Passing the torch

By Austin Lee

The campus — empty. Ted Slavin Field — without its towering lights. The walls of Taper Gymnasium — missing many of its championship patches and banners.

These were the sights that greeted Terry Barnum in the summer of 2004, on his first day on the job as Athletic Director.

Now, after eight years of helping shape Harvard-Westlake athletics into the active championship power it is now, he will be taking over as the Head of Athletics next year.

At USC, Barnum played fullback for the Trojans, scoring the winning touchdown in the 1996 Rose Bowl Game against Northwestern University.

He was approached about a job in Harvard-Westlake athletics in the spring of 2004 but was not interested in high school athletics at first.

“I really wanted to get into college athletics,” Barnum said. “That’s really what I wanted to do.”

He said he applied to “just kind of see how it was,” and came in for an interview with Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas.

“I interviewed here on my 30th birthday, and I fell in love with the place,” Barnum said.

As he started that summer, Barnum soon discovered that there was no true Harvard-Westlake summer athletic program.

“Within the first week I was here, [Barzdukas] said, ‘Okay, I’m going on vacation for two weeks. You’re in charge,’” Barnum said. “I was like, ‘I just got here! And I’m in charge of the whole thing?’ Little did I know, at that time, there were not a lot of sports going on in the summer.”

Since then, Barnum has helped to facilitate numerous changes in the athletics program.

The once near non-existent summer activities have developed to include practices for the vast majority of teams along with the Gold Medal Sports Camps.

The one or two teams going to playoffs back then have now grown into a majority of teams qualifying.

In addition, he has worked with the school to bring about many new facilities for athletics, including the installation of lights on Ted Slavin Field, which allowed for night football games, and the construction of the O’Malley Family Field in Encino for the baseball team.

“I remember the first night football game,” Barnum said. “That was pretty special, under the lights.”

Barnum has also worked with students extensively as the adviser for the Student Athlete Advisory Council.

As he takes over the Athletic Department, Barnum hopes to continue leading the school’s athletes into success and aims to increase overall school participation in sports. He will also work on developing the school’s partnerships with the Institute for Scholastic Sports Medicine and AC Milan.

“We’ll want to continue to improve and challenge for league, CIF and state championships,” he said. “We’ll want to continue to increase the involvement in sports, have more and more students coming out and enjoying playing sports. Those are all goals that we still have out that we’re going to be working hard to do.”