Nov. 3, 1999
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Imagine after spending a year on the freshman team you are a sophomore in college getting ready to play your first varsity football game. At 18 years old you find yourself 600 miles away from home in the strange and unfamiliar town of West Lafeyette, Indiana. Coming out of the locker room, you catch a glimpse of your opponent--the number one ranked Purdue Boilermakers.
This is how former wide receiver Bob Bischoff began his varsity football career at the University of Virginia. Though the Cavaliers lost the game 44-6, it was an eye-opening experience Bischoff will never forget.
He came to UVa with high expectations, and that first game against Purdue failed to derail his mission.
"When I went to Virginia, my goal was to be one of the best receivers in school history. When I left, I was fortunate enough to be ranked third in receiving. If you never set goals, you won't achieve much. I think that you must have lofty goals, and if you fall a little short so be it. I don't think any dreams are ever accomplished without goals."
Bischoff's best season came in 1969 when he led the Cavaliers in both receiving yards and total receptions. That year he brought down 35 receptions for 498 yards. The hard work and dedication he used to earn himself a place in Virginia's record book has also helped him establish a successful career as a dentist.
"The lessons that I learned from football and athletics in general has contributed to the intensity I use to approach every job. Football builds a type of toughness that allows you to approach any job or any task and do it with a great deal of zeal."
Since his playing days at Virginia, Bischoff has continued to remain very involved in the athletic program. A a regular at most football alumni weekends and other University-sponsored gatherings, he keeps in close contact with many of his former teammates and coaches.
"A lot of the people that I met through athletics at the University have become life-long friends. They were quality people who made a great impact on me and influenced the decisions I made. They are still just such a major part of my life."
Another major focal point of Bischoff's life is his 12 year-old son Will. Will showed an early interest in sports, and Bischoff has always been supportive of his son's activities. Even if Will never plays at the collegiate level, Bischoff knows the beneficial and positive influence of team sports.
"Athletics teaches discipline, team work, and organizational skills. I think that if kids can carry on some of the things that they learn as being part of a team it bodes well for society. Regardless of who the child is, if they participate in athletics and give it all they've got, no matter how they develop skill wise, they will take something out their participation in sports to further themselves in life."
Over the years Bischoff has learned to play a different role in sports. As his son competes on both the football field and basketball court, he acts as supporter, mentor, and loyal parent. Bischoff has become so involved in his son's A.A.U. basketball team that the coaches and other parents jokingly refer to him as "the team owner". He provides each child with a pair of selected team shoes and helps finance their yearly trip to the A.A.U. National Tournament. While watching the team play, Bischoff is often reminded of his own experience at Virginia, and how special it was for him.
"I will always contribute as much as I possibly can to help these kids. You get one shot in your life to be the best that you can be, and there is no turning back the clock. I think to be both a student and a college athlete is one of the most wonderful experiences you can have. I want people to have the same opportunity to experience what I experienced. I want my son and the other kids on his team to a have the opportunity so that they won't have to be the ones to wonder if they could have done that."
As Virginia's 14th all-time career receiving leader, there is little question of the success Bob Bischoff had on the football field. He continues to make his contributions to sports through the support and encouragement of youth athletics. A winner both on and off the field, Bischoff represents a true champion.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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