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The following article first appeared in the fourth issue of Flames Illustrated, which was available at the Vines Center between Jan. 18 and Feb. 8. Katelyn Adams and the Lady Flames will play at Presbyterian College Thursday at 7 p.m.
Picture an average college athlete: juggling a challenging game schedule, rigorous daily practices, workouts and individual training while keeping up with the responsibilities of classes, community service and the care of their bodies.
Now, picture an average nursing major: juggling what is commonly considered amongst the student body to be Liberty University's most challenging class schedule, required hospital experience and their weight in imposing textbooks.
Add the two together and what do you get? The Lady Flames' own Katelyn Adams.
Adams' hardwood contributions, regardless of major, are impressive all on their own.
After her redshirt freshman season (spent playing under and learning from the likes of now-professional center Avery Warley), the six-foot-five-inch forward made a notable collegiate debut against Duquesne with 8 points, 8 rebounds and a game-high 3 blocks. She went on to average more than a block per game and recorded a pair of double-doubles before the season was through.
Now a redshirt sophomore, Adams has evolved into a dependable and multi-dimensional asset for the Flames. She has reeled in well over 100 rebounds on the season so far, is a consistent shot blocker and has significantly developed her offensive game.
"Katelyn is a very versatile player," remarked assistant coach Alexis Sherard. "That one year of redshirting, having practiced with Avery Warley during that time, really helped her with her timing in the post and just overall confidence."
Sherard noted particular growth in Adams' offensive abilities outside the paint.
"With her size, everyone expects her to be an inside player; but she's very comfortable on the perimeter. She's probably one of our best shooters from the post on the outside," he affirmed. "She's very balanced, inside and outside."
Adams' on-court achievements take on an extraordinary quality, though, when you consider that the redshirt sophomore is also a part of Liberty's infamously rigorous nursing program; and in her junior year – widely considered to be the track's most difficult– no less.
"Some days she's definitely very tired in practice," Sherard chuckled, "but look, Katelyn's very mature and she does a great job with her time management. We're sensitive to her schedule with regards to practices and such, but Katelyn's a warrior. She's very determined – determined with her academics and also athletics, and she really pushes through when she needs to."
Illustrating the coach's point, Adams was quick to explain, "The biggest, most important thing is just keeping your time organized and using it wisely. If you have an hour or so, you just use it. You get done what you can and use your time whenever you happen to get it."
She also cited teammate and fellow nursing student Ellee Rollins as a key to much of her balancing act's success.
"It helps that she and I kind of go through it all together. We study, we go to practice; it helps keep everything on track," Adams relayed. "We wake up early every day to study."
Even Adams wasn't sold on the idea of tackling the nursing program as a full-time athlete at first.
"I wasn't positive what I wanted to do when I first came in. I just knew I always wanted to work with people, help them and stuff," Adams recalled. "My parents suggested nursing, but I wasn't sure – especially once I got here, because all I heard was that it would be so hard!"
The forward tentatively followed an academic route that fulfilled the program's general education and prerequisite class requirements, hesitant to fully commit one way or another. It was only after she had been accepted to the program that Adams truly went all in.
"Once I got into the program and started working in the hospital, I just loved it and everything about it," she gushed, grinning widely. "Yes, it was a process to get to that point, but I love it and feel like the Lord has really called me to do this."
Adams' favorite part of her major – working with and aiding medical professionals in a local hospital setting – allows her the unique opportunity to approach nursing as a calling, too, as opposed to just a major.
"It's cool because there are a lot of Liberty graduates at the hospital, actually; so I really loved working with different nurses and seeing how they do things and how they implement their Christian values into nursing there," a smiling Adams stated.
Until she assumes the professional role, helping hurting people and aspiring students alike, Adams is content to focus on helping her teammates. When asked about her goals for the remainder of the basketball season, Adams' predictably selfless attitude pervaded her answer once again.
"My personal goals are just to keep improving – rebound, work hard on defense, be a leader – and just help the team in any way I can," she asserted with a nod.
It's that unselfish sensibility and hard-working attitude that allow Adams to succeed as a student-athlete in every sense of the word. Flames fans can expect to see her creating playmaking opportunities for herself and others on the court for the remainder of the season, game in and game out – and shouldn't be surprised to spot her on the third floor computer lab after the final buzzer sounds.
Ryley Rush is a Liberty University junior and is a freelance writer for Liberty Athletics