BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Dedicated to the team. Passionate about the sport. Inspired to help students to achieve their goals. Chris Coughlin, Gov. Livingston Guidance Counselor and Cross Country coach, exemplifies these traits. Waking up at 6 a.m. on the weekends for Cross Country meets and staying later than school hours to coach students is exactly why Coughlin was named Union County Cross Country Coach of the Year.
After graduating high school, Coughlin had the opportunity to help coach middle school students. He loved working with children, and soon discovered his passion for coaching.
Coughlin accepted an assistant coaching job, which gave him the opportunity to work with his own high school coach. Coughlin learned a lot from working with him, and will never forget the inspiring stories which motivated him. As the head coach, he hopes to pass on the same inspiration to his athletes.
A high school counselor is not an easy job, spending the day working with students, attending meetings, and arranging schedules can be very frustrating. Somehow, Coughlin finds time and strength to coach his team on top of counseling, and still delivers the same amount of energy and focus to each student.
Coughlin has a different effect on each student. A new runner to the team, sophomore Jess Lejuez, came into the season not knowing what to expect. “Through the coaching and many motivational talks by coach I was able to become my best self in running.”
Coughlin also helped runners to not only drop times but become more organized through balancing cross country and their home lives. He gave them lessons through keeping an organized schedule and managing their time to their best abilities.
Being a guidance counselor at the school also helps Coughlin in his work with the cross country team. Connelly Jaqua, freshman and a new runner on the team, said, “He helped me make my transition into GL easier.”
This year, Coughlin focused more on the practices to better the runners' outcomes. “I was more specific in what I expected from the long runs and the recovery runs.” This change had the largest effect on the Boys’ Varsity team which was able to advance to the Union County Conferences. He believes that the performance of this team is the reason why he was nominated.
He has shaped the team into the “family” that it has grown into. “I work with your funniest, most caring, talented students at GL,” Coughlin said.
Alongside an amazing group of students, Coughlin works with a brilliant group of coaches: Lisa Dhaibar, Steve Siebelts, and Brianna Palumbo, who ran for Coughlin when she was in high school. Together they complete the cross country “family”.
When Dhaibar began coaching, Coughlin took her under his wing and taught her valuable lessons. She described him as “knowledgeable, passionate and [he] always puts his athletes first. He is also a great role model for all.”
Coughlin is well deserving of this recognition. His dedication to the sport has created a disciplined team, not only this year, but in years passed.