Hard work pays off
Hoffman to continue softball career at Edinboro University
To become a college athlete takes an extraordinary amount of hard work, passion and dedication.
But the feeling you get when you achieve that goal, especially when it’s something you’ve been dreaming of doing since you were a little kid, is unrivaled.
Warren Area High School senior Kiersten Hoffman has made that dream a reality. After her final season this spring for the Warren Lady Dragons, she will head off to Edinboro University and become a Fighting Scots softball player.
“It all started from T-ball, but my passion for the game grew more and more when I understood the opportunities that could be achieved,” Hoffman said. “Playing college softball was always a dream for me. I was about 11 years old when I decided I wanted to pursue playing at the collegiate level.”
So, how does one go about achieving such a lofty goal?
To say that it’s a lot of hard work is just one aspect. As Hoffman says, it’s a process, one that requires attention to detail, especially with the little things.
“It really is a process to become a dedicated athlete,” she said. “For instance, learning how to accomplish a minor task takes multiple steps. Repetition is key when learning the fundamentals of softball. It takes someone who is willing to persevere with their dream of bettering themselves. It takes many years of committing yourself in going to every practice, and also interpreting all the small actions you make to give your best performance.”
Hoffman’s softball journey has taken her all over.
Playing for Team Akadema on the travel circuit during the summer, she’s been surrounded by players who have the same goals that she does.
And that pushes all of them to be better.
“Playing with my travel team I feel made me a way better player than I am because they all have the same commitments as I do,” she said. “We don’t go to practice and mess around, we all focus on how to better ourselves even by the slightest mistake. They are my second family and love the game as much as I do.”
Some of her fondest memories also come from playing travel ball.
“Some of my fondest memories of the game are going to states twice for all stars and placing third in the state both times, and traveling to nationals with my second family, Akadema, and placing 8th out of 162 teams,” said Hoffman.
Playing all summer after playing all spring at the high school level is a demanding endeavor.
It’s also one that requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice, not just from the player, but for families as well.
That’s why, when it comes to who her biggest influences are, it’s a no-brainer.
“My biggest influences in this crazy journey definitely have to be my parents,” Hoffman said. “Through funding all of the tournament expenses and equipment to forcing me to go to practice on a bad day. They have just as much passion in seeing me succeed, as I do for myself. From the young years, my dad has taught me all the little things about the game.”
All of it has led her to Edinboro, where she will play for head coach Dan Gierlak.
But, it’s about so much more than just softball.
Everything from the feel of the campus to her intended course of study played key roles in helping her to reach her decision.
“Edinboro’s campus is absolutely beautiful, it has more of a homey asset to it,” she said.
“My first visit I instantly fell in love with it. Academically the program I want to go into is incredible. The scheduling of classes works so well with the softball program.”
And she already has a good idea of what she wants to do.
“I plan to major in Nursing,” she said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to become a nurse. Specifically, I would love to become a labor and delivery nurse.”
There’s so much more to her however, than just playing softball, although she applies those hard-working attributes to all aspects of her life.
“I’m a very hardworking person,” she said. “if I’m not playing softball, I’m either at school or at work. I love being outside, whether it’s fishing, hunting, or even kayaking! I’m an animal lover and love helping others!”
And, while the thrill of college awaits, there are still some big goals to accomplish this season for the Lady Dragons, where Hoffman will man third base.
“Kiersten has been and will continue to be such an important part of this team,” said Warren coach Jon Sitler. “She wears her emotions on her sleeve, and that all stems from her passion to win, and get better every single day, week, month, and year. Kiersten has displayed that passion since I first saw her play in tee-ball, and I’m confident that will continue this season and beyond.”
She is coming off a season in which she hit .397 with four home runs, 22 RBI, a .438 on-base percentage and a .661 slugging percentage, and has never hit below .380 in her career, since earning a starting job her freshman season.
Warren is coming off a year in which they won a region title but came up just short in the District 10 title game against Slippery Rock, 3-1.
And with nearly their entire core back, the sky is the limit.
“Goals that I’ve always wanted to meet as a team were to win the D-10 title, and if that were to happen my senior year it’d be like a dream come true,” she said. “Some individual goals I have in my senior season are to help the underclassmen succeed and just enjoy my last season as a Lady Dragon.”