Eastern athletes influenced by pro role models

By Amye Ellsworth, Senior Sports Reporter

Photo by: Aaron Malmoe
Vernon Adam’s idol is Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.
 Freshman quarterback Vernon Adams started his football career with a little white lie.
When he was two years old, his dad told coaches that he was three so that he could start playing flag football. He started tackle football when he was six, and ever since then his life became dominated by the sport.
“I don’t change NFL network off my cable. I just watch that and ESPN all day,” he said. One of Adams’ favorite football players is Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers because of Rodgers’ knowledge of the game.
Although Rodgers ranks high on Adams’ list of favorite athletes, he said he pays close attention to how all the quarterbacks play the game as well as how they conduct themselves off the field.
“I watch the way all quarterbacks present themselves and if they’re a leader. I see myself as a leader but also a clown,” Adams said.
Adams also admires quarterbacks that can run the ball because they pose the dual threat of running and passing.
According to Adams, this is the way he likes to play the game.
“They’re kind of changing the game and giving me a better look for an NFL shot if I get bigger and stronger,” he said. Although Adams is loyal to football, he also enjoys watching soccer because his little sister plays.
Sophomore Parker Kelly also seeks to emulate the on- and off-court behaviors of professional athletes.
He spends his Sundays playing basketball against former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton.
Stockton started his college basketball career at Gonzaga University, and Kelly met him through Gonzaga Prep while playing varsity basketball with Stockton’s son David. Kelly said the most beneficial part of playing with Stockton is that the two play the same position, so Stockton is able to offer Kelly valuable advice.
“He just knows so much about the game and how to play like a guard,” Kelly said. “It’s very beneficial because obviously he has a lot of insight and expertise in that area of the game.”
In terms of off-the-court performance, Kelly said he admires Stockton’s work ethic and his ability to succeed so well in the sport. “He’s a tremendous competitor.
He wasn’t the most gifted athletically or physically, but he found a way to get it done,” Kelly said. Kelly was a freshman in high school the first time he played against Stockton, and he admitted it was a little intimidating in the beginning. Stockton, according to Kelly, is not afraid of showing exactly how he is feeling.
For Kelly, this is beneficial because it lets him grow as a player in knowing what he needs to improve. Sophomore soccer player Cassie Black respects athletes that understand what they need to improve in their game.
Her favorite professional athlete is Portland Thorns forward Alex Morgan.
“She’s such a great player, but she always knows what she needs to improve on and will never be satisfied with the game,” Black said. Black also relates to Morgan’s weaknesses as a player. “She’s at a higher level, but even then she still has the same faults,” she said.