From First Downs to Long Distances
Edition: November 2008 - Vol 16 Number 11
Author: Laura Thill
In Odessa, Texas, where PSS sales rep David Bobo grew up, it's all about football, he says. In fact, when Bobo was in grade school, high school offensive lineman Ryan Tucker - five years Bobo's senior - was making local headlines before being drafted by the St. Louis Rams. So, it was little surprise when 12-year-old Bobo retired his Speedo for a protective mouthpiece. No matter that his parents believed he was a much better swimmer than football player! "I was 6-foot, 3-inches and 130 pounds, so playing the game was a bit awkward," he recalls. Still, that's what it took to 'be part of the town and the [where-it's-at] scene." Later, when his school librarian, Mrs. Hall, gave Bobo an autograph of her football-hero nephew, Britt Hager, he was hooked.
Glamour and glitz, scrapes and bruises
Fast-forward to his college days at Texas Christian University, where Bobo was an All-Conference offensive lineman his last two years, and an All-American offensive lineman his senior year. He rubbed shoulders - literally - with future football greats, such as LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers). "LaDainian huddled next to me, so naturally, we knew each other well," says Bobo. "He was an example, athletically and spiritually, for anyone to follow. He always did a good job of including one of us when he met with the media. And, he really made us fifth-year seniors feel as important and talented as he was."
But, along with the glamour and glitz of the game come the scrapes and bruises, notes Bobo. Upon graduating from TCU in 2001, he was signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I played in the pre-season games, but I was injured during training camp," he says. "I remained on the team for the first four weeks of the season, but was inactive." At the end of four weeks, he was cut.
Soon after, the Barcelona Dragons drafted Bobo, and once again, he was injured and benched. "It was the same back injury I [suffered] when I was with the Steelers," he says. "Surgery would have done more harm than good." So, he decided to wait out the healing process and was cut just before the team was scheduled to leave for Europe. By the time the Calgary Stampede offered him a contract to be the only center the team would bring to its training camp, Bobo reconsidered. "I was tired of being injured and decided not to continue playing," he says. Not a choice made lightly for a true football enthusiast. Still, he led with his head, not his heart, and moved into coaching.
"I knew and understood football, so this was an easy move," says Bobo. "At the time, it was just my wife, Karly, and myself, and we were used to moving, given my football past." In 2002, he accepted a season-long position with the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) as defensive video assistant. From there, the couple moved to College Station, Texas, where Bobo coached football at Texas A&M. "I loved coaching, but I was getting tired of the 100-hour-long weeks," he says. "We had just had our first son, Ford, and I didn't want to miss out on my family." In addition, it was difficult to balance his hobbies, such as hunting, cooking and working out. "My weight would fluctuate from 260 in the off-football season to 290 during the football season," he adds. "This wasn't a healthy lifestyle and I was ready for a change.
Bobo joined PSS in the spring of 2005, and moved to Amarillo, Texas in February, 2006. "[Joining] PSS has been a great learning process," he notes. That's not to say, football isn't on his mind. "I miss everything about that sport," says Bobo. "I could never put into words [just how much I miss it]." But, as he has learned, there's life beyond the field.
A new challenge
As it turned out, Bobo did not have to look far to find an alternative to football. "My wife has been a marathoner since college graduation," he says. "She has always loved the sport and truly enjoys it. I was 285 pounds when I joined PSS, and I needed something to take the place of football." After all, he adds, it's not so easy "to put on a pair of pads and play a pickup game. But, Karly can throw on a pair of gym shoes and go running any time.
"We had seen a television show on Iron Man when we were in college, and thought it looked like fun," he continues. "When we first moved to Amarillo, I didn't even have a bike. " But, the goal-oriented Bobo purchased an inexpensive model and set his mind to training for a triathlon. "I was a good swimmer from my [school days], and biking was enjoyable," he says. But, running is considered a punishment in football, which made it more difficult to adapt to it. "To this day, I have trouble forcing myself to run!" he points out. "Fortunately, Karly is like clockwork when it comes to running. So, I [make it a point] to go out after her run, before I go to work." He then adds an additional workout at lunchtime.
In fact, Bobo enjoys the science of training. "My master's degree is in kinesiology," he explains. "Karly and I have looked at different training programs and have changed them to suit our needs. Her strength is speed and endurance, [whereas] mine is strength, but training is a common bond we share." Although being the parents of two young boys (Ford, 4 years, and Brody, 1 ½ years) can make it tricky to train together, the couple enjoys such opportunities as family reunions at his grandparents' Texas ranch. "When we have a lot of family around, Karly and I can take time to bike and swim together," he says.
The hard work has paid off for Bobo, who today weighs in at a much healthier 230 pounds. "Originally, I was a 10 ½- or 11-minute-mile runner, and today I run an eight- or 8 ½- minute mile," he says. "I have been training and competing in triathlons for three years now, and my goal still is to one day compete in an Iron Man triathlon." Recently, he competed in a triathlon in Washington, D. C., set on breaking a three-hour goal. He finished the competition in two hours and 57+ minutes. (It should be noted that Karly beat him by nearly a minute.)
This summer, Bobo discovered he faces some new competition: his son, Ford. "We've dragged him to so many of our events, he was so excited to compete in his own event (a mini-triathlon for children under six years)," he says. "The kids swam from one corner of the pool to the other, biked two laps around the parking lot and ran a quarter mile. Ford was so excited to have this opportunity, and it was exciting for us to see him so enthusiastic!"
Although he doesn't foresee ever returning to college football coaching, Bobo has translated his coaching skills to sales techniques at PSS. For one, "coaching taught me to be extremely organized (staying on top of offensive game plans, recruiting needs, players' grades, etc.) and to deal with stressful situations," he explains.
"These skills definitely translate to sales," he continues. Also, there is that team focus. If my branch doesn't succeed, I don't succeed. And we're a very spread out branch (covering an area that includes the Oklahoma panhandle, parts of New Mexico, and Texas, from El Paso to Abilene). But, we are a very cohesive team."