Rich Hofman, the head coach at Ft. Lauderdale's University School, has coached his share of high school games and won several state championships. But with 999 career wins under his belt, Hofman may have been most nervous in Tuesday night's regular season game against Pope John Paul II High (Boca Raton, Fla.).
"Our team doesn't give me any breathing room," Hofman said. "I was nervous until the last pitch."
Pope John Paul had the bases loaded and their best hitter up in a 3-0 game, but a routine ground ball to second base ended the game and gave Hofman is 1,000th career victory—putting him in elite company with just 12 other coaches in the high school history.
"It's amazing," Hofman said. "I know a few of those guys and have a lot of respect for them so it's a real honor to join the club."
Hofman is the first coach in Florida to achieve the milestone and has been working toward it since the late 1960s. He is a native of Racine, Wisc., and graduated from Calvin (Mich.) College. After college he moved to Miami to teach and coach at Westminster Christian High. The school didn't have an athletic program at the time, but he helped develop a football, basketball and baseball program within two years. His first season as a baseball coach came in 1969 and his team won just two games. The program's success would only go up from there as Hofman and Westminster Christian went on to win eight state championships and two Baseball America National Championships in 1992 and 1996. His most notable former players are Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz, who were a part of the 1992 team.
"I thank God for giving me the opportunities I've had," Hofman said. "To have these experiences and see these young guys achieve success in their lives, to raise their families, to use the lessons they've learned on the baseball field. To be in major league clubhouses with Alex and Doug, to be able to throw out first pitches and go to all star galas. I've run the gamut that most high school coaches don't get a chance to do. I've been really blessed and of course of I've had a very supportive wife."
Hofman left Westminster Christian after the 1998 season to coach at Westminster Academy (Ft. Lauderdale) and won two state titles in his first two years before taking a job with Piper High (Sunrise, Fla.). After two years at Piper Hofman decided to retire from coaching, but returned in June 2010 to coach with his son, David.
The landmark win almost came with a certain level of coincidence as University played Westminster Christian in the Orlando National Classic championship game last week. University was up 6-0, but eventually lost 8-6. However, Tuesday's win had it's own coincidence. Pope John Paul II is coached by Pete Graffeo and his son, Peter, played for Hofman at Westminster Academy.
The other coaches with 1,000 victories can be found in the National Federation of State High School Association's record book, which is available here.
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