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Panther among top players in the nation
Aaron Hoffer - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
The athletic talent in the county continues to be recognized as Liberty County Panther baseball player Aaron Hoffer was chosen for the Tournament of Stars.
The Tournament of Stars, the US Olympic team, the US National Junior Olympic team and the major leagues are run and managed by USA Baseball. Being selected for the Tournament of Stars is the equivalent of taking the first steps into a stellar collegiate career or a direct step the the major league, explained Tommie Gibbs, Hoffer’s traveling team coach.
“I’ve coached Aaron for many years,” he said, “since he was 12 years old. He’s earned everything he’s got and is second to none in the work ethics department. What makes him more spectacular as a player is what the average person doesn’t see. The amount of time and work he puts in when nobody is around. He is the type of kid who, on a Saturday afternoon may have a date with his girlfriend to go to the movies, but I’ll call him and tell him I’m in town. I’ll ask him if he wants to hit and he will cancel his plans... I’ve never met a kid who is willing to work this hard for something he wants so badly.”
Gibbs said the Tournament of Stars selects the top 144 juniors in the nation, almost ensuring Hoffer the possibility of being drafted to the major leagues right out of high school.
“If he doesn’t get immediately drafted he has already committed to Middle Georgia,” Gibbs said. “Middle Georgia has offered him a full ride. I mean the works. And they offered to him while he is still a junior. It’s very unusual for a junior to be given that type of an offer this early.”
Gibbs knows his business when it comes to eyeing talent. Hoffer plays for Gibbs summer traveling baseball team, Line Drive. Hoffer and his brother Skyler have been a part of the talented team for several years. Gibbs said his team is currently recognized and ranked second in the state. Gibbs carries a roster of 22 players and recently had 17 sign to Division I universities and colleges.
“There is nothing in the game he can’t do,” Gibbs said about Hoffer’s playing skills.
“There is no honor in the country higher than the one he just received.”
Joining the Tournament of Stars is an honor for the very reserved young man.
“I work hard and I try and get my name out,” Hoffer said of the only sport he enjoys to play. “I think Skyler is a better then I am. I get to rub this in his face sometimes but I try not to. He is my brother.”
If Hoffer performs well at the Tournament there is a chance he may be selected to be among the 32 best players to play for the nation in the Junior Olympics.
“It would mean a lot for me to make the US National Team for the junior olympics,” he said.
His longer-term goal is to be drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
His dad, however, wants him closer than Beantown.
“If drafted my goal would be the Braves. So we differ there,” Billy Hoffer, the Hoffer boys’ father, said. “But I’ve always said I want both my boys to play for the Braves. If he makes it there I’ll be there for him regardless of where he plays. It’s baseball 24/7 for him and I think that is why he is where he is at right now.”
Hoffer said the commissioner of from the Dixie Baseball called to inform them Aaron was selected.
“I was tickled to death,” he said. “It’s exciting. Aaron and Skyler both work hard at baseball, but to know Aaron ranked in the top 144, it really surprised me.
The family said they are making plans to attend the Tournament of Stars scheduled for June 16-23 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, NC.
“We are going to do our best to be there and watch him play,” he said. “If chosen to the US National Team that would mean the world to us, again I’m so excited and I drive him crazy because I talk about it so much. We’ve called all the family members and we are all excited.”
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