Ten-year anniversary of Jet Sports Training includes Rodriguez returning to Brazil where venture started

Jet Sports Training owner Bobby Rodriguez at the beach at Jacaraípe, Espirito Santo, Brazil earlier this month where his sports training venture began 10 years ago (Rodriguez photo)

Bobby Rodriguez was emotionally out of sorts 10 years ago after his best friend, former Sunnyside teammate Jacob Rocky Samorano, died in a car accident and his life was in transition after completing his run as a walk-on football player at Arizona.

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

He found his profession as a sports-fitness trainer on the beach near where he lived and his life has never been the same.

“One of my second options was to go fight wildfires in Idaho,” Rodriguez said. “It 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. That was one of the reasons why I said, ‘I need to leave. I need to leave far away. I just need to detach from everything.'”


Rodriguez was living with his mom after graduating from Arizona which further led to him wanting to become more independent and be on his own.

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

“It was like, ‘You’ve got to figure it out. You have to ride the bus to work. You’ve got to figure out how to get back home.'”

You’ve got to figure it out.

Rodriguez often reflects on the conversation he had with former Arizona assistant coach Mark Stoops, now the head coach at Kentucky, as they walked off the practice field during his senior year.

“I remember he had his arm around my shoulder while we were walking and saying that the NFL was not in my future, but I could still make something out of myself after earning my degree,” said Rodriguez, who was 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds during his time at Arizona.

“That got me to thinking I can achieve big things. He saw it in me. I should see that in myself.”

You’ve got to figure it out.

Rodriguez figured it out.

He continued his will to stay in shape after his football career taking up Jiu-Jitsu, a sport with a rich tradition in Brazil, and working out at a beach that had a pull-up bar, dip bar and a bench. He brought a set of cones with him for agility circuit training in addition to the bench dips, pull-ups, push-ups and chin-ups.

Passers-by started to notice his regimen and asked to join him. As time went on, more than 20 people routinely participated in the workouts with Rodriguez training them.

“I was teaching English out there at a school, and not to knock the job, but I could not stop thinking all day, ‘I cannot wait to go home, get my bag and get to the beach so I can train people and train myself,'” he said. “It was just an obsession that I had. I just knew when I was training people, this is my purpose. This is what I love to do. This is what I’m obsessed about.”

Jet Sports Training was born.

The “Jet” nickname was created by Samorano and his former Sunnyside teammates after Rodriguez returned an interception 99 yards and dived head-first into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Jet never loses fuel, it seems.

In addition to picking up 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.

Moving back was another leap of faith, much like leaving to Brazil to find himself.

He went from place to place with family and friends while being an elementary-school physical education teacher and conducting a women’s boot camp at Quincie Douglas Park. Money was tight and he often was concerned about not having a place to live.

You’ve got to figure it out.

Figuring it out often is assisted by others and divine intervention.

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

A Godsend was Yvette Herrera, a teacher where Rodriguez taught. They befriended each other and Herrera welcomed him to her home. They are now married with two children. Pierre and Yeisi.

Rodriguez’s training business grew to the point 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 on the southside, where Rodriguez was raised.

He and his team of coaches started training NFL players, college and high school athletes and youths, in addition to adults nightly. Rodriguez developed the slogan “Cultivating Champions” during this process.

Jet Sports Training’s growing popularity forced Rodriguez to move the operations a 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 impetus of Jet Sports Training began in Brazil (Rodriguez video)

“There’s been a lot of peaks and valleys through the throughout the 10 years, more peaks than valleys,” Rodriguez said. “But I just feel that we as a company, we’re still on the rise. We haven’t arrived at our final destination, but we’re well on our way.”

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of moving to Brazil and generating the dream that has become Jet Sports Training, Rodriguez returned earlier this month to the neighborhood where he lived with his Godmother.

He visited the beach where he administered impromptu workout sessions 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 deteriorated so they are no longer there, but the area’s still there,” Rodriguez said. “It was pretty moving to see because time flew by so fast.

“At the same time, it made me step back and look at the big picture and just be grateful for where we’re at today.”

You’ve got to figure it out.

“We have a team of coaches that are in line with the mission (of cultivating champions), and what we want to do for the community,” he said. “That’s what makes it happen. It’s not just me, but it’s the coaches and the community that has made it happen throughout the years.

“I’m proud of Jet and everything that’s happened through the athletic side and the general-public side with exercise and fitness.”

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


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

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