Rich Sobilo is known for hockey, both as a coach and player. Things are about to change. The Whiting resident was named Bishop Noll's new softball coach Thursday night.
It's going to be all softball all the time for the 1983 Noll alum.
"I'm real excited," Sobilo said. "I'm not coming into a program that needs to be rebuilt. We've got almost everybody coming back and a talented group of freshmen.
"We have a lot of work to do. We fell short in a couple areas last year, and we want to improve."
Sobilo was a standout at Noll in football, baseball and hockey. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1988 and earned three letters for the Irish hockey team.
In 1989, he was an assistant on Jerry Vlasic's Class 3A state football championship team. He coached hockey at Noll from 1988 through 2002. In 1999, he led the Warriors to a Class 2A state runner-up finish.
Seven strong seniors return this year, including Elena Sobilo, his daughter and shortstop.
Outgoing Noll coach Ralph Laramie coached the Warriors for 14 springs. He believed his record was 179-141. His greatest highlight came in 2006 when his 13-15 team got hot at the right time and advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals.
He lived in Plymouth for much of his time coaching in north Hammond but he and his wife, Carol, moved to Columbia City a year ago. It was a 280-mile round trip each day.
But that wasn't why he stepped down. Carol was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had surgery last March. Taking care of her and a softball program was just too much.
"I love the game," Laramie said. "Last year was a frustrating year. I missed quite a few days taking care of my wife. We've been blessed. She's cancer free now.
"I wish I could stay one more year with the seniors. But I have to stay and take care of her as she keeps getting better."
Sobilo has a simple but affective mantra for the softball program, improve every day. Learn fundamentals so well that in a tough postseason game the letdowns will be less likely to happen.
"One of the things I want to stress is improving every day," he said. "Whether you're a manager or a boss, you have to learn something all the time. I hear things on the radio or on (television), and it may have nothing to do with sports, I'll be constantly looking for ways to make myself a better coach and our team a better team."