Some student-athletes go through college striving for athletic excellence. Others, like senior volleyball player Kristin Hoffman, make an impact somewhere other than the court. The senior setter took time to talk with the Northern Star about her career, future plans and the volunteer work she puts in to help the local community.
Northern Star: You always grew up around volleyball with your sister Megan Hoffman playing collegiately as well. Was it always a goal of yours to play at this level of competition?
Kristin Hoffman: It definitely was. My sister is seven years older than me, so by the time she was in college I was just about in sixth grade. I started playing volleyball more seriously around that age and by the time I was in eighth grade, it was definitely a goal of mine to play Division I volleyball. I was only receiving letters from Division III schools and I told my parents that if I couldn't play DI, I wouldn't play at all. So I think that was a kind of motivation for me to prove that I could play DI like my sister did, and that's always what I wanted to do.
NS: How involved do you want to stay with volleyball after this season?
KH: It's so weird to think about that. I will be coaching club for Ray [Gooden] and his wife's club, Huskie Jrs., based out of DeKalb, this spring. I'm definitely looking forward to that. I'll be coaching the twelves I believe, which should be fun. Other than that, I'm not quite sure. I could possibly be doing grad assistantship in my second or third year of law school, but I haven't quite thought it all the way through. I could possibly coach club when I'm older, too, but I don't know yet.
NS: Right now you are atop the NCAA in assists per set. What do you attribute your success to?
KH: The main credit goes to the coaches. Ray has been an awesome setting coach for me and I have learned a lot from him over the past four years, so I owe a lot of my success to him because of his patience and the amount of hours he has given me as a setter. My passers have given me great passes throughout the season and the consistency of my hitters has been great too.
NS: What are some things you want to achieve before leaving NIU?
KH: Well, I want to have two banners raised come the end of the season for winning the regular MAC season. One of my biggest personal goals is to win that Sunday afternoon match at the MAC Tournament to win the MAC Championship. With that comes going to the NCAA Tournament. Those are definitely my biggest goals and I'm excited to leave the program with the state it's in right now because there's so much potential, and the younger girls in our program are really great and they're going to do fabulous things in the future.
NS: Being one of two seniors and captain of the offense, what are your responsibilities with the team?
KH: Like you said, I'm kind of in charge of the offense. So just making sure what block the blocking schemes are for the other team we're about to play, and making sure that I've watched enough film to prepare myself for what I think might work in each rotation. Also, just remaining confident in our team and playing consistently. Get them hitting the balls that make them feel comfortable at all times.
NS: You were the first NIU volleyball player named an Academic All-American. What does that accomplishment mean to you?
KH: I've always prided myself on academics. I think that comes before volleyball and it's just how I was raised. My parents always stressed doing well in school and how, hopefully, it would transfer over to volleyball. For me to spend all that time studying and focusing on school, it was an exciting honor because it's something different than athletics, and an education is something that I'll always have, whereas volleyball will be over for me in two months.
NS: You have also been very active with community service in your time at NIU. Can you describe some of the service you have done, like with Students Today Leaders Forever?
KH: Over spring break I went on an STLF trip with the University of Iowa. We ended up going to six cities around the country, and that was probably the most involved in community service that I have been up to that point. It was a really great opportunity to see the people who don't have as much as I do, and it really puts life in perspective and lets me see all the things I take for granted every day, like having food or a safe place to sleep at night. There are a lot of people who don't have the opportunity to just feel safe, so being able to help them was really mind-blowing. Since then, I have been involved in a program called Students in Service, which is an Americorps program that started at NIU last year, I believe. That involves completing 300 community service hours in a calendar year. For most of the summer I spent a lot of hours each day at The Growing Place in DeKalb, which is a day care center near the old [DeKalb] high school. My involvement at the day care was really good. It was exciting to go there every day and be around the kids. It was really empowering to be around those kids, and to be out there means everything in the world.