At this school, stardom is a matter of course

Brady is latest alumnus from Serra High to go to head of his sport's class

Sports Plus

The Arena

February 17, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

What's next? Olympic gold medalist? World's fastest runner? Heavyweight champion of the world?

When 1995 graduate Tom Brady was named the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, it continued a fabulous run of success for Junipero Serra High, an all-boys, 940-student Catholic school in San Mateo, Calif.

Three months earlier, 1982 Serra graduate Barry Bonds hit his 73rd home run, breaking major-league baseball's single-season record. Lynn Swann, Serra High class of 1970, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, two months before that.

Forty-three Serra graduates have signed professional baseball contracts and 10 have made it to the major leagues, including Bonds, six-time All-Star and former manager Jim Fregosi and two-time All-Star Gregg Jefferies.

Other notable graduates include football coach John Robinson.

When Brady, the New England Patriots' quarterback, was named Super Bowl MVP, league officials scrambled to find out whether the 24-year-old was the youngest to win the honor. He wasn't. Swann was eight months younger than Brady when he was named MVP for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976.

Russ Bertetta, a 1967 Serra graduate who's now director of the school's alumni relations, hastens to add that Serra has produced its share of notable alumni outside the sports world, including former New York Times managing editor Bill Keller and best-selling author John Lescroart.

"We try to play those guys up the same as the Bondses and the Swanns," Bertetta told Bloomberg News. "It just seems that society in general gravitates to those in the limelight."

Perfection makes grade

This past year may have been close to perfection for Serra, but only Polytechnic Prep in Brooklyn, N.Y., can claim Perfection.

I-Perfection, that is. As in I-Perfection Harris, a cornerback from Staten Island who signed a letter of intent this month to play football at Georgia Tech.

How did he get the name?

"A friend of my father had a child named Perfection who was killed in a car accident. My father felt the child died before his time, so he named me as an act of commemoration. He added the `I' - `I-Perfection' - so the name would be uniquely mine," Harris told The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

The name carries a burden.

"There's definitely some added pressure that goes with the connotations," Harris said. When he does something imperfect in a game, for example, opposing fans remind him he's not living up to his name.

"But that's OK. I play every game the same as I would if my name were John or George."

And most of his friends simply call him "I."

Harris' brother, by the way, is named Supreme.

Passing marks

Warwick High in Newport News, Va., has a nice run of success going, too, and it's all in the family.

Alumnus Michael Vick was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft last year after leading Virginia Tech to 11-1 seasons in 1999 and 2000.

This month, the quarterback's younger brother, Marcus, signed a letter of intent to follow Michael to Blacksburg.

Warwick teammate Brendan Hill said Marcus won't have trouble dealing with comparisons with his older brother.

"He's not concerned about being his own person because he already is," Hill said.

Or as Marcus said: "He's him and I'm me."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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