PALATINE, Ill. – Former Harper College basketball player Jarvis Cobb knows what it's like to have to overcome difficulties. In his time at Harper, he suffered two devastating injuries on the court.
However, Cobb did not let those injuries define him. After a long journey to get his degree from Harper, Cobb finally began pursuing his passion for acting and is now represented as an actor/model by Royal Model & Talent Management in Schaumburg.
An Elgin High School '04 grad, Cobb played football and basketball all four years in high school. He decided to go away to school and study mechanical engineering at Southern Illinois University, where he struggled with time management and balancing studying and a social life.
Cobb enrolled at Harper for the 2005-06 school year and decided to come out for the basketball team. He played a crucial role on a Hawks team that enjoyed great success, as he was the team's fourth-leading scorer (11.4 points per game) and also a team captain.
In addition to his success on the court, Cobb was challenged academically at Harper.
"I was challenged to think at a higher level, and the teachers were very open to giving extra help and explaining things to where you could have the best chance to learn the material," he said.
While he was developing his skills on the basketball court, head coach Ed Molitor Jr. was imparting life lessons to him and his teammates. Molitor brought in newspaper clips of people who were less fortunate through the loss of a limb or someone who had an illness or terminal disease to remind the players they were lucky to be able to play a game like basketball.
"I had a great opportunity placed before me to play basketball," Cobb said. "In life, give it your all. There is always someone out there that could only wish for the health and opportunity we had."
The Hawks were preparing for the conference championship when Cobb suffered a gruesome injury the night before the big game. The damage was startling: he had torn his ACL, MCL, meniscus and calf muscle.
Even though he could not be on the court, Cobb was encouraged as he watched his teammates win the conference title and take third in the nation that year.
After a long road of recovery to getting back on the court, he was ready for the 2006-07 basketball season. In just the fourth game of the young season, he suffered another injury.
This time, Cobb tried to play through it, but when he was examined by a doctor, it was clear something wasn't right. He had torn his ACL once again, ending his Harper basketball career.
Despite the crushing blow, he knew his time on the court at Harper College was not wasted.
"I definitely build lifelong friendships there along with lifelong memories. Those are two truly quality things in life," Cobb said.
Cobb left Harper in 2007 without a degree and began studying automotive technology at Lincoln Tech Institute in Melrose Park. He was unable to finish due to financial difficulty affording school, but he returned to Harper in 2008 and obtained his Associate of Arts degree.
After graduating from Harper, Cobb worked for two years in the IT department. From 2008 to 2012, he also worked as a freelance IT Professional, valet parker, handyman, barista at Starbucks and at a hospital cafeteria.
Cobb also began showing an interest in acting and took private lessons with a lady named Annette Galloway, who is a coach, playwright, screenplay writer and actress. He was interested in acting as a kid, but he said growing up in his neighborhood you didn't see much success, so he never thought being an actor was actually possible.
"While I was at Harper, I took the career development course," he said. "You do studies on careers that fit your personality and traits, and acting kept showing up. I was more interested but still wasn't convinced I could."
Under Galloway's tutelage, Cobb acted in his first independent film in the fall of 2011, but the directors never finished editing it.
His big break finally came a short time later.
The husband of a coworker of Cobb's mother worked with a client of the company Royal Model & Talent Management, a non-union modeling agency based in Schaumburg serving the business and creative community throughout the Midwest.
Cobb followed up with the company and was accepted to be one of the talent represented by Royal Model & Talent Management starting in November 2011. The company states "we provide exceptional talent at the lowest rates to represent your brand and deliver your message".
The company began sending him to auditions for television shows as well as print work for companies such as Walgreens, Meijer and Comcast. Also, he was sent to auditions for commercials for companies such as Six Flags and Q Ray Wellness Bracelets.
Cobb says his most memorable commercial up to this point was for Q Ray because "it was my first one-liner commercial, so it's always going to stand out".
In addition to his work with Royal, Cobb was hired this April as a full-time IT Professional in the desktop support division of the company Coilcraft, a world leader in the design and manufacture of magnetic components for a wide range of applications.
Even though he let go of his childhood dream of acting, he never fully gave it up.
"Through church, not necessarily a religion but growing my relationship with God, my confidence skyrocketed and I haven't looked back since," he said. "Acting is what I want to do, so that's exactly what I'm doing."
In his free time, Cobb is a basketball league coordinator and a dance fitness instructor at Life Time Fitness in Schaumburg. He plans to continue his work for Royal and pursue any acting opportunities that may come up.
Reflecting on his early college career at Harper that began eight years ago, Cobb said Harper got him started in the right direction.
"Harper is definitely the place to play," he said. "During this time that you are getting better at your sport, you are learning life lessons and meeting awesome people you will be lifelong friends with. Trust me, after college those are the things that really matter."