Remembering 4, Five Years

‘It was impossible to not notice how special he was.’
Photo courtesy of Kristy Adams.
Photo courtesy of Kristy Adams.
Five Years Later: Still Remembering
Photo courtesy of Kristy Adams.

In June of 2019, the community was saddened by the news of the passing of John “Jack” Ireland Adams – a loving child with a kind spirit, a friend with an infectious smile, and a phenom on the lacrosse field.

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of his passing, and his teammates, family, and friends say it’s important to keep the legacy of his passion, determination, and leadership  alive.

The Silent Leader
Jack (left) alongside siblings Connor Adams and Lindsay Adams. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Adams.

Adams was known amongst teammates and friends as a “silent leader,” but was also known for his ability to light up a room with a simple smile and joke.

Adams touched many lives in the short time he was here, and no matter the length or type of interaction, he still made memorable moments for countless people. His ability to combine his creativity and his leadership brought inspiration to many. Jack was someone you could count on no matter the situation, he was loyal, and always had your back.

Jack’s older brother and LFHS alum, Connor Adams, recalled that, after Jack’s passing, the Adams family received countless letters and stories from teammates, friends, and peers recounting their interactions with him. Each letter proved just how easy it was for Jack to make connections with people.

“He made everyone feel loved and accepted. He had an eye for when somebody was going through a tough time and was very empathetic,” Connor said.

Alum Lindsay Adams, the youngest sibling of the Adams family, admired Jack in a way not many people can relate to. Like Connor, they both grew up watching Jack lead with pride, humbleness, and grace. Lindsay and Jack had the classic brother-sister relationship: she always wanted to hang out with him, and he wouldn’t. However, this didn’t stop them from developing a deep, special bond over time.

“He meant everything to me growing up…He was my guide and protector, and his presence brought a sense of security and companionship that I will never forget,” Lindsay said. 

Not only was Jack a leader and a role model, but he was also able to make any person laugh until their stomach felt tight and tears were rolling down their face. 

“He was our glue, he was the wheel, he was our captain, he was our team leader, and our inspiration to win.”

— Collin Robinson, teammate of Jack's


Whether it was dancing at his cousin’s wedding with Connor and his family making everyone laugh, or sitting at a pool bar in hotel robes with his dad and sister talking and laughing for hours, he was able to bring fun and excitement anywhere.

During Jack’s senior year of high school, his mom, Mrs. Kristy Adams, recalls asking Jack to score a goal on her birthday during one of their games.

“He did it!” Mrs. Adams said.

Jack’s best friend Seamus Tuohy was one of the people in this world who truly understood Jack and his charismatic personality.

“Jack was one of the funniest people I had ever met. He knew how to laugh and knew how to make others laugh. His laugh would make you laugh as well… He had a strong appreciation for comedy and such a great grasp on how to get someone laughing,” Tuohy said. “It was infectious and contagious and undeniable. I was so proud to be around him because I knew how rare he was as a guy… Jack taught me the importance of laughter, and how it can change someone’s life.”   

 Jack and Tuohy were the definition of true best friends. The two were constantly together when they were in the same town and constantly on the phone when they were apart. Tuohy recalls the time when Jack visited him in San Diego in 2018 – a trip he says is the most fun he ever had.

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“Jack taught me the importance of laughter and how it can change someone’s life.”

— Seamus Tuohy

“It was his first time in California and my first time seeing him since I moved there… We went to a party where we kept calling ourselves “The Boys From Illinois.” As usual, Jack was the life of the party and everyone loved him… we were fighting in the Uber the whole drive back telling each other how we were going to beat one another up… our argument turned into a wrestling match in the driveway. He tackled me so hard into my dad’s car that the door caved in. We got up and hugged each other as always. And laughed into the house,” said Tuohy.

Though the two could fight like brothers, Tuohy recalls some of his happiest moments were with Jack alongside him.

