As another fall season of high school sports kicks off, several area athletic departments are sporting new directors eager to tackle challenges and establish goals for their programs.
The list includes two Acton-Boxborough Regional High graduates: Peter Elenbaas is taking the reins at former archrival Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, while Jessica Winders will be in charge at Hudson High. Joining Elenbaas in the Dual County League is Patricia Gonzalez, the new AD at Newton South High.
Peter Elenbaas, Lincoln-Sudbury
A 1996 graduate of Acton-Boxborough, Elenbaas was a biology and chemistry teacher at Lincoln-Sudbury for 13½ years before being named its acting athletic director in January, and was given the permanent position this spring.
He also coached the Warriors’ boys’ varsity ice hockey team for seven years, and coached the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse squads.
Challenges: “The kids, the coaches, the athletic director, the parents . . . we all want to win. We want to be excellent, we want to be competitive and to be able to merge that desire with what we’re really doing all this for, which is for an educational value, to learn about community service, to learn about commitment, to learn about leadership. So the biggest challenge is to always find a balance to that.”
Goals: “My goal is to continue to build our educational athletic program. We have awesome coaches here, we have awesome kids, we have awesome parents who really support the program, and to just continue along this trajectory where kids leave here having done more and learned more from sports rather than just winning and losing.”
Patricia Gonzalez, Newton South
The native of Argentina moved to the United States in 1985 and attended grad school at Cambridge College.
For the last six years she served as athletic director at Austin Prep, a Catholic school in Reading that is one-third of the size of Newton South, and before that was AD at Ursuline Academy for nine years. She also coached track and field, and volleyball at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsborough.
Challenges: “Just the size of the school. There’s so many opportunities for the kids and that is a challenge. You want to make sure that every student reaches their potential, and that every student has experiences that they’re supposed to have in athletics. Sometimes it’s hard, but I’m confident that we can do that.”
Goals: Gonzalez said she wants to keep creating opportunities for student-athletes and increase the participation in athletics. She also encourages students to try out different sports and get involved in as many ways as possible, while maintaining a strong bridge between education and athletics.
Jessica Winders, Hudson
The 1989 Acton-Boxborough graduate was director of athletics at Newbury College the last four years.
Previously, she was assistant director of athletics at Regis College, and assistant vice president of sport management for Special Olympics of Massachusetts.
Challenges: “My biggest challenge is just getting acclimated to how Hudson operates, working with the town and coordinating the different facilities. . . I’ve never had access to facilities working at Regis or Newbury College; it’s always been working with outside vendors. But the town and the DPW have been fantastic during my transition, so all of that is going great.’’
Goals: “I think the biggest thing for me is to get Hudson back on the map. That starts with changing the culture and getting people excited about Hawk Nation. Going to games, getting the coaches to really get the most out of their players, becoming more competitive, raising the spirit both on the sidelines and amongst the teams so that they’re supporting each other.”Taylor Snow can be reached at email@example.com.