Fomer Palmerton cross-country great Jeff Dobias still loves to run
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Times News is running a series of stories on former area athletes and what they have been doing since graduating from high school. The subject of today’s “Catching up With” is former Palmerton High School cross-country and track standout Jeff Dobias)
By TJ Engle
Back in his high school days, running was always on Jeff Dobias’ mind.
The 1999 Palmerton graduate was a standout performer on both the Blue Bomber cross-country and track teams.
Dobias not only ran a lot during that period of his life, but he ran extremely well - capturing the Times News Cross Country Athlete of the Year award during both his junior and senior seasons.
Back then, running was his priority, and competition was his motivation.
Two decades removed from his glory days of league and district championships as a Bomber, Dobias’ love for running remains, but his priorities and motivation have changed.
“I’m still running, but not racing all that much though,” Dobias said. “For me now, it’s more for exercise than competition.
“Every now and then I get the urge to go out there and compete again. but that is a part of me that has definitely changed over the years.”
During his Palmerton career, Dobias was a two-time Colonial League and a two-time District 11 champ in cross-country. He was also a four-time qualifier for the PIAA State Championships that was highlighted by 11th- and fourth-place finishes in his junior and senior seasons.
Dobias also brought home plenty of hardware in the spring. He captured the CL track gold medal in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs during his junior and senior seasons, while also adding the D-11 3,200 meter title as a senior.
“I think one of the things that helped was the summer training,” Dobias said. “I really started to increase my mileage - especially between my sophomore and junior year. That training was really the key for my success in high school.”
Cross-country and track and field traveled with Dobias to Penn State University for only a short time.
He only competed during his freshman and sophomore seasons, giving up Division 1 athletics to focus on his studies.
“To be honest with you, at that level, it was very competitive,” said Dobias. “I wasn’t really a standout and after thinking about it and weighing my options, I chose to focus on my studies rather than competing.”
After graduating from Penn State in 2003, Dobias started to substitute teach in Palmerton Area School District for a few months.
Dobias eventually landed a full-time teaching position at Mount DeSales Academy in Macon, Georgia. He spent 11 years there in the mathematics department, teaching everything from Algebra to Calculus.
Although Dobias wasn’t entering and competing in many races himself during his time in Georgia, his love of running, competition and teaching all combined to keep him involved in sports.
The success that Dobias enjoyed while competing at Palmerton followed him into the coaching ranks as well.
Dobias started as an assistant cross-country and track coach at Mount DeSales, and then eventually moved up to head coach. He served as the cross-country coach for nine years, and the track and field coach for four years.
Dobias coached Mount DeSales to five Georgia Independent Association State Championships during his tenure - four boys and one girls title.
“One of the things that I loved most about being coach and teacher, was the opportunity to use things I was comfortable with and share it with others,” Dobias said. “Using and teaching things that you’re good at to benefit others is a great feeling.
“I also learned that in both teaching and coaching, it helps to be creative in the terms of the way you present the material. Making it fun and enjoyable for them helps them learn and improve. That’s one of the things I tried to do in both the classroom, and as a coach as well.”
After over a decade in Georgia, Dobias left Mount DeSales to move back to Pennsylvania. A one-year teaching stop in the Philadelphia area followed, before Dobias made another location change - and this one included a career change as well.
Dobias left teaching to take a position as a Gateway Delivery Specialist with SRC Solutions - a company based in Center Valley, that deals with Electronic Document Management.
The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily put Dobias’ position on hold with the company, allowing him some extra time to consider possibly getting back into the coaching ranks, and also reminisce about his own athletic career.
“When I look back at my time running while at Palmerton, I remember it being so special. It really was a blast,” Dobias said. “I’m grateful to my teammates, my parents and my coaches. They were all so important in helping me during that time of my life.
“Those days still hold a lot of great memories. That was a special time.”