“We got invited to a Jason Aldeen Concert… It took some pretty aggressive convincing from me and my sister but we finally coaxed him into it. He decided that he would go, but he was going to wear what he wanted… Jack threw on a pair of my sister’s Overalls, my dad’s cowboy boots, and one of his old floppy hats. He was dressed up like an old hillbilly. I remember thinking, “Damn it, Jack, no one’s going to take us seriously.” I was wrong again. Within minutes of being there Jack was covered in girls, Everyone loved him and I was in Awe. We danced and drank and sang all night and it was pretty excellent…You couldn’t have asked for a better guy to come visit. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had,” Tuohy said.

Jack’s Legacy
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Adams.

Jack was able to lead by example on and off the field and that is one of the things he was most admired for. He would always work hard with a smile on his face.

Mrs. Adams says Jack was a true leader because he was able to embrace a turn in the road and fix it for the better. 

“When Jack played Varsity Lacrosse at the school as a freshman he didn’t feel embraced by the upperclassmen.  In his junior and senior years … as a captain….he made a point to change that.  That is true leadership,” Mrs. Adams said. 

His leadership was not only noticed by his family, but also by his teammates around him. Upperclassmen and underclassmen alike wanted to follow in Jack’s steps. 

Lake Forest Alum, Collin Robinson played LSM (long stick middle) and played back up for Jack his junior year of high school. While Jack was not much older than Robinson, he was able to teach him so much. 

“Jack would push himself to the max without saying a word. Making me and his teammates feel guilty for not working as hard. He always set an example and expectations on the field… His leadership showed me that it is much more important to show, not tell. He was the type of leader that I wanted to be. And I carry that every day. Anytime I’m in a leadership position I think about how Jack wouldn’t tell people what to do. But, do it himself until we knew what the expectation was,” Robinson said.

While Adams worked hard and would push himself for the team, if he pushed himself to the max he would ask for help, and he wouldn’t see it as a sign of weakness, but rather as a chance for someone else to shine and work hard while he could cheer them on and catch his breath. No matter the circumstance – whether he was sick, injured, or having a bad day – he would still push himself while having a good time. His team could always rely on him.

Not only was it common for teammates to mirror his actions on the field, but it was also common for people to mirror his personality because he was someone they wanted to be like.

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“His memory and legacy are intertwined and his name will live on forever here in Lake Forest, Clear Lake, Charleston, and in our hearts.”

— Seamus Tuohy

I built my personality off of Jack because I wanted to be just like him. He was completely cool and although I can’t come close to who he was, I attribute my best traits to him…Jack gave me a lot of confidence I didn’t have. You knew that if you were around him that day, then it was going to be a good one,” said Tuohy. “He was good at talking and getting things figured out. His advice was not an idea, it was a matter of fact, and whatever he said everyone would listen because they knew what he said mattered. He was both a historian and a comedian and his words had the ability to fix things. I looked at Jack and how well he treated his family and how much he cared about his people and it inspired me- It was impossible to not notice how special he was.” 

Jack’s attitude about the sport and the way he took everything with grace was not the only reason he was such an admired player and person, but because he excelled on the field. During their senior year – when Jack played LSM and Tuohy was the faceoff guy – their chemistry off the field allowed them to pull off great things on the field together.

“One game in particular I popped the ball back towards Jack and he caught it before it hit the ground… He had tremendous instincts and was much faster than anyone on the field. Jack’s flying toward the goal, blowing past everyone.. he Gets into the box, The D man on the other team Slides, Jack swam him, then he throws a fake pass across the crease and everyone falls for it. In the same motion, he brought the stick back and fired a shot behind the back and it scored. I was behind him and remember thinking ‘Did he just do that? … with the D-Pole?!’ It was nuts. His talent was at a level where he could make very difficult things look very easy, and he did it consistently with a cool head.  He was in a different world,”  Tuohy said.  

Lindsay said she often finds herself saying, “What would Jack do?” if she finds herself in a difficult situation. Other loved ones often find themselves in the same position.

Losing Jack was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in life. It makes any other challenge in my life seem much more manageable,” Connor said.

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“That’s why he was considered a silent leader. He always led by example on the field.”

— Collin Robinson

Not being able to hear Jack’s wisdom is truly an adjustment, but that does not mean his presence isn’t there. Whether it be the sight of a bald eagle passing by, a tree frog hanging out on an umbrella, or simply just feeling his presence after making it to the state championship, he had such a unique spirit that it is impossible not to notice the signs.

