The former University of Georgia track and field athlete has been stopped seemingly every time he leaves his house, and he said he’s been glad to share a story, sign some autographs, grin for a photo and even pull out his Olympic hardware when he has it with him.
And now that he’s completed his third trip to the Games, he’s ready to pour some of that patience and experience into helping someone who might one day take his place on the podium.
Hoffa, whose wife, Renata, is a teacher at Oconee County High School, said he would like to become a high school or college physical education teacher and shot put coach.
“I really think that, in the right environment, if I can get the right kids, in my mind, I can create a throwing power here in Athens,” Hoffa said. “I think there’s a lot of great athletes, but I guess you need someone to inspire them, give them a reason to go out there.”
Few coaching the sport have Hoffa’s credentials. The Augusta native has been to three Olympics: He fell short of the finals in the 2004 Athens Games, finished seventh in the 2008 Beijing Games and placed third in London earlier this month.
Throw in plenty experience on the sport’s biggest stages at international meets and Hoffa said his credentials could motivate athletes.
“Kids need a reason to go out there, like, ‘Why should I have this guy teach me the shot put?’” Hoffa said. “If you don’t have your credentials behind your name, like a reason why they want to be out there, they don’t usually come. And I think there are some really talented kids that have the body type and hopefully mental makeup and athletic ability to go out there and be successful shot putters.
“And if they move on to just play football, at least I’ll have four years of coaching quality kids.”
Hoffa said he’s still passionate about the sport and has several meets lined up, but he doesn’t expect anything to compare to finally breaking through and winning an Olympic medal.
“There is a lot of vindication that happens when you eventually get a medal,” especially when you’ve been blessed to be in three Olympics,” Hoffa said. “If I didn’t get this medal this time, I know I did everything I possibly could to put myself on the medal stand, and this medal just verifies that everything I did this year — not doing as many meets, getting more (physiotherapy), just doing all the little things that are required to be successful — paid off in getting a medal.”
In the next month, he has plans to throw in Poland, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Then, he said, it might be time to start looking for a gig as a P.E. teacher and coach.
And unlike his competitive plans, Hoffa said he hasn’t settled on a destination.
“Either in Oconee or Clarke. Just whoever gets to me first and gives me the best offer,” he said with a laugh.