For Allyson Sobol, there’s a feeling that the possibilities are endless now that she’s stepped through the door of professional football management.
“I feel like the sky is the limit,” said the 26-year-old Montreal native, a lifelong Alouettes fan who is now employed as the team’s football operations manager/coordinator.
After being promoted to her current job in January for just over a year as administrative assistant to Alouettes President Mario Cecchini, Sobol is located near the center of Alouettes management and handles the finer detail tasks that each team needs to ensure The business of football runs smoothly.
She is currently supporting Montreal’s Senior Director of Football Operations, Éric Deslauriers, helping ensure the training camp – which is fast approaching – is ready and then running smoothly.
“Primarily anything player-related,” Sobol said of her responsibilities at Football Ops, giving an example of the detailed work she must do when it comes to American players coming up North.
“Bringing them to Canada with their work permits and their social security numbers and bank accounts,” she said. “All of this so that they can be legally in Canada and get paid.”
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Sobol’s love for the Alouettes and football in general first came from her father Steve when she was a child. “I’ve always watched the CFL, the Alouettes,” Sobol said. “My father is a big football fan.”
But it was in playing the game that Sobol really got the bug. In eighth grade, a teacher encouraged her to try flag football, and Sobol did it, starting on defense and playing for safety. However, she quickly switched to the offensive side of the ball, where she became quarterback. She has since served as quarterback and continues to play in Quebec’s FlagPlus Football League on Sundays. “That’s really where my love for football started,” Sobol said of her first experience with the flag.
Sobol was an intern with the Ottawa Blackjacks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) when she received her Masters in Sports Management from the University of Ottawa. Wanting to return to her hometown, Sobol approached Annie Larouche, the vice president of operations of another CEBL team, the Montreal Alliance, about employment there, but it was not a fit.
However, Larouche had just taken the reins of the Alliance after a 25-year career with the Alouettes, in such capacities as director of the Alouettes Foundation and director of the team’s alumni association. Through this connection, Sobol became aware of an opening at the Als and landed an interview with Cecchini. “Everything went great and that’s how it all started,” said Sobol.
Now, after just over a year in which she began taking on community outreach duties in addition to her administrative duties, Sobol has been promoted to her current role.
“People here understand that I’m not here because I’m a woman,” said Sobol of the Alouettes organization. “I’m here because I know football and do my job very well. And I think the culture is changing here. The culture in the CFL is changing where women are included in the conversation and in some positions are at the head of the table.”
“I think as the sport develops and more women are empowered to hold those positions of power – where they might be the only woman in the room and feel comfortable in that – I find it tremendous.
“I think,” Sobol added, “it’s intimidating at times, but get over it.”
You can count Alouettes managing director Danny Maciocia among those who have been impressed with Sobol in the year and a half she has been with the Alouettes.
“Allyson has shown a lot of professionalism since joining the Alouettes in 2021 and is able to couple multiple editions at once,” Maciocia said.
“The more I talked to her, the more I realized that she has a great football mind. She asks good questions and often lets us see things from a different angle. She has a very bright future ahead of her.”
“I’m here because I know football and do my job very well. And I think the culture is changing here. The culture in the CFL is changing.”
– Allyson Sobol
“I really appreciate how Danny and Mario took me under their wing and allowed me to develop not only on the administrative side of football but also towards scouting and so on,” said Sobol, open to everyone possible avenues that might be available to her in the future. “I really look at everything.”
Whatever the next few years, Sobol has her eye on one day taking a seat behind the desk of a team’s general manager’s office. “It’s the big dream,” she said. “That’s the goal for me.”
Sobol will be in Edmonton in the interview room for the Alouettes at the CFL Combine March 22-26, with draft day coming shortly after. Before you know it, the training camp opens. Based on her past experiences, she could be doing more at camp than just observing and taking notes.
“Last year I was involved a bit in practice,” she said. “Because I can throw, some coaches have pulled me into drills, which has been super fun. I can only hope for that this year.”
She may be shooting passes while standing near Alouette’s offensive coordinator Anthony Calvillo, who may also be throwing. “That would be pretty cool,” Sobol said. Already an idol of hers as a child
— though she admits receiver SJ Green was her favorite player — Sobol recalls first meeting the Hall of Famer quarterback shortly after joining the Als in 2021.
“There was a little star moment,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I’m a quarterback, so obviously I’ve always kind of looked up to him.”
Even if you brush aside the fun ways of hurling passes alongside the La Puente kid, Sobol gets her heart’s desire in the Montreal front office. Organizing SIN numbers for players, bank accounts, work visas or arranging travel details and managing expense reports puts her in the middle of the sport she first knew she loved, there in eighth grade. “I love football,” she said. “And I love being a part of it.”
“I can only see myself growing from here,” added the QB with the master’s degree.
“I think with the tools I’m being given, I feel like there’s no upper limit for me.”