“Just because somebody leaves this earth does not mean their spirit has left too. It’s very rare for me to go a week without seeing a sign from him,” Connor said.

Learn to Lax 4 Jack
Photo courtesy of Kristy Adams.

The Lacrosse organization was deeply affected by Jack’s passing, thus introducing the Learn to Lax 4 Jack program that was started in honor of him. Learn to Lax 4 Jack gives young kids the opportunity to learn the sport at an affordable price. 

 There are many other things the team does to honor Jack. The team has a “4Jack” sign in the area where Mr. Adams would watch Jack play, puts “4Jack” on their merch, has a #4 award plaque, flying a “4Jack” flag on the field before each game, and the team holds up the #4 during the national anthem at playoff games. 

Additionally, the highest honor an LFHS mens Varsity Lacrosse player can receive is being designated as the player who will wear number four in honor of Jack Adams.

The first player to wear the number four jersey in Jack’s honor was Matthew Garrigan (class of 2020), followed by Jack Carrabine (class of 2023).

“Matthew Garrigan and Jack Carrabine are first-class gentlemen and extremely talented lacrosse players,” said Mrs. Adams. “I’m confident Jack looks down upon them (from above) with pride to see the 4 so positively represented.”

This year, junior Marty Hippel – who plays LSM- received the honor of wearing this jersey. 

“A few months ago, my coach randomly asked me to turn in my sweatshirt with the number 20 on it. I thought nothing of it, but about a month later he asked me to come back and pick my sweatshirt up. When I got there, Coach Smith pulled a sweatshirt out of a box with the number four on it and a big smile on his face. He shook my hand and congratulated me, saying that I was going to wear four this year…I left with my sweatshirt, so happy and so surprised,” said Hippel.

Prior to getting the number, Hippel had only heard great things about Adams, and who he was on and off the field.

“My greatest hope is for people to believe that I honored the number four well for Jack Adams.”

— Marty Hippel

“I’d heard from upperclassmen that he was not only a tremendous lacrosse player, but an even better person,” said Hippel. “I heard how great of a long-stick middle he was on the field as an All-State player and team captain. More importantly, I heard of how great a person he was and how he impacted so many other students and teammates in such a positive way.”

Hippel knows that wearing this jersey comes with a great responsibility in playing and a great responsibility with how he leads his team.  

“I plan to honor Jack’s memory in wearing the number four by holding myself to a high level of play with the same competitiveness and intensity that so many have described him having. More importantly, I want to honor his memory as a person and match my actions on and off the field with the kind of person he was.”

While Hippel understands the honor the jersey holds, he also recognizes the importance this legacy holds to so many families in the community and the way Jack was able to connect with so many people.

“I feel very honored to be wearing the number four this year, and I want these families to know how much it means to me. I know the responsibility that comes with it, and I feel ready to take that on. My greatest hope is for people to believe that I honored the number four well for Jack Adams,” Hippel said.

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“The Adams family can’t wait to watch every future player embrace and enjoy this sport as much as Jack.”

— Mrs. Adams

Though there is pressure on Hippels performance this year, the idea of wearing the #4 is not to just win, but to embrace every win and loss with grace and accountability.

In the coming years it is important for everyone to continue to  recognize the significance of this number, this legacy, and Jack Adams. 

Mrs. Adams said, “The Adams family can’t wait to watch every future player embrace and enjoy this sport as much as Jack.”

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  • E

    Emily RMar 13, 2024 at 12:45 pm

    Such a well written piece to dedicate the memory of such a great person.

  • K

    Kristy AdamsMar 13, 2024 at 7:45 am

    Ashlynn Robinson….well done! You have really captured the spirit of Jack Adams. We appreciate your dedication to this project and are grateful to all who shared their memories of #4.

  • R

    Reese GodbyMar 12, 2024 at 9:28 pm

    So good Ash 🩷

  • E

    Emma StadolnikMar 12, 2024 at 9:07 pm

    This is beautifully written, Ashlynn! So proud of you!!