If you have ever walked into the VCS gym, you may have noticed a big banner on the wall reading, “2018 CIF Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Adam Grabowski”. This esteemed Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor is only given to two athletes in the entire state. Basketball captain, active student council member, and community serving student-athlete, Adam Grabowski, was recognized for his excellence in academics, athletics, and character in his final year at VCHS. Grabowski, the youngest of three VCHS alum, graduated from Vacaville Christian in 2018 to welcome a busy, yet equally fulfilling, college experience at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Most of the VCS community remember Grabowski for his athleticism on the court and his outgoing personality. A past coach of Grabowski and now close family friend, Coach Paulo Mikelionis considers Grabowski to be one of the most respectful and selfless students he has known.
“He has always been self-motivated and always worked to be the best version of himself in whatever he undertakes. I enjoyed his light and fun personality which balanced his competitive nature well. When I think of what a VCS student-athlete is, he is a top example.”Coach Paulo Mikelionis
Grabowski grew up in the VCS community quite literally as he attended VCS for 15 years. Over the course of his high school years, he was a tri-sport athlete, playing on the varsity men’s basketball team for four years, and for two years on the varsity soccer and volleyball teams. He received First-Team All League honors for basketball his sophomore and junior season. Finally, Grabowski was recognized as the Men’s Basketball Sierra Delta League MVP his senior year. One of Grabowski’s fondest memories in high school, aside from his decorated sports career, was his senior year camp. He mentioned that many of his classmates had been there for as long as he had, essentially growing up together. “It was special to be all together enjoying each other’s company,” Grabowski shared.
Leaving a class of around 60 students to entering his incoming class at UCLA of nearly 14,000 students, Grabowski was excited to embrace his new environment. “I chose UCLA because I believed it gave me the best opportunity to be successful after college, while also having a great experience. Although I received a Division II scholarship, I decided it was best to think in the long term and choose the place where I would be happiest.” Grabowski’s older brother and sister both graduated from UCLA as well, so this school was the most natural choice. “I loved knowing how welcoming the student community was as well as the determination of the student body. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Quickly, Grabowski immersed himself into that welcoming undergraduate community. “As soon as I got to UCLA, I was playing basketball about 2 hours everyday so I realized it would be a good idea for me to get involved with a team that would be competitive.” The club basketball coach for UCLA approached Grabowski one day in the gym and asked him to try out for the team. Soon after making the team, Grabowski found a community that he considers his closest friends. Like himself, Grabowski’s teammates had played basketball for all their lives. No matter D1 or not, they played for the love of the game. They did not lack in competition or intensity.
“We practiced twice a week with full on scrimmages that got very heated. Imagine a bunch of guys who were the best players on their high school teams, all fighting for playing time for this club team.”
Grabowski and his team played local schools throughout the season like USC and UC Irvine. Later in the season, UCLA’s club team played nationally where they eventually lost to the University of Miami in the end of season tournament.
The club team commitment may be lighter than the Division 1 team commitment, but Grabowski has chosen to be involved in both. Grabowski is a manager for the UCLA D1 Men’s Basketball team. “As a manager, I help the coaching staff and team in any way I can. I play defense on players during practice, help with film for upcoming games, and work out with players out of practice.” Grabowski enjoys having basketball in his everyday routine. He finds his position valuable as he continues to learn about the game from respected teachers of the sport. He stated there simply are no negatives with this opportunity.
“My favorite experience as a manager is seeing how much work goes into creating a strong program and making connections with everyone in the program.”
Double basketball commitments, and Grabowski still has time to be involved in more extracurriculars. He is an active member of RUF, Reformed University Fellowship, a campus ministry that offers him a faith-based community. Additionally, he is a member of Camp Kesem, a nationwide community of college students who support children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Grabowski describes this community to be one of his biggest highlights of college thus far.
“I loved being a camp counselor. Helping kids find happiness and offering them emotional support has been more than rewarding.”
Considering Grabowski’s many experiences since leaving VCHS, he tells the biggest lesson he has learned is to keep a positive attitude and the ability to adapt. “I have learned to see the positive side of things and to adapt to every situation in order that I can better my future.”
In between Grabowski’s extracurriculars, he is pursuing his double major in Economics and Sociology. His 16 hour days of class, studying, basketball, workouts, and spending time with friends, have made UCLA his home away from home. He plans to be back on campus in the summer – if the distance learning restrictions are lifted – in order to take classes contributing to his double major workload. If Grabowski could give any advice to current students, it would be to keep a positive attitude and trust God.
“With the right perspective and God at the forefront, you will be blessed with opportunities.”Adam Grabowski