselves,’’ he said. “I liked seeing them grow, mature and achieve their goals. I also liked post-season meets. They could enjoy a weekend competing for their school and community. They experienced joy and appreciated the camaraderie. I also liked our season-ending banquets at restaurants. We gave out 6-8 awards and every competitor got a team plaque. The banquet was a celebration and a goodbye.’’
Like his team banquets, Adams should be celebrated and the goodbyes should be many. He rescued the Warriors’ wrestling program when it was fragile. 
John Adams coached at five different venues during many winter seasons. More importantly, he was a coach for all the right reasons.