By: Nick Galle
Sports have been a part of Eric Adler’s life ever since he can remember, and with good reason. Simply put, being an athlete is in his blood.
The Wake Forest product grew up surrounded by sports after both his dad and grandfather played football collegiately at Missouri. As a quarterback, his dad threw for more than 5,000 yards and just over 50 touchdowns, while his grandfather set special teams records as a running back during his career that spanned from 1958-1960.
“Obviously they’ve played a huge role. My dad wanted me to do whatever it was that I loved to do, and that just so happened to be sports,” Adler said. “His saying is persistence and determination, so applying that to everything I do has kind of gotten me here in the Cape today.”
Persistence and determination were just a couple of the lessons that Adler’s father passed on to him. The former quarterback always told his son that it’s about what you do with what you’ve got. Although he may not have always been the biggest guy on the field, Adler said his dad put in the necessary work to ensure that he would be able to hold his own.
“He wasn’t the biggest guy, but he always told me that he wanted to be as strong as the defensive backs, because he was a quarterback, and he wanted to work as hard as them,” Adler said. “He knew that if something didn’t go right in the game it wasn’t because he didn’t work hard enough. He put forth effort in everything he did on and off the field.”
Adler said his dad excelled in everything he did, much like his grandfather, whose background and mentality led to a professional career.
“My grandpa has kind of a farmer background, hard-working, blue-collar type deal,” Adler said. “Working day-in and day-out got him to where he could play for the Missouri Tigers and later on for the Jets.”
The profound influences that his dad and grandfather had inspired Adler to play youth football and he continued with the sport through his sophomore year of high school. He seemingly pulled from his generational ties, acting as both a quarterback and running back when he was younger before settling in behind center as he grew up. Injuries forced him to hang up the cleats, and that’s when the Rockledge, Florida, native shifted his focus solely to baseball.
“As I grew up I fell in love with how the game is played and how technical you have to be. It’s not just running up and down a field, so that kind of kicked off my love for it,” Adler said. “I had a lot of success when I was younger in Little League and travel ball and everything, so that helped.”
Although he had to wrap up his football career a bit earlier than expected, Adler still learned a variety of skills from the fast-paced, hectic nature of the game.
“Football has taught me a lot of patience, as a quarterback especially,” Adler said. “There’s a lot of things going on at once. You have to read defenses, you got to remember the play, you got to read a DB and how he’s dropping back and who to dump the ball to.”
And those skills have translated over to the mound.
“On the mound, (what) I’ve kind of realized over my time playing baseball is to stay calm no matter what. When you start going outside yourself and (you’re) kind of getting amped up is when you, or for me at least, is when I kind of start to fall off,” Adler said. “So if I just stay up there and stay calm and just stick to what I know to do, I’ll be just fine.”
It appears that Adler has been sticking to his plan of staying calm, as he has solidified himself as one of the Cape’s premiere closers. In 14 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander has allowed just one run, five hits and has struck out 28. He also has the most saves in the entire league with seven. Bourne pitching coach Eddie Marko said that when it comes time to pitch, Adler completely locks in.
“His personality when he’s on the mound is totally different than when he’s not on the mound,” Marko said. “When he’s on the mound, you can see it in his face — he’s tough, he’s a hard-nosed kid. When he’s off the mound, he’s really relaxed, laid back, loose and likes to have fun, but you would never get that when he’s on the mound. I mean he’s tough and he gets the job done. He goes right at them.”
Not only has football helped Adler on the field mentally, it’s also helped him physically. Marko said that his closer’s ability to stay loose and flexible has contributed greatly to his success on the hill.
“He’s really loose. He’s really flexible. He does a lot of yoga actually,” Marko said. “You got to be flexible for football too, moving lateral more and stuff like that. The flexibility with that’s going to help him with his arm too, just being loose, and the quicker you are, the harder you’re going to throw.”
While baseball and football opened doors for the Demon Deacon, it’s also served as an easy way to bring his family together. Adler said that him and his dad spend a lot of time watching sports, talking about games and even making some friendly wagers as to who is going to come out on top.
“It’s been a pivotal part in our life,” Adler said. “Sports (are) so meaningful to me just because of the heart and passion it takes to excel and be good at what you love to do. That’s kind of the great thing about it is you love it, and you want to work hard off the field, which makes you perform better on the field. Learning that and my dad instilling that in us at a young age kind of helped set me up for the future.”
Cover photo via: Joe Sullivan