Concord Academy’s sports teams are in the midst of their seasons. Students remind the community of their upcoming games at announcements, and on Fridays, it is not uncommon to see a huge crowd on the bleachers in the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC), cheering on our volleyball team. The sports season this year is even more complicated than usual, as many ninth and tenth graders are being thrown into the athletic season while simultaneously being thrown into CA’s demanding academics.

Regardless of whether these requirements include being a part of a team sport, intramural sport, theater production, dance, community service, or any other options CA offers as athletic credit, the commitment and consumption of time that these activities require is a big undertaking for students of all grades. 

Inspired by the Head of School search and the idea of changes being made in the CA community, the reporter asked two CA students about their thoughts on the current state of the sports requirements. 

Ella Fogelman ’23 echoed this sentiment and explained, “It’s a lot to be a full-time student at CA and have to deal with the stress that the school puts on us to begin with, I really think that's a lot. Having to start your high school career while doing three seasons of sports is really tough and demanding.” 

Ella furthered her explanation by connecting the requirement of participating in an athletic program to its effect on mental health. When having to choose an athletic program to participate in for the fall season, she explained that she had to choose between doing a sport that would take up a lot of time or doing a less time-consuming class that she did not like as much. Expanding on this, she stated, “That sort of felt like choosing between my physical health and my mental health, which is hard to do.”

While participating in activities involving physical activity is strictly required, its impact on mental health is avoided in discussions. Ella expressed, “Having to be social, or be around my family, or do homework afterward would not be good for my mental health.” The importance of understanding the many layers of pressure students face is something that the school should center on when forming requirements around sports. 

Madison McCaslin ’23 seconded ideas surrounding the struggle of time management, relating, “I personally prefer the two seasons over three seasons, because it is a lot for me to manage my time and [having two seasons of sports] has helped me to feel less stressed.” She emphasized the transition period at the beginning of freshman year when she was a little bit daunted by the fact that she would always have to do something after school. 

As mentioned, with all of the changes coming to CA in the upcoming months and years, Ella and Madison discussed what, if any, hopes they had about changes that could be made to the sports requirement. “If there was some other system where a sports team could be offered but it wasn’t four or five days a week for two hours, that would be really helpful,” Ella replied. “There are a lot of special things that come with a team, like bonding and bus rides, that sometimes I wish I could be a part of.” 

Madison centered her suggestion for change around time management and schedules: “I think it would be really important for our new Head of School to be aware that academically, CA is a rigorous school and sometimes it is difficult to balance everything that we have going on when we physically don’t have as much time after school because of that time that we are devoting to sports.”

While there certainly are some areas for improvement in the athletic program and its requirements for students, it undeniably plays a huge role in CA’s culture and spirit, and for those reasons and more, the students felt as though it should not go unappreciated. As Madison said, “The athletic experience at CA is something that I do enjoy and so I am willing to sacrifice some time in order to have that experience and be on the team.”