“When I was born with a congenital heart defect no one would have believed that I would end up conducting a Basketball and Fitness Clinic on the White House Outdoor Basketball Court for a WNBA Championship Celebration; but I did!" -Roberta (Bobbi) Courtright, Indiana Fever Director of Community and Player Relations (pictured second from left)
Community Relations Leader Courtright a Perfect Representative for Fever’s Association with Adult Congenital Heart Association NightTweet
Bryce Marsee | April 22, 2014
Since birth, Roberta (Bobbi) Courtright was told she would never be able to have a normal life. Born with aortic stenosis and a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital heart condition in which the aortic valve is too small to pump the right amount of blood throughout the body, Bobbi was told by many to stay away from physical activity, including what Bobbi’s family loved most, sports.
“My parents and I were always told to get me into piano, and stuff like that,” Bobbi said. “Nothing against that, but it wasn’t me. I loved sports. Even though they told me not to play competitively in sports, my parents let me.”
Driven to deny all odds, Bobbi began playing sports at a young age. Today, she is the Indiana Fever’s director of community and player relations and a real-life example of how to survive and thrive with a congenital heart defect.
As her parents continued to allow her to participate in sports, there was another man who Bobbi credits to playing a pivotal role in not letting her condition get the best of her. Todd Holstege served as Bobbi’s elementary gym teacher at Creston Christian School in Grand Rapids, Mich. While there, Holstege taught Bobbi the importance of working out and helped her learn what she could and couldn’t do with Aortic Stenosis.
“He really helped me back in elementary school learn that I can workout,” Bobbi said. “I just have to watch myself and work up to what I can do. So, he didn’t just sit me down and tell me I can’t participate in physical education class, he let me participate, and he showed me and helped me learn what I can do. So, I thank him for that.”
By the time Bobbi reached high school, she had played just about every sport she could through elementary and middle school. Although she was unable to make the high school basketball team, Bobbi excelled as a pitcher for her softball team. After a year on the JV team, Bobbi would finish her three-year varsity career as the team’s number one pitcher. Her success at the high school level landed her an opportunity to play for a year on her college team.
It was during high school and college that Bobbi learned the business side of sports. After graduating with a major in Business Administration/Sports Management, Bobbi took a route that would eventually land her a job with the Indiana Fever.
Now with the Fever, Bobbi hopes to help raise awareness for congenital heart defects and staying active. On May 17, the Congenital Heart Walk will take place on the campus of Butler University. The walk will raise awareness and money for congenital heart defects.
“The Congenital Heart Walk in Indianapolis will be a national effort between Adult Congenital Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation,” she said. “The money will be raised for those two organizations to help with finding causes for congenital heart defects.”
Alongside Bobbi, members of the Indiana Fever staff, as well as Fever MVPs, will walk to raise awareness for congenital heart defects. The walk will take place the morning of the Fever’s home opening game on May 17, giving Fever fans two opportunities to participate in Fever events that day.
Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. in front of Butler’s Atherton Union (709 W. Hampton Dr., Indianapolis), with the walk beginning at 10:00 a.m. The event offers family friendly 1-mile and 3-mile routes. Free parking will be available in the Irwin Library parking lot, as well as behind Schwitzer Hall. Handicap parking is available to the adjacent parking lot to the west side of Atherton Union.
To join the Indiana Fever team for the Congenital Heart Walk, visit this page.