Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured, from left, are Marc Sobol, Dave Sobol and Drew Sobol together at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River.
WOOD RIVER — Dave Sobol’s typical autumn day begins preparing for another golf adventure. It usually ends the same way.
The East Alton-Wood River High industrial arts teacher coaches boys’ golf for the Oilers and men’s golf at Lewis and Clark Community College. He treats both of them equally, just like he would his children.
That’s fitting. Marc, 19, is playing for the LCCC team, while Drew, 16, is golfing for the Oilers. Thus, the bulk of Dave Sobol’s time is coaching two sons on two teams at two schools.
“It’s a privilege to do that and it’s a labor of love,” the 56-year-old Sobol said of the family affair. “Who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to coach both of your sons.”
He pointed out, “I’m not their coach, first. I’m their dad. We’re a pretty close-knit family.”
Daughter Samantha, 28, youngest son Matthew, 13, along with Kimberly, 55, and his wife of 32 years, would heartily agree. The Sobol family of Kane in Jersey County keeps things in perspective, even if golf is a frequent suppertime conversation on their family farm. Mostly, it’s like father, like sons.
“Golf keeps everyone up to date and I appreciate dad’s hard work,” said Marc, a sophomore at LCCC. “It has been like that the past six years – having my dad coach me.
“I look up to him.”
EA-WR sophomore Drew does, too.
“It’s neat to have dad coaching me,” he said. “He talks a lot to me about golf and is an inspiration. Marc helps me with my swing.”
Whatever the advice, it’s working. Drew is averaging 38.3 strokes per nine holes for the Oilers and Marc is averaging 75 per 18 holes at LCCC.
“I do mentor Drew,” Marc said of his big brother approach. “He has the potential to be something special.”
Dad watches their progress and is encouraged by their grasp of the game. But he wishes for something that won’t happen.
“The one regret I have is that they weren’t able to play together on the same team for one year,” Dave Sobol said.
By the time Drew graduates from high school, Marc will be out of college. Still, the family ties run deep. Matthew intends to be playing high school golf soon. Drew continues to wrestle for his dad, also the EA-WR mat coach. Marc did the same when he was an Oiler.
Nevertheless, golf is their first love and nobody embraces it more than coach Sobol. His workload explains it.
“There was never any doubt that I could do it,” he said of coaching a prep team and a college one. “The biggest thing is that the administration at East Alton-Wood River and Lewis and Clark gave me an opportunity to do it.”
That’s all he sought, the chance to coach both of his sons. It didn’t matter how much time and toil he needed to make it work.
“I’m no different than any other parent,” Dave Sobol said. “I live and die with each shot – like any other parent. And on the inside, I’m churning. But it’s probably harder on them than it is on me because they are tough on themselves.”
Roxana High boys’ golf coach Jeff Pare, also an assistant at LCCC, said Dave Sobol’s passion for coaching golf is genuine.
“He’s one of the most dedicated guys I’ve ever known,” Pare said. “He’s more devoted to young people at the high school and college level than anybody I’ve been around. His motor is always running and he’s go-go-go — with integrity.”
Marc Sobol seconded that emotion.
“What I’ve learned from dad is to work hard and be honest in what you do,” he said.
That’s why it’s all in the family.
Follow Steve Porter on Twitter @StevePorter51.