By Julius Pak
Head of Athletics, Associate Head of School and now the future Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas has always focused on nurturing the individual. Even when he first began his Harvard-Westlake career as the school’s first Head of Athletics in 2003, he held this belief.
“Harvard-Westlake is not a one-size-fits-all place,” he said. “We take things on an individual basis.”
At the University of Virginia, Barzdukas earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and master’s degree in sports psychology before working for 12 years at the United State Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo. first as a sports scientist and later as the associate director of coaching.
Throughout nearly a decade as Head of Athletics, Barzdukas has worked to create structured and coherent curricula for student-athletes at Harvard-Westlake.
One of the centerpieces of his tenure so far is building a relationship with Italian soccer champions AC Milan since their philosophy embodies his own, Barzdukas said.
“Everything they do is about developing kids, it’s continual,” Barzdukas said. “That is part of their idea of social responsibility. They do what they can to ensure that they have good lives. It’s hard to tell when someone is 10 if that person is going to be a professional soccer player, so you want to provide all your 10 year-olds a great experience. And you want to provide this great experience all the way through so they stay a part of you, just as we hope our experience at Harvard-Westlake will.”
Barzdukas’ work has begun to spread outside of the athletic realm of school. Two years ago, he began auditing academic and arts classes to get a better feel of the academic situation of the school. Last year, he was named Associate Head of School to become more involved in the school’s administrative workings. He hopes to bring whatever he achieved in the athletics department over to the rest of the school.
“If there’s one thing I think I’ve done well in my job as Head of Athletics, it is to bring in resources to athletics, and I am excited about doing that for the Upper School academically,” Barzdukas said.