Before the spring sports season, Godwin hired a new women’s soccer coach, who happens to be a familiar face around Godwin.
Chris Thornton is currently the women’s soccer coach, after previously being an assistant coach since 2016. Although he started coaching a few years ago, Thornton has been a part of Godwin since 2006.
Thornton began high school in 2006, where he played both soccer and basketball. During his senior year tryouts of varsity basketball, he told the head varsity basketball coach, Coach Thomas, that he was not going to be playing.
“I had been battling with depression for years and senior year it came to a peak. My head wasn’t in the right place and I showed some real hatred towards myself. During tryouts for basketball that year, I told coach Thomas that I was going to quit. I gave him some sorry excuse as to why, but I just wasn’t thinking clearly, telling myself I didn’t deserve it,” said Thornton.
He says this is the biggest regret of his life, and one of the reasons he came back to coach at Godwin. He felt like he owed it to Godwin and wanted to make sure that younger players that might be going through what he was going through did not leave Godwin with the regrets that he did.
Another reason Thornton came back to coach is because he felt that he had some great coaching influences, including Todd Phillips, Mark Seidenberg, Hunter Thomas, Herb Modrak, and Rob White, who all are currently or who have previously coached at Godwin.
“The impact they had on me, not only as a player, as a young man played a major part in the man I have become today,” said Thornton.
After the basketball season, he still decided to play soccer. Thornton played soccer all of high school and for the Richmond Strikers. He was recruited to play college soccer at Christopher Newport University, but once he got there he decided to focus on his studies.
After going to college at both Christopher Newport University and Longwood University, he began his career in education and coaching.
In 2010, he started his coaching career at Godwin as an assistant men’s varsity basketball coach under Hunter Thomas. He later continued as an assistant coach when Jake Oliver took over in 2018.
“Being a part of the varsity basketball program under Hunter Thomas and Jake Oliver was a blessing. [I] can’t thank them enough for that opportunity,” said Thornton.
In 2016, Thornton was hired as an assistant women’s soccer coach under Ali Toole.
“She was an inspiration to watch and coach under. The way the girls responded to her day in and day out and the way we produce on the field because of it – amazing,” said Thornton.
While being a dual-sport varsity coach, Thornton was still a teacher. As much as he loves teaching, he still says that coaching is his passion.
“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy teaching for sure, but coaching is my passion. I want my players to leave me better versions of themselves. If I can play just a small role in making a student-athlete more successful in any aspect of life, I have done my job and it is really rewarding,” said Thornton.
Coaching does not just help the student-athletes Thornton coaches, but it also helps himself. As a person who struggled with depression, he is always looking to uplift himself and others.
“Coaching has helped me become better as a person. Being able to listen to others and be more understanding has become second nature. Holding myself to a certain set of standards and my players to those same standards. Being a good role model. All of that has come from coaching,” said Thornton.
Today, in 2022, Thornton is now the new women’s varsity soccer head coach. Being a first time head coach is worrisome for Thornton, but due to his past experiences with all the coaches, he feels that he has learned a lot and is prepared.
“Being a head Varsity coach for the first time is nerve racking for sure, but I thrive under pressure because I know my group of girls will give everything they have to this Godwin soccer family. We have our goals set for the season and our sights are high,” said Thornton.
Another thing that he says will help him out is his assistant coach, Trey Thornton, who is also his older brother. He has always admired his brother and is now able to coach with the former collegiate soccer player.
“He has always been the person I’ve looked up to most in my life and to be able to have him on the sideline with me is a dream come true. Not only that but he played soccer at the University of Richmond and Longwood University. Not to mention he’s a Godwin grad as well in the class of 2004. He played on the team that brought Godwin its first State Championship in soccer. He knows what it takes to win is a big part of our family now for Girls’ soccer,” said Thornton.
Thornton believes that nothing is more important than the bond with your teammates.
“Instilling that sense of family amongst my teams is a big reason why I love coaching. Looking at the people on your team as brothers or sisters instead of just teammates, makes you work that much harder for the person playing next to you,” said Thornton.