Quarterback Adam Vance Takes on New Challenge For Final Year
Vance Takes on the Role of Older Brother in His Final Year of Football
You would think with an important chapter coming to an end, there would be a temptation to
look back and get nostalgic.
“Nah, stick in the moment,” said Adam Vance, his usual relaxed smile across his face.
Vance is in the midst of his final season as the quarterback of the Concordia Stingers. He doesn’t feel any different this year.
He’s not willing to put the extra pressure of treating his final snaps as final on himself. He’s taking his last year day by day; no differently than he has before.
As tumultuous as his years at Concordia have been, Vance truly does seem to be living day by day, enjoying every moment as it comes.
He’s all smiles, praising his coaches, enjoying a brand new offense that he’s playing in, and just generally feeling at peace with where he is.
It would be easy for him not to be. Not only is it his last year but he’s suddenly been surrounded by an almost entirely new coaching staff, a new offensive scheme, a large group of rookies, and just a general overhaul of the entire program.
But so far Vance is loving the changes and the changes are loving him.
“It didn’t take long to [form] an opinion of him. By day two of spring ball I was already sold,” said Stingers offensive coordinator Alex Surprenant, who Vance credits with putting together on offense that he really feels that he fits in.
The two have already built a strong relationship and the coordinator’s offense is a big reason Vance is enjoying his final season on the field so much.
It’s a style of offense that focuses on tempo.
It has a reliance on things like run-pass option plays—where the quarterback gets to choose between throwing a pass or handing the ball off depending on the look of the defense—and just generally resembles the kind of offense that Vance was used to playing in when he was in California.
The fact that he’s taken to the changes in the team so quickly and is handling them well is a major plus for his coaches.
“It’s paramount to what we want to do here. If we didn’t have a fifth year quarterback it would be a lot tougher,” said head coach Brad Collinson.
“He loves football, it’s important to him. I think he just wants to end his chapter here on a good note.”
It’s important because Vance’s experience and understanding of the system gives the team a new kind of teacher and leader, a real asset on a team with 38 rookies listed on their roster.
Vance’s comfort lets him take the time to explain some of the newer and more complicated plays and issues to younger players.
Learning a new offense is hard for any player, learning it while adjusting to a brand new league like U Sports is even harder.
Surprenant has noticed the effort that Vance puts into helping younger players.
Whether it’s explaining the intricacies of certain plays to young quarterbacks or just giving them the perspective of an experienced player who is on the field, unlike coaches, Vance is making sure he helps his young teammates as much as he can.
“We have three rookie quarterbacks. He’s really good with them […] he raises his hand sometimes in meetings to help them. He has an older brother attitude,” said Surprentant.
It’s a new role for Vance, who’s always been one of the younger players on teams he’s played for.
Whether at Concordia or Golden West College in the U.S, he was never the veteran. But just like he is with his team’s situation, he’s embracing the new.
“I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think people up here took it as seriously as we do down in the states. Man, has my mindset changed on that one.”
— Adam Vance
“I enjoy it so much. They’re a great group of QB’s. Good dudes that want to work. They all know their stuff […] almost as well as me. Some of them might even know it better,” laughed Vance.
“It’s been nice to not have to babysit them, but just be able to learn and grow with them.”
This isn’t exactly how the quarterback pictured things ending up a few years ago when Concordia recruited him though.
Fresh out of the American system, he had his doubts about coming to play up north and what Canadian football was.
“When I was getting recruited, I’m not gonna lie, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think people up here took it as seriously as we do down in the states,” said Vance.
“Man, has my mindset changed on that one.”
It took some time for him to get past those preconceived ideas though. A hectic first year with Concordia helped that.
He got his first meaningful game action in a tough situation against one of the best teams in the country: the Laval Rouge et Or.
His head coach at the time, Mickey Donovan remembers the game well.
Stingers star quarterback Trenton Miller, who had rewritten the record books for Concordia, went down with an injury midway through the game.
Vance had to come in against a top team in an imposing stadium and take over a match in which Concordia was a heavy underdog.
Vance would orchestrate a drive from his own eight yard line, all the way to the Laval ten in just a minute and 44 seconds.
They would fall just short, losing 12-8, but a game in which the Stingers were longshots, came down to the final play.
“It was a hell of a job. He had a lot of potential, a lot of skill. He did a great job that first year that we had him,” said Donovan, who is now the special teams coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes. “He’s a guy that you want as your quarterback.”
That game would be the start of Vance’s education, but it wasn’t until a playoff matchup against the division’s other behemoth, the Université de Montréal Carabins, that he really began to understand things.
It was a display of dominance by the Carabins and the game Vance credits with really changing his view on both the skill level in Canadian football and how seriously it is taken. It cemented his respect for both the Canadian game and U Sports after that.
Though his understanding of, and respect for the Canadian game improved, Vance’s next season was a difficult one.
It had some highs—throwing for the second most yards in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec and a last second touchdown to complete a comeback against Sherbrooke—but before the year even started, Vance and his teammates lost two coaches.
Mickey Donovan resigned to take his current position. His brother Pat would succeed him as head coach, only to resign shortly after as well. Collinson came in and had little to no time to instill his own staff, playbook, or prepare adequately for the season.
The team was behind the eight ball from the start and would end up last in the RSEQ standings, missing the playoffs in the last game of the season.
With all of this, it’s not hard to see why Vance is excited and optimistic about the changes, and feeling so good about being comfortable.
It’s as good a year as any for the quarterback to be in a comfortable place and a good mindset, because he’s most likely in for a major change after it.
“I’m probably done with football,” said Vance, not without care but with a calm acceptance.
“If something with football did come up, I would love to take it. I love the sport and I want to keep playing but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I had a good run.”
Vance doesn’t say that with an attitude of indifference. He simply knows where he’s at in life and has reached a point of enough self confidence and self awareness that he can sit with the facts and take life as it happens when it comes to football.
It’s not the kind of thing you see with athletes at a high level very often.
These are people who have worked incredibly hard and been a part of their sport since they were children.
Whether at the university or pro level, the eventual day when it all ends is never easy, and many fight against it to no avail.
He also feels he’s leaving Concordia in a bright spot.
He believes in the path that they’re on and is planning to continue watching them travel it.
He doesn’t know where that will be from yet.
Maybe he’ll head back to the states, but the California QB who once thought of Canadian football as a joke hasn’t ruled out setting his roots down in Montreal.
He’s fallen in love with the city and has plenty of reasons to stay.
But like he said, for now he’s just sticking in the moment.