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Vol. LXIV, No. 25
 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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END GAME: John Levandowski, right, presents a trophy to Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Will Denise after the Panthers took second in the 2005 state Prep B tournament. PDS athletic director Levandowski is taking leave from the school as he is heading back to his native New England to become the AD at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass. Levandowski’s 12-year tenure at PDS saw the school win several Prep B and Mercer County Tournament titles and upgrade its athletic facilities.

After 12-Year Tenure as PDS Athletics Director, Levandowski Heading Home to New England

Bill Alden

John Levandowski cut his teeth in sports on the playing fields of New England.

A Webster, Mass. native, Levandowski became a star athlete at Nichols College just miles from his hometown, making All-New England in his junior and senior years in both football and lacrosse.

Staying in sports after graduation, Levandowski took a job as a coach and a teacher at Greenwich Country Day in Connecticut.

Levandowski rose to become the Athletic Director (AD) at Greenwich, starting him on a path that saw him serve as the AD at Rye Country Day (N.Y.) and the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Calif.

For the last 12 years, Levandowski has been the AD at the Princeton Day School, upgrading the school’s sports facilities and setting a tone that has helped the school’s athletes succeed on the field and in the classroom.

Now, Levandowski is heading home as he is leaving PDS to become the AD at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass.

“After having been here for 12 years, I probably have contributed as much as I can contribute to the school,” said Levandowski, in reflecting on his move in a recent interview in his PDS office which features a large print of Boston’s Fenway Park on the wall.

“I think it is exciting for PDS to get someone new in. It is an exciting move for me; it is closer to home. I have family living very near the school. Since my kids have grown up as Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics fans, we will be in friendlier territory.”

The affable Levandowski has found friendly territory on the job at PDS.

“When I walk the halls, there are a lot of smiles and hellos,” said Levandowski.

“If I look at the big picture, I am pretty proud of my relationships with the kids, number one, and the parents, number two, and, of course, with the faculty.”

Over his tenure at PDS, Levandowski has worked hard to cultivate those relationships.

“I think the greatest challenge at PDS is where the school is located; I think it is a very competitive neighborhood because you have all these prep schools competing for similar kids,” said Levandowski, whose tenure has seen PDS win several Prep B and Mercer County Tournament titles.

“The challenge was to find strategies to make our program a little more competitive yet keep it inclusive at the same time.”

For Levandowski, instilling a holistic approach to athletics has been his overriding strategy.

“I believe the vast majority of our coaches do the important things well,” asserted Levandowski. “They foster growth and teach the important life lessons that can be gained through sports. You play hard, you have fun, you commit yourself but in the end, it is all about becoming a better person.”

In assessing his accomplishments on the job at PDS, Levandowski points to a commitment to better the school’s sports facilities.

“I am proud of the improvements and what we have done to show the community and our kids the support of athletics,” said Levandowski, citing the school’s turf field, new athletic fields on the north side of campus, and a new athletic wing featuring sports action shots on the walls.

“I am most proud of our new fitness center which has really transformed being an athlete at PDS. I think our kids understand now that being an athlete is not something you start and stop with the season. Being athletic is something that is more of a lifestyle. They continue to invest in throughout the year.”

Levandowski believes he will find a pleasant lifestyle at St. Mark’s. “When I visited St. Mark’s, I left with a nice feeling,” said Levandowski, who will live in on-campus housing with his family.

“The kids seemed very friendly and happy to be there. I had a chance to watch some of their practices. I liked the way the coaches instructed and the way the kids responded to the coaching. I liked their work ethic. They are part of a terrific athletic league called the ISL (Independent School League), which includes 16 independent schools in the Boston area, all of whom are very talented athletically.”

While Levandowski looks forward to his new challenge, he will have a soft spot in his heart for PDS.

“After you have been somewhere for 12 years, you are so invested in the community; I can’t even begin to describe what I will miss about PDS, both athletically and the school as a whole from K-12,” added Levandowski.

“I’ll miss the fact that we are a bit of underdog school; we have a lot to be proud of. One of the compliments I have had recently is that people say I care about all the kids, whether it is a player on a JV team or middle school or varsity.”

In Levandowski’s view, his successor should strive to develop a similar approach to the school’s athletes.

“My advice to whoever takes it over is to never lose sight of the big picture about athletic participation; it really does go beyond wins and losses.” said Levandowski.

“You want to have a program in which the coaches continue to stress the important life lessons of athletic participation. Anything on top of that is icing on the cake.”

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