LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Life seems to operate in one gear for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe: hyper-drive.
DeFoe and his wife of almost seven years, Jennie, and his daughter, Abbie, welcomed twins Parker and Elizabeth to their family Saturday night, just days before one of the most decisive tournaments of his career.
That’s just the latest bulletin from the fast lane on which the pro from Knoxville, Tenn., pilots his successful fishing career
Some background: Last fall, a month after he turned 25, DeFoe qualified for the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series. He quickly fished his way up to be the top-ranked rookie on the trail. He’s also currently holding down spot No. 7 in the overall points, a remarkable accomplishment for a first-year Elite pro. His first Bassmaster Classic qualification is virtually in the bag. He has some of the sport’s top names as his sponsors, backers most pros would give their eye teeth to have.
And, true to DeFoe form, he became the father of twins on the same day he posted a top-12 finish in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on his home lake, Douglas. He weighed in his fish, then drove 25 minutes to the hospital in Sevierville, Tenn., where his wife was in labor.
What timing. Not to mention that the babies arrived between Elite event Nos. 6 and 7, when DeFoe was close to home. The timing was never a case of Jennie somehow stalling so her husband could finish a tournament, or of Ott tossing the dice. It was Mother Nature’s timing — another example of how life seems to go Ott DeFoe’s way.
Perhaps that has something to do with his quiet, easy going personality. Like last Saturday afternoon, when a Bassmaster.com reporter asked him if he was ready to make the long drive from the Open in Tennessee to the Elite event in Arkansas.
“First, a short drive to the hospital,” he answered, not explaining what he meant. He smiled and reached out to a fan to sign an autograph. No one could have guessed he was about to become a father again.
That was at about 3 p.m. on June 4. Jennie had called her husband earlier, about 10 a.m. (he had permission from tournament officials to receive a phone call during the competition).
“I’ll give you one guess where I am,” is what Jennie said, according to Ott.
“The doctors said it wouldn’t happen until 10 o’clock or so Saturday night, so I knew I would have plenty of time to go on and fish the rest of the day and that everything would be all right,” he said. “Yes, I was nervous and excited. I wanted to go ahead and call it a day, but on the other hand, I wanted to fish and gain as many places as I could to finish well in the tournament.”
And earn a fatter check for his family. He finished in seventh place.
He left for the hospital as soon as he weighed in his fish, and arrived in time. At 9:25 p.m., Parker, weighing in at 5-10, was born. At 9:31 p.m., Elizabeth appeared, weighing 5-7. Both are healthy babies. And incidentally, they arrived the day before Abbie’s fourth birthday.
After spending only two days with his newly expanded family, he headed to the Arkansas River for only two days of practice (instead of three) for the Diamond Drive. The moment he pulled out of his driveway, he said, was the really hard part.
“It wasn’t easy, not easy at all. But I know Jennie has a lot of help from her family,” he said.
And now DeFoe is back at work, doing his best to concentrate on unlocking the secrets of the Arkansas River. His first-line goals this week are to earn enough to points to nail down a Classic berth and make a run for the top-eight $100,000 postseason qualification.
Who could doubt it will happen for him?