Dejan Maksimovic Finds Serenity in Hackley Community


Credit: Chris Chon

Coach Dejan Maksimovic bundles up in the cold weather for the upcoming winter track season, excited for the team’s success.

By Chris Chon, Sports Editor

Moving from Serbia to the United States through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program in 2005, Hackley’s Track and Field coach and Buildings and Grounds member Dejan Maksimovic has had a long and arduous journey. Acquiring a highly sought and limited Diversity Immigrant Visa ten years ago, Dejan left his parents and sister in Serbia and came to the United States seeking new career opportunities, an environment where sports are implemented in schools, and a place where people live in harmony.

As a child, Dejan grew up in Yugoslavia during a time of conflict which led the country to split into Serbia and five other countries. Living in Serbia during the time of the split, he was weary of the disagreement in politics in the newly formed country. As the second best javelin thrower in Serbia in high school, Dejan sought Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in physical education. He hoped to win a green card by passing all the educational and health requirements in the lottery of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. “I knew it was a long shot, but hey, I threw a javelin 200 feet, second best in the nation of Serbia. How hard could it be?”

After passing many days of rigorous health and medical examinations, multiple interviews, and educational requirements, Dejan was one of the lucky few from Serbia to obtain a green card and move to the United States. Before he moved to the United States, he was voted best JV high school track and field coach in Serbia, working at the Partizan Serbian Professional Track and Field club in the capital of Belgrade in 2004.

In the United States, Dejan got his first job as a basketball coach at Marymount High School in Manhattan and a track and field coach at Westlake High School in Thornwood, New York. In 2008, Dejan met Rob Pickert, Hackley’s former athletic director, and interviewed for an  an opening for a track and field coach. After interviewing with Athletic Director Jason Edwards, Hackley’s athletic director, he accepted the job, becoming a track and field coach in 2005. Later in 2012, after being interviewed by Bill Smith, the director of B&G, Dejan became a member of the Buildings and Grounds team.

Eight years after joining the Hackley community, Dejan enjoys every minute of both of his jobs. “I love my two jobs, even though it is tough balancing both. For B&G, my favorite part of the job is that I get to keep the Hackley community organized and clean. I also have a great, supportive crew that helps me every day.” said Dejan.

For track and field, Dejan’s role as a coach is something that is very personal and close to his heart. “As a coach, I believe that it is not just my job, but other coaches as well, to be good role models. To do so, I believe it requires discipline and desire… It really is not just a job that we [as coaches] have, it’s an education that we are helping to develop in future of this human society. That is why I believe that as a coach, helping athletes develop life skills like balancing and synchronizing social and academic lives and developing discipline and patience is important.”

When asked about his greatest struggle so far, Dejan said, “I can’t find good movies on Netflix anymore as I’ve watched all the good ones. In all honesty, though, I haven’t struggled much. I have accepted my culture, my past, and who I’ve become. I think that everyone should take what they are given and improvise and take what life gives you. Life is a beautiful thing, just hang in there for the ride.”

In his spare time, Dejan enjoys playing classical music and rock and roll on guitar. His favorite pieces to play range from “Winter Largo” by Vivaldi to “Trooper” by Iron Maiden. Dejan also loves to play tennis, learn Spanish with the help of his fellow B&G members, and attend sporting events. Recently, Dejan traveled to West Point to watch the Duke v. Army game and cheer on a former Hackley thrower, AJ Wolf, who is now a defensive tackle for Duke.

Dejan has come a long way from Serbia, and is very grateful to have found a community at Hackley that accepts all kinds of people of different backgrounds. “I love Hackley for its mature students, smart faculty and staff, and supportive and harmonious community,” said Dejan.