Mind Game: Academic League Coach Sarah Mills Talks about the Team Sport


Emily Farren

The CAHS Varsity Team prepares to compete in a match on Jan. 27.

“We compete as a team, we have a lot of team spirit and pride … we encourage each other, we practice to get better and we review mistakes that we made during matches and ways to get better,” Academic League Coach Sarah Mills said.

While Academic League probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of sports, it is surprisingly similar to other athletics; Academic League requires the same commitment as any sport, and the teams that represent Classical take that commitment to heart.

The Varsity team practices Wednesdays at lunch, and the JV team practices almost every day at lunch. Members of the Freshman team are also welcome to come in for extra practice, sacrifice time to practice on Monday afternoons and review at home as much as possible. All three teams have captains that guide the other members on what to study and unofficial student leaders who act as assistants to the coaches.

Academic League itself is a team competition of knowledge. “It’s based on core academic subjects—things you would learn in school—but it’s kind of like a team trivia quiz bowl-type of activity,” Mills said. The rounds are 30 minutes long and the participants must ring a buzzer to answer, so time is an additional pressure for competitors.

Though they are based on academic subjects, the questions can range from complex math to Lord of the Rings. “It’s a fun team activity that’s also competitive,” Mills said, “and students get a chance to practice what they’ve learned in classes and maybe even go back the other way when they review things in Academic League that help them with their classes.”

Mills has been familiar with Academic League for many years—a long-loved hobby which eventually inspired her to become a coach for Classical’s team. “I loved doing it as a student, and I thought that we had some students here at CAHS that would really excel at it and benefit from it and enjoy it.”

Classical’s program has grown into three teams, and the coaching team has expanded, as well. The teams have excelled, as shown by the victories of the Freshman and JV teams against the Valley Center teams on Jan. 27.

Academic League is fairly easy to join and always looking for new members. “All they have to do is show up to practices and let us know they’re interested,” Mills said.  “If they’re a senior, they can come to Varsity practices, which [are] Wednesdays at lunch in Room 101, which I coach. Mr. Montgomery coaches the JV team, and they meet at lunch in his room … David Wentworth is our Freshman coach and they practice with JV in Mr. Montgomery’s room,” Mills said.

“It’s a team—a team activity, a team sport, a team game—where we show off our knowledge,” Mills said.