Harker athletics stood tall Friday evening, prior to the Homecoming game, when it opened its Athletic Hall of Fame, inducting three Harker athletes and one super fan.
Harker’s inaugural Hall of Famers are Adam Vucurevich ’02, Jason Martin ’07 and Tanya Schmidt ’08, along with Phyllis Carley (“Mrs. Carley” to everyone) Harker’s first super fan. Mrs. Carley’s award was presented posthumously; she died in 2009. All three athletes attended with family and Mrs. Carley’s grandson, Dale Kent Johnson ’80, attended to represent his grandmother.
Harker’s Athletic Hall of Fame honors those who have made outstanding contributions to its athletic program. Candidates for selection have exemplified desirable character traits and have distinguished themselves in competition representing Harker, their college, or at the professional level. They can also be non-graduates who, through long service to Harker, have distinguished themselves in the field of athletics.
Nominees are eligible five years after Harker graduation or after 10 years of service to the school or under special circumstances. Nominees may be former athletes, coaches, teams, members of the athletic staff, or supporters of Harker Athletics. Up to five individuals may be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a given year. Names are inscribed and displayed on a wall in the athletic center with short photo-biographies running on a central monitor. In addition Harker has created a permanent web page to celebrate our Hall of Famers.
All three athletes attended with family and Mrs. Carley’s, grandson, Harker Alumnus Dale Kent Johnson ’80, attended to help induct his grandmother into the Hall.
Johnson said it was great to see his grandmother’s name permanently enshrined in the Hall of Fame. “This school was her life. Up until the day she died she was still doing stuff here,” he said. Once he heard Harker was creating a hall of fame, he wasn’t surprised to hear his grandmother was being inducted as a super fan. “She used to come watch me in sports and even after I left in 1980, that was her thing, she would watch anything and everything she could,” Johnson said. “With the new gym, for her to be part of it, for her to have this award in there for everybody to see, and as time goes on, hopefully there is enough of a legacy with people hearing stories, that they will continue to remember her.”
“This award is quite an honor and very special to me,” said Vucurevich. “I was very surprised when I heard about it, but it is not just my reward, it is really a testament to the selflessness of our athletic teams at Harker as a result of the great coaches we had. Our coaches knew how to pull a young inexperienced group together, train us, inspire us, and encourage us to put our individual goals aside and work as a team. This is an award that the teams and the coaches all truly share in.
“The plaque is a special recognition for our first graduating class of 2002 as pioneers for future Harker classes. I think of it as a tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for their vision to make a great school even greater. Their efforts and achievements affected so many families and ultimately enriched so many lives. I am very grateful and proud to be a Harker alumni and part of Harker’s history.
“I have so many awesome memories from Harker, teachers, coaches, and friends. I truly enjoyed playing sports, being with the coaches and my teammates. I really liked that no one cared about individual glory, they cared about the team’s success, our goal was to give our best to the team. We had one purpose and it was very unifying. That is how we were coached and that is what made the team so great,” Vucurevich finished.
“I was very excited to hear I was being inducted into the hall of fame!” said Martin. “Dan Molin and CJ Cali were the first two people I talked to about it and I appreciate their love and support! It was an honor to be inducted with such great company, Adam, Tanya and Phillis Carley, and to see my name on the plaque and be a part of Harker history! I can’t thank my family, coaches, and teammates enough for all the support!”
Martin noted three things that helped his athletic career for which he will be forever grateful: “my dad selling his restaurant in Boston, buying a RV and driving across country to put his family in a better situation and his kids in a great school; Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for having a dream and making it a reality that affects so many people in a positive way; Coach Thorpe teaching us about hard work, perseverance and determination,” he finished.
Schmidt said she first learned about the Hall of Fame recognition just prior to delivering the keynote address to the the Class of 2018 at graduation, this spring. “I remember what an exhilarating feeling it was both to be the first Harker graduate to return to speak to some of the smartest students in the country and now to be honored in Harker’s Athletics Hall of Fame!” she said. “I feel both gratitude and responsibility when receiving this Hall of Fame recognition. I appreciate the opportunities and mentorship that I’ve had thus far, and I feel a sense of obligation to continue this success with Harker and to be a role model for others in the future.
“I will always remember the camaraderie of a team effort working to achieve something exceptional against great odds. Some special moments include beating our rival Castilleja with my older sister Sylvia Schmidt ‘06 (now Sylvia Carle); winning NorCals in Sacramento with several buses of Harker students, faculty and staff cheering for us on a school night; and playing in the State Championships!”
Phyllis Carley (1920-2009, at Harker from 1952-2009)
Phyllis Gwynn Carley, much beloved member of the Harker community, was a staunch supporter of Harker athletics for over 50 years. Mrs. Carley, as she was known to so many, was an institution and an irreplaceable tie to our past. As a student in the Central Valley, she played polo, basketball and softball, and noted once that being involved with Harker allowed her to relive her childhood; for the duration of her life, she was one of Harker athletics’ biggest fans, attending many, many home games. It didn’t matter what sport, she just enjoyed seeing kids active. “I love watching students of all ages coming together and having fun,” she said in a Winged Post article.
She opened her Harker career in 1952 in Palo Alto as a driver, shuttling local students to and from school. She progressed by virtue of her wonderful disposition and hard work to become secretary first to Donald Nichols and then to Howard Nichols, and remained in that role for many years, though her contribution to campus life went far beyond her desk in the administration building. She passed away in 2009, but will be long remembered at Harker. Read her full biography in Harker News.
Adam Vucurevich ‘02
Vucurevich nearly earned his plaudits at another school, but Harker opened its upper 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. Read his full biography.
Jason Martin ‘07
While playing baseball at Harker, Martin was named to the Varsity Second All-League Team in his freshman year and to the First Team for the next three years. He was runner up his junior year for CCS MVP, hitting .629 for the year. Martin played varsity football for three years and, in the 2006 Homecoming game, became the only player in Harker history to run for a touchdown, throw for a touchdown and catch a touchdown in the same game.
Martin noted a number of coaches at Harker have had a huge impact on his life. Coach K (Karriem Stinson) was his middle school flag football and junior varsity football coach. Martin said that Stinson instilled toughness and a work ethic in him at a young age, and those traits have been at the foundation of his character ever since. C.J. Cali was Martin’s middle school P.E. coach and is still a life mentor for him – an example of how Harker really is “K through Life,” Martin said. Dan Molin has always followed and supported Martin’s baseball career, and has been a constant resource for Martin in life after Harker as well. Martin played semi-pro baseball for two years after college. Read his full biography.
Tanya Schmidt ‘08
A four-year starter on Harker’s varsity girls volleyball team, Schmidt was named a four-time All-West Bay Athletic League First Team honoree and a two-time West Bay Athletic League MVP. Her junior year, Schmidt was named a Top 50 Junior Recruit in the nation. By her senior year, Schmidt was an unstoppable force on the Harker team.
During her senior season in 2007, Schmidt led the girls volleyball team into Harker history with a series of firsts for the school. As the first Harker team to compete in the Central Coast Section championship final, the team continued to make history by winning the Division IV NorCal Championship in Sacramento. In December 2007, the team played in the state championships in front of a home crowd of more than 1,500 Harker fans at San Jose State University, where Schmidt was named California Division IV State MVP. Schmidt went on to play pro volleyball in Europe for two years. Read her full biography.