Mason Adair was so excited two years ago about the prospect of his career as a Nixa goalkeeper that he asked coach Evan Palmer about joining the Eagles for summer workouts and watching practices while he was an eighth-grader.
“I saw how quicker (varsity ball) is from a junior high perspective,” Adair said.
Adair made his varsity debut as a freshman in the second halves lopsided matches last season and now finds himself as Nixa’s starting ‘keeper for his sophomore season.
With the 6-foot-2 Adair striking an imposing presence in front of the goal, Palmer has high expectations for him.
“He was great on the jayvee side last year,” Palmer said, referring to the Eagles' jayvee going 13-3 and posting eight shutouts. “He’s got great size, technique and is smart with the ball. His communication keeps getting better and better and his movement is good. He's a very athletic kid.”
Adair is a bit taller than his predecessors, 2023 grad Logan Elmer and 2021 grad Nick Reid, who are both in the 5-10 range. Having a few extra inches in reach certainly could come into play.
“Being tall in goal is a big aspect," Adair said. “You’ve got to be able to dive and get out to save those balls that are going to the lower corners and get up high when you need to. You also need to get above the rest of the players (at times on corner kicks).”
He values his agility as much as his height.
“It’s not just all about height. You also need handling, footwork and decision-making,” Adair said. “You also need to know what to say and when to say it, be a leader from behind and support your team.”
With an eye on his footwork, Adair is mindful to run through agility drills with the purpose to make himself better.
“You’ll hear every coach say, ‘Don’t just run the drill, don’t just go through the motions, do it as if it's an actual game situation and take it as serious as possible,’” he said. “You move your feet good and you’ll make those saves that are expected and sometimes you’ll make those unexpected saves that come up big. Footwork can win or lose you the game.”
Reid and Elmer earned themselves spots among Nixa’s top ‘keepers of all-time. The Eagles allowed an average between 1.3-1.6 goals a match during Reid's career and gave up an average of 1.1 and 1.5 goals during Elmer's two years as a starter.
Adair would love to eventually be mentioned right alongside them.
“I hope I can play up to their standards, if not go above their standards,” he said.
Adair is already aware there will be peaks and valleys during his career and vows to stay on course.
“Warming up last year, I would get so nervous thinking about playing against seniors who were (three years) older than me,” he said. “I had goals scored against me on the varsity, but you have to understand sometimes mistakes happen. Smaller achievements keep you going to keep you pushing, You’ll keep loving the game and keep going for bigger titles.”