GIRARD - Adam Charles is living proof that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
After all, how else do you explain his excitement over the upcoming two-a-days, those grueling day-long football practice sessions which are the scorn of his peers.
"Oh, I can't wait. I never thought I'd be saying that, but I cannot wait for practice to start and I'm going to enjoy every moment that we're out there on that practice field," Charles said. "I can't wait to once again be a part of the game."
Charles' excitement stems from the fact that he hasn't donned pads and a helmet for nearly a year. After earning a starting spot on the varsity team as a freshman, then establishing himself as one of the area's top quarterbacks during his sophomore season, an injury forced Charles to sit out the entire 2008 season.
On Aug. 9 of last year, Charles tore his ACL during the Indians' first scrimmage. Charles had entered the summer hoping to follow up on a sophomore season in which he led the area with 1,941 passing yards.
"I wasn't even touched on the play," Charles recalled of his injury. "I just dropped back, and when I planted my foot the knee gave out."
Charles underwent surgery just one week after suffering the injury. Then, just two days after the operation, he began a seven-month program to rehabilitate the knee. After going through light motion workouts for several weeks, he began walking on a treadmill. Several weeks later, he was a regular in the weight room.
Today, Charles is not only fully recovered but he is "bigger and stronger than ever" according to Indians coach Bud McSuley.
"I'll tell you what, Adam has worked his tail off," McSuley said. "From the day he began his rehab, he was a beast in the weight room and he was the epitome of determination. He is very much admired by his teammates because of the way he continuously worked to get back into top form. Even without playing a down of football, Adam displayed a tremendous amount of leadership over the past year."
Charles' inability to participate in practices or play in games during the 2008 season didn't keep him away from his teammates. He regularly attended practice, and served as not only an inspirational leader but as a player-coach on game nights. He often offered words of encouragement and advice to freshman Dan Graziano, who took over the quarterback duties in the early part of the season.
Rather than view Graziano as a rival who might possibly steal his position in 2009, Charles sympathized with the first-year player.
"I was in his shoes two years ago, so I knew what he was going through by being thrown in the fire like that," Charles said. "I would study the defenses during the game and point out things that I see. I tried to help any way I could, but actually Dan was just fine. I kept finding myself getting wrapped up in what he was doing, and admiring just how good he was. I was just like the rest of the fans."
While many area fans believe that it is a given that a healthy Charles will return to his role as starting quarterback this fall, he insists that his senior status does not offer any guarantees.
"Dan did everything asked of him last year and he earned the right to get his shot. That's the approach that I'm taking heading into August," Charles said. "I know this much, after going through what I did last year, I'd play any position imaginable, just to get back on that field."
Following his senior year, Charles hopes to continue his football career at the collegiate level. He plans to pursue a field in education, and says that a career in coaching might also be a part of his future.
"I found out last year just how much I love the game, and just how much I want to be around the game whether I'm playing or not," Charles said.
Charles is the son of Robert and Elizabeth Charles of Girard.