Hereford High School senior Josh Kufera seems almost too good to be true. He's a three-year varsity soccer and baseball player who has a 4.0 GPA, is ranked second in his class, is in several honor societies, plays the French horn and volunteers at his church.
But Kufera is the real deal. And the National Soccer Coaches Association of America recently honored him for his athletic and his academic abilities.
Kufera, 17, of Monkton, flew to Kansas City in January for ceremonies naming him to the Association's High School Scholar All-America team. He is one of 33 soccer players in the U.S. to be selected to the boys' team, and is one of three from Maryland.
"I was pretty excited when I heard about it," said Kufera, who kicked around his first soccer ball at age 4. "It really is the culmination of my high school years. I was honored."
Hereford varsity soccer coach Mike Lacko nominated Kufera for the national award. It's the first time he has ever had a player who excelled both in class and on the grass.
"Josh sets no limits for himself. His success is because of his hard work and the drive within himself," Lacko said.
Kufera, who plays despite severe asthma, was varsity soccer team captain for two years and helped the team go to the state semi-finals and win three consecutive regional championships.
He also plays club soccer and was picked to join the Maryland Olympic Development team for three years.
The national coaches group requires that nominated players earn a 3.75 GPA or better, demonstrate excellence in soccer and perform community service.
"I've put a lot of time into sports and school and I think it's all about time management," he said. "When you have practice every day after school, you get home, have dinner and do your homework. There's no time to even think about what you should be doing."
His weighted GPA, which takes into account his Advanced Placement classes, is 5.54. He is also a National AP Scholar because he scored a 4 or 5 (out of 5) on at least eight AP exams he's taken.
"Josh is a top-notch, star student," said Hereford math teacher, Tammy Mundie. "He works very hard and get so enthusiastic about his work. Josh makes you want to be a better teacher."
Kufera is headed to Christopher Newport University, in Virginia, where he will play soccer. He hopes to pursue a career in orthopedics or neuroscience.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun