Hoffmann ready for new challenge at Forest High

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Posted June 1, 2021 | By Joel Bronson, Special to the Ocala Gazette

Coaching basketball is Michael Hoffmann’s passion.

The five-year Belleview High School head coach recently took the head post at Forest High School, which made a run for the 6A state championship earlier this year.

After Spencer Ashley stepped down as Forest coach in April to spend more time with family, they acted quickly to get Hoffmann.

“Basketball is my life. Building a program and developing a winning culture is what fuels me,” Hoffmann said.

As coach at Belleview, he helped rebuild a once lackluster boys’ basketball program into a winner in just five seasons.

Before Hoffmann joined the boys’ basketball coaching staff at Belleview, the program won a total of 11 games in five years. Hoffmann finished his Belleview career with a 49-70 record in five seasons as head coach, topped off by a 16-6 record last year and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 5A Coach of the Year honor. Hoffmann departs Belleview as the second winningest head coach in the program’s history.

Improved facilities and fundraising were key factors in the turnaround at Belleview, which included a refurbished players’ locker room and coaches’ offices.

Hoffmann’s efforts also provided exciting experiences for his players. The Belleview program played in multiple holiday tournaments, traveling to West Palm Beach and Panama City Beach during Hoffmann’s tenure.

“I want my players to have memories that will last a lifetime. Being able to give the kids a great locker room, practice gear, and take them to holiday tournaments is all part of that,” he said.

Hoffmann knows expectations are high at Forest. He hopes to continue the success of last year’s state final four run.

While most of the team is set to return, the Wildcats will be without one of their top players after Brenen Lorient, transferred to Calvary Christian in Ft. Lauderdale. Last season, Lorient led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.5 point and nine rebounds per game.

Hoffmann said he will look to his seniors to provide leadership and motivate younger players.

“We need to work hard, be passionate about conditioning, and set our sights on winning our district,” Hoffmann said. “As the head coach, I must lean on the players’ experience of last year’s state title run to motivate and avoid complacency. We need to use the trip to Lakeland (for the final four) as fuel to work harder than ever before. Avoiding complacency is key.”

Hoffmann said the support of his fiancée, Kayla, is key to his success.

“It takes a great support system, and Kayla has been my biggest fan the entire time. Long nights, lots of time away from home, and she keeps things together. I am so lucky to have her by my side on this journey,” he said.

Hoffmann also gives credit to Ashley for the job he did at Forest and the foundation he left behind.

“I want to express my gratitude to Coach Ashley and give thanks for what he built here. Coach Ashley’s hard work has set me up for success by teaching our players what it takes to win. All the hard work he did in such a short time has definitely put me ahead of the curve,” he said.

Hoffmann begins his coaching tenure at Forest in November, at the Wildwood “HoopsGiving” Classic.

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