Humans of Harker: Kicking the best foot forward

Arthur Kajiyama cares for his friends, his community, his world


Sarah Mohammed

“Soccer has grounded me. It has brought me back to the people that have been with me throughout my life, even after leaving friends from middle school to high school when I came to Harker. It has given me the space to keep those same friends from soccer and be able to turn back to them,” Arthur Kajiyama (12) said.

Everything grows still, quiet. The turf heats in the sun, grasses brushing the footsteps of the varsity boys soccer team as they slip onto Davis field, a place they have returned to so often it has become a home. Center midfielder Arthur Kajiyama (12) joins the team huddle, then lines up in his position. Right before the whistle, the school bell rings — the doors of classrooms open and students pour out, running to Shah Hall, to the bleachers.

“I was always really excited for the bell to ring, knowing the whistle was going to blow right after, knowing that I could get my first touch on the ball, get ready for the game,” Arthur said. “It is a really nice feeling to see the people that I see every day [in class] come out onto the bleachers, to know they are supporting me.”

Arthur’s hands have been cupped around a soccer ball ever since he was 6 years old. He loves the activity for the way it feels whole, for the way it feels multiple — a mixture of the fun quirks of different field sports, a place to experiment and grow and learn.

“Soccer is a combination of almost everything from every sport,” Arthur said. “There is shooting from basketball, you can run like you do in football, you can dribble. There are a lot of tricks in soccer that you can do that you cannot really do with any other sport.”

The intricate, exploratory movements and the family that has come with the sport makes soccer special and close to Arthur’s heart. Arthur first started soccer following the footsteps of and continuing the athletic lineage from his father, who would play with him as a child. Since then, soccer grew to mean community and kinship, a world to lean on one another, to share memories of games and victories and losses.

The value Arthur places in community spaces within soccer extends to his daily conversations with his friends. After joining Harker as a freshman, Arthur met another new-to-Harker freshman, Laszlo Bollyky (12), who he talked about soccer with and grew close with.

“He’s a great friend — if you need him he’s there, and if you need someone to talk to, he’s someone you can turn to,” Laszlo said. “He’s super diligent and hard-working and one of the best people I’ve met in my 17 and a half years on this planet.”

In his interactions with friends, Arthur remains playful, chatting jovially and making light of the conversations and circumstances at hand to bring joy to the people around him.

“When I do talk, it tends to be something funny,” Arthur said. “I love comedy. I love to make the most out of situations.”

Arthur’s close friend since freshman year, Kaden Kapadia (12), who leaned on Arthur for support when going through difficulties, appreciates how open and giving Arthur remains in their friendship. He strikes a balance between deeper conversations and fun banter, making space to get to know the people around him in a variety of ways.

“He knows when to be serious, and he knows when to be playful,” Kaden said. “He knows when work needs to get done versus when you can slow down a little bit and enjoy.”

Through soccer, both at Harker and De Anza Force Major League Soccer Next League, Arthur holds close the friends and communities that he loves to spend time with, staying in touch and supporting the team by practicing and playing and training together.

“Soccer has grounded me,” Arthur said. “It has brought me back to the people that have been with me throughout my life, even after leaving friends from middle school to high school when I came to Harker. It has given me the space to keep those same friends from soccer and be able to turn back to them.”

After facing a hard defeat on the varsity soccer team and seeing how an older member of the team handled the situation with gentleness and care, Arthur grew more aware of what it meant to support those around him and create spaces for comfort, compassion and reassurance.

“We lost the NorCal Final when I was a sophomore, and a lot of guys were really upset, but a senior brought us together and made us a group again,” Arthur said. “I realized that the way that you can treat those around you and bring positive energy can make a true change. Especially being a senior, I want to make sure anything I do is going to be helpful in some way to the community.”

Arthur has also learned about compassion, positive energy and supporting those around him through his religious values. In the communal space of his church, he sees first-hand how people exhibit selflessness and lean on each other for support.

As a Catholic, Arthur attends church every Sunday and finds it as a way to participate and extend support and kindness to another community — one that is diverse and stretches across generations, family groups and interests. Attending church ever since he was born helped him understand devotion and ways to give support towards the people of his church community.

“Religion and faith is a really big part of my life,” Arthur said. “I’ve always followed my faith. That’s something I’ve had with me for as long as I know. Faith has become not only a religion but also a way to care for those around me.”

During the pandemic in the summer before his junior year, after seeing that some seniors in his church community were isolated and did not have family at home to talk to, Arthur coordinated a project to call seniors of the church. He felt it was important to not only cradle the community himself, but also help others do the same so that the seniors could feel included. By designing a web application called Senior Link and communicating with the coordinators of his church, Arthur created a communal space for seniors in the church community to connect to volunteers who would talk to them.

“Calling seniors in my church community and seeing how much some work I do over one summer can really spread and make a difference has been so impactful for me,” Arthur said. “When the pastor, who had never spoken to me before, came up to me and told me what a great job I did, I could see real happiness in his eyes.”

Through his faith, Arthur learned to engage deeply with the community around him, understanding what it means to both take in and provide support and gentleness. Applying this care to soccer, he thrives with his teammates, leaning on them and providing them a shoulder to lean on.