Corbin Sebens

Corbin Sebens (holding trophy) celebrates with the Parkland College men's golf team, which won the national championship in 2020-21.

CHAMPAIGN — It’s been a rapid rise to stardom for Parkland College men’s golf coach Corbin Sebens. After playing collegiate golf, the 2008 Monticello High School graduate started helping the Cobra golf team as an assistant coach.

Sebens was thrust into the head coach role a year later after coach Zach McNabney resigned as he took on a fight with cancer. McNabney died a short time later.

Sebens has since led Parkland to national prominence, going undefeated last year and winning the team’s first-ever NJCAA Division II national championship in May.

We caught up with Sebens, and asked him about where the program stands as it attempts to defend its national title, and whether his competitive juices still flow when he hits the links himself.

The Cobras begin practice again soon to get ready for the fall portion of their 2021-22 campaign.

Q. Journal-Republican: Who was your golf coach in high school?

A. Sebens: It would have been John Harshbarger.

Q. J-R: Do you have key influences on how you coach?

A. Sebens: Not really. I played high school, and played college, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do coming out of college. My coach at the time at Parkland got diagnosed with cancer, so I came back to help him out. He ended up passing away and I just kind of fell into the job as a head coach at the age of 23 and have been there ever since.

It was difficult the first year — you’re about the same age as your players. That was a huge learning curve. I still remember the first couple of years I would go into coaches meetings and they would say, ‘this is for coaches, no players allowed,’ so that took a while to get used to.

But it’s been good. It’s been a good run.

Q. J-R: How does it feel to be the national coach of the year?

A. Sebens: I’m definitely very honored. I give all the credit to the guys. If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be possible; we couldn’t have a season without them. They came into the season really hungry with a chip on their shoulder.

It was definitely rewarding to see all the hard work pay off and see them get it done in the end.

Q. J-R: How does the team look this year?

A. Sebens: Kind of crazy, I have four of my top five coming back, five All-Americans coming back. So definitely have a lot of experience coming back.

Let’s see if we can go for a repeat.

Q. J-R: High expectations, then.

A. Sebens: That’s right, it’s good. You’ve got to have a target on your back, and that’s good. Everyone is going to be gunning for you, and that’s good.

Q. J-R: How is your golf game these days?

A. Sebens: I still play. I play with the guys as much as I can. You’ve got to keep them on their toes. When they start talking smack, you’ve got to bring the clubs out and show them up.

When they have a coach who can play and compete, who has played at the highest level, they put their faith and belief in you more.

Q. J-R: What is the biggest thing you have to get through to kids coming into your program?

A. Sebens: The biggest thing we run into is our weather. Not a lot of kids want to go to the midwest to play golf.

In the winter time we put the clubs away for a while, get into the gym, get our bodies right, get our minds right. Golf is a grueling game mentally and physically, so the winter allows us to get away from the game a little bit and to get the mind right, the body right to get ready for the spring season.

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