Lewiston High School sophomore Alex Robert is already a family man.

In just his second season with the Lewiston team, Robert is among the top three golfers on the squad.

He also shines for the varsity hockey team, but golf is where his family bonds.

Robert’s grandfather, Mike Tiner, was the longtime coach for the Blue Devils, spending 25 years at the helm through 2000, and beyond that, Robert likes to make a golf a family event.

“Alex is a huge family guy,” mother Jen (Tiner) Robert said. “Family is very important to him, it always has been. He and my dad have a very close bond. Ever since he was really little, actually. My dad was the first one who took care of Alex. The first year, he was his caregiver. So, they have a strong bond.

“Our whole family, my parents and my brothers, we do dinner at least once a week together. Alex has grown up with that. He really wants that, he’s that type of kid, with the compassion for people and his family.”

Golf is, of course, a part of the dinner conversation when Alex and his grandfather get together.

“We eat dinner with them pretty much every night, talk about golf almost every time when I am with them,” Alex said. “We talk about all my golf practices, my matches and advice on how to improve on a few strokes and change my game a little bit.

“Whenever school is out, he will bring me out to Martindale to play. Or when we go to Florida for vacation, he will show me all these different courses and the differences in the game. So it’s fun.”

Tiner, who won several regional titles as a coach, is happy he can give his grandson advice when he wants it, but is just as happy to put on his grandfather hat.

“Twenty-five years at Lewiston was enough for me,” Tiner said. “I really don’t miss the coaching part. I miss working with the kids, but I don’t miss the commitment in the fall. I am happy with what I am doing right now.”

Jen Robert grew up around golf, with her father teaching her the different aspects of the game. She played a round or two as a kid, but chose basketball and soccer as her athletic endeavors at Lewiston and later at Bates College, where she was a four-year starter in soccer and a basketball player her senior year, as well.

It wasn’t until this past summer that Jen started to play golf on a regular basis, finally relenting to Alex’s encouragement.

“It’s more time to spend and finding things in common with the kids,” Jen said. “Watching Alex play has been really fun, and he has been asking me for the past couple of years, ‘Just try it and come out and play with me.’ So, I did that this year. Me, Alex and Dave (Jen’s husband and Alex’s dad) hit around, and that’s pretty much all. Of course, my mom, too. She’s a pretty avid golfer, too.”

Alex’s sisters also played a couple of rounds this summer with the family.

Alex said his mother has some skill.

“She’s pretty good, she played when she was younger,” he said. “She was teaching me a few things, but she can work on her putting. So I needed to help her out there a little bit.”

Tiner sees similar athletic traits in his grandson that he’s seen in his daughter.

“They are both very good athletes in their own way,” Tiner said. “I would say Alex and Jennifer never used more energy then they actually need to at a particular time playing a sport. Jennifer always got the job done without diving on the ground for a basketball or making slides in the mud in soccer. She made it look easy and she didn’t have to do that. Alex is the same way. If you watch him play hockey, he plays within himself, he doesn’t play out of control. I see him do that in golf as well.”

Alex Robert said the mental game also helps him in both golf and hockey. (He plays on the Lewiston lacrosse team, as well.)

He also has strong hockey lineage on his father’s side of the family. His other grandfather is Dick Robert, who was a longtime assistant coach at St. Dominic Academy under coaching legend Bob Boucher.

Alex got his start in golf the same way Jen started to pick up the game: he would go out with his grandmother, Sue, and hit balls, learning the different techniques of chipping, driving and putting.

“When I think about starting, I think about my grandmother bringing me out to Roy’s golf course, playing the par-3 course and helping me out,” Alex said, “teaching me how to swing.”

Early on it looked as though Alex might be following in Jen’s athletic footsteps. He played soccer in the fall, and she coached him from when he was 5 until he entered middle school.

“I was thinking he would go the soccer route because we would talk and say golf is a lifelong sport, he can play it whenever he wants in the future,” Jen said. “But by the time he got to his freshman year of high school, he really loved the game of golf. We told him, ‘It’s completely up to you; you choose where your heart is.’ And his heart is with golf. I think he made a great decision. He loves it.”

Right before he started high school, he kept himself busy on the course.

“When high school came, I was just thinking about what I would rather do,” Alex said. “I had been playing golf a lot that summer. I was getting better at it and I thought I would try out for the high school golf team. I’m glad I made that choice. I really enjoy playing.”

His love for the sport shows when Lewiston doesn’t have a match or practice.

This past Wednesday, Lewiston had a half day of school. Jen picked him up at and drove him to Martindale, where he has a membership, and also where Lewiston plays its home matches. He was there from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., working on his game.

“We went right to the course and practiced on the putting green for a good hour and a half,” Alex said. “Then I went down to the range and hit a bucket of balls. As soon as I could after that, I went right onto the course and played 18 holes.”

He will be at the golf course from when the snow melts in the spring until the ground starts to freeze again in late autumn. He also worked at Martindale this summer.

Looking back, Tiner said if he had to measure where Alex is now compared to himself as a high school sophomore, it’s no contest.

“He’s a much better player at his age than I was at that age,” Tiner said. “He was much more advanced than I was. He has a lot of natural ability and talent — he’s still learning the game. There’s a lot to learn about this game, he’s still in the learning process.”

Tiner was just starting to play golf when he was in high school. His father played at Fairlawn Country Club in Poland. Tiner did play golf in college; a buddy and he started up the golf program at Thomas College.

This season, Alex has been shooting in the high-30s in matches. He hopes to qualify for the individual state championship as well as help the Devils qualify for the team tournament.

Whether he reaches those goals this year or not, though, there is no doubt his family will be right by his side, helping him along the way.

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