Adam Vucurevich was in Harker’s first high school class, the Class of 2002, and he set the pace for Harker athletes to come, scoring Harker’s first touchdown and hitting Harker’s first home run. On Oct. 5, 2018, Vucurevich was inducted as an inaugural member of Harker’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Vucurevich family moved to San Jose when Adam was in fourth grade and brother Matt was in second grade. They looked at many, many schools, but Harker was unanimously the family favorite, Vucurevich noted. “It proved to be a great choice. It was a good mix of academics and sports, but what I noticed most was that everyone gave their best effort whether in sports or academics, and that really impressed me.”
Vucurevich nearly earned his plaudits at another school, but Harker opened its high school in the nick of time. “When I finally reached the eighth grade, it was sadly time to move on to high school. St. Francis was my choice, but then, in the eleventh hour, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols decided they would extend Harker to include high school, one year at a time, [so] we would be seniors for four years. That was interesting, but I was not yet convinced to stay until Mr. Nichols decided Harker would have [its] first high school football team, and then I was in,” he said.
Vucurevich took full advantage of Harker’s athletic program, playing football, baseball and wrestling, making him Harker’s first three-sport athlete. He was team captain for football in both his sophomore and junior years, and was MVP and got an honorable mention in the All-CCS team that year. He also captained the baseball and wrestling teams.
“Being a member of Harker’s first graduating class and being seniors for four years had been a unique and challenging experience,” Vucurevich said. “We had no senior classmates to set the pace or to look up to. Instead we had the pressure of being the leaders and setting the example for the lower classmen to follow. It was interesting being the first Homecoming King, since I had no idea what to expect or to do, so I just smiled.”
Reflecting on those first years of the high school, he noted, “Academically, Harker was very challenging. They offered a wide selection of classes, but we had no feedback on what courses to take because we were the first. We had no feedback on the teachers’ personalities either, but they equally gave copious amounts of homework. I challenged myself by taking the top math classes Harker offered (Honors Multivariate Calculus, Differential Equations, AP Statistics and AP Physics C). They were tough, but I stayed with it and I did not quit.”
High school athletics were challenging with only one class – freshmen at that – to draw from. “Our athletic teams struggled without upperclassmen for the first two years because we were a very small, new school with only 100 students in our freshmen class,” Vucurevich reminisced. “With only 15 football players, it was difficult for us to find games with freshmen-only teams, so we found ourselves facing many much larger and more experienced JV teams, and a few varsity teams as well.
“Even though this was challenging, it was a great experience being on Harker’s first football team, first wrestling team and first baseball team. I made the first winning touchdown; the team was so happy, we were all screaming and yelling. It was always thrilling to hear Mr. Bither’s voice on the PA saying ‘Harker touchdown!’
“The same was true in baseball when I hit Harker’s first home run. One team member, in his excitement, ran out to retrieve the ball I just hit to give it to me as a keepsake as we were all screaming and yelling. High school years at Harker were definitely challenging, exciting and lots of fun.”
Vucurevich is grateful for all the guidance he got from both faculty and coaches. “My teachers taught me patience and persistence,” he said. “My coaches taught me what it takes to be part of a team. They taught me the team is as strong as the weakest link and you need to pick each other up and be supportive of each other, be selfless and sacrifice to help the team win, which translates to life, everyone takes a piece of the pie and helps out and we get it done, life is a team effort.
“The staff at Harker, Mr. [Howard] Nichols, Mr. [John] Near, Dr. [Cheryl] Cavanaugh, Mr. [John] Hawely, Mr. [Jack] Bither, Coach C.J. [Cali], Coach Karriem [Stinson], Smitty [Theresa Smith] are the nicest people and the best role models I have ever known,” he said. “They were not just role models, they were my friends; they helped me, encouraged me and were always very supportive.”
And then Vucurevich moved into college life and beyond. “With all this great background and education from Harker, I was accepted into University of California, Berkeley engineering department and graduated with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering. I worked at a couple different tech companies in the valley, but I was not happy, it wasn’t me and I wanted to find my purpose and find something I would be happy doing.
“Harker instilled in me kindness and respect for others and challenged me to do and to be my best both academically and athletically,” Vucurevich said. “This drive to be my personal best and to do the best for others has led me to my current career of law enforcement in which I am most excited. I have truly found my passion. Helping others and dealing with all sorts of people, handling a variety of stressful situations with the right amount of tact, being creative and resourceful, showing good judgment in all types of situations, and having good teamwork skills is essential in my line of work.
“I have to work hard every day to make sure I am at my best I can never be below 100 percent no matter how much overtime I had to work the day before,” Vucurevich added. “I am proud to have been part of the Harker family who instilled these values of perseverance, being your best, determination, commitment and teamwork. I help others every day and I love the challenge. I greatly appreciate the sacrifice my parents made to send me to Harker, that was the best school for me, and I am very grateful for the teachers, coaches and staff at Harker for the experience, training and education.”