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Olympic medalist speaks at WC schools

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By Brandon Mattingly

 

Schools in Washington County were visited by an Olympic medalist last Wednesday, when shot putter Reese Hoffa stopped by to talk to students about healthy living and what it’s taken for him to get to where he is.

Hoffa, the son of Cathy McManus and Steve Hoffa, and grandson of Carl Thomas Brady of Springfield, earned his first Olympic medal (bronze) in London earlier this year.
Hoffa talked to students at St. Dominic about how hard he’s had to work early on.

“When I tried the shot put in eighth grade, the highest I ever finished was fourth. I decided this was fun and  I was going to keep on training until I was a junior, when you know what, I won the state championship,” he said.

He also emphasized that his work didn’t end once he made it to the Olympics the first time.

“I trained, trained, trained and made it to the 2004 Olympics (in Athens) and finished 23rd. Should I have given up?” Hoffa asked the crowded cafeteria of youngsters.

Hoffa improved to a seventh-place finish at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, before this year’s bronze. He’s received numerous other honors through the years, which he showed evidence of by showing several medals and plaques to the students.

“This is the medal that let me know that if you train really hard and you dedicate your life to something, that you can do something that you truly love,” he said holding up the first medal he ever earned. “I never thought that I would make a career out of throwing a steel, metal ball.”

Hoffa, who was also home visiting family members that he said he doesn’t get to see often, also talked about the importance of family and how his own family was instrumental in him having the success he’s had.

“I was born here in Kentucky and when I was four years old I was lucky enough to be adopted by a great family, the Hoffa family,” he said. “They helped me become the person who stands here today. They put me in a position so that I’d have a chance to go to college. I owe my college degree to my parents.”

Hoffa took questions from students and proved to be an Olympian of many talents, showing off is Rubik’s cube and juggling skills, and left the students with a message to follow through with whatever it is they want in life.

“I would love for all of you to just try to be the best person you can possibly be,” he said. “You may not know who that is, particularly right now, but hopefully later in life you’ll remember there was this crazy guy who went to the Olympics who said, ‘You know what, I believe in everybody.’”