Some friends and fellow teachers remember David Hoffa as someone who could always bring a smile to anyone around him.
Hoffa, a teacher and coach at Honey Creek Middle School, died Sunday from injuries suffered in a two-vehicle accident.
Lisa Davis, a physical education teacher, coached track and field with Hoffa.
“Dave was the kind of person who his smile was contagious. And he loved kids, he put kids first,” Davis said. “If they were having a bad day, he could flip that smile upside down. He was just a real positive role model. He was a ray of sunshine to everybody. He could make you smile, make you laugh. He always made the kids feel important.”
Davis said she has known Hoffa “for 30 some years. I did my student teaching for Dave at Lost Creek Elementary School. We have been like peanut butter and jelly for a long time,” Davis said. “We taught together for so long and we complimented each other very well when we taught. We also used to do presentations for Palos Sports up in the Chicago, Illinois, for the state conference on physical education teachers.”
“I know his wife Patti and daughter Kilie were his pride and joy,” Davis said.
Holly Hyland, Honey Creek Middle School athletics director, choked up while talking about Hoffa.
“I think anyone who knew Dave as teacher or a coach knew he always had a smile on his face and was full of life,” she said. “I think we both starting teaching here [at Honey Creek] in 2001 and worked together coaching track for at least 15 years. He is more of a good friend than just a colleague,” Hyland said.
Hyland said Hoffa wanted students to succeed as he coached them.
"I think his impact, no matter what a student’s talent, was that he wanted them to always do their best and be part of the team and support each other,” Hyland said.
Hyland said Hoffa served as coach for the school’s boys and girls cross country program, headed a running club each winter and served as the sixth-grade boys track coach. While he was in fit physical condition, Hyland said Hoffa would drive a golf cart “around to cheer [students] on” during track practice. “He always made sure to have some Popsicles when it was too hot.”
Hyland said Hoffa had turned 60 in December.
"He definitely showed his age in PE class listening, always listening to 1980s music and he was always dancing around. That was Dave,” Hyland said.
Hoffa’s death, Hyland said, was “a hard day for a lot of kids and people he impacted.”
As a physical education teacher and committed coach, Hoffa touched the lives of many children, parents, and teachers in Vigo County, Bill Riley, director of communications for the Vigo County School Corporation, said in a statement.
Hoffa taught and coached in Vigo County for 35 years, working at Lost Creek Elementary School, then Honey Creek Middle School. “He will be greatly missed, and we hold his family, friends, and colleagues in our hearts,” Riley said in a statement.
School and Hamilton Center counselors, as well as faith-based leaders, will be available to support students and staff at Honey Creek Middle School and Terre Haute South Vigo High School when school resumes today and throughout the week.
Dallas Kelsey, who serves as the men’s and women’s head tennis coach at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, called Hoffa his best friend.
Hoffa was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and was cheerleader at Indiana State University and was a pole vaulter, Kelsey said.
Kelsey first met Hoffa while student teaching in 1989, while Hoffa taught at Lost Creek Elementary School. The two became golfing buddies in 1991.
And like all golfers, Kelsey has a few golfing tales.
“We were at Forrest Park in Brazil and the guys in front of us waved us on. Dave hit his [golf] ball and it went right at them,” Kelsey said. “You could see the guys diving out of this golf cart and one of them got hit. It turns out it was a former student of Dave’s at Lost Creek Elementary. I don’t remember the student’s name, but that hit actually broke [the former student’s] wrist,” Kelsey said.
Another tale is from their early days of playing golf at Mark’s Par 3 near Seelyville.
“Dave hit into the sand trap on the left side of the green. I was on the right side, which was an elevated green so I couldn’t see much, but I did see this sand flying and the ball goes up on the green and lands by the cup,” Kesley said. “I told Dave what a great, awesome shot.
“Then the next day a student said he saw us playing. The student then asked why Mr. Hoffa threw sand up into the air and then threw the golf ball up onto the green,” Kelsey said. “I said what? So, we kinda made our own rules up on the golf course, but we had fun.
"Dave would always say we are not here for a long time, we are here for a good time. He was that guy. You can’t be unhappy with him. He just made things better,” Kelsey said.