Identical twins Matthew and Stephen Adams were football standouts for the Lincolnton Wolves in 1996 and 1997. As quarterback and tight end, they shared a special connection on the field. Now separated by thousands of miles, they still share that connection.
Once heroes on the gridiron, theyâ€™re now true heroes. Matthew is a policeman for the Greensboro Police Department, while Stephen is in Fallujah as a U.S. Marine fighting in the war.
Having once racked up accolades helping the Wolves reach the 2A State Playoffs their junior and senior years, they have both highly achieved in their new uniforms.
One serving and protecting here in North Carolina, while the other is helping Iraq achieve the same type of freedom we enjoy here in the United States.
Matthew, who has served Greensboro two and a half years, was recently selected as one of 40 Greensboro officers out of 525 to help provide security for George W. Bushâ€™s Presidential Inauguration Jan. 18-21.
â€œI didnâ€™t think I would get picked because of how young I was and because Iâ€™ve only been with them for two and a half years. Itâ€™s a once and a lifetime opportunity and a tremendous honor,â€ Matthew said.
Heâ€™s hoping to use one of the biggest drug busts in the history of the city as a spring board to fulfill his dream of becoming a U.S. Marshal.
Stephen, a Private First Class Marine, was his squadâ€™s leader during boot camp and a Graduate Marine at Basic Combat School. He also was the recipient of the Marine of the Quarter Award out of 5,000 marines in the South West United States (stationed in San Diego, California). He also won the Meritorious M.A.S.T. Award as the top graduate in his unit in his avionics class.
Corinne, their mother, couldnâ€™t be any more proud.
â€œIâ€™m very proud of both. Theyâ€™re both in harmâ€™s way. Matthewâ€™s in harmâ€™s way every night. Heâ€™s doing what he wants to do to help people and he feels like itâ€™s his duty and Stephen feels the same way,â€ she said, who still lives in Lincolnton.
What theyâ€™ve achieved as young men, though, doesnâ€™t surprise her.
â€œThey were good, honorable, kind little boys and theyâ€™ve grown up to be good, honorable, kind men,â€ she said.
Matthew, Corinne and the rest of their family had the opportunity to speak with Stephen via telephone Christmas night around 10 p.m. While it was bitter-sweet, they understand thatâ€™s the way it has to be right now.
â€œHeâ€™s where he needs to be. If anybodyâ€™s got to be over there making this thing right; Iâ€™m glad heâ€™s one of them. I pray every night that weâ€™ll get to throw the football in the front yard again,â€ Matthew said.
Itâ€™s often said that sports, especially football, is a metaphor for life. The values and character traits a player learns can be invaluable after a player hangs up his cleats. It was no different for the twins.
â€œIâ€™ve learned that I can be pushed beyond my limits and still respond in whatever situation and I learned that through football,â€ he said.
â€œI thought boot camp was easy because of the way Iâ€™ve been raised and because of being pushed in football by Coach Cloninger,â€ Stephen said, referring to his relationship with then offensive coordinator Scott Cloninger.
Cloninger, now head coach of the Wolves, remembers the twins fondly and what theyâ€™ve been able to accomplish at only 26 years of age doesnâ€™t surprise him.
â€œBoth of them are fine, outstanding young men. We knew they would be successful. They were first-class and respected by their teammates and coaches. Stephen and Matthew, like you and so many others, weâ€™re very proud that theyâ€™re successful in life and doing very well.â€
â€œIt makes us very proud for the people that weâ€™ve been associated with and been a part of our teams to have such successful careers,â€ he added.
Cloninger recalled the fact that Stephen Adams was called on to play quarterback, though it was really wasnâ€™t his natural position.
â€œHe didnâ€™t complain and he did everything he could to make us successful and that takes a special person to do that. He always put the team before himself,â€ he said.
The same can still be said; Matthew and Stephen still put the team (United Statesâ€™ Citizens) before themselves. And for that, they should be commended.
by John Mark Brooks