MART, TX — In the game of football, every team has a way to communicate plays on the fly, but for Mart Head Football Coach Kevin Hoffman, these signs mean a little bit more.
Growing up with two deaf parents, Coach Hoffman believes he learned to sign even before he could speak.
“My dad wherever he went always had a notepad and a pen in his pocket. If he needed to communicate with someone, he wrote it down. If me or my brother or sister where around, we would translate whatever he needed to ask,” explained Mart Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Kevin Hoffman.
Melvin and Pat Hoffman might not have been able to hear, but that didn’t stop them from coming to every sporting event and encouraging Coach Hoffman and his siblings to try everything. In fact, Mel coached Kevin and his siblings, and even played football for the 1947 national championship team for the Texas School for the Deaf.
"You just looked at his parents and you saw love- love for the sport, love for their kids, and love for their kids' teammates," said Jerry Hoffman, Kevin Hoffman's wife.
“I miss them most probably on Friday nights at the games, because I knew where they sat. I knew where they were going to be. All I had to do was look up there,” reminisced the coach.
“They are always apart of everything that he does. His brother doesn’t miss a game. His sister is on the sidelines, and you can just feel they are still here with us,” said Jerry.
Coach Hoffman took an assistant coaching job at Mart, and then the Panthers switched to spread back in the early 2000s, sparking an idea.
“We started coming up with signals for code words and things like that. Well, my background was well... I signed all my life,” said Coach Hoffman.
But one sign will always have a special meaning. His parents would always sign “I love you” from the stands. Coach Hoffman and his siblings still carry on that tradition.
“This past year in 2019, for some reason when it was all over, it just kinda hit me. I kinda lost it that they weren’t there. I don’t know for five minutes, I just kinda lost it, like I am getting now emotional, but I got my brother and my sister and we always tell each other the same thing... I love you,”said Coach Hoffman.
“Every state championship picture, we get a picture of those three together, and they all three have the "I love you" sign up,” said Jerry.
Coach Hoffman lost his parents six years ago, but he continue to honor their memory by inspiring and shaping young men to always work hard and love fiercely.