With the start of the 2021 athletic season, many athletes involved in team sports have questions about how the season will play out. Whether they have questions about how we will move forward, or how Concord Academy athletes and coaches have kept their morale up, Sue Johnson has answers. 

Photo courtesy of Concord Academy

First, what most athletes are probably wondering about: has there been any discussion about what will happen to in-person sports that have been practicing outside once the weather becomes too harsh? Although the athletic department has not announced their final decision yet, Sue assured us that it will be announced soon. While the athletic department wants students to be able to participate in sports inside, it is not clear if this will be possible.

The spirit surrounding CA sports plays a big role in our community, whether it is the athletes’ and coaches’ enthusiasm, or the enthusiasm of their peers. So, how does Sue think the adjustments that have been made to athletics this year have affected morale? To this, she had a more complicated response, explaining that the “pandemic [has] required an attitude adjustment in order to move through it in as healthy a way as we can.” As students who attended meetings at the beginning of the sports season know, she suggests that people have a mindset in which they are “honoring the losses –there’s lots here, none of the athletic teams are the same –and focusing on opportunity.”

Sue wanted to remind the CA community that people’s morale surrounding athletics depends entirely on whether they decide to have a glass half-full or glass half-empty outlook on the current situation. She says it is important to try to balance the two truths that she had mentioned and that “actually, loss and opportunity are in some ways counterintuitive but also come together almost every time if you are able to look at it that way.” 

So what does she mean by this? She explained that “fall and winter seasons [have been] phenomenally better compared to spring 2020.” In the spring of 2020, PE classes like running couldn’t effectively be done on Zoom. Current remote PE classes, however, have “been designed where you can actually move.” The current athletics plan, she emphasized, “is phenomenally better” than the sudden switch to remote learning last year. Furthermore, she pointed out that while classes have been remote for much of this year, on campus athletic opportunities have been available since the second week in September, which she views “as a gift.” 

Most importantly, Sue thinks it is important to recognize that the athletic department’s goals have “in no way been negatively impacted” by the pandemic. In fact, she believes that “our four goals are absolutely achievable.” These goals are, being able to move our bodies, connect to our community, improve sports skills, and develop life skills, all of which she believes can  be achieved “without playing any games.” In fact, she believes that in these times, some skills that many people have improved upon are their “resilience and grit.”