Jerry and Carlene Adamowicz were there for baseball star during toughest time of his career
It was about a year ago when Will Chambers should have been riding an emotional high after one of his best games with the Ridgefield Raptors.
Instead, he was down — and nearly out. Nearly out of baseball, anyway.
The game he loves so much wasn’t exactly returning the love. At least not in the way that a college athlete in the middle of the transfer process would like.
Injuries had previously slowed his career. The pandemic slowed his progress.
And in the summer of 2021, even when he started crushing the baseball again, no one was reaching out to him.
He talked to his parents. They, too, were concerned.
“My mom was broken up. Hearing my parents sad, saying, ‘Maybe this is the last time you’ll play,’ it brought me to tears,” Chambers recalled.
It turned out, Chambers was in the perfect spot to break out of his funk. No, not just with the Ridgefield Raptors. But with the host family he was living with for the season in Hazel Dell.
Jerry and Carlene Adamowicz, you see, provided more than a place to stay. They gave Chambers hope.
“I remember my host mom … just hugging me for like an hour, saying we’re going to figure it out,” Chambers said. “My host dad came back the next day with that list.”
The list was pretty much every college baseball coach’s name, number, and email. It was time for Chambers and the Adamowicz family to make some calls.
“I could see in his body language that something wasn’t right,” Carlene said. “He said, ‘Momma, I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what’s going on. This might be my last summer. What am I going to do?’ He was holding on to me like a little kid, in tears.”
Carlene was a comfort, and she advised Chambers to talk to Jerry for a plan.
“Life is life, but how you get through it can always be analyzed,” Jerry said.
So he started asking questions. What do you want to do? What are you looking to study? How can they help?
“Carlene will take of Will psychologically. She’s the love,” Jerry said. “I’m the fix-it guy.”
The next day, Jerry handed Will a list of every college baseball team and coach’s contact information he could find. Together, they crossed off the schools that were not going to be a fit.
For the rest, a call or an email, detailing Chambers’ game and expressing his commitment to his academics.
“We just attacked,” Jerry said.
That night, and in the following days, Chambers felt a weight lifted off his shoulders. He was not carrying this burden by himself. He had a team.
“For me, it was a lot of just trying to hang in there, keep grinding, and realizing there is a plan,” Chambers said.
On the field, he was excelling. He would end up leading the West Coast League in home runs in 2021. The WCL is for college-eligible baseball players to keep up their skills after the college season, and play a schedule closer to the likes of minor league baseball. Surely, if Chambers is one of the best hitters in the league, there has to be a place for him to play in college, right?
“It wasn’t four or five days later, he couldn’t stop the ‘thank yous’ and the ‘I love yous.’ He said, ‘Mom and Dad, you took care of me,’” Carlene said.
Chambers signed with Dixie State University in St. George, Utah. (By the way, this summer, Dixie State is changing its name to Utah Tech University.)
“I wanted to get an education,” Chambers said. “It’s a huge reward for any kid’s life when you can go play baseball, and it ends up paying for your college. That’s a big deal.”
Before joining the Raptors, Chambers played at the College of the Canyons, a junior college in California. His college coach there, Chris Cota, happens to be the Raptors coach. Cota asked Chambers to join him with the Raptors as Chambers pursued his next stop in college baseball.
Things have a way of working out, Chambers learned.
Chambers got the opportunity. Then he shined on the field. And while the recruiting process got off to a slow start, it finished with a college program thanks to a lot of help from his host family. Jerry and Carlene Adamowicz have experience in the hosting world. They were host parents for the Vancouver Rangers hockey team before getting involved with the Raptors.
“We loved the hockey experience. We loved having the boys around,” Carlene said. “One of the boys we had was from Russia. It was a completely different feel and fun, getting to know people.”
Jerry said they treat the players like an extension of their own family.
The Adamowicz family did not know about hosting opportunities during the first year of the Raptors, back in 2019. There was no baseball season in 2020. They jumped at the chance last year, though.
Then Will Chambers entered their lives.
“When he pulled up ..” Jerry said.
“… He arrived,” Carlene said.
“He got out of the car, cowboy hat on, cowboy boots on, and he said, ‘Mom! Dad!’” Jerry recalled.
“As the season went on, he wholeheartedly meant it,” Carlene said.
True. Chambers calls Jerry and Carlene his Northwest parents.
“They are people I know will be in my life,” Chambers said. “They’re the type of people if you’re lucky enough to get to know them, you are truly blessed.”
Chambers is grateful he was placed in their home.
“For me, they made the most stressful and hardest time of my life the most fun,” Chambers said. “It was a beautiful thing being here.”
Chambers still has college eligibility left. (How much is not exactly known, he said with a smile. With injuries and the pandemic, rules have changed.) But as long as he has eligibility and as long as he will be able to play summer baseball, he wants to play for the Raptors — under one condition.
When Chambers signed with the Raptors this season, he added that only if he could stay with Jerry and Carlene Adamowicz.
Not a problem. His Northwest parents welcomed him back to his summer home.
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