Adams steps down as CHS boys coach

CHS Coach Bert Adams kneels during a timeout last season to give his Wolverines instructions. CHS finished 19-4, but missed a chance to go to state when the season was ended prematurely due to the COVID pandemic. Photo courtesy of Anica Estes

After three years at the helm of the CHS boys basketball program, Bert Adams has stepped down, turning the reins over to his assistant, Jake Borst.

Adam’s introduction to Wolverine basketball came way back in 1983, when he played for the Yakutat Eagles in the first Cordova Elks Tipoff tournament.  He returned as a senior the following year, when Yakutat was back for its second appearance in the Tipoff. 

Adams eventually went on to coach the Eagles for several years, establishing well-regarded Yakutat teams in highly competitive Southeast Alaska play. 

Adam’s tenure at CHS was marked by discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, and success.  In his first two seasons the Wolverines advanced to the State 2A tournament.  Their season records were 15-15 and 15-11, while going 14-11 and 13-7 against 2A competition.

Last season, the three-year re-building project produced his best squad, with CHS going 19-4 overall entering District playoffs at Su-Valley.

Cordova topped Effie Kokrine 71-58 in the first round, but fell to Glennallen 58-48 in the second round. 

A trip to State for the third year in a row was within their grasp, as the playoff for second place at Districts and a State berth was about to begin, when the COVID pandemic struck.

All the remaining games at Districts, as well as the ASAA State tournaments, were cancelled

Chances for a boys state title vanished.

Adams recalled helping everyone deal with the sudden health crisis and getting the Wolverine teams home as his most chaotic days as a coach.

But it is his impact on Wolverine basketball that will be remembered most.

HIs squads were disciplined, intense, motivated, aggressive on defense, patient on offense, and supportive of each other.  They all knew that they might be called off the bench at any time.

Adams constantly made responsibility and leadership priorities, and his practices were highly organized affairs with veterans showing the way.

He emphasized academics as well basketball, and his squads won several awards for their classroom excellence. He expected teammates to help each other with the challenges of studies while traveling on long and exhausting trips throughout the state.

Adams taught values by example. The coach’s sideline box was used for just that, rather than complaining about referee’s calls.  HIs calm demeanor created trust and confidence, as well as respect, the most basic element of sportsmanship.

Cordova won several sportsmanship awards throughout his tenure for showing that respect – for each other, their opponents, the officials, and the rules of the game.  When the final buzzer sounded, his Wolverines were gracious in victory and dignified in defeat.

Adams also had a quiet sense of humor. 

With the adoption of three crew officiating in basketball, one referee would often find himself standing directly in front of the coaches box during the live action.

As one of those officials, I spent considerable time in that location, standing beside Bert; and he and I would exchange quiet banter of a cheerful nature that made officiating truly fun and rewarding.

Jerry Bendzak, longtime Cordova referee and former Alaska Teacher of the Year, put it this way: “He had great rapport, and treated basketball like a classroom.” 

All of us in the Cordova Referee’s Association, and well as officials from all over Alaska, will miss seeing him on the sidelines.

As will athletes, parents, and fans who love Alaska’s most popular sport, played and coached the right way.