If you’re a part of the Dr. Phillips High family — especially an athlete — then you’ve run across Ben Sokolowsky. Lovingly referred to as “Coach Soko” by the members of his girls weightlifting team, Sokolowsky is in his 18th year at the school, where he works as a physical education teacher and PE department head. Sokolowsky also has developed multiple sports program, including turning the girls weightlifting team into a contender.
What do you love most about your school?
I definitely love my co-workers here in the PE department, as well as the staff and faculty in general.
What was it that brought you to Dr. Phillips?
When I was at UCF, I did my internship at Southwest Middle School. I was under Mike Barefoot, and he actually got the job at Dr. Phillips, and I took his job at Southwest Middle School. The principal when I was interning was Gene Trochinski — who became the principal over at Dr. Phillips — and a few of the administrators came over from Southwest, so I had a lot of familiarity with them. It was a natural jump — it was a no-brainer when the PE position opened.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I get to be in a place that I love most — and around things that I love most, which are athletics. I’ve taught every subject at this school — basketball, volleyball, team sports and weightlifting now — so I get to dress athletically, and I’m in the weight room or gym, and I get to stay physically active. And I get to promote physical fitness, which is the most important thing to me in my personal life, and I get to do it as a job — it’s great. I still see kids who are now 30 years old, and they’re like, “I’m still lifting weights because of you.” It’s lifetime fitness.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I still do go to the gym, and I love movies and the gym, but most of my free time is spent around my 4-and-a-half-year-old son — he keeps me running around. I’m coaching his T-ball team, and he is playing soccer, also. I almost work harder at home than I do here. I get home, and he doesn’t care if it’s been a hard day, he’s like, ‘Daddy, let’s play.’
Do you have any fun talents that no one knows about?
I did take some acting courses in college at FAU, and I know the instructor always wanted me to come out to the plays and try to act, but I never did that — that was the career I always thought I should pursue. I did get cast on a TV show that I just couldn’t take, because I couldn’t take the time off of work — a crime re-enactment show years ago. I wish I could have pursued that.
If you could meet anyone in the world — past or present — who would it be and why?
I am very into music, and I grew up in the ‘90s, and I was really into grunge music and the late singer of the band Alice in Chains, Layne Staley — who I named my son after. He would be a pretty good one.