Chico State professor retires after 50 years of teaching


Thomas Fahey warms up with the class by doing kettlebell swings each morning. Photo credit: Mathew Miranda

After a successful career in teaching and discus throwing, Thomas Davin Fahey, jokingly explained that his first purchase after retiring would be a small sign that reads “will lecture for food.”

Fahey, a 71-year-old kinesiology professor, began teaching at Chico State in August of 1984. The alumnus of San Francisco State previously worked at UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, Stanford University School of Medicine and as a Doping Control Director for the 1984 Olympic Games.

Fahey also holds an extensive background in discus throwing, beginning in 1969 when he was named a NCAA All-American. He went on to be ranked number one in the world for 12 years, win 11 straight national championships and receive the USA Track and Field lifetime achievement award in 2008.

Fahey elaborated on his role as an educator and its value to younger generations.

“The students are very good people persons and for the most part they’re very dedicated,” Fahey said. “We have a really important role to help them be the best they can and help the kids of California.”

Thomas Fahey, a former world champion at discus throwing, will retire after 50 years of teaching. Photo credit: Tara Killoran

Katelyn Douglas, a senior majoring in Kinesiology, credits the strength and conditioning professor for introducing her to Olympic lifting, teaching the proper form and helping her fall in love with the sport.

“He is able to break down hard concepts and tell it to you in a way that you’re going to smile when you think about it later,” Douglas said.

Douglas, along with other members in his kinesiology 390 class, decided to pay homage to Fahey by ordering shirts with some of his famous sayings. These include, “add more weight” and “best buns on campus.” The class plans to unveil the shirts to Fahey on Friday.

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 8.13.00 PM.png
Katelyn Douglas created the design for the shirts after members of the class brought the idea to her attention. Photo courtesy of Katelyn Douglas

Douglas also spoke on why his presence will be missed.

“Fahey’s door is always open, he’s always joking and laughing, so I think it is definitely going to damper the department and everyone is going to talk about him and miss him,” Douglas said.

“Everyone that knows Fahey loves Fahey,” added Douglas.

Thomas Fahey takes a photograph with Strength and Conditioning class each year and took his final one last month. Photo courtesy of Thomas Fahey

Fahey, an author of over 25 books, wrote “Getting Into the Olympic Form,” in which he interviewed Olympians to find out what makes them so successful.

He discovered they identify the nature of a problem and determine a way to overcome it. Fahey attempted to pass this lesson down to his students throughout his years of teaching.

“Life’s kind of a competition and I think we tend to forget that at Chico State,” Fahey said. “When you get out you’re going to be up against everybody. You should ask yourself ‘what is it going to take to achieve this’ and then you just go out and do it.”

After retiring, Fahey plans to help people internationally. He’s working with individuals from Latin America to set up a sports medicine institute that will certify strength coaches in Spanish speaking countries. He hopes to start off in countries with a solid science infrastructure and branch off from there.

“You have to look for opportunities and this is just a great opportunity,” Fahey said.

Justin Jackson can be reached at [email protected] or @JustJack0176 on Twitter.