Team travel cut to reduce costs

By Mary-Rose Fissinger

All overnight summer athletic trips have been eliminated by the Athletics Department in what Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas describes as a “temporary policy adjustment due to the economy.”

“The entire school community has been asked by both the Board of Trustees and by administration to identify changes that will save money,” Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin said.

To do this, they must not only look at the obvious, such as tuition and budget, but also all the various trips and privileges provided to students that can cost parents a substantial amount of money.

Barzdukas said it was not an easy decision, but the most important thing to everyone was figuring out how to save money and keep the athletic experience fundamentally the same.

The eliminated trips include travels for the purpose of training and team bonding, and trips to out-of-town competitions. For example, the track team will not be going to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the Nike Outdoor National High School Championships in June.

“The meet always includes extraordinary talents from around the country and invariably draws some talent that will one day compete in the Olympics,” track coach Jonas Koolsbergen said. 

“It is an awesome part of our program and if we have to miss it for a few years it is a true disappointment, but we do understand how difficult the current financial situations are and realize that the school has to run itself in a sensible and prudent way.”   

Other cancelled trips include the cross country team’s expedition to Big Bear for altitude training and team bonding, the field hockey squad’s trip to St. Louis for the Gateway Tournament, girls’ basketball to Palm Springs and San Diego and girls’ volleyball to Hawaii.

“I understand that our country is facing a terrible economic situation and we all have to make sacrifices. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find some solid California tournaments for us to attend instead,” field hockey coach Erin Creznic said.

The Athletic Department did not notify the athletes of the change; they left that up to the coaches. Barzdukas said that the Athletic Department has heard no response to the new policy from any of the students. He attributes this to the fact that “Harvard-Westlake kids in particular are aware of the world around them, and anyone aware of the world right now knows what’s going on with the economy.”