Originally created 02/29/04

Paine College coach teaches players life skills



Sometimes coaching is more than what happens on the basketball court. Selina Kohn prefers her athletes to succeed in the arena of life.

With an easy smile, Ms. Kohn grabbed a photo of her first Paine College squad. Despite the team winning two games, Ms. Kohn beamed when mentioning that eight of nine players graduated and the other joined the military.

"You try and help them develop and teach them what life is all about," the sixth-year Lady Lions coach said. "You try to teach them about different situations they will face."

Through adversity, Ms. Kohn learned how to succeed at coaching and become a mentor. After winning a combined eight games her first two seasons, she finally broke through. The 2001 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Ms. Kohn has led the Lady Lions to winning campaigns the past two seasons.

"When things are not going so well, you've got to figure out how you're going to persevere out of the situation," Ms. Kohn said. "It's just about believing in yourself."

Paine College never gave Ms. Kohn a chance to get down during her rough inaugural season. In her first trip back to her alma mater, Albany State, she found Lady Lions fans sitting behind the bench supporting her.

"Even though I was losing a lot of games my first season, the fans were still here," Ms. Kohn said. "There's something about the fans here at Paine, they love this school."

Ms. Kohn shares her affection with the college, coaching the volleyball team as well as being involved with sorority Delta Sigma Theta. She also gives her time to her church in North Augusta and to her Eastern Star chapter..

"Selina is a young lady who brings class to the program," said Rob Spry, Paine athletic director and head men's basketball coach. "She epitomizes hard work. She's well-organized and focused."

Ms. Kohn, who married former Paine standout Ben Kohn in 2001, wants her athletes to be just as focused. She requires good grades, along with personal discipline.

"They've got to learn how to plan and how to budget," she said. "That's something they have to learn with travel and progress reports. When I see (bad) grades, I ask why that is. They don't have any excuses. That's why they travel with their books."

Ms. Kohn traveled the same road her players are now on. A standout guard at Thomas County Central High School, she went to Albany State where her excellent play continued. From 1990-93, she set four NCAA Division II records, including: most assists in a game (23), assists in a season (309), season-assist average (11.9) and career assists (927, 107 games).

After graduating from Albany State in 1994, Ms. Kohn later became the team's assistant coach.

"When I started coaching, the players kind of clung to me a little bit," Ms. Kohn said. "I thought I could actually help them develop and teach them the things I've been through."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.