CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Jim “Ace” Adams, the 15th head coach in Virginia men’s lacrosse history, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 10 in Charlottesville. He was 91 years old.
Adams was named the head coach of the UVA program in 1978. In 15 seasons he set the standard for ACC wins with a then-record 137 victories and led the Cavaliers to five ACC titles.
“Coach Adams’ impact on UVA Lacrosse has been profound, lasting much longer than the 15 years he coached here in Charlottesville,” said UVA men’s lacrosse head coach Lars Tiffany. “As the head coach of our program, he led Virginia to a consistently high level of success while also being widely respected for his integrity and sportsmanship. He was a true Hall of Famer as both a coach and player. I am a better coach for having spent time with Jim these past three years, learning from him and reveling in his stories of both his playing and coaching career.”
Already a USILA Hall of Famer when he came to Charlottesville, Adams retired following the 1992 season and, at the time of his retirement, his 284 career victories were an NCAA Division I record. In Adams’ 15 seasons at UVA, his players earned 70 All-America accolades and 58 All-ACC honorees.
“The lacrosse world lost an icon this week with the passing of Jim “Ace” Adams,” said Hall of Famer and former UVA men’s lacrosse head coach Dom Starsia. “In my lifetime in the game, I am not sure that anyone was more respected. He was a great player, a Hall of Fame coach, a true gentleman, and I will forever cherish the friendship we developed during my years here in Charlottesville. He and his wife Betty could not have been more welcoming to me and my family upon our arrival in 1992. Over numerous lunches with Gene Corrigan, Doyle Smith and Bob Sandell, a trip to visit with Dick Edell and all the games over these recent years, I listened to a lot of Hopkins stories and enjoyed every minute. He is irreplaceable and I miss him already.”
A 1950 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Adams helped the Blue Jays win the 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950 USILA National Championships as a midfielder. He never lost a game as collegiate player.
A native of Baltimore, Md., Adams started his coaching career as the head coach at his high school alma mater, St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Md., from 1951-53. After his stint at St. Paul’s, Adams began working as insurance salesmen as he continued to play lacrosse with the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club until 1956. After serving as head coach on of the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club in 1957, Adams was named the head coach at Army in 1958.
In 12 seasons as the head coach at Army, he won four USILA National Championships. Adams also spent eight seasons as the head coach at Penn, bringing the Quakers to their highest ranking ever up to that point. In 2011, Penn named its practice lacrosse field “Ace” Adams Field, the first facility at Penn named after a former coach.
Adams spent over five decades involved in lacrosse and his commitment to excellence within the sport led to his serving on every important USILA committee in his lifetime. In the past, he chaired the NCAA Lacrosse Committee and has served on the USILA executive board.
Adams is survived by his wife of 69 years, Betty Jane Sparks Adams, his five daughters and their husbands: Linda and Luke Martin, Sally and Jim Saxton, Beth and Ray McGrath, Mary Jo and Monty Hill, Meg and Ivan Torres; 18 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
A public Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date.