July 16, 2013
Editor's note: This story appears in the summer issue of The Horn, CSU Athletics' magazine. All former student-athletes and Ram Club members receive The Horn on a quarterly basis. For more information, contact the Ram Club Office, (970) 491-4666.
By Gary Ozzello
Tennis runs deep in Bobbe (Vasos) Bennett's blood.
She's passed along that passion for the game to her family, including four young children.
Bennett, a three-time Colorado State University letterwinner, picked up a racquet for the first time when she was 14 years old.
"My aunt Rose, who lived in Iowa, really got me into the game," she says. From there, it's been a decades-old passion.
She would practice with her aunt on trips to the Midwest, then return to Fort Collins and continue the work alongside her parents, Joe and Becky. Joe has been a member of the Communications and Creative Services staff at CSU for more than three decades, and Becky, formerly a manager at Markley Motors, is now a local real estate agent.
Following an illustrious career at Rocky Mountain High School, Bennett played at Western Michigan for a season before returning to her roots in Fort Collins. She was part of a Rams' team under coach Jon Messick that defeated third-seeded UNLV in the 2001 Mountain West Championships held in Fort Collins - the program's first-ever postseason win.
"Just hosting the championships was a real highlight. And then winning our first-round match is something I'll always remember."
Bennett's competitive nature still resonates in her coach's mind.
"Bobbe was one of the most intense and competitive players that I have ever coached," Messick said. "She was a significant positive influence on that team and set the competitive tone in that particular match."
Bennett also remembers fondly how important tennis has been to her entire family. Her younger sister, Carmen, played at University of Northern Colorado, and Bennett, following graduation from CSU, entered the coaching ranks, including a stint at her former high school coaching the boy's team.
One of her pupils was brother Will.
"It was a real thrill to coach him. It was a transition at first for both of us: Will taking instruction from his older sister. But it was a lot of fun. I was there with him during the recruiting process, too."
Even more fun during Will's senior season was when he won the school's first-ever singles state championship, setting off a family celebration. Will then played collegiately at the University of Iowa.
Now, Bennett has introduced the game to sons Luke (8) and Jake (3), along with daughters Ellie (7) and Anna (5). She also teaches tennis at a fitness center in Cleveland, where she lives with her husband, Jamie.
"When I'm not teaching, I'm involved with the kids. Luke is way more passionate than I ever was. It's been fun to be able to pass it on. Luke is very competitive and plays a lot of sports, but he always comes back to tennis. He enjoys it."
Sports continues to be a vital part of the Bennett household. A standout defensive lineman for the Rams, Jamie keyed a 22-17 win over Louisville in the 2000 Liberty Bowl by forcing a fumble from Cardinals' quarterback Dave Ragone - his former teammate at St. Ignatius High in Cleveland. Coincidentally, one of Jamie's prep assistant coaches was Jack Corrigan, the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Colorado Rockies.
The Bennetts met while both were studentathletes at Colorado State and were married following graduation. Jamie originally taught locally while Bobbe coached. Soon, he chose to follow his father and become a dentist, completing prerequisite courses at Colorado State then attending dental school at the University of Colorado.
He also joined the Army and was assigned for four years to West Point, N.Y., where Bobbe was an assistant coach for the Black Knights program.
The pair then returned to Cleveland, where Jamie is transitioning into his father's family dental practice.