Athlete profile: Track and field sprinter Emil Adams PO ’23 working on farm to stay active

Four people stand on wood planks in the forest.
PP track and field sprinter Emil Adams PO ’23 builds a yurt in an effort to connect with nature and stay in shape. (Courtesy: Emil Adams)

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed the 5Cs’ campuses, halted sports competition and complicated the reopening of hometown gyms, athletes have found creative ways to stay in shape during this forced off-season — and Emil Adams PO ’23 is building a yurt.

The Pomona-Pitzer track and field sprinter moved from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio to work on a farm on the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas. Adams is volunteering for an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Volunteers like Adams, known as WWOOFers, work on farms partnered with the organization in exchange for food and accommodations. 

“I really wanted to get a change of pace, get out of the house and go somewhere where I could be interacting with nature,” Adams said.  

The responsibilities of WWOOFers vary based on location and the needs of the farmers who host them. Where Adams is, he works up to five hours a day and has contractor style responsibilities like landscaping, gardening, woodworking and animal care. 

“The big project we’re working on right now is building a yurt for other people at the farm to stay in,” he said. “We had to get lumber [and] construct a big platform of wood that we [anchored] in the ground with some concrete blocks. We just finished constructing the platform, and now we’re trying to build the actual yurt on top of it.”

A man in a suit sits in a field and smiles off camera.
Emil Adams PO ’23 is a sprinter on the Pomona-Pitzer track and field team. (Courtesy: Emil Adams)

Despite the pandemic changing how athletes train, Adams is still intent on staying in shape — even if it means making his own gym. Adams brought his own dumbbells when he drove over to the farm from home and is now trying to construct a pull-up bar.

And, lacking a track and about 1,500 miles away from the Rains Center, Adams said the tasks on the farm are a fine replacement for his Claremont workouts.

“The other day, we were lifting these logs into the back of a large pickup and it felt, to me, almost identical to when we did [hang cleans] in track,” he said. 

Adams has already set goals for the spring season — whether it happens or not.

“My own goals are to keep in touch with the team and preserve team unity over the social distance,” he said. “In terms of over quarantine, my goal is to get enough of a base that if I needed to jump back into training, I’d be in good shape to shoot for a [personal record] in the spring season.” 

Adams said he hopes to break 50 seconds in his event, the 400-meter sprint. 

He said he’s working to improve his athletics but admitted it isn’t easy this season. In addition to the challenge of time management between his farm work, attending online school and exercising, Adams faced the unexpected challenge of getting enough calories. 

“I’m cooking for myself with somewhat limited access to groceries because this farm only supplies staples, and the nearest grocery store is a 40-minute drive away,” he said. “So, just finding the time to cook nutritional meals from scratch day after day was an unexpected peeve. When you add in the increased appetite from running and farm work, it becomes even harder.” 

Still, Adams is staying motivated, not subscribing to the belief that a break in athletics means a reason to take a break. At his next competition — whenever that may be — he wants to be ready. 

“My own goals are to keep in touch with the team and preserve team unity over the social distance.” -Emil Adams PO ’23

“In my experience, fitness is easier if you don’t stop,” he said. “If I take a long absence, it’s going to affect my body in the spring — and if sports are still canceled in the spring, [it] still wouldn’t mean that I should take this year off … Because it would still affect me negatively next year.”

When Adams finishes up his days on the farm and indulges in his downtime, he keeps sports on his mind — if only from the couch.

“Right now, I’m very much into the NBA playoffs. I’ve been trying to delve into the nuances behind the coaching and get into the physics behind it a little bit.”

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