Monday, March 7, 2022
A southern California native, coach Jason Sandobal loves to travel and serve. Careers in the Navy and soccer have certainly provided that. Now, his extended family calls Spokane home.
As a youth player Sandobal was a member of the Celtic and Nomads soccer clubs, training with and competing against some of the top talent in the nation on a regular basis while experiencing some unique and memorable opportunities.
“I played in tournaments in Vegas and events such as Surf Cup in San Diego, including the inaugural Surf Cup in 1988. And I was just there with my son this past summer.”
“I played three years for ODP down in Southern California when it was sponsored by Coca-Cola and it was completely free. They built the team around players performance at a mid-season League Cup tournament. It gave you the opportunity to play with players who up until then were only your opponents on the field. I became life-long friends with players who were my fiercest ‘enemies’ on the field. It probably taught me one of my greatest lessons, that we are all basically out here for the same thing: to compete, have fun and play the game that we love.”
Sandobal would go on play collegiate soccer at Mt San Antonio College in southern California, but it was short-lived as his desire to travel – and later serve – began took hold.
“I played freshman year at Mt. San Antonio College and then left after the season to travel with a team that was supposed to play in South America for a year. It was cut short after about four months due to Desert Storm.
“When I returned to the States, I felt drawn to support the effort abroad as well as continue to travel. I joined the Navy shortly after my return and served four years as a journalist.
“While in the Navy, I continued to play in a local college intramural league and as well as a base league at the Norfolk Naval Base.”
But playing was not just enough and his desire to serve was called upon once more when word reached him about the need for coaches.
“I started coaching when the local youth league was looking for volunteer coaches. For me it was a way to continue to spend time playing a sport I was passionate about and giving back to the community. I spent a few more years back east before moving back to the west coast and continued to coach at a local club and as an assistant at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, VA.”
After spending some time working in Seattle, work brought Sandobal to the inland northwest.
“I moved to Spokane from Seattle in 2008 to work as a project manager for a company that built base housing at Fairchild AFB. It was a two-year project and when it ended, the next job was in West Point, NY.”
“I chose not to go there and wanted to move back to Seattle. My wife fell in love with Spokane and didn’t want to go back to the west side. I’m still here, so you can guess who won that discussion.”
Jason’s loss was Spokane’s gain, though, as he continued coaching.
“I started coaching again in 2008 when I moved to Spokane when my kids showed an interest in the sport and there was a need for more coaches. I never really wanted to coach my own kids but have been blessed a couple times in the past 10 years to be able to do so.
“From my time back in Virginia, I have always enjoyed sharing my passion and hopefully building a passion in others for the game. Growing up, I would go to the fields every day and jump in to train with whatever team was out there – training not necessarily with a plan to get better but because it was fun. It is still that way to this day. I go out there to have fun and somewhere along the line training happens.”
As a coach, though, there is a bit more of a plan for Sandobal, who currently works for the City of Spokane as the Sr. Contract Compliance and Business Standards Officer after having previously owned a general contracting company that specialized in commercial tenant improvement for malls.
“Both jobs share many parallels with my soccer coaching philosophy: hard work pays off, attention to detail is important, always exceed your customers’ expectations, and be passionate about what you do.”
And the Sandobal family has certainly set roots in the city he works for as well as become a magnet for the community, attracting more of the extended family to the area.
“Since high school, this has been the longest I have ever lived in the same area. My previous long was about five years. I don’t really think about it until someone asks me how long I’ve been here. After near 14 years, it still feels like five or six.
“My wife’s parents, my parents and my sister and her family have all moved to Spokane since I have been here. I have one son who is going on his second tour in the Navy. My second will be heading to college in the fall and youngest will be a freshman in high school. I am most likely settled in for at least the next four years.”
It looks like that desire for travel and service is certainly running in the genes, and it should come as no surprise that this southern California Navy man can be found wakeboarding at the lake during the summer – and doing likewise with a snowboard in the winter.