It’s Friday morning.
National Park College sophomore Pierre Adair drags himself out of bed, ready for a full day ahead. After kissing his fiancé, Courtney, and his children goodbye, the 30-year-old puts in a full day’s work at his construction job. Just as soon as he’s finished creating the buildings of the future, Adair is back in his car and on his way to Hot Springs to build on his education and to lay the groundwork for central Arkansas’ newest basketball team.
After practice, Adair makes the long drive back home to his other full-time job—being a parent. It’s a long day, but he doesn’t mind. A father of two, Adair strives to find balance between academics, athletics, parenthood and creating a better life for his family.
“My focus in life is to be a good student and a better parent,” Adair said. “If I can be good at both of those, then I can be a better individual and a better role model for my children.”
Before he was dunking on his opponents as a National Park Nighthawk, Adair’s basketball journey began in Illinois.
“I started playing basketball when I was in middle school,” Adair said. “I didn’t make the team my freshman year and played AAU ball that summer to get better. Over the next few years, I began taking the game more seriously and earned back-to-back first-team all-defense honors.”
After high school, Adair and his family moved to Stephens, Arkansas—a small town outside of Camden—where he would walk on to play basketball at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. His career with the Muleriders would be cut short, however, due to off-the-court issues.
“When I was at SAU, I got in trouble, and was kicked off the team,” Adair said. “For eight or nine years after that, I only played recreational league basketball wherever I could play ball at. I felt like I missed my chance.”
After moving to central Arkansas, Adair found opportunity in the most unlikely of places.
“I met Coach Hudnell and Coach Kissire when I went to National Park College in 2016,” Adair said. “I was browsing through Facebook one day and that’s when I saw the post for open tryouts. When I saw that Hudnell was going to be the coach, I reached out to him immediately and he invited me to try out.”
Nearly a decade removed from college basketball, Adair took a leap of faith and drove to Hot Springs for tryouts.
“I never thought that I would walk into the gym that day and see so many kids there,” Adair said. “I was shell-shocked—I didn’t know what to do. I remember just going in there and playing my heart out.”
Adair’s next phone call changed his life.
“Coach Hudnell called me and told me that I had made the team,” Adair said. “I was so excited that I cried. I couldn’t believe that I was getting a second chance to play college basketball. I told him that I would give it my all until my body breaks down. Getting that phone call was a dream come true and opened a new world for me.”
As the oldest member of the Nighthawks, Adair brings more than just basketball experience to the Nighthawks; he brings life experience to the young team, too.
“I try to be humble,” Adair said. “I feel like a big brother to most of these guys on the team. They listen and take what I say to heart and use it to impact their game and their studies in the classroom. I’ve been in their shoes plenty of times and I don’t want these guys to live their lives thinking it’s all fun and games. I try to help them focus on the main picture in life, which is being a good individual overall.”
After taking Adair under their wing, the Nighthawks faced a daunting challenge—finding success as a first-year program.
“Before the season began, we didn’t set any team goals,” Adair said. “Our only goal was to make an impact on the city of Hot Springs and show people what we can do here, not just on the court, but off the court, too.”
Nearly four months later, Adair and the Nighthawks have done just that. As National Park’s first season nears its end, Adair relives the moment his team earned its first win in school history.
“Defeating Crowley’s Ridge in the home opener after starting the season off 0-2 was special,” Adair said. “Seeing Coach Hudnell’s face after that game made the difference for us. It was a groundbreaking win for us and after tasting that first victory, we knew we were capable of anything.”
It was the first of many wins for the Nighthawks this season. However, Adair, who was nursing a shoulder injury, would have to wait nearly two months to make his Nighthawks debut. Finally, on Jan. 2nd, Adair donned the No. 15 jersey for the first time against crosstown rival Champion Christian College.
“I’ll never forget putting that jersey on in the locker room that day,” Adair said. “It was an emotional moment that signified a fresh start for me. The way we went out there and got that win is a night that I’ll never forget.”
It was a year full of positives for National Park College. From a five-game winning streak to a double-overtime win over its biggest rival, word of the Nighthawks’ successes spread quickly.
“This season has been history in the making for us,” Adair said. “When people see us in our jerseys and see us playing, they know who the Nighthawks are. They know who National Park College is. We have people asking when tryouts are because they want to play with us. We’re laying the groundwork right now where people will look back and say we were the guys that started it all. Even my son has told me that he wants to be a Nighthawk one day. It’s a wonderful blessing to be a part of this team and I feel like it only gets better from here.”
“Pierre has been a great leader for our young team,” head coach Jason Hudnell said. “He brings experience and a passion for the game that is contagious.”
In the classroom at National Park College, Adair dreams of a future career in software development.
“I’ve loved computers since I was a kid,” Adair said. “I was always tearing them up so that I could try to fix them all over again.”
Adair hopes his story inspires others to never give up on their dreams.
“No matter what, you must put God first,” Adair said. “Second, you can’t give up. No matter what life throws at you, you must keep pushing. Sometimes you jump, sometimes you leap and sometimes you make sacrifices. You have to do whatever it takes to reach what you want in life.”
National Park College plays host to Champion Christian College at 12:30 p.m. today. You can catch the LIVE broadcast with Mark Oliver and Nathan Looper beginning at 12:20 p.m. on www.xzerosports.com.
XZero Sports would like to thank Aaron Brewer Photo for the pictures used in this story. For more photography from Aaron Brewer, please visit http://aaronbrewerphoto.com.
Each day in Arkansas, many athletes and coaches are overcoming the odds and accomplishing great things in their community. XZero Sports wants to recognize the brightest stars in central Arkansas athletics by sharing their stories for the world to enjoy. Nominate your XZero Hero today at www.xzerosports.com.