Leaving his mark: Local man had passion for soccer, wanted to make the game popular

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018


VIDALIA — Dustin Adams hasn’t laced up a pair of soccer cleats in about four months — he is 28 years old, has a full-time job and lives in Austin, Texas. So it is hard for him to find time to enjoy the game he grew up playing.

But on Monday night at the Concordia Recreational Complex, he laced up a pair of light blue with a hint of neon green Pumas as he played with the Natchez Gamblers as they took on the Miss-Lou Boys Soccer Club.

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The cleats were new. In fact, they were never worn until Monday. But more importantly, Adams’ Pumas were his brother Corey’s, they were a few sizes too small for him.

“They were too small for him,” Adams said. “So they fit. Odds are whenever I was going to come home, knowing my little brother, he would have said, ‘Hey man, I have these cleats that are too small for me,’ because he would just order them. Three to four pairs at a time. And every time they wouldn’t fit, he would call me up and ask if I wanted them.”

This past Saturday, Corey — who was 25 years old — died  unexpectedly.

Corey’s death has weighed heavily on his family — he is the youngest of four brothers — but his loss has had an impact on the Miss-Lou soccer community as well.

“He really wanted to revive the soccer program, specifically the summer soccer program here in Natchez,” Adams said. “Because it kind of faded away.

“He wanted (soccer) to thrive here, in Natchez.”

Multiple people said that Corey was well on his way to achieving his goal of making soccer popular in the Miss-Lou area.

Countless nights, Corey and Delta Charter soccer coach Daniel Rivera would talk about how to grow the soccer presence in the Miss-Lou. Rivera said that’s all Corey would talk about.

So, they both came up with the idea to start a traveling soccer team this year.

“We were talking about what we could do to grow the sport here,” Rivera said. “We were talking about how our players should take on the older players we play with on Sundays. To play a game together, scrimmage together and to get our players ready for our last tournament, which is this weekend.”

While Corey’s presence on the sideline will be missed this weekend when his and Rivera’s youth team play at their last tournament, it won’t be the only sideline where Corey will be missed.

Cathedral soccer coach Dennis Hogue, who coached Corey from youth soccer to high school to him being a Gambler, said Corey was one of the few people who refereed soccer in the Miss-Lou area. Hogue added that Corey never missed a game as a ref, even though he was juggling coaching duties and a full-time job.

“You got to like the game,” Hogue said. “You have to have a good understanding of it. You knew you could count on Corey.”

Moving forward, whenever Hogue takes a soccer field, Corey will always be in the back of his mind.

“It will literally be impossible to step on a pitch and not think about him,” Hogue said. “That’s how much he meant to the Miss-Lou soccer community.

“For him not to be a part of this ever again … it’s unfathomable.”

When Adams was helping clean out his brother’s place, he was able to unlock Corey’s phone. While searching through his brother’s phone, Adams saw the Natchez Gamblers’ group message. He read how the Gamblers were going to put on a game for his younger brother, Adams immediately knew he had to go out and play.

So he grabbed the cleats that were too small and Corey’s white, long sleeve Italia jersey.

When Adams took a step onto the pitch Monday, it felt weird for him to do so without his brother right next to him. However, he knew that is what his brother would want him to do.

“It’s strange,” Adams said. “It still doesn’t feel real honestly. But my little brother would want the show to go on matter what. If the roles were swapped, he would say let’s go out there and do it for Dustin. So, I’m going out there and playing for him.

“I think what he started here, soccer is well on its way to becoming popular (in the Miss-Lou area). I’m proud of my little brother.”