By Jim Sullivan
---- — Bentley University running back Bobby Tarr had a bad habit of getting hurt.
“My mother used to always joke about it,” Tarr says of his habit of stockpiling injuries. “There was the skull fracture, the hip surgery, and then came the heart thing, and that was all within a span of 14 months.”
The 14 months in question encompassed the end of Tarr’s senior year at Bishop Fenwick High, where he suffered a skull fracture while “fooling around with some friends”, but still became the third-leading rusher in state high school history with 5,598 yards.
Based on that performance, Tarr was recruited to play for Bentley, but just before his freshman year began, he required surgery for a hip labral tear.
“My hip joint didn’t grow the right way,” said Tarr. “The bones were rubbing in the joints in the socket.”
With that out of the way, Tarr thought he was ready to play football. Then he began having chest pains.
“I woke up in the middle of the night,” says Tarr. “I didn’t think it was anything.”
Moved by his mother to go to the hospital, the Byfield resident headed to Anna Jaques Hospital where he was given an EKG and told he was having a heart attack.
“When they said I was having a heart attack, that was pretty scary,” said Tarr. “I was 18, I was pretty active. I just didn’t really understand it. They put me in an ambulance and shipped me down to Mass General. They ran some tests on me, and they found out it was myocarditis, a virus that settled in my heart. Where I lucked out was, I had the symptoms of a heart attack. Some people don’t, and it can either permanently damage your heart or kill you if it goes unnoticed. I had temporary damage, nothing too severe.”
Tarr was put on medication to treat the inflammation of the heart muscle, but football was out of the question for his freshman year. He bounced back in his sophomore year to emerge as one of the Northeast 10’s top backs in 2010. He averaged better than 6 yards a carry during the 2010 and 2011 season, and as a junior, amassed 860 running yards.
Tarr also surpassed 2,000 yards during his career, finishing fifth on Bentley’s all-time list, and his career rushing average of 5.6 ranks 10th amongst active Division 2 players and will receive the 2012 Nason Award for Senior Achievement by the New England Football Writers tonight.
The Nason Award has been presented annually since 1958 to the senior who has persevered against all odds to succeed in football.
“Bobby exemplifies what we as coaches look for in our student-athletes,” said Falcons coach Thom Boerman. “Toughness, leadership, will to win, work ethic, all apply to Bobby. Overcoming some physical issues early in his career, Bobby worked hard to make himself a cornerstone of our team effort these past four years.”
Tarr is the third Bentley player to receive the award, following Mike Nickerson in 1994 and Mario Hernandez-Kenyon in 2003.
“It’s great to be recognized by the New England sports writers,” says Tarr. “And I’m really grateful to have coaches who would think enough of me to nominate me for the award. I think it goes towards for my family, friends and coaches. Their support was the best part. My mother and step father were especially supportive. They kept me positive.”
Tarr studied economics and finance at Bentley and walked for graduation last spring. He will receive his diploma at the end of December and hopes to find something in the accounting or finance field.