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UCLA Dreamin' Soccer Comes True

Chandler Hoffman, UCLA Forward, Living His Dream

Behind every great soccer player, there is a great soccer mom and soccer dad.

  • College Soccer News National Player of the Week
  • UCLