Sam grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley, graduating from Santa Ynez High in 1949. He competed in track and field at Cal Berkeley and finished fifth in the decathlon at the 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials. His expertise in the decathlon launched Adams into international prominence. He made three trips to the former Soviet Union as coach of national multi-event teams during the cold war years.
As an athlete, Sam Adams competed in the 1952 and 1956 Olympic trials in javelin and decathlon. As a coach, Sam created a welcoming atmosphere at UCSB as Olympic hopefuls came from around the world to train here. In the 1980’s, the S.B. Outreach Club was formed from the numerous multi-event athletes trained under Sam. In the 1980 & 1984 Olympic Trials, the Outreach Club had 15 multi-eventers competing.
Highlights of Sam’s career include being selected as the USA National Team Head Coach in 1981 and for the Pan African Com petition. He was the USA Head Coach for the lst USA dual meet with E. Germany and twice led the USA team to Russia.
But Sam is best known for the countless hours he gave to athletes as they struggled to achieve their personal best on the track and he quietly taught them how to achieve their personal best in life.