Until last week, Lonny Cobble was the only baseball coach Edmond Santa Fe had ever known. The Tuttle native coached the Wolves for 19 seasons from the school's inception to this year, when Santa Fe made yet another appearance in the Class 6A state tournament. Less than a month before the season ended, Cobble accepted the head coaching job at Oklahoma Christian University. In addition to coaching, Cobble has been a high school football official.
I knew I wanted to be a coach from the time I was in high school, just after my dad coached me. Seeing the fun that he had and, of course, being around my high school coach Pete Sangirardi and watching the way they did things made me believe that that's what I wanted to do with my life. Those guys made it fun.
They not only love the game but they really love their players and they care about their players not only on the field but away from it as well. (Sangirardi) always took an interest in us. He hurt with us with every loss. I can remember just knowing that I would do whatever I could to make that guy happy. I was the same way with my dad. I wanted to win and make those guys happy and in return, they felt for us. They wanted us to win, they wanted us to do our best and they genuinely cared about us as baseball players and people. I think that's something that baseball coaches need to do better sometimes. We need to let players know you care about them. Let them see that emotion that sometimes we don't show enough.
My father, James, was my coach in junior high and he was my principal. He's retired now and comes out to watch my son play. He was always very fair. I played football and I wasn't a quarterback. I know a lot of times dads growing up wouldn't pushed their son into that role. They want their son to be the quarterback, the shortstop, the five-hole hitter. He genuinely was fair and I think that's hard for dads sometimes. It helped me a lot when my son played for me.
Coach Sangirardi was a guy that gave people second chances. I want to see the good in people. I want to make sure kids have every opportunity to succeed. I want to believe they're going to do the right thing. Sometimes maybe that makes me a little too soft but that's how I am.
My very first time as a head coach was as the sophomore coach for Edmond when I was about 22 or 23. I was down at Norman and the umpire came in and said, ‘Hey son, you need a helmet if you're going to coach third.' He thought I was a player. I had to tell him that I was the coach. (Longtime area official) David Gore was the one who said that.
I loved football and coaching football. I just wanted to be around it. I couldn't play really and didn't want to coach it so I figured officiating was the next best thing. Getting into the championship game (as an official) a couple years ago between Bixby and Carl Albert was a blast. It was at Oklahoma State, there was a big crowd and it was fun and exciting.
Officiating helps me see the other side. It's why I treat umpires the way I do. There's a lot of good coaches that know how to handle officials and a lot of guys out there that don't know how to handle them.
Every day I walk in here at Oklahoma Christian and I'm just floored that I'm here. It's first class and I'm just more and more impressed every day with the people here — how friendly they are and how willing they are to help. I know people are probably pretty tired of me asking questions. It's a big change but I'm learning. I really enjoy the recruiting part of it, getting to talk to parents and getting to recruit kids to try to get them to Oklahoma Christian. One thing I've learned is the kids recruit for you quite a bit once you get them.
It was real emotional coaching Santa Fe for the last time. I was trying to keep my composure because I was excited about leaving and starting a new chapter but it's been hard to let go. I talk to those coaches at least once a day and I'm hoping the transition goes well. I've got a lot invested in it and I want to see them succeed. But I don't want to be looking over anybody else's shoulder either. It's kind of like letting your kid go to college. You've got to let go a bit.