Track and Field: Minooka’s Hoffman comfortable on the track
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 4, 2011 8:10PM
North Central College's James Hoffman. | Supplied photo
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:46AM
MINOOKA — With summer starting to wind down, it won’t be long before James Hoffman is off the roads around town and back at North Central College in Naperville, preparing for the 2012 track season.
Not cross country. Track.
“The first Monday after we return on Sept. 10, we have a team meeting,” Hoffman said. “We start what we call fall track. Team running, not competitive. We have different workouts for every day of the week.”
Hoffman will be entering his senior year at North Central, the two-time defending NCAA Division III track and field champion. The 2008 Minooka graduate has a specific athletic goal in mind for his final year at North Central.
“I’d really, really like to qualify for nationals in the 400 hurdles,” Hoffman said.
To that end, Hoffman has tried to stick to a five-day running schedule during the summer. A hip injury derailed his national goal in the spring after he came close to qualifying as a sophomore.
“When I was in high school I didn’t even consider training,” he said. “I took my physical health for granted when I was younger. I didn’t understand it and appreciate it like I do now.”
Hoffman returned to his high school again this summer to run in the Indian Pride meets, a summer series for all ages. He won the 100-meter low hurdles and the 400-meter dash at the final meet without much competition.
“I love coming back and seeing old familiar faces from high school,” said Hoffman, who brought along his 10-year-old sister, Maddalynn, to run.
Hoffman, who was a high honors student at Minooka, wasn’t just a familiar face on the track in high school. He also played football and wrestled and still remembers getting a pin in his first varsity wrestling match. The football team was just 3-6 in his senior year and Hoffman still rushed for 800 yards as a running back.
“I was mostly being recruited for football,” he said. “That’s what I was hoping to do. I was on a texting basis with the head coach from Harvard. He wanted me to play there. But I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.”
Hoffman researched North Central before he made a visit to the school and it didn’t take long for him to feel he belonged there.
“I fell in love with it the minute I stepped on the campus,” he said. “It’s a great program. Everyone is really disciplined. Everyone looks out for each other.”
Hoffman hasn’t played football at North Central because he said “football takes a toll on you” and he wanted college to be more than athletics.
“I had been doing athletics my whole life,” he said. “Track is indoor and outdoor at North Central. If I did football, that would have been my fall. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do, major-wise, and get my degree. That’s most important.”
Hoffman has run a little bit of everything in his first three years at North Central and is going to focus on the 400 hurdles in his senior season.
“Track has been a great way to keep my head up and keep me out of trouble,” he said. “It’s helped me be successful academically as well.”
Hoffman is majoring in Interactive Media Studies and his dream is to be a video-game designer.
“I’ve always been an art student, artistic,” he said. “I’d like to freelance after graduation and see where that takes me. Hopefully, one day I’ll be designing video games.”
Although Hoffman saw “the cornfields turn into neighborhoods” in Minooka and Channahon, progress hasn’t overshadowed his past.
“It holds a special place in my heart,” he said. “I’m proud of my roots. It’s been a great place to grow up.”