On Saturday, three outstanding alumni – Alex Abarca ’09, Daniza Rodriguez ’13 and Amanda (Polzin) Sullivan ’06 – were inducted into the Harker Athletic Hall of Fame, along with the entire roster of the 2007-08 girls varsity volleyball team, one of Harker athletics’ greatest success stories. Sullivan and former volleyball team member Candace Silva-Martin ’09 were unable to attend in-person and Zoomed into the ceremony from home.
A highly prolific scorer, Abarca was a four-time boys varsity basketball MVP for the Eagles and posted more than 1,700 points. In his junior year, he was named the Private School Athletic League MVP. As a senior he was named to the WBAL First Team, a San Jose Mercury News Athlete of the Week, declared Harker Athlete of the Year and received the Eagle Award, which is given to athletes who demonstrate extraordinary dedication and enthusiasm, expressed in their willingness to help their teammates, act as role models and offer their maximum effort to every task. He graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in business management economics from UC Santa Cruz, where he also played basketball. Abarca now lives in San Jose and works as an accounting manager at AEye Inc., and is married and a father to a 7-month-old son.
In addition to being named co-MVP of the girls varsity basketball team in her senior year, Amanda Sullivan (née Polzin) received an honorable mention for the All-West Bay Athletic League Team. While performing as a key member of the team, Sullivan — who was born with amniotic band syndrome — also dedicated her time to serving student athletes with disabilities. She began volunteering with the Special Olympics, which eventually led to her winning the top prize in the San Jose Sports Authority’s REACH (Recognizing Excellence, Adversity, Courage and Hard Work) Youth Scholarship Program, an annual award given to Bay Area high school student athletes who have met significant challenges in order to achieve in both athletics and academics. She went on to study human development in college and found a fulfilling career in social work. Sullivan currently resides in North Carolina and is married with two children.
Daniza Rodriguez set a number of records in her time as a member of the girls varsity basketball team. She at one point held the record for most career points (1,214), most points in a season (511) and the best start to a season for any Harker athletics team (11-1). She received many accolades over the course of her upper school career, receiving Harker’s Female Athlete of the Year award in her sophomore and junior years, winning the Eagle Award in her junior and senior years and being named the WBAL Skyline League MVP and to the Skyline League First Team All League. She went on to play women’s basketball at Whittier College and has since returned to San Jose, where she works as a space planner at Cushman & Wakefield. In 2018, she assumed the role of coach for the girls varsity basketball team, which had a historic season that included a first-ever league title win and an appearance in the CCS finals.
The 2007 girls volleyball team remains one of the most successful teams in Harker’s athletic history. The team’s historic 38-5 run included a 12-0 league record, a win at the Maui Classic tournament and the first appearance Central Coast Section ranking ever achieved by a Harker athletics team. The season culminated in an appearance at the state finals against Santa Fe Valley Christian, in which the Eagles fell short but nevertheless left a permanent impression with their phenomenal talent, work ethic and record-setting performances. Featuring no fewer than three Harker Athletics hall of famers — Tanya Schmidt ’08, Kristina Bither ’09 and Candace Silva-Martin ’09 — and coached by decorated Harker veteran Theresa “Smitty” Smith, this team stands as one of the deepest in Harker athletic history to ever take any field or court. Due to their contributions not only to the team’s success but to this landmark chapter in Harker’s athletic legacy, all members of the team were recognized with this special induction.