Adlee Boerum has always loved a challenge. The 13-year-old soccer player thrives on competition and has no problem coming from behind to overtake a competitor, even if it takes a while. Especially if it takes a while.
“He’s not afraid of failure. He goes past failure,” says Melissa Golden, Adlee’s mother. “He’s going to keep going until it become a success.”
But there are sometimes those challenges that are unexpected, competitions where you didn’t even realize you were competing, that can throw a person of any age off, but especially a young athlete.
Adlee found himself in the midst of just such a challenge several years ago, when his club soccer team, the team where Adlee played with all his friends, split into an A and B team. His friends all made it on the A team. Adlee didn’t.
“I was like really surprised, because I was thinking I’m doing good, I’m with my friends, I’m keeping up. Then I realized that I really wasn’t,” he said. “It turned my world around with what I was thinking and doing.”
At the same time, Adlee’s world changed in an even more difficult way: His younger brother Hayden was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder, battled it, but ultimately passed away in 2015.
“I had spent two months in the hospital by his side,” Adlee says. “It was really hard for me to go back to school, not to mention soccer.”
But through that tragedy was also planted the seed of something positive for Adlee. It came in the form of a fundraiser for Hayden’s Heroes, a nonprofit setup in honor of Adlee’s brother, and hosted by Players Fitness and Performance, in Frederick. Adlee hadn’t been looking for a gym, but in PFP he found something he hadn’t realized he had been looking for.
“I showed up and they had these stations set up to try workouts and they seemed very nice to everyone and I think they understood what I was going through at the moment,” Adlee says. “It was like there was nothing else going on in the world and for me that was just what I needed. It was a huge confidence booster. I felt safe and relaxed.”
“That was very much by design”, says PFP founder Andrew Simpson. While Simpson and his trainers certainly know how to lead people through “butt-kicking workouts,” he sees establishing a warm positive environment and a focus on athletes’ character as fundamental values at PFP, the base on which everything else is built.
“I don’t know if you want to call it divine intervention or if it was just by chance, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Adlee to come to us because of what was going on in his life at that time,” Simpson says. “Every kid has stuff come up in their life whether it’s as traumatic as what Adlee had to face or not, they’re going to face challenges. It’s at times like that, when things are not going well, that PFP really shows what we can do for a kid.”
“The first impression you get there is they’re real. They remember you. Adlee is not a number and I think that’s important as a parent. He’s a person,” Melissa adds. “PFP gave Adlee something about Adlee. It was all about him and every time he walks in that door.”
Adlee really needed that, he says, really needed that confidence boost emotionally, but he also got a boost physically. In the three years of training at PFP he’s gotten stronger, and especially faster on the soccer field.
“Faster doesn’t come natural to him, so since he’s gone to PFP I really could not believe the difference in speed in this kid,” Melissa says. “Even other parents were going, wow, look at Adlee! I’m like, right? Where did that kid come from?”
Adlee’s mile time as fallen from 8:20 to 6:14, his 5K time from 33 minutes to just 24. Three years ago he couldn't complete a chin up. Now he rips out sets of five in a row.
“Every day that kids walk into the gym and he grabs his program and starts his workout,” Simpson says. “His consistency and his work ethic, they don’t change based on how he’s feeling that day. I think he understands the concept of, ‘I am here, I need to work hard and give it my all no matter what happened today, no matter what I feel like.”
That hard work and consistency hasn’t just brought Adlee confidence and speed, it’s also brought recognition: PFP recently named him Athlete of the Month for October.
“I was like, wow, I didn’t ever expect that,” he says. “It was nice that other people noticed that I was doing good.”
“I cried,” Melissa adds with a laugh. “Adlee flies under the radar, he does his thing. He gets straight A’s, he does everything he’s supposed to do and you don’t really have to prompt him very much, he’s very self-driven, but he doesn’t have a big ego. So, it’s nice to see him recognized for what he just always does.”
Nowadays Adlee is also playing up on the A team in his soccer club, and he is already planning on trying out for the high school team next year. He’s enjoying his time at PFP and is in for the long haul. “I do what I do because I love the competition. I love seeing other people ahead of me and then trying to beat them or get in front of them, just like running,” he says, noting he’s patient enough to take his time at it. “It’s better to be a slow cooker than a microwave.”
That’s Adlee Boerum’s Why. What’s your why?