By Jason Carpenter
One characteristic of a memorable teacher is a solid sense of fun and humor. Longtime Novato High teacher and coach, Michael Chole, possesses those two characteristics - and much more.
Chole has been teaching at Novato High School and influencing the lives of students since 2006. Teaching Physical Education and Health and coaching golf, “Chole,” as his students call him (without the formal “mister”) is one of the greatest teachers on campus, as his students and golfers would suggest.
Junior best friends and golfers Adam Partrite and Ben Wilson discussed what Chole means to them.
“Chole is a motivating coach who always pushes us to focus and play our best game. He’s also a unique coach because he always is messing with us in a friendly way, but is always positive,” said Partrite.
Chole grew up in Santa Rosa and graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1988. After high school, he attended Sonoma State University, majoring in kinesiology. Once he was done with college, he received his first job as a teacher and coach in Kelseyville, where he spent 5 years.
He now lives in Windsor with his wife and two daughters, commuting southward each day to Novato. Chole said he always wanted to come to Novato because he loves the town, wanted to be closer to home, and had a friend living in this area.
Chole played football, baseball, basketball, and soccer when he was younger. Out of all those sports, his favorite was baseball.
“I was a pretty good athlete growing up and then I had some injuries that set me back so I wanted to get involved with kids and coaching and fitness and those kind of things. So I went on the path of coaching and teaching,” said Chole.
Chole has coached several sports over the years at Novato, including all levels of baseball, varsity softball, and golf. He was the NHS athletic director from 2009 to 2012 and used to be the former head of the PE department as well.
Chole mentioned how he is drawn to the unique Novato community.
“The kids are cool,” Chole said. “Novato has a nice small town vibe to it. The teachers that I work with are fun and passionate, and it's a fun place.”
Almost every student at Novato High has been impacted positively by Chole in some way, as most students have been on a Chole roster at some point.
“Right now, I really love teaching health,” said Chole. “I also love sports and athletics. Anything connected to sports and athletics is my passion. I really have a passion for all of them to be honest with you. I feel like health is really important considering all the things that have been happening at our school with mental illness, anxiety, suicide, and kids getting along with each other, being active, eating good nutrition. It's all connected and important.”
Chole’s classes consist of freshmen and sophomores, eager to learn about health and a variety of life lessons.
Sophomore Audrey Uyesugi gave some insight on experiencing health class with Chole.
“Chole’s approach to teaching health is to educate us students on how to live a healthy, nutritious lifestyle and teach us how to be safe [sex education],” said Uyesugi. “My favorite thing about Chole is his teaching style mixed in with his sense of humor.”
With Spring around the corner, it’s almost time for the golf season. Last year, Novato had a successful season under the guidance of Chole, qualifying for the MCAL playoffs. This season, Partrite and Wilson are returning as key contributors.
The golf team consists of a small group of seven motivated golfers, who love to keep the game fun and joke around, especially with coach Chole. Thanks to Chole and his great sense of humor, the golf season has consistently been a very enjoyable experience.
“What do I love about Chole? I definitely love how hard we roast him at practices, it gets the whole team pumped and ready to play,” Wilson joked. “I also love beating him every time we play since he tops the ball every time due to him getting angry, and sometimes he even snaps his clubs but keep that on the low. He will get mad if people find out.”
“I think I have developed anger issues thanks to Chole on the course, because watching him rage after he chokes and tops the ball is pretty impactful,” joked Partrite. “Chole makes me feel insecure about my golf game as he roasts me and doubts my scorecards when I have a good game. He’s a funny guy, definitely in my top three favorite teachers, barely.”
During golf practices, Chole usually plays a few holes with the students, helping the golfers relate to their coach. Novato’s home course is Marin Country Club, a beautiful 18-hole golf course located in southern Novato.
“I love how we get to go out and play at some really nice courses,” said Chole. “It's a smaller group of kids and a smaller team, so it is easier to get to know everybody and have a better experience. Sometimes with bigger teams and team sports, it’s not as fulfilling. But getting out to here and playing many different places and courses is very cool.”
“Chole has really helped me improve my golf game by pushing me to focus and play my best, and not try to put the ball somewhere I most likely can’t,” said Partrite. “He has helped me slow my game down and keep my tempo. Chole is always a fun coach to be around, whether it’s joking around with him or competing with him I think if I had to say what I love about Chole, it’s his jokes back and forth with his players.”
Chole is excited for the future as well.
“I look forward to this team, it’s a lot of fun,” said Chole. “There are a lot of great personalities and they are gonna make the year fun and exciting. Even though they (Ben and Adam) laugh and goof around, they do work hard and try to get better.”
Hopefully Chole will stay at Novato High School for a long time. His teaching style and notorious sense of humor make him an excellent teacher and coach. Students who graduate from Novato High will always remember Chole because he is not just a teacher, but a friend and role model that students can talk to.