An Olympian gold medalist from the 1984 United States men’s volleyball team recently became the new head coach of the men’s volleyball program at Stevenson.
Aldis Berzins tried out for the men’s U.S. national volleyball team while attending the Ohio State University. Between his junior and senior year, he was invited to compete in the World Cup in Japan with the United States’ national Olympic team in 1977. After graduating from Ohio State, he joined the Olympic Training Center. As one of the best passers on the team, he became a starter.
From qualifying tournaments, only 12 teams were accepted out of 220 countries, Berzins said. His team was around 29th in the country at the time, so they did not qualify. Although Berzins was unable to compete in the 1980 Olympics, in 1984 he was able to, and the U.S. team was victorious against Brazil, winning the gold.
After the Olympics, he played professionally in Italy. Berzins also started coaching internationally, later becoming the assistant coach for the U.S. women’s volleyball Olympic team in 1996. He has coached at various other levels for both male and female teams, including club volleyball, summer camps, and church leagues.
His career shifted when he began working in Washington, D.C., for the Special Olympics, a career that lasted for 16 years. Berzins served as Senior Director of Sports Development and Coaching Education for the Special Olympics in all 30 sports offered.
According to Berzins, Stevenson will be a good transition from his previous career to working with with young men who aspire to learn from him.
Berzins explained the values he would like to instill in the team: “Have them succeed academically…improve individually as best they can in the sport to overall enjoy all parts of the game…and to mesh with the team to become good team players to have success for Stevenson and win a few matches.”
The men’s volleyball team opens their season in mid-January.