Ever since Bo Tjebben was a wide-eyed youngster watching his father Al play softball at Rogers Park, the passion for the game was entrenched in his blood.
Tjebben, a 1990 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate grew up on the baseball diamond. He was part of memorable Dodger teams that were state runner ups in 1989 and a state qualifier in 1990.
Once Bo and his wife Chrissy (Hofbauer) Tjebben had daughters Cassie and Bre, the affection for the game was passed on and ‘Dad’ would quickly become a guiding force at home and on the diamond.
As the girls were growing up playing for Pride softball teams, then the Dodgers and ultimately Iowa Central, Bo was there on the baseline encouraging and teaching his daughters the game of softball.
“My family has always been close, but I think the game of softball brought us even closer,” said Cassie who is a 2015 FDSH graduate. “It is a huge part of our lives. Bre and I grew up playing softball since I can even remember.”
For the past 15 years, Bo has guided his daughters in the spring and summer months on the field, but has also been the role model that his dad was to him in his childhood.
“Al passed away from cancer 10 years ago and their relationship as father and son was very similar to the one he has with our girls,” Chrissy said. “His dad was his biggest fan and supporter his entire life. Bo grew up watching his dad play softball until it was his time to play, as did our girls until it was time for them to shine on the field.
“His dad would have been extremely proud of him and our girls. It breaks my heart he was taken from us too soon and not given the chance to watch them at the high school and collegiate level. He would have loved every single minute of it.”
Bo started coaching Cassie when she was playing Pride 10U. He then was part of her Dodger and Triton days as a volunteer coach.
“He has put so much time and effort into helping me and my sister and I can’t thank him enough,” Cassie said. “Now that I am done playing, I have started to get into coaching, so maybe one day my dad and I can coach together.
“My dad coaching me has created a special bond between us that I will forever be thankful for. He means the world to me.”
Bre, a 2018 FDSH graduate, was with her dad from her 12U Pride days along with part of her career as a Dodger. Bo, who is now the assistant coach at Iowa Central coached Bre in her freshman season a Triton.
“I have loved every second of my dad being my coach,” Bre said. “My family is really close, and my parents (and of course Cassie) are my best friends. I think my dad and I have a special bond since I’m with him just a little more.
“It means the world to me to have him by my side. My family knows me better than anyone, and it’s the best feeling to play for him because he has put so much time and effort into this sport for me since Day 1.”
Bo and his daughters may be on the field, but Chrissy, a 1993 Prairie Valley graduate who also played softball, is cheering from the sidelines.
“The special bond our girls have with their dad on and off the field is priceless. His opinion is gold to them, and I’ve watched them grow up striving to model his advice in everything they do,” Chrissy said. “ Our dinner table conversations often revolve around softball. To us, it’s more than a game, and as a mom it’s meant a lot to me to have their dad, who’s such a great coach as their role model.
“The game is one of many tools we’ve used to teach our girls life lessons … such as how to be a great teammate, a team player, how to set goals and work hard for what you want, how to win with grace and how to lose respectfully. Above all, the sport has taught our girls responsibility, selflessness, to have a positive attitude, and how to overcome adversity. It’s also given them the opportunity to help pay for their education, experience the ups and downs of life and create bonds along the way which will last them a lifetime.”
The Tjebbens share the dedication for the game, but they all have had success doing it. Bo and his daughters have been all state selections and have helped lead the Dodgers to some memorable seasons.
“He’s always doing everything in his power to help me be the best athlete and person I can be,” Bre said. “I love having him as my coach because he has so much passion for the game, he has fun with it and pushes me to make me better each and everyday.
“I love when he gives me pointers, tweaks my swing, or reminds me of the little things. He’s just simply the best coach and an even better dad.”
With all the time and preparation that goes into the game, their is also time for a little fun.
“My dad has this loud obnoxious bark that he does,” Cassie said. “He will do it at the most random times to scare the girls and it is hilarious.
“Everyone who knows my dad knows that the bark is his thing.”
Bre is very familiar with the bark as well.
“He scares my teammates with his little bark he does. I shouldn’t say little because it’s very loud,” Bre said. “But anyone who knows my dad or who’s been coached by him knows to watch out for his bark — he gets you at the best times.”