Humans of Harker: Duality in leadership

Ayush Vyas strives to find balance between listening and speaking

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Humans of Harker: Duality in leadership

“I want to be the person who can impact people, somebody who worked for others and always thought for the benefit of others,” Ayush Vyas (12) said. “I want to be that leader who was never overly vocal but still always cared and was vocal when someone needed to step up and say something. What often gets overlooked is a captain's ability to listen and learn, but to me, that's my most important value.”

“I want to be the person who can impact people, somebody who worked for others and always thought for the benefit of others,” Ayush Vyas (12) said. “I want to be that leader who was never overly vocal but still always cared and was vocal when someone needed to step up and say something. What often gets overlooked is a captain's ability to listen and learn, but to me, that's my most important value.”

Devanshi Mehta

“I want to be the person who can impact people, somebody who worked for others and always thought for the benefit of others,” Ayush Vyas (12) said. “I want to be that leader who was never overly vocal but still always cared and was vocal when someone needed to step up and say something. What often gets overlooked is a captain's ability to listen and learn, but to me, that's my most important value.”

Devanshi Mehta

Devanshi Mehta

“I want to be the person who can impact people, somebody who worked for others and always thought for the benefit of others,” Ayush Vyas (12) said. “I want to be that leader who was never overly vocal but still always cared and was vocal when someone needed to step up and say something. What often gets overlooked is a captain's ability to listen and learn, but to me, that's my most important value.”

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The huddle rocks back and forth as Ayush Vyas (12) begins a chant, firing up the football team up as he leads them, storming, onto the field.

“This year, on the football team, I had to take charge and get that bond going for the whole team,” Ayush said. “Especially for the offensive line, the amount of energy we brought was unparalleled by anyone else, and I think having a good leader was vital to that success.”

But what’s not so visible as Ayush’s role as a leader is the nontraditional journey he has gone on that first brought him to football.

“I grew up in North Carolina…an environment where people are super friendly and everyone knows everybody, so we all did the same things,” he said. “That’s how I really got into football, even though people who look like me are not stereotypically the ones who play football. I picked it up because my other friends were doing it.”

Freshman year marked the first turning point for him and his family: they moved to India. Ayush was immediately confronted with a problem: assimilating to a completely different culture than the one he was born into.

“That one year in India transformed my whole world view. There’s a saying: ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ It’s not necessary to completely blend in, everyone is different, but you want to be able to be like each other and relate to each other, so I had to adapt culturally.” he said. “Most importantly, I had to gain the trust and respect of my friends who had completely different backgrounds than me.”

The skill of being able to adapt on the fly served him when he returned to the U.S., this time, to the Bay Area where he once again took up football. As captain in his senior year, Ayush, tasked with leading the offensive line, organized team dinners at restaurants and later players’ houses to encourage bonding and team unity.

Ayush’s brother, Vijay Vyas (10), sees in him a lifetime mentor with whom he has created a plethora of memories.

“He was the person who first taught me how to throw a football instead of a coach or just another friend, and ever since it’s been an integral part of our bond as brothers,” Vijay said. “In general, his personality is very charismatic. He always says his please and thank you’s, and he just is a people person.”

His friends and teammates share this idea of Ayush as a poised leader.

“He brings a unique kind of energy to the team. He can be quiet and lead by example sometimes, but other times, he can be loud and energetic to get everyone ready to play,” co-captain Anthony Meissner (12) said.

However, unlike the prototypical athlete, Ayush strives to be charismatic and helpful rather than getting caught up in the superficiality of the team’s successes and failures. He always tries to employ a duality and balance as a leader.

“I want to be the person who can impact people, somebody who worked for others and always thought for the benefit of others,” he said. “I want to be that leader who was never overly vocal but still always cared and was vocal when someone needed to step up and say something. What often gets overlooked is a captain’s ability to listen and learn, but to me, that’s my most important value.”