John Thomas “Tommy” Adams passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, July 3, at age 81, with his wife of 59 years, Joyce, by his side. Known in the early 2000’s to thousands of young lacrosse players in the Annapolis area as the “Stick Doctor”, Tommy spent a life steeped in the brotherhood of sports.
Born on April 7, 1938, and raised on the family tobacco farm in Waldorf, Maryland, Tommy developed a great sense of humor and a loving and caring nature. He married Joyce Moreland in January 1960 and a year later came to work at the U.S. Naval Academy. As a father of three young children, he painted portraits and murals while honing his skills as a man who could “fix anything.” Active with his children’s interests, Tommy participated in programs with the Boy Scouts and youth sports.
Tommy spent nearly 40 years with the Naval Academy Athletic association (NAAA) working as an equipment manager and storekeeper for a variety of varsity and intramural sports. He even traveled with the football team to Dallas, Texas, when Navy, led by Heisman trophy winner Roger Staubach, headed to the Cotton Bowl in January 1964.
But it was the game of lacrosse where Tommy would leave his mark at the Academy. He not only produced the world’s first mesh lacrosse stick in 1971?? (made from a mesh laundry bag strung on to a wooden stick), he also helped work on better designs for pads and helmets and was asked by industry representatives to evaluate early prototypes for the plastic lacrosse head. His collection of original plastic lacrosse sticks, along with that first mesh stick, has been donated to the Bilderback-Moore Navy Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Although he had a head for Navy sports, especially lacrosse, it was the people that Tommy worked with — the players and coaches — that touched his heart, and were touched by his. As a family man with three children of his own, he would still refer to the Midshipmen he worked with as "his kids.” He would say, “Those kids need me”, as he headed off to a Saturday afternoon lacrosse game, his repair kit and tools in hand. It was this love for the players and coaches that fueled his passion for the game over many, many years.
Tommy is survived by his wife, Joyce, his son, Tom Adams, Jr., four grandchildren and nearly 40 years of Navy athletes, coaches and assistants. A celebration of Tommy’s life is currently in the planning stages. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Hospice of the Chesapeake. When asked whom this gift is in memory of, please answer, “This is for Tommy.”
A memorial service will be held at the Kalas Funeral Home & Crematory, 2973 Solomons Island Rd., Edgewater, MD on Saturday, August 17 at 1:00 pm. On line condolence may be left under the memory tab on this page.