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Finding Balance

Adam Hockaday with rugby teammate

By: Mary Yemma Barnhart, ‘03,‘06

Adam Hockaday, ‘15 was no stranger to NC State or Wellness and Recreation (formerly University Recreation). Following the legacy of his brother and sister, Adam attended NC State.

“They really enjoyed their experience and encouraged me to apply for a position with Wellness and Recreation. So I did, and I don’t regret it a bit. Working for Wellness and Recreation was one of the best decisions I made,” said Hockaday.

Like other students, Adam’s career at NC State was stressful. Adam put pressure on himself to graduate with a high GPA in human biology. During his first two years, he did not socialize with the community he had built as much as he might have needed.

Adam attributes the Wellness and Recreation community to providing the support and socialization he needed. “For the most part, I didn’t embrace the culture during my freshman and sophomore years. My mental and social well-being suffered and I was burned out,” he said. Adam appreciated the emotional support and the support of navigating and finding his way through college.

Adam also found his community with rugby. He started playing his senior year in high school and practiced with the club rugby team at NC State for fun and as a way to stay active. He committed to the team and competed in games during his senior year, 2014-15. With his recreation and rugby communities in place, Adam was able to find the balance he needed to be successful and was accepted into the doctor of physical therapy program at Duke University.

“One of the important things in life is balance. For me in the healthcare field, I think health is a balance too. You can’t just focus on your academics and get optimal results. You need to balance your social and mental health as well. You want to balance everything and enjoy your life, socially as well,” said Hockaday.

Adam is starting his third year at Duke and said life has been fast-paced. Adam continues playing rugby to stay active and help reduce stress. This has afforded Adam new opportunities that he never imagined possible.

Last year, Adam was invited to the Raptors Academy Camp, hosted by the Denver-based Glendale Raptors, a Major League Rugby club. He attended the camp and received the “Man of the Academy,” similar to MVP of the camp.

After participating in the Raptors camp, Adam was offered the opportunity to train with the team. He began to fly to Denver during class breaks at Duke to workout and train with the team.

Once Adam graduates from Duke in 2019, he plans to play professionally with the Raptors.

A return to the familiar.

This summer, Adam has been training with the team and working with City of Denver Parks and Recreation as a site supervisor.

“This job is similar to the position I had as a club sports supervisor at NC State. When I applied for the job, they called me back almost immediately because of my experience in communication and with player and game management,” he said.

Adam Hockaday playing rugby for Duke University

Adam starts his third year at Duke and is working a clinical rotation in outpatient physical therapy for the first 12-weeks of the academic year.

His advice for the Wolfpack community: “For me, there were people that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. Allowing yourself to be connected in the community optimizes your professional career and personal life as well.”

Adam’s connections, positivity and fun loving attitude connected him to the professional rugby community and as he finishes his degree he is able to love his physical therapy career and fulfill his passion of playing and spreading the sport of rugby.

Starting a new academic year, it is important to find balance and to include exercise in your daily routine.

Stay tuned for the upcoming rugby season as NC State and Duke compete and also follow Adam’s journey to professional rugby with the hashtag #RaptorsLife.

“I owe Wellness and Recreation a big part of my development, they were my community and social outlets,” he said.

NOTE: If you have any adventures or stories that you would like to share please email Mary Yemma Barnhart at