Monday, July 7, 2014

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Adler Thrives Under Pressure

Adler running the Palatine Hills Golf Course cross country course in 1974 (left) and running the AIDS Phoenix 5K Run fundraiser in October of 2013 (right). (David Adler)
PALATINE, Ill. – While the natural talent of a runner in the sport of cross country is very important, will, determination and the ability to handle pressure are also key factors in success. For former Harper College cross country and track and field athlete David Adler, who competed for the Hawks in 1973 and 1974, he learned those lessons at the collegiate level and used his experience at Harper as a springboard for success in the future.

Adler graduated from Evanston High School in 1973 and chose Harper based on its location and a positive school visit. Despite his diminutive stature (5-foot-6), Coach Bob Nolan convinced him to come out for the team, and Adler grew as a runner at Harper.

While he perceived himself as just an "average, hard-working guy", Adler flourished in his time as a Hawk and learned several lessons as a student and an athlete.

"Coach Nolan taught me the concept of concentration and preparation both in the classroom and out on the track," he said. "Coach Nolan gave me a strong work ethic and understood how to instill this in all different personalities on the team. I watched and learned."

As a college athlete, Adler learned how to handle pressure and credits Coach Nolan to keeping him calm prior to events. He admits he was not a star athlete, but Nolan still spent quality time working with him to improve.

After graduating from Harper, Adler received an athletic scholarship to Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and ran cross country for the school. Following his time at Northeastern, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1977 and became interested in the hotel business.

Once settled in Phoenix, he spent 14 years in the hotel business with Westin Hotels, holding 11 different positions.

"I was using all the organization and killer instinct drive I learned at Harper. Many of my accomplishment are due directly to the learning experience I gained at Harper and with coach Bob Nolan," Adler said.

Among those accomplishments is being married to his wife, Patricia, and having two kids who both participated in athletics. His son graduated from Arizona State University while his daughter graduated from the University of Arizona.

In 1982, Adler was selected to serve President Ronald Reagan and his family dinner in his Phoenix home. By 1989, he was a hotel executive with Westin and was moved to San Francisco and Chicago. After entering the food service business as a general manager (GM) in 1991 in the country club industry, Adler hosted President Bill Clinton twice and was able to talk to him.

Among other celebrity athletes Adler has taken care of includes: Michael Jordan, Ernie Banks, Green Bay Packers' legends Bart Starr and Brett Favre, Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith.

Adler currently works as a GM in the food service industry in Phoenix after changing jobs numerous times due to the 9/11 attacks.

"I used all my training at Harper to be well-prepared for the pressure I was under. Coach Nolan taught me how to plan and prepare," Adler said. "The school took a simple kid of average ability and prepared me for high-pressure situations that only a kid could dream of."

Adler has stayed involved in the sport of running, as he runs five days a week and has done over 30 5K's, most of which have been fundraisers for great causes. He is extremely grateful for his Harper experience and what he gained following life at Harper.

"Coach Nolan and my teachers were terrific. I considered myself just a regular guy and still am an average guy," he said. "There's so much opportunity (at Harper) that you just have to take advantage of it."