CEDARVILLE — Sarah Hoffman’s track and cross country performances in the past five years would lead you to believe she drew her fair share of esteem from college coaches coming out of high school.
However, she was unsure of whether or not she loved running, so any contacts she received were swept swiftly to the back of her mind.
As the Chattanooga, Tennessee native narrowed her college choices, she nearly attended a state university in the Volunteer State. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Cedarville), plans fell through.
With high school graduation behind her and the majority of her class of 2014 counterparts ready to move in to their selected schools, Hoffman didn’t know where to go.
She heard of a small school some 450 miles away in Ohio. After taking a visit to Cedarville on a whim in the summer, she seriously considered becoming a Yellow Jacket. A conversation with Coach Jeff Bolender and others around the University prompted Hoffman to commit to run at Cedarville.
“It was a really weird time to visit because no one was on campus,” Sarah said. “From the people we talked to, a few small interactions went a long way in showing the genuine Christian environment.”
Now a graduate student in Cedarville’s Master of Business Administration program, Sarah is enjoying the pleasure of running alongside her younger sister, freshman soccer player and track athlete Olivia Hoffman.
Olivia, the youngest of four Hoffman sisters, followed Sarah’s lead in not having initial interest in Cedarville. While she was well aware of the presence of the University thanks to her sister running for the Yellow Jackets, Olivia wanted to look elsewhere.
After all, she had two other older sisters head to Great Midwest Athletic Conference rival Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville. Anna, the oldest of the Hoffman girls, competed four years for the Trojans in soccer and track. Leah, who is sandwiched in between Sarah and Olivia, is currently playing soccer at TNU.
“At first, I did kind of want to blaze my own trail,” Olivia recalled. “But after coming here and seeing the team aspect of soccer and hearing what was happening in Sarah’s life, it was a really easy decision at the end.”
Now settling into the indoor track and field season, the Hoffman sisters are enjoying every moment of the privilege of being teammates. Four years apart in age, the pair had never competed on the same team prior to this winter.
Last winter, Sarah missed the entire indoor track season due to injury. While she called it frustrating at the time, she’s now thankful for the blessing God had in store for her.
“It’s really cool to see how God used that to allow me to now run on a team with Olivia,” Sarah said. “I had no idea at the time that I’d be coming back to Cedarville this year, so it’s really a special gift to get to run one final season and to do it with Liv.”
Olivia added it’s encouraging to see her older sister at practice every day and that she enjoys getting to learn from her. Olivia joked that Sarah may get annoyed with how much she bugs her for help, but expressed gratitude to her sister for the guidance she has imparted on her.
“It’s really nice to have a source that’s really close to you and gives you good wisdom on how to manage everything well,” Olivia stated.
As Sarah finishes up her career at Cedarville, Olivia’s has just begun. Sarah has been able to pour into the start of her younger sister’s college journey, and she recognizes some important takeaways from her own journey at CU.
“Cedarville has a lot to offer, but it’s not so big that you get lost,” Sarah said. “It’s a family atmosphere with lots of different places you can get plugged in. Every day is well spent.”
Sarah has also learned to love running, thanks to her motives of doing it for a higher purpose.
“I didn’t come to Cedarville for track specifically, but as I improved and became more invested with the team, I started to understand the importance of impacting both teammates and competitors,” Sarah explained. “The eternal impact you make on people is the most important thing in the end.”
Even though she’s been on campus for just a few months, Olivia documented a few lessons she’s been able to take hold of since August. She said her biggest struggle with coming to Cedarville was that it would push her outside her comfort zone.
“I’ve learned the importance of learning to be present in the moments you’re in,” Olivia said. “Whether it’s in class or with the team or in chapel, every day is well spent. It’s really important to look around you and realize the blessings you have at Cedarville.”
Story by Cedarville University Sports Information Student Assistant Tim Miller, yellowjackets.cedarville.edu .