Bobby Rodriguez, owner of Jet Sports Training, at Jacaraípe Beach, Espirito Santo, Brazil earlier this month, where his sports training business started 10 years ago (Pictured Rodriguez)

Bobby Rodriguez was emotionally in bad shape 10 years ago after his best friend, former Sunnyside teammate Jacob Rocky Samoranodied in a car accident and his life was in transition after finishing his run as a level football player in Arizona.

He moved to Jacaraípe, Espirito Santo, Brazil – about 350 miles from Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic Ocean coast – to find himself living with his aunt (who is his godmother).

He found his job as a sports-fitness trainer on the beach near his home and his life was never the same again.

“One of my second options was to go fight the wildfires in Idaho,” Rodriguez said. “He was paying $45,000 in 2012, which was a lot of money for eight months of work. … But I just felt in my heart that I needed a culture change. I needed a change of scenery.

“The passing of my best friend really, really hurt me a lot. It was one of the reasons I said, ‘I have to go.’ I have to go away. I just need to detach. of all.

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Rodriguez lived with his mother after graduating from Arizona, which led him to want to become more independent and be on his own.

“It was a new country; it was a new lot of everything,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad it happened because it forced me to figure things out on my own. It was no longer campus life or home life with my mother.

“It was like, ‘You have to figure it out. You have to take the bus to work. You have to find a way to get home.

You must understand.

Rodriguez often reflects on the conversation he had with the former Arizona assistant coach mark stoopsnow head coach of Kentucky, as they left the training ground in his senior year.

“I remember he had his arm around my shoulder as we walked and said the NFL wasn’t in my future, but there was still something I could do after I graduated,” said Rodriguez, who was 5 feet 7 inches tall. and 145 pounds while in Arizona.

“It made me think I could achieve great things. He saw that in me. I should see that in myself.

You must understand.

Rodriguez got it.

He continued his drive to stay in shape after his soccer career by learning Jiu-Jitsu, a sport with a rich tradition in Brazil, and training on a beach that had a pull-up bar, dips and a bench. He brought a set of cones with him for agility circuit training in addition to dips, pull-ups, push-ups and bench pull-ups.

Passers-by started noticing his diet and asked to join him. Over time, more than 20 people regularly participated in the workouts with Rodriguez coaching them.

“I was teaching English there at a school, and not to hit the job, but I couldn’t help thinking all day, ‘I can’t wait to get home, get my bag and going to the beach so I could train people and train myself,” he said. “It was just an obsession that I had. I just knew that when I was training people, that was my goal. That’s what I like to do. That’s what obsesses me. »

Jet Sports Training was born.

The nickname “Jet” was coined by Samorano and his former Sunnyside teammates after Rodriguez returned an interception 99 yards and dove headfirst into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Jet never loses fuel, it seems.

Besides learning Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, he also started riding bulls, another popular activity in that country.

In 2014, when he returned to Tucson from Brazil, he was determined to create Jet Sports Training while continuing to train in Jiu-Jitsu and ride bulls in rodeos.

Coming back was another leap of faith, a bit like going to Brazil to find yourself.

He went from place to place with his family and friends while being a physical education teacher in elementary school and running a women’s boot camp at Quincie Douglas Park. Money was scarce and he often feared that he would not have a home.

You must understand.

Understanding it is often aided by others and divine intervention.

Bobby Rodriguez, owner of Jet Sports Training, on his recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Rodriguez photos)

A boon was Yvette Herrera, a teacher where Rodriguez taught. They became friends and Herrera took him into her home. They are now married and have two children. Peter and Yeisi.

Rodriguez’s training business grew to the point where he needed an indoor facility for year-round workouts. In 2017, he opened an 8,000 square foot facility in an industrial area near Park and Ajo to the south, where Rodriguez grew up.

He and his coaching staff began coaching NFL players, athletes, and college and high school youth, in addition to adults nightly. Rodriguez developed the slogan “Cultivating Champions” during this process.

The growing popularity of Jet Sports Training forced Rodriguez to move operations one block away in February 2021 to a larger 30,000 square foot facility.

He believes the evolution of his business has only scratched the surface.

Bobby Rodriguez showing where the Jet Sports Training momentum started in Brazil (Rodriguez video)

“There were a lot of peaks and valleys over the 10 years, more peaks than valleys,” Rodriguez said. “But I just feel like as a company we’re still on the rise. We haven’t reached our final destination, but we’re on our way.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the move to Brazil and generate the dream that has become Jet sports trainingRodriguez returned earlier this month to the neighborhood where he lived with his godmother.

He visited the beach where he administered impromptu workouts for people, and he went to the gym where he trained to become a Jiu-Jitsu competitor.

“Due to rust, the pull-up bar and the dip bar have deteriorated so they’re not there anymore, but the area is still there,” Rodriguez said. “It was quite emotional to see because the time passed so quickly.

“At the same time, it made me take a step back and look at the bigger picture and just be thankful for where we are today.”

You must understand.

“We have a coaching staff that matches the mission (to cultivate champions) and what we want to do for the community,” he said. “That’s what makes it happen. It’s not just me, but the coaches and the community that have made this possible over the years.

“I’m proud of Jet and all that’s happened on the sporting side and the mainstream side with exercise and fitness.”

The Tucson High School baseball program practices annually at Jet Sports Training (Photos by Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

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Javier Morales, publisher, writer and editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book “The Highest Life Form”, which is available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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