OLYMPIC FESTIVAL : ‘Schindler’ Has Special Meaning to Ex-Trojan


Dan Leyson lives in the shadow of history.

As a water polo player for the Olympic Festival’s South team, Leyson is well recognized by his peers as an outstanding player: He was an All-American at USC from 1990 to 1992.

At 24, he has a good life, and he says so.

“Does it bother me that I have to live at home to be able to afford to be a full-time water polo player? And not have to get a regular job?” Leyson asks almost mockingly. He answers with a laugh, “Naaahhhh.

Leyson has perspective.

He has had it since the fifth grade. That’s when a teacher asked the students to do reports on their families.

That’s when Leyson’s father told him about Schindler’s list 13 years before the movie came out.


Leon Leyson told him about it, because Leon Leyson was on that list.

“Daniel was in fourth or fifth grade and he interviewed me for his class,” the elder Leyson said. “When he read the paper to the class, the teacher was shocked.

“Daniel reported on (Schindler’s list) long before (the movie) came out.”

The Leyson’s were invited to a special screening of the movie.

“In 1989, we went to Poland and saw where everything was,” Dan Leyson said. “It was good in one way, but tough. I knew I was going to see that movie.”

Leon Leyson said that seeing the movie was “natural for me to do. The kids (Dan and his sister Stacy) have always known, so it wasn’t easy for them either.”

Entranced by the movie, the Leyson’s were not conscious of each other’s reactions to it.

“Some of the scenes were so authentic, I was stunned,” Leon Leyson said. “It was like being in the ‘40s. My parents, my sister and brother were on that list. Everyone else in Europe, in our family, perished. We were the only five to survive. I lost two brothers because they were not on Schindler’s list.”

Leon and Dan Leyson haven’t talked about the movie.

“I didn’t ask him about it,” Dan said. “I know I had a hard time of it--it’s not like going to see ‘Pet Detective’--that whole movie was a gut wrencher.”

Leyson talks freely about his dad’s experiences.

“I mean, I think it’s important that you understand the magnitude of it and keep it in mind, but you have to move on,” he said.


Which is playing for the South team when the water polo part of the festival starts today.

Olympic Festival Notes

The West team of Leoni Baker of Malibu, Heather Bender-Atwell of Burbank, Dennis Callin of Westlake Village and Steffen Peters of Escondido won the gold medal in the Equestrian dressage competition with a score of 3,778 points. . . . Swimmer Emily Mastin of Tempe, Ariz., set an Olympic Festival record in the 200 individual medley final with a time of 2 minutes 19.77 seconds. . . . In tennis, only one semifinal, mixed doubles, was held because the heat and humidity forced several players to be treated for heat exhaustion. Temperatures were in the low 90s and the humidity was in the high 80s. The other semifinals will be made up today.