Audubon third baseman Gabby Bobo is winding down an outstanding career, one in which she has excelled in field hockey, basketball and now her best sport — softball.
While Bobo will be sad when her high school career is over, she is eagerly awaiting the next phase of her life.
In August, when many of her friends will be enjoying their final weeks at the Jersey shore before attending college, Bobo will be in Oklahoma, beginning boot camp.
Bobo is putting off her college plans for a semester as she enrolls in the Army Reserve. She is taking part in the ROTC program.
She will attend the College of New Jersey in January and play softball. But soon, hitting and fielding won't be her priority.
Getting through boot camp is never easy, but she understands it is all part of her greater goal, which is to serve her country.
"You've got to love your country to serve it, and I wanted to give back to it," she said after a recent softball game. "I have seen men and women serve, and my great-grandfather [Robert Bobo] served in the Korean War."
In this instance, she is mixing her love of country with a passion for softball. The ROTC program will help pay for her education. She will be in the reserve while in college and then serve four years of active duty afterward.
"Since I was probably 6 years old I always wanted to play college softball," she said. "This helps me do that, and it helps with the money aspect."
Still, she didn't see dollar signs when deciding to go this route.
"I have a real sense of duty," she said.
This summer, she said she'll play some softball with her team, the South Jersey Gators, but her main priority will be preparing for boot camp.
When it's suggested that she is doing something courageous, Bobo said the real courage was provided by her late friend and basketball teammate, Kari Jenkinson, who lost a two-year battle with brain cancer on Jan. 4.
"Kari was one of my best friends, and she was truly courageous," Bobo said.
When Bobo told people about her plans, few eyebrows were raised. That's because of her tremendous leadership skills, a prerequisite for her new career.
"Gabby has been a leader from the time she stepped foot on the field as a freshman," Audubon softball coach Erin Small said. "It is not surprising to me one bit she has picked the military as a career."
Small said she has no doubt that Bobo will enjoy the same success in her next career as she has on the athletic fields in Audubon.
"She is such a hard worker, a great student. Her fitness level is outstanding, and she has been a three-sport athlete and an integral part of every team," Small said. "She is used to that leadership role, juggling a lot of things, and she is going to be very successful in the future."
Boot camp will be 10 weeks, and Bobo's athletic ability will obviously be a benefit when she goes through the rigorous routine. And she can't wait to tackle the challenge.