Dale Poole has always had a knack for ending up precisely where he belonged — and it’s no accident.
These days, Poole, 68, is a coaches counselor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Northwest Kentucky division, based in Owensboro.
This follows a highly distinguished 35-year career as boys’ soccer coach at Owensboro High School, where he also spent seven years as boys’ track and field head coach.
“I have really enjoyed my time with FCA, it’s been a complete blessing,” said Poole, 68, who grew up in upstate New York near Rochester. “It’s really cool to find out there’s more sports out there other than soccer and track.
“I’ve tried to reach out to every coach on every day they have a competition. I want them to know I’m praying for them, I wish them and their team well, hoping there will be no injuries. Little things like that can mean a lot to a coach.”
And Poole jumped into action in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I mailed out some things from a book called ‘InSideOut Coaching’ by Joe Ehrmann about some things they can do with their teams to accomplish justice in our society today,” Poole said. “We’re going through some difficult times right now and it’s important to help as much as you can.”
Poole arrived in Owensboro in 1975. He was interviewed by Bill Chandler, who at the time was assistant superintendent for Owensboro Public Schools. Chandler would go on to have a lengthy career as superintendent.
“I was hired as P.E. teacher at Choice, an alternative high school,” Poole recalled. “I was fresh out of college and thought I had all the answers, and it turned out I didn’t have any answers at all — I had nothing for those kids.”
This proved to be a life-changing revelation.
“I can’t tell you how much good that experience did for me,” Poole said. “I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior during Thanksgiving break of 1975, three months after starting at Choice. I cried my heart out. I needed to be a better husband, a better teacher, a better human being.
“It changed my focus from what I could do for myself to what I could do for those kids at Choice — it changed everything.”
Poole also drew inspiration from late Choice founder and principal Virgil Sublett, who became a mentor.
“He taught me how to really care for kids,” Poole said of Sublett. “He taught me it didn’t matter their race, their socio-economic standing, or anything else — he taught me that they needed to be loved.
“Virgil had a simple philosophy: that every kid starts out brand new every day, and that’s how we approached things.”
Poole wound up spending 24 years at Choice, the last five as its principal; in all, he spent 43 years with OPS.
Now, he continues to put such life lessons into practice through his work with FCA.
“What I’ve discovered through the years is that people need hope, need to know there’s someone out there who cares about their well being,” Poole said. “Every day is a new day. Every day is a new day to provide someone hope.”