American Leadership Academy Gilbert North now has its second Division I college athlete, as senior quarterback Adam Damante committed to Northern Arizona University over the summer. Damante has been continuously working for this opportunity since the age of 6 when he first began taking quarterback lessons. Throughout his high school career, he has been described as a fierce competitor who likes to talk on the field, while having a good work ethic.
“He’s a guy who’s trying to master his craft. He works extremely hard, he watches a ton of film, [and] he works hard in the weight room,” said head football coach Randy Ricedorff. “Anybody that wants to be competitive appreciates that desire to want to be the best.”
Despite already receiving an offer from a Division I program, Damante is not taking his foot off of the gas pedal. Already through four games, he has thrown for over 1000 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and one interception. Damante is also helping lead ALA Gilbert North’s football team to a 3-1 record.
When stepping onto the field, a switch goes off in Damante’s head and a different mentality takes over. In the game Damante’s arm strength and athleticism are on full display as he throws the ball to receivers, or makes defenders miss with his mobility. However, another key to his game would be his mentality, and how he tries to dominate the opponent mentally.
“Play like it’s your last play almost. Give it your all, talk a little bit, get in people’s heads, and take them out of their game,” said Damante. “I just want to always give it my all on the field, and just [have] no regrets.”
However, despite being quite the talker on the field, off the field he describes himself as more of a “laidback” type of person. According to Damante, his dad and those he met through football, taught him how to both talk and play correctly. He explained how he is able to differentiate between getting in people’s heads on the field and being a nice person off the field.
Ricedorff has also recognized that maturity and discipline off the field are important factors. He explains how there are current college quarterbacks making a lot of money by being polished in every facet of life, not just a quarterback. Ricedorff, along with the rest of the staff, is helping Damante analyze his life so he can be a polished person and quarterback by the time he begins playing Division I college football.
“What we are working on now, is helping him develop leadership skills that he can take to that Division I level,” said Ricedorff. “It’s much more than being a good high school quarterback, we’re trying to prepare him for the next stages, and realize that everything he does is being monitored.”
This help seems to be working, as senior middle linebacker Zach Morton recognized an improvement with Damante this year. Morton gave an example of how in the team’s previous game Damante came over to the struggling defense and gave some words of encouragement, which helped the team get going.
“He has definitely been stepping up when it comes to chemistry and team bonding. He’s gotten a lot better at that,” said Morton. “I’d say he’s doing a good job being a good teammate.”
Damante has grown a lot since he first stood out to Ricedorff in just the seventh grade. His fierce competitive edge, along with his hard work ethic has elevated his status to Division I material. His quick release time, pocket presence, athleticism, and arm have helped set him apart physically, but his mentality is perhaps his most important asset. The way he is able to carry himself with confidence and invade the mind of the opposing team is something not many people have at that young age.
Now he will look to take his talents to NAU the following year once he has graduated from high school.
“They took a chance on me and I’m grateful for it, I’m blessed,” said Damante.