Dave Odell is a bridge builder.
But he doesn’t make connections using spans of steel and concrete. He builds through developing relationships, using materials like trust, knowledge, teamwork and camaraderie.
Those qualities have enabled Odell to become a mover and a shaker in the business and sports communities in Santa Barbara. As a businessman, he has started several successful companies, helped small business owners get started and provided them with support for accounting and technology issues by creating bridges to experts in those areas.
In the athletic community, Odell has used the strength-in-team approach as a bridge to success. As a board chairman, he helped unify club soccer in town. That move has been instrumental to the Santa Barbara Soccer Club’s success at the state, regional and national levels. As the San Marcos boys basketball coach, he guided the Royals to the CIF 3AA quarterfinals in his first year at the helm.
As the athletic director at Westmont College, he’s freed up coaches from fundraising work so they could devote more time to recruiting and coaching their teams. That move has translated to greater success on the field.
He and his wife, DeAnna, also have worked to improve connections between their alma mater and the Santa Barbara community at large. They created the Westmonster 5k run. The Aug. 15 event takes runners on a course through the idyllic Montecito campus, finishing up at the track stadium, where they’ll be treated to a dinner prepared by Eric Widmer, the chef at La Cumbre Country Club.
SPORTS FIGURE OF THE MONTH
Each Month, Presidio Sports recognizes a local sports figure for their extraordinary contribution to the Santa Barbara athletic community. It is our way to recognize those who are making a lasting impact in our sports community, whether it is an inspirational athletic performance, a lifetime achievement award, or perhaps a great example of leadership.
“I wanted a way for Westmont to come back more with the community, especially the running community,” said Odell of the idea he and his wife hatched. DeAnna Odell is a former track and cross country standout for the Warriors. Dave played basketball for the legendary Chet Kammerer.
“I’m a graduate of Westmont (class of 1989) but I see myself more as a Santa Barbaran,” Dave said. “The idea was to connect more with the community. The Westmonster is a great way to do that.”
Presidio Sports is pleased to honor Odell as a local Sports Figure in the Month.
Dave Odell is man who wears many hats.
In his business life, he’s president and CEO of MedBridge, a company he started that operates eight outpatient surgery centers in the state.
“That’s the bulk of my time,” he said from the company headquarters on Gray Avenue in the Funk Zone.
Additionally, he’s co-owner of The Peak Performance Project (P3), a renowned sports training center and sports science laboratory, with Dr. Marcus Elliott; the two also are partners in a post workout supplement developed by Elliott called Pro Bound. He’s also a partner with elite endurance athlete Mike Swan in Elite Physical Therapy; started Anchor Point IT, a computer consulting firm, and is the CFO for the national real estate development company the Tynan Group, owned by his friend and mentor, John Tynan.
So how does he manage all these ventures?
“I really have great, great people that work for me and with me,” Odell said.
“That’s the only way I can pull it off. Ruth Loomer and Brennan de Raad, they are my right hand and left hand on the business side. I’m also pretty good at delegating so that I’m spending my time on things that I think add value.”
He’s been a valuable player in the sports community. Besides being a college AD and San Marcos boys basketball coach, Odell is chairman of operations for the Santa Barbara Soccer Club and an active member of the Santa Barbara Athletic Association.
He played a key role in the San Marcos Field of Champions turf field project and, before coaching the Royals, coached the Santa Barbara Islanders AAU travel basketball team.
“A lot of these things are related to my family,” Odell explained of his involvement in the many sports-related activities. “My wife is a runner, my girls (Raynee, 14, and Rallie, 12) are in the soccer club, my son (Walker, 16) is at San Marcos. All these things are sort of family focused in a lot of ways.”
Walker, a junior at San Marcos, runs on the cross country and track teams and also plays on the basketball team; Raynee is starting San Marcos this fall and will be running cross country and playing on the soccer team; Rallie is in junior high and is a standout player on her club soccer team.
Of all the things he’s done in local sports, bringing together the various youth soccer factions in town to form the Santa Barbara Soccer Club is one of Odell’s proudest moments as an organizer. Today, the club has 500 kids playing, and it’s won back-to-back U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships at the Boys Under-14 and 15 level.
“When I first came into youth soccer in this town, it was really disjointed. It was crazy,” he recalled. “(UCSB men’s coach and club coaching chairman) Tim Vom Steeg and I were on the same page with this: We figured this town wasn’t big enough to be good enough if we were all disjointed, so the idea was to merge everything together and put a great infrastructure in place and see what happens. And we’ve done that.”
The success of the club is a perfect example of how Odell’s leadership skills and direction get results. Once he got things organized, he let the soccer people do their thing.
“I see myself as someone who helps the professionals do what they do best,” he said. “Guys like Tim (Vom Steeg), Dave (Wolf), Rudy (Ybarra), Billy (Gallagher), Lloyd (Biggs), JJ (Jeff Johnson), they’re the professional coaches. I don’t know how to coach soccer, but I know what I can do. I can get people organized, I can provide some leadership and get the ball rolling.
“The same with Marcus Elliott at P3,” he added. “The guy is damn smart. He just needed a place to do his stuff.
“My role in all these things is to come in and push things forward and provide the organization and then allow the professionals to be the professionals,” Odell continued. “We do this for our surgeons at the Surgery Center. I want Rick Ryu to not have to worry about anything other than walking in that operating room and performing an ACL reconstruction on (former UCSB star) Andy Iro.”
Dave learned a lot his organizational skills from his parents, Bill and Gayle Odell. Both Westmont alums, they had long careers as educators. His father coached basketball for several years at Long Beach Millikan High and then at Azusa Pacific University, where he also served as athletic director. He is in the NAIA Hall of Fame.
Dave played basketball for his father at Millikan, earning first-team All-Moore League honors as a senior.
He was recruited heavily by Biola University and UC San Diego, but it was in his destiny to go to Westmont. His father played basketball for the Warriors and worked as an assistant coach under Tom Byron. Byron is Dave’s godfather.
“Tom and Dorothy (Byron) were mentors to my parents,” said Dave, whose younger sister, Susie, also attended Westmont and was a NAIA All-American volleyball player for the Warriors.
His exposure to Westmont goes back to his childhood days in Long Beach. He remembers making the long drive with his father for high school summer basketball tournaments at the college.
“Dad and Chet started these summer tournaments, and my dad would bring these inner-city Long Beach kids in our station wagon. Half of these kids had never been past the 710 freeway,” he said.
Dave said playing college basketball and keeping up with the academics at Westmont made a difference in his professional life.
“Athletics, growing up with family and going to Westmont with Chet as my coach has helped me in 20 years of business,” he said.
He learned through sports and business that teamwork is key in achieving success.
“Every year I’m in this world of business and sports together I’m more convinced that talent should be a little lower on the priority list,” he said. “Team and team camaraderie and relationships among team members is the most important thing.
“Whether it’s business or sports, it’s the relationships that make you succeed.”