Pfeiffer Remains a Formative Influence for Cabotaje
During his time at Pfeiffer College, Bert Cabotaje ’72 came to love all his professors. He seldom had to make an appointment to see them because their office doors were always open when he needed extra help. Many ate with him and his classmates in the dining hall, and some even joined him for a round of golf.
“We all shared an openness that I will never forget,” said Cabotaje, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance. “The family feeling that I got at Pfeiffer has underscored my philosophy of life and my philosophy of business, and it’s made me successful today.”
Cabotaje is the CEO/Sports Agent at Pro Sports Marketing Agency of Falls Church, Va., where he serves his player clients in much the same way that Pfeiffer’s professors treated him.
“The key factor in being successful in this business is your relationship with the athlete,” he said. “I have gotten some athletes that have come from big agents because they tell me, ‘You know what? I can’t get my agent. The service has become poor.’ I would rather offer quality service for smaller groups of players.”
Cabotaje got into sports management following careers as a financial analyst and in sales. His niche is managing players of individual sports, including golf, tennis, and surfing. In this way, he has done quite well but avoided the “big competition” and other hurdles of landing players of team sports in the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball.
Cabotaje’s principal duties at Pro Sports Marketing run the gamut. He makes the arrangements for an athlete to do a signing session in a store. He arranges airport transportation and other accommodations for players on tour. He connects players with health coaches and psychologists. He negotiates the contracts that enable players to serve as company spokespersons. He enlists the help of tax consultants, particularly for the foreign players he represents.
He troubleshoots any issues arising from a sponsorship deal in which a player client does visual advertising for Nike by wearing its apparel during competitions.
“I tell them right up front, “Look, I consider you my friend. I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that you have the best relationship with a company that endorses you,’” Cabotaje said. “If I don’t feel that company is the right fit for one of my players, I’ll tell them.”
Cabotaje’s road to sports management has been an adventurous, international one. A native of the Philippines, he came to the United States with his parents when he was a young child. Cabotaje’s first language is Tagalog. The challenges of learning English after coming to America led him to begin at Pfeiffer as a slightly older student than his classmates.
That Cabotaje is multicultural and multilingual — he also speaks Japanese and Mandarin — helped him land a job with Nike as its Asia Pacific sales rep. “I was in heaven then,” he said, describing a job in which he was based in Hawaii and traveled often to the Philippines and other Asian countries to advance the Nike brand in that part of the world.
A wish to be with his children and grandchildren prompted him to move back to the mainland. By that time, he had the kinds of connections that would enable him to land higher level clients for Pro Sports Marketing, including several golfers from Asia.
These days, Cabotaje seems particularly appreciative of the impact that Pfeiffer has had on his life. He learned of the College from his father, an executive in the United Methodist Church who later taught political science at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where the Cabotajes eventually settled after moving around a bit.
Like many students who gravitated to Pfeiffer, Cabotaje found its small size and family-like atmosphere appealing. He also has fond memories of some endearing campus characters, especially the late Lester “Snake” Roberts, who served as the head of security on Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus for 27 years until 1994. Snake let Cabotaje slide following some water balloon-related shenanigans in his dorm, and he even invited Cabotaje to ride with him during late-night patrols of campus.
Pfeiffer also offered Cabotaje an opportunity to play soccer for a school team. Mainland High School, Cabotaje’s alma mater, didn’t field a soccer team when Cabotaje was a student there, but he had played lots of club ball during his high school years. Cabotaje came to think of the late Nicholas Lefko ’37, a coach for whom he played soccer and golf at Pfeiffer, as a father figure.
Cabotaje has very fond memories of his days at Pfeiffer. Oddly, though, he wasn’t entirely certain that everything would work out at the College when he first enrolled.
“During the first semester I was there, I decided I would test it a little bit,” he said. “Before long, though, I said, ‘This is where I’m going to get my degree.’ Pfeiffer was a great place for me.”