When Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak was drafted to play AFL in 2007 the timing couldn't have been more bittersweet. The Torquay-born footballer wanted to play cricket as a teenager until a stress facture in his back stopped him, had to deal with the loss of his father just as his own career was taking off. Now, in a fitting tribute, he's launched an underwear brand Rogers – named after his father who died of cancer at the age of 48.
Boak, now 29, is naturally the campaign model for the range of jocks and trunks. While going through a box of old school assignments Boak realised he had already written a business plan in Year 10 with ambitions to start an underwear label. The fact his dream is now a reality is a result of three years hard work in the making. "I've definitely been coping some flack from the boys at the club now that the photos are out," he laughs.
There's really no words to describe what I went through when I lost my dad.Travis Boak
The dedicated athlete hits the gym six days a week, and says you're likely to find him at the gym doing weights, going for a surf or chilling out using the Calm app on his phone to disconnect. He's been doing pilates for 16 years and only took up surfing at 16 – despite the famous Bells Beach being a splash away from his front door.
He admits that being a team captain comes with its pressures – like keeping an eye on the 40 odd players on his side and knowing how to read signs if anyone is going through a tough personal time. He also says he can't dine and drink to his heart's content either.
"Going out for a few drinks isn't that easy with social media around," he admits. "You can't step out of line and it can be hard to socialise because these days people have phones and someone is always watching. But I take what I do really seriously and get paid to do what I love and I wouldn't change it for the world," he says.
He's played the AFL Grand Final twice, taken his mother Chicki to the AFL's Best and Fairest and sister to the Brownlow. "There's really no words to describe what I went through when I lost my dad," says Boak. "At the time I was 16, angry and bottled it all up. I just lost myself in playing footy. It was only until three years ago I got some help and worked through my feelings ... I went from wondering why and asking what had my family done to deserve this, to appreciating the time I got with dad. I had a beautiful relationship with him," he recalls of his father who played 230 games for Torquay.
Leaving home at 18 was difficult rather than a happy rite of passage. "I felt really guilty that I was following my dream and leaving them behind," he says. "But in saying that our family was always close and we had an idyllic family life. I remember dad taking us on the long road trip to Queensland every school holidays, throwing cricket balls to me in the nets and having a keen interest in us."
Boak, who is single, says his focus is on AFL and not relationships. "A girlfriend might tip me over the edge," he laughs. "I haven't found the right one to be honest." He keeps in touch with his paternal grandparents who live in Yarrawonga and takes calls from his dad's brother in Wagga. You sense family is everything to him.
"Mum told me a great story once about Dad winning a best on ground while playing footy one day," he begins. "There was a kid who had just played his first game and dad gave the award to him in the change room to encourage him to keep going. Dad always thought of other people first and that's the sort of spirit I want to carry on through my career. To do as my father did, to encourage others and be a decent role model in life on and off the field."
Check out Travis Boak's favourite workouts in the gallery above.