Like any caring father, David Bobb will do practically anything for his daughters. That includes transporting food, clothes and other materials from his home in Bel Air to his oldest, Caitlyn, who is a freshman sprinter for the UMBC women’s track and field program.
Last month, Caitlyn Bobb asked her father, who is also the head coach of the Retrievers indoor and outdoor teams, to bring her an insulated bag on the day the team traveled to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. He hung it on the door to remind himself to take it—and then forgot it.
“So he had to get one from Aldi’s,” Caitlyn Bobb said with a laugh.
“I was going through my mental checklist, and unfortunately, that wasn’t high on the priority chain versus making sure that I had the passes, the tickets, the meal money, and so forth,” David Bobb said. “So when she texted me, ‘Hey, did you bring the cold bag?,’ there was that awkward pause and then, ‘No, I didn’t. I forgot it.’”
That has been one of the few hiccups for Caitlyn Bobb. She has already captured indoor and outdoor America East titles in the 200- and 400-meter races and the 1,600 relay, earning Most Outstanding Female Track Performer, Most Outstanding Rookie and the Coaches’ Award for the most points scored at both championships.
Bobb has already set three conference meet records. She ran the 200 at the outdoor championships on Sunday in 23.44 seconds, teamed with seniors Collese Daley, Ariella Garcia, and Ayanna Johnson to finish the 1,600 relay in 3:39.24, and joined the same trio to complete the indoor 1,600 relay in 3: 44.39.
Bobb also owns school records in the 400 (53.50 indoors and 53.58 outdoors), the 400 relay (45.63 at the Penn Relays) and 800 relay (1:36.42 at the Penn Relays). In fact, her name is on the same page as her father’s, a 2002 graduate and UMBC’s first NCAA Division I All-American who continues to hold marks in the 60 (6.72 in 1997) and 200 (20.85 in 1996) indoors and the 100 (10.18 in 1997), 200 (20.63 in 1997), 400 relay (39.41 in 1994), and 800 relay (1:24.63 in 1994).
“It’s something I’ve wanted to have for a while,” Caitlyn Bobb said of adding her name next to her father’s before pointing out she has a younger sister, Madison, a freshman sprinter at Harford Tech. “I feel like we’re building a legacy because when you look in there, you see Bobb and Bobb. Hopefully, other people in our family will make it Bobb, Bobb and Bobb.”
David Bobb, who has helmed the program for the last 24 years, sounded like a proud father, but also noted that his daughter has benefited from having equally talented teammates.
“It’s good to see her experience that, it’s good to see her progress, and it’s good for her and her teammates,” he said. “The beauty of it is in the relays, everyone may think it’s just her de ella, but she is with three other people who are strong and help out in the relays and contribute their parts de ella also.”
Caitlyn Bobb’s success might not be terribly surprising considering her family heritage. In addition to her father de ella, her mother de ella, the former Dawnnette Douglas, represented Bermuda at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where she competed in the 100 and 200 after her senior year at Maryland.
Dawnnette Bobb said she got a glimpse of her daughter’s running ability as a four-year-old preschooler when she excelled at a sports day at her school in Bermuda and then the next year as a kindergartener at her elementary school. Shortly after, the family relocated to Maryland, but Dawnnette Bobb shut down the idea of running in favor of athletic pursuits like basketball, swimming and volleyball.
“People pigeonhole you once you’re good at something, and then you can’t see what else you’re good at,” she said. “She’s a good volleyball player, and that’s only because we did not allow her to run. If not, she runs so much that after a while, it’s like, ‘What?’ You don’t really see them progress too much after that. So if she wanted to run and be successful at the college level, I didn’t want her overexposed.”
As a freshman at Harford Tech, Caitlyn Bobb played volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter before turning to outdoor track in the spring. In her first season, she won state Class 2A titles in the 200, 400 and 400 and 800 relays.
Bobb captured 13 more state championships indoors and outdoors during her time with the Cobras. As good as she was, Harford Tech coach Darrell Diamond said Bobb was committed to improving.
“She worked as hard on the team as anyone we ever had,” he said. “She hardly ever missed practice, she made it through the workouts, she learned early how to be a student of the sport in terms of how to take care of herself, and I think she may have gotten that information from Dave and Dawnnette.”
Recruited by powerhouse programs at LSU, North Carolina, Texas, and Texas A&M, Caitlyn Bobb instead chose UMBC because COVID-19 restrictions had impaired her ability to visit campuses and she wanted to major in biology education.
“I always really wanted that family-friendly environment, and I was like, ‘What better school than my dad’s school?’” said Caitlyn Bobb, who represented Bermuda in the 400 at the 2021 World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 18, but was disqualified in her heat because of a lane violation. “And it was only 45 minutes from my house.”
David Bobb described himself as “ecstatic” when his daughter informed him of her decision.
“During the whole process, I wanted her to choose where she would be most comfortable and where she would be happy,” he said. “The family environment was huge in making sure that the values that were instilled in her de ella at a younger age, she can still have, and she could still mature and grow and deal with things that come up as a young adult.”
With the Retrievers, Bobb oversees the entire program on the men’s and women’s side, leaving his daughter to work with long sprints/hurdles coach Tyron Logan. He said he wanted to avoid any signs of nepotism and give Caitlyn Bobb the space she needs to grow as a young adult.
“Even though she is my child, I have to do what’s best for all the student-athletes on the team,” he said.
Caitlyn Bobb said she enjoys being close to her father.
“It’s a nice feeling,” she said. “That’s also why I chose UMBC. It was like home, an extension of home. So if something is bothering me or I have an issue, I can go to my dad.”
Dawnnette Bobb said Caitlyn is a blend of her parents, combining her father’s long legs with her mother’s compact stature. She said watching her husband and daughter work together to help UMBC succeed is a blessing.
“It’s rewarding because the records she’s establishing, she has a record and he has a record,” she said. “It’s a warm feeling. It’s interesting how when kids are little, you don’t see what’s coming. So it’s wonderful, it’s joyous, and I’m appreciative.”