"I've had the opportunity to do this for forty years. Forty years! I’ve had great players, but more importantly, I’ve had great kids."
Valparaiso High School Head Football Coach Mark Hoffman announced his retirement as head coach following the 2011 football season during a ceremony Tony’s Pizza, in front of his team, friends, family, former players, and colleagues on Thursday, August 11, 2011.
"Valpo Football is very important to me, my wife Sue, and our family," Coach Hoffman began. "It’s something I have loved since 1972 since Mr. Risk and Mr. Doane’s dad hired me in."
Hoffman, who has been in coaching for over forty years, has been in the Viking program since 1972, leaving for a couple of years to gain head coaching experience before returning to Valparaiso to lead the Vikings.
Why is he leaving?
"I’ve been doing this for forty years. I'm exhilarated, I'm excited, I have the passion, but I'm also closing in on 62," Hoffman told the group.
He thinks the timing of this is perfect, after 40 years of coaching, and in making the announcement right before the team's first scrimmage on Friday night.
"This is exactly what I wanted to do. The focus of any team is not the coach," he explained. "When a coach takes over and he thinks he has to handle all of the interviews, then I don't think you're giving your coaches a chance to grow. And you're not giving your players a chance to grow either."
He also didn’t want to become a distraction as his team, ranked #13 overall in the state’s preseason Massy Ratings, began its season.
"I knew that if I didn't make this announcement, even though everybody had a feeling I was going to be leaving, that every interview I'd be answering 'When are you going to announce it?'," he explained.
"It's time to turn the reigns over, and a new era begins," he continued in his speech at Tony's. "We have a great coaching staff, and we have a young man who will take that over."
Though nothing is official, Hoffman is expected to turn the reigns of the Valparaiso Viking football program to Dave Coyle, the team's Defensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach. Hoffman will stay on as the school’s Athletic Director, a position he was named to just a few months ago.
Hoffman went out of his way to thank Anthony and Tammy of Tony’s Pizza, whose family’s restaurant has played host to VHS football team gatherings since the early years of Hoffman’s tenure. "We've been doing this for a long time, I've been coming here since '72, but we started doing the lunches in 1978."
He went on to explain the genesis of working with Tony's. "My wife, Sue, contacted Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and Bear Bryant, and got responses from them. They told her you need to be feeding them soup and sodium and that stuff. Then Sue orchestrated the whole thing."
Hoffman closed his speech with words of encouragement for this year's team, many of whom are returning from last year's Final Four finish. He finished by letting everyone know, he's "Always proud to be a Viking."
Congratulations to Coach Hoffman on his storied career at Valparaiso High School and good luck this year!