By Isaac Mervis
“But when I stopped learning… I realized, you know what? I kind of liked that learning thing,” said the man driving the soccer bus, swerving, and failing, to circumvent the pothole.
Chris Morrison, now teacher, soccer coach, and honorary bus driver, at University High School of Indiana, has always had a passion for learning that drives him to be successful. However, this begs the question, how did this student-at-heart trade in his pencil for a dry-erase marker?
The Economics major was fresh out of Dartmouth when he put on his best suit for his first day at Shawmut Bank in Boston. With his Ivy League education and his high aspirations, he was determined to put his best foot forward. Morrison learned quickly and always gave 110 percent of his effort. His hard work did not go unnoticed. Morrison started climbing up the corporal ladder, and did not stop until he was Assistant Vice President.
Shortly after, the AVP of Shawmut Bank had an important realization. As much as he liked banking, what he truly liked was self-improvement. The second he thought he was not learning something new or improving every day, he knew that something needed to change. When his business associate informed him of an opportunity to challenge himself in a new career, he jumped at it.
His distaste for complacency is evident today. Morrison is seldom seen without a hacky sack in hand, throwing it up and even at students on a whim. This energy translates well to the soccer field.
As a child, Morrison was active in many sports, but excelled in soccer. With soccer he could roam free, utilizing his energy and athleticism in conjunction with his intellect and instincts. The sport became more than a pastime, as he was offered a spot on Dartmouth College’s team.
Dartmouth was the best of both worlds for Morrison. He said that the mixture of Division 1 soccer an Ivy League education was “difficult, but a good fit for me.” His education and experiences at Dartmouth prepared him for whatever life could throw at him.
After working as a Controller for Americare Health Service, Morrison was ready to take on his greatest challenge of all, teaching. After a brief tenure in Atlanta, he headed up to Indianapolis. “I thought I was going to literally nowhere,” recalls Morrison. His excitement for his new location is evident.
In Indianapolis, Morrison discovered that his passion for self-enrichment is matched only by his passion to help enrich others. “The most important thing I’ve learned from teaching,” Morrison states, “is that some things that come easily to some people don’t come easily to others.” He is able to use this knowledge and his personal relationships with his students to ensure that everybody is learning up to their capabilities.
Morrison’s youthfulness allows him to connect well with his students and athletes. Every once in a while an email thread will be sent throughout his old soccer team. He notes, “It’s funny to see how quickly we fall back into our juvenile ways.” He uses his own personal experiences to relate to the students.
Morrison’s close relationship with the student body is apparent through his mentees. Jake Tanner, senior mentee, states that, “My relationship with Morry has helped me become a well-rounded individual. He always pushes me and calls me out when I’m not performing to my best abilities in the classroom and on the soccer field.” From experience, Morrison knows better than anyone that hard work pays off. He has dedicated his time to ensuring that each of his students is aware of the benefits of giving it your all. He believes the same goes for athletics.
Morrison is able to continue his passion for soccer as a soccer coach at University. Known for his signature visor and dangerously short shorts, he is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the game. A former player once stated, “Whenever we listened to what Morry said and we did it, it worked.” To which Morrison added, “The problem was they didn’t listen to me a lot.”
Morrison doesn’t put the whistle down when soccer practice ends. He spends a lot of his free time volunteering as a basketball coach for Special Olympics. Giving back is a very important part of his life, evident from his position as the head of Community Service Club. The idea of Morrison as a basketball coach “is pretty funny to think about if you know my size,” he points out. However, he does not do it for his love of basketball, but rather for his athletes. Morrison explains that his athletes never cease to amaze him. “Their pure love of playing is unmatched. They are there every game, every practice with a smile. They just love being out there; they love the opportunity. Some of the more able bodied and able minded who play sports don’t treat it that way.” Their attitude inspires Morrison, and pushes him to mirror the same passion in his own life.
Chris Morrison is never satisfied. For him, there is always something to learn, some way to improve, or a new interest to discover. His strive for self-improvement is infectious. If you are lucky enough to have Morrison as a co-worker, employee, teacher, or coach, you are no stranger to his passion. His distaste for complacency has taken him on a long and winding journey, and we are left to only wonder where his next stop will be.