The Future is in Good Hands: Janiah Adams

Feb 4, 2021 | 2020-2021, Featured Stories, High School

Janiah Adams, a senior field hockey player at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, New Jersey, knows a call to action when she hears one.

Following the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd, Adams was compelled to engage her community in powerful direct action. She organized an event with the goal of shedding light on unfair police brutality and providing a space for Princeton and Mercer County residents to come together.

This past summer, she — along with her classmate Aleah James — co-planned and co-led a Black Lives Matter march and rally in the Princeton area.

Adams and other Black students led the protesters down the main thoroughfares of downtown Princeton and ended the march in front of the Battle of Princeton Monument. The rally — which was attended by 150 people — ended with an eight-minute and forty-six second moment of silence in remembrance of George Floyd.

Adams worked hard to unite local students, community members, and residents in the spirit of social justice. People of all races and ages were brought together to rally behind the importance of Black Lives Matter and the need for action to dismantle systems and practices of institutionalized racism.

“After practice towards the end of the field hockey season of my senior year, I would get in my car and pray as I was leaving school. I prayed for my safety because I knew there were often times police parked in places along my way home, but I knew that my white peers did not have this fear and that hurt me because the field hockey team is and will always be part of my family,” remarked Adams. “That is only one of the precautions taken by me in my own life.”

“In field hockey, I played in every position on the field and social justice is like that too,” Adams added.  “You have to know how to be the defender of your people, the offense of human decency as a whole, and sometimes the goalie, the last resort in your community or team that uses their entire mind, body, and soul to defend yourself, your people, and what you know is right. My life matters on and off the field.”

As one of the rally’s two leaders, Adams organized speakers to share messages of reflection through calls for action, prayer, poetry, and a meaningful moment of silence.  Reverend Lukata Mjumbe, of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, delivered the rally’s keynote speech.

In addition to managing speeches and the timeline of the protest, Adams also spearheaded coordination with the Princeton Police Department and City Clerk Office.

“Janiah is much more than a forward on our field hockey team,” said Stuart School head coach, Missy Bruvik. “She is a leader, peer coach, dedicated teammate, and activist that focuses on achieving unity and equality. She has demonstrated sportsmanship that has been unsurpassed in her four-year career playing for Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. One of Stuart’s five Sacred Heart Goals is ‘a social awareness which impels to action’ — Janiah lives this goal.”

“On June 26th, 2020 Janiah took action against social injustice and gave back to her community,” added Bruvik, “We have all been emotionally moved and motivated by her leadership.  She is a powerful young voice within our community.”

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is recognizing student-athletes who are community contributors, agents of change, and campus leaders. The Future is in Good Hands series highlights the exceptionality of field hockey student-athletes for their work on and off the field.

Check out more articles in this series.