When Chris Adams started college he thought maybe someday he’d be wearing a stethoscope around his neck, not a coach’s whistle.
“I wanted to be a doctor. I was going to be a family doctor,” Adams said.
But during his college years at Wittenberg University his future plans moved toward the gyms and away from the labs.
In 25 seasons as a high school boys basketball coach, 21 of them at Elida, his teams won 380 games and played in four regional tournaments. Then he added 154 more victories in nine seasons at the University of Northwestern Ohio, where he is currently the athletic director.
He is one of four coaches, including long-time Ottoville girls coach Dave Kleman, being added to the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this year.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was originally scheduled for later this month but has been moved to Aug. 22 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adams’ high school basketball coach at Lancaster High School, Bill Bowman, was the first person to tell him he should be a high school coach.
Then, before his junior year at Wittenberg, he became a student coach when Larry Hunter was the Tigers’ head coach. One of Wittenberg’s assistant coaches, Steve Moore, who went on to coach for more than 30 years at The College of Wooster, was also a major influence.
In fact, Moore had a key role in Adams starting his coaching career at Springfield Catholic Central High School as a 22-year-old head coach with no experience at the high school level.
“Coach Moore had ties at Springfield Catholic. When their job opened up in 1981, he called their athletic director and said, ‘One of our student assistants is ready to be a head coach.’ I had never been an assistant coach,” Adams said.
In the next four seasons, Springfield Catholic won 72 games and two district championships. Adams’ first salary was $8,500 a year for teaching several subjects, coaching basketball and being JV baseball coach.
That success resulted in him being offered the head coach’s job at both Lexington and Elida in the spring of 1985.
He chose Elida and was there until 2006 before becoming men’s basketball coach and athletic director at UNOH.
The Bulldogs won or shared five Western Buckeye League championships and won two district championships in his 21 seasons and twice won 20 games in a season. He was 308-165 at Elida and 380-189 overall at the high school level.
As a young coach, he had thoughts of becoming a college coach but decided he liked being at Elida more than he liked the possibility of pursuing a college job or a job at a bigger high school. His wife, Jan, also taught many years in the Elida school system and their children, Drew and Julie, graduated from Elida.
“I didn’t like moving around like some coaches do. I liked Elida, I really did. I liked the kids, it was a very good fit for our family,” Adams said.
“I had some opportunities during the Dan Dakich years to maybe jump up to Bowling Green. But I did not want to give up what we had at Elida. I didn’t want to go be an assistant and then move my family around until I got to be a head coach someday. I never wanted to do that. And I don’t know how good of an assistant I would be,” he said.
Adams said getting a call from OHSBCA Hall of Fame chairman Paul Wayne telling him he was in the Hall of Fame earlier this year was a bit of a surprise.
“When he called me I was very flattered. When you go off on a different fork (college coaching), the expectation is that high school is in the past,” he said.