Humans of Harker: Saketh Gurram develops a passion for football


Melissa Kwan

“On my wrists, I have sayings on it, I'll have my favorite quote, which is actually my senior quote on it, and on the left wrist, I'll have [the names of] everyone who's injured on my team, their numbers on my wrists, so in a way, I'm playing for them," Saketh Gurram (12) said.

by Zachary Hoffman, Multimedia Editor

Most days, Saketh Gurram (12) is itching to get on the field and play football. However, it was not always this way. Freshman year, green to the Harker football team, Saketh was not the seasoned player he is today, and often, he did not want to try at the sport.

“I wasn’t the best player,” Saketh said. “There was this one practice, before our last game, I actually tried because I was upset, and [the coach] comes up to me and is like ‘just start trying like that and you’ll get more playing time.’ I just started trying harder and harder, getting better and better.”

Saketh ended up starting his sophomore year. As he recalls, “a lot of success came after that.”

Football and Saketh’s coaches played a crucial role in shaping him as a player and student, but before high school his family, tradition and religion influenced him the most.

“I grew up listening to all the stories, all the mythology, and I pray before every test, I pray before every meal, I pray before every game,” Saketh said. “It’s just part of who I am.”

As a devout Hindu, Saketh attends temple every Sunday and follows his mother’s example of frequent prayer.

“Whatever bad thing happened, maybe it’s not in god’s plan to make it happen,” Saketh said. “He’ll reward me through some other way because he doesn’t want me to be upset.”

His faith contributed positively on his ability not to be too hard on himself and to accept and grow from his mistakes. The familial bond and community that comes with Hinduism also creates an impetus for Saketh.

Seketh has left an impression on his little sister Mahi Gurram (10). Mahi has seen his various struggles and achievements, noting that her brother has made tremendous strides throughout his high school career.

“With football, he wasn’t named captain at the beginning of the year, so he really worked hard. He pushed himself, and he got the badge,” Mahi said. “I am very proud of him. He works this hard when he knows what he wants.”

One of the lasting effects Saketh has left on her, Mahi posits, is how he cultivated a love for sports. Without it, Mahi said she would have never joined the softball team.

Whether football or school, Saketh makes sure he represents his family and community well, as he considers the sacrifices those around him make to allow him to do what he loves.  

“I don’t want to be someone that gets look down upon,” Saketh said. “I try to carry that burden on my back. I don’t want my family to look down upon me. I don’t care if other people are looking down upon me, but I don’t want anyone to bad-mouth my family, so that’s my motivation. They always inspire me every day.”

On the field and in the classroom, no one influences to Saketh more than his coach, Michael Tirabassi. The one phrase that stuck with him from freshman year football was his coach’s saying “don’t stand by and let it happen.”

“Basically he’s trying to say: ‘don’t just sit by and say ‘oh maybe, eventually he’ll play me because we’re winning a lot or we’re out of players.’ He said don’t let it happen, go and take it if you want it,’” he said.

For Saketh, the little things he does show his personality, and before a football game, he has a routine into his zone.

He makes sure not to talk too much and to stay focused on the game ahead by listening to his favorite music. The music gives him some pre-game adrenaline.

Admittedly, he said, “I take football games a little too seriously,” but when it comes to taping his wrists before every game, it is a serious matter.

“On my wrists, I have sayings on it, I’ll have my favorite quote, which is actually my senior quote on it, and on the left wrist,” Saketh said. “I’ll have [the names of] everyone who’s injured on my team, their numbers on my wrists, so in a way, I’m playing for them.”
Throughout his high school career, Saketh has learned to embody the attitude of a team player. He acknowledges those who have helped him along the way who lead him to success, and in his daily life, he seizes the little moments to take them for himself.