David Hoffmann has been with the University of Dallas Men’s Soccer team since 2003 and coached the last 13 seasons for the Crusaders. In 2006 and 2008, he was named Coach of the Year, and, with almost 14 years of experience coaching for the Crusaders, he can be considered one of the best coaches at UD.
TF: What are some of the changes that you have seen over the past years working here at UD?
CH: I think the landscape of Division III college athletics has changed across the board. When I came in here, I was one of the first coaches that was even a full time employee, and subsequently it’s become much more substantial from a staffing standpoint; most of the coaches now have assistant coaches as well. Therefore, [the] staffing and the professionalism of sports are much higher than [they were] when I started.
Another change over the years would be that the roster sizes have grown tremendously. When I was hired, right before the starting season, we had nine boys that had played soccer before, so we had to sort of shake the cafeteria to fill the team, but this year we had a total of 45 players come through. Now a few [players] have retired from UD soccer but we still, as of today, have 38 boys.
TF: What are some aspects that you look for in a UD athlete?
CH: When I am initially looking at a kid, the first checkpoint is the academic piece. There are certain thresholds that are even above the admissions standards [so] that I feel comfortable that they are not going to be ineligible [in the future], that they are not going to struggle with classes. When recruiting, I only look for kids above a certain SAT, ACT and GPA.
The second piece would be to ask, “Can they play soccer? Can they positively impact the team?” I have to look at the composition of the current team because for me we don’t want to have four goalkeepers. We don’t want to have so many [players in that one position] that we create dissent among the ranks.
The next stage would be to see if they are a good fit with the boys already on campus. We try and bring in every prospect and have them visit with all the guys and just make sure there are no red flags in terms of personality.
TF: How do you think your relationship with your athletes has changed over the years?
CH: On some level, not much at all. To kind of exemplify that, we – my wife and I – attended a wedding in late May for a 2016 grad and there [were] about 20 soccer boys there plus some soccer girls. Then just three weeks ago, we traveled to a 2006 grad’s wedding and the same story, about 20 UD soccer boys were also in attendance.
My wife makes brownies for the boys after every game and that’s part of the wedding gift; every groom wants them. A lot of the traditions, like Christmas gift exchange and cookie decorating at our house, are something that we do regularly. We try to always have those little traditions that make it more family-oriented and not just about the team.
TF: What brought you to UD in the first place?
CH: Dick Strockbine [the athletic director] was super instrumental in getting me here in the first place. I played for him in college my freshman and
sophomore year. He recruited me to coach when the position came open and he knew I was in the area. I had already been a collegiate head coach and he felt like, I guess, that I would be someone he would like to work with. He brought me in, gave me the sales pitch, and it seemed like a good idea.
TF: What has kept you here at UD?
CH: The roots have just gotten deeper and deeper. I grew up in Colleyville, Texas; my parents are still settled here. My in-laws made the determination to sell their California home, as well as their retirement home in Colorado, and moved about 600 yards away from us.
My wife is in real estate and fortunately she is really good at her job. Three out of the last four years she has been featured in D Magazine as one of the top realtors in North Texas.
Bottom line, financially it doesn’t make sense to leave. From a family standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to leave. I’ve joked for years now, that I am going to coach the kids of my kids.
TF: Do you have any advice for any new coaches or people who are thinking about coaching at the college level?
CH: A lot, probably more than can go in a single article. One of the things that I am finding that has helped me to be successful, is to seek knowledge from different sources, not just your sport. It could be learning drills from other sports and modifying those to meet your own [needs]. Or I also consume a lot of information about education and how people learn and from a health perspective, how to help the body.
At the same time, if you are going to be a coach, you should be pretty true to your nature and not try to mimic others. It’s fair to steal the good pieces, but just because Coach X delivers sessions this way, doesn’t mean anything. You need to speak in your own voice; you need to figure out what is comfortable for you.
Another piece is that I have always considered this not to be “my team,” I have always preferred to see myself as a steward of UD soccer. I think that by thinking in a bigger scheme, it makes things easier on a day-to-day basis.
A version of my long-term vision would be, when I was hired – those Red Tipped Photinias out there [around the soccer field] – I dug the hole on about 75 of those and put the plants in the ground. Over a decade ago, I decided I wanted the soccer field to have hedges and now we do.