With the snow beginning to melt and the air warming up ever so slightly, Concord Academy is about to welcome a long-awaited spring. In less than two weeks from the publication of this article, CA will be commencing tryouts for the spring sports season, where roughly two-thirds of the student population will be involved in some form of interscholastic program. While many are familiar with the games themselves, what is often neglected is the work behind the scenes to tee up the season.

For Athletic Director Sue Johnson, the season begins in December, when all Eastern Independent League, or EIL, Athletic Directors have their monthly meeting to format the spring season schedule. Between then and March 1, the date marking the official release of the schedule, Johnson works with others in shoring up non-conference games. “That’s one of the basic tenets of being in a league, that you’re going to provide each other the opportunity for competition,” she says.

Johnson went on to describe how during these coaches' meetings there is an emphasis on transparency. “We strive for consistency across programming…it creates equity. We want to be transparent with you all, the students, as to what are our goals, how do we get there, what are our procedures,” she says. She argues that some of the meetings can be tedious, but nesecsarry. “[The meetings can be] a bit dry, the pedagogy of it all is the fun part. Teaching and coaching are the same, right? We explore what the best way to do that is!”

As the current President of the EIL, Johnson illustrates her role in facilitating the bylaws of the league. “[There] is a lot of nuts and bolts! It only gets complicated when issues come up…like when there’s an error in the scoring, like that time two years ago at the track and field EIL championship.” Despite its challenges, Johnson enjoys the work. “[It is] a labor of love—a volunteer position. You’re doing your normal job at your school and taking on this leadership position… it’s important; it supports all the schools, but you need to get good at wearing two hats and juggling all of that.”

The main event of the spring outside of the two league championships is the upcoming annual Spring Bowl against Bancroft, a tournament born out of students’ concern that there was no version of the Battle or the Chandler Bowl for spring athletics. “When I first arrived at CA nine years ago, that was something students were coming to me about regularly,” Johnson says. Persuaded by this dismay, Johnson worked tirelessly to plan a yearly event as a kin to the Chandler Bowl and Battle, eventually beginning the Spring Cup in the 2022 season. “Springtime is when nearly two-thirds of the schools are in some form of athletic competition—with half of those being in track—and so it’s always a high-energy time of year regardless,” Johnson adds.

As for students cut from teams this upcoming season, Johnson has one piece of advice: take it as an opportunity from the universe. “That’s why I love high school sports, the life skills that stuff like that teaches you, how to pick yourself up after a stumble—those are priceless.”

If Johnson’s tangible excitement serves anything, it is an excellent omen for this year’s Spring season!