Whatever it takes, Bob Moss is willing to inject plenty of enthusiasm in Arkansas-Pine Bluff athletes.
His motto: Hearty laughter is the best enthusiasm. And what good is playing sports when it doesn’t involve enthusiasm?
“You gain more confidence as you become more enthusiastic,” Moss said.
Through laughter or some creative measure, the man affectionately known to many as “Hubba Jubba” helps basketball and soccer athletes — even members of the UAPB marching band — bring out their lighter side to help them perform better. It’s a labor of love he’s done on a voluntary basis at the school for eight years.
The results of his work has been evident in the performance of UAPB basketball players Daniel Broughton and Sean Tingle. Broughton, who completed his senior season in March, missed much of his freshman season because of personal issues, but became a significant contributor to the Golden Lions the next three seasons and earned All-SWAC accolades.
“I reinforced the relationship as coach Ivory saw in him,” Moss said. “I assured him coach Ivory had confidence in him.
“I sat down with him after practice and gave him all the positive input to make him feel he was good as he could be. No psychological tricks.”
Tingle, who transferred to UAPB this past season from an Alabama junior college, was a seldom-used center for much of the season until he earned more playing time in the middle of conference play. Moss helped him adjust his mindset so he could become more of a factor in key games.
“I wasn’t coming in with the right mindset to get better at times, and these last couple of games, it’s been hitting me (that) I only have one more year left,” Tingle told The Commercial in February. “So, I really need to start to perfect my game and do what I can so I can go do what I want to do.”
The enthusiasm Moss helped Tingle inject into his game led to added confidence, which has carried over into Tingle’s life away from the court.
“Every time we shake hands, we shake hands with enthusiasm,” Moss said in February. “He’ll now look you in the eye.”
As with many athletes and band marchers, Moss gave Tingle creative ideas to visualize how he performs and draw happiness from his activities. Moss also gives his pupils visual aids such as homemade stickers and posters that they can post anywhere to remind them the importance of the positive virtues.
Moss also prints from his computer copies of newspaper pages in which athletes appeared so that he can give to them.
“Remember to be positive. Put it on a wall or a mirror,” Moss said of the aids. “When you get up to brush your teeth, you have something to be positive about.”
A native of San Diego and former baseball and football standout at San Diego State, the 75-year-old Moss may as well consider himself a master of gelotology, or the study of laughter. He has written many publications on the subject since his days teaching PE at the University of California, San Diego, more than four decades ago, and he has a book in the works called “The Laffter Enthusiasm Connection.”
It was when he joined the staff at UCSD that he realized he had a love for sharing his zest with those he taught. He was also known around California as a rising baseball and basketball official who liked to entertain others with a colorful style of umpiring or refereeing, although it’s been reported some thought his style was a distraction to what is often viewed as a serious job. (He even taught a class in the psychology of sports officiating at UCSD.)
In addition, he acted as a motivation coach for some of the city’s professional and collegiate sports teams, including the San Diego State baseball team coached by late baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
In his publications, Moss often writes about his Moss-Cess Process, which he initiated while teaching a sports officiating course. The steps in the process include the desire to develop a more positive attitude, a learning situation with new information and new experiences, the discovery of unlimited areas of human potential which leads to progressive success experiences, gaining self-confidence, and inspiring others.
Moss and his wife of 52 years, Edna, moved to White Hall from San Diego in 2006 after what he calls “a reconnaissance mission.” He visited two college towns where housing is way more affordable than in San Diego – Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Pine Bluff.
“We found out a house we bought for $16,000 in 1967 had increased hundreds of times, and we just one day decided we’re going to check out Las Cruces and Pine Bluff,” Moss said. “The way conditions were in San Diego, our budget was tight and we were still paying for our house. My wife was the one who instigated it all.”
They first visited Las Cruces, home to New Mexico State University, but ultimately landed in the Pine Bluff area in 2006 and secured a newly built home in White Hall for half of what they sold their home in San Diego for.
“A financial move a chance to move up and move in a situation we never thought imaginable,” Bob Moss said. “Traffic is slow, life is easy, gas is $3.30 a gallon — it’s $1 more in San Diego — and the catfish sure are biting.”
Moss jumped back into the college classroom upon his arrival and served as a personal health and safety class instructor at UAPB for three semesters.
UAPB’s basketball and soccer teams have won a combined three SWAC championships since Moss first mentored them. It’s likely the enthusiasm he champions every day has led to the enthusiasm that comes from bringing championships to Pine Bluff.
But championships or no championships, the laughter and enthusiasm Moss promotes never grows old.
“I kept myself young,” he said. “I was always young around young people.”