Sprints and jumps Coach Chris Flynn is relatively new to the track and field team at the University of Maine, but has already made his impact with personal bests this season from a large portion of his athletes.
Flynn’s personal track career was jump-started at Westfield State College in Westfield, Mass. where he specialized in long jump and triple jump, earning himself all-conference honors along the way.
Flynn originally graduated with a degree in criminal justice from Westfield State, but after realizing he had a passion for track and field he went back to school and got a Master’s degree in physical education with a concentration in coaching from Springfield College.
Flynn began honing his coaching techniques not just through being a member of the track team at Westfield, but also through his thesis research studies at Springfield, which focused on triple jump techniques.
While Flynn’s background as a college athlete certainly helps in relating to his athletes and how to manage their time and practices, Flynn doesn’t see it as something necessary for anyone wanting to pursue a coaching path.
“[Being an athlete] doesn’t necessarily make you a good coach,” Flynn said. “You have to have the passion to do it.”
For Flynn, he didn’t realize that passion right off the bat. He always enjoyed competing in track and learning about the sport, but the thought of making a career out of it was something that came later.
“[My first coaching position] was something I took just because it was a job,” Flynn said. “I didn’t think it was something that would take me anywhere.”
Little did Flynn know it would take him several places.
After coaching the sprints and jumps at Springfield College for two years, Flynn was hired by Bowdoin College and given more responsibility in the form of recruiting and meet management. Flynn coached at Bowdoin for the 2013-2015 seasons before taking the assistant coaching job at Maine. While Flynn still has fond memories of his time at Bowdoin, getting the opportunity to work with a Division I program like Maine “was something I couldn’t turn down,” Flynn said.
The young coach took the position at Maine just under a year ago and hasn’t looked back since. Flynn’s impact can most clearly be seen in the work he’s done with the high jumpers on the track and field team.
Third-year jumper Asaad Hicks has seen an improvement of an astounding 11 centimeters since working with Flynn and ended the year as the second highest jumper in the America East Conference. He credits much of this progress to the attention Flynn has devoted to him and the practice techniques he’s implemented.
“Chris takes the time to work with each athlete individually and make sure that they reach their potential,” Hicks said.
Due to how much time he’s dedicated to his craft, Flynn has had to make some sacrifices along the way to pursue his love of coaching, one of which was giving up his pursuit of turning professional in mountain biking. Yet Flynn realizes that these sacrifices are aspects that come with the job.
“It’s a job that takes a lot of work and time but it’s worth it,” Flynn said. “Last week there were a couple nights I was in the office until 10 p.m.”
But that time and dedication Flynn puts in is something that is paying off for his athletes.
Fourth-year captain and high jumper Tyler Martin has also recorded his personal best this year under Flynn, soaring over the coveted 2-meter mark. He also praised Flynn.
“Chris has been outstanding to work with,” Martin said. “His enthusiasm and excitement in practice and in competition is contagious, it feels like he’s right there with you and is fully invested in the process.”
While Flynn has aspirations of a head coaching job in his future, for now he remains focused on the performances of his athletes bringing in a strong recruiting class for the 2016-2017 season.