- Upper School
Faculty Feature Friday is here and this week we're cheering for Wellness Department Chair and coach, Dr. Chris Kohl! Dr. Kohl joined the TA family in 2003 and stepped into the role of Wellness Department Chair in 2006. Originally from Metuchen, New Jersey, he attended Gettysburg College after graduation where he studied psychology. He always knew he wanted to teach, so the study of sports psychology was a natural choice, and his interest in the field led him to pursue a doctorate in the subject at Springfield College. His dissertation explored goals, motivation, and enjoyment in high school athletics, a topic that has certainly influenced his teaching and coaching style.
“I always wanted to teach. It was one of those things that I always just knew I wanted to do. I love teaching and coaching and I kind of meld them together by building excitement and focusing on enjoyment...It’s all about the process of learning—when you only focus on the results, it’s just not as enjoyable, or meaningful.”
Dr. Kohl currently teaches Principles of Personal Fitness, Fitness for Life, Applied Exercise Science & Sport Studies, and Sport Psychology, a course that he helped create. He has also advised TA’s National Honors Society since 2017. His involvement with the TA athletics program has been extensive; he was the head girls soccer coach for 11 years, cheering his players on to the Class A championship game in the fall of 2009, after winning the 2009 Western Maine Championship for the first time in school history. In 2012, his team finished with a record of 15-1, earning the spot of SMAA Champions. Dr. Kohl also coaches tennis; from 2005-2007 he was the Girls Tennis Head Coach. Since 2008, he’s served as assistant for the boys team, guiding the SMAA Championship teams from 2015-2017, and the 2016 State Class A Champions. He also coaches the TAMS Boys Tennis Team!
Dr. Kohl brings a wealth of knowledge, and expertise in performance enhancement to the students he works with. He encourages students to choose activities they enjoy, and helps them focus on what is really important by celebrating the lessons they learn on the field and court. It’s no surprise that he is such a celebrated coach—he’s been named Coach of the Year by the Maine Private/Parochial NSCAA, the Southern Maine Activities Association, the Biddeford Journal Tribune, and the Portland Press Herald!
What is the best thing about teaching at TA? What is the most challenging?
“The variety. Students can take so many different topics and explore topics they are truly interested in. We’re one of the few schools that offers a sports psychology program; how many schools do you know that offer that? We have an applied exercise science class. We learn about really cool topics that you don’t get to learn about at other schools.
As far as challenges go, I always try to look at them as opportunities. Take this year with COVID—the challenge was to translate our hands-on classes to a virtual world. But we came together as a department and approached it as an opportunity. Ultimately, we were able to make our program better and stronger.”
What is your favorite teaching memory?
“Whenever I get to witness a student experience and enjoy an activity they’ve never done, or an athlete succeed at something they’ve struggled in. I love watching struggles become successes.”
What do you hope for your students?
“I want them to stay active and healthy. I hope they find something that they really like to do. I want them to try lots of activities, because you never know what you’re going to like. Something new may become an activity you can enjoy for the rest of your life.”
What do you hope for the future of TA?
“I’m really looking forward to the new fieldhouse and hopeful about all of the opportunities it will bring, especially for the wellness and athletic programming. I can’t wait!”
Faculty Fun Fact!
Book: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
Music: “Any song that gets you ready to exercise!”
Thank you, Dr. Kohl, for the energy, enthusiasm, and attention you give to each of your students and players. Whether in the classroom or on the field, you cheer them on, appreciate their unique gifts and talents, and help them see their challenges as opportunities. We are so lucky to have such a dedicated teacher and coach in the TA family!