By Rose Moore
Ray Hoffman’s reign as KU’s track and field coach has led to the most successful era for the sport in school history.
Hoffman’s most recent honors include being named the Atlantic Region Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year and the women’s indoor track and field PSAC Coach of the Year for the 2018-2019 winter season.
When asked how he felt about the honors of coach of the year, Hoffman said he did not like that he was voted and wished his staff would have been recognized in the title also.
“To me, it should really be the coaching staff of the year,” said Coach Hoffman. “I was always told, ‘a good head coach surrounds themselves with the best assistant coaches they can.’ I really feel like I have the best assistant coaches available.”
In the 2019 season, Hoffman and his coaching staff led KU’s women indoor track and field team to win the PSAC Indoor Championship, which is the fourth title for KU and first since 2006.
“Ray Hoffman is a coach that is very passionate about what he is doing. He is a great coach who just wants his athletes to succeed,” said Trinity Ponton, a member of the championship team.
Hoffman’s goal of wanting his teams to succeed is obvious when looking at his 21 years of coaching at KU. Since 1998 as an assistant coach to becoming a head coach in 2006 to the present day, Hoffman’s coaching has brought nothing but success to the track and field program.
Hoffman said he considers his coaching philosophy to be quality over quantity. The statistics from the last 21 years, however, show that his coaching style has produced both aspects.
He has coached 125 PSAC Champions, 300 PSAC performers, 119 NCAA qualifiers, 18 All Americans and has set 60 school records in indoor and outdoor seasons combined.
The athletes coached by Hoffman have not only excelled on the track but also in the classroom. For 11 straight years, the women’s track and field team have been named to the All-Academic Team by USTFCCA for a 3.0 or higher GPA.
Hoffman’s list of achievements grows even longer when looking back at his own college career. A 1994 graduate from East Stroudsburg University, Hoffman captained the cross-country team as a senior, was a three-time ECAC performer in the 3,000 and distance medley and was an all PSAC performer in the steeplechase.
After graduating, he stayed at ESU and became the assistant track and field coach and the women’s cross country coach. In 1995, during his first year of coaching, he was named ECAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
Success again followed Hoffman to Clemson University where he was assistant women’s cross country and track and field coach in 1997. While there, he coached the athletes to conference and national championships.
In 1998, Hoffman came to KU, and now, 21 years later, his era as a coach has seen a great deal of success. The success of his athletes and seeing their excitement when they achieve a big feat is his favorite aspect of being a coach.
In Hoffman’s limited free time, he enjoys coaching and helping his two sons, Colby and Brady, in the sports they partake. The value of “family first” is one that Hoffman holds high. To him and his team, a balance between the sport and family is important to uphold.
“Coach Hoffman is a competitor. He will do whatever it takes to win, and he is not afraid to make hard choices to do what he thinks is best for the team,” said Caleb Baukman, a senior on the men’s KU track and field team.
Ray Hoffman’s 21 years as a coach at KU has brought many achievements; he does what is best for the team and the results over the years have shown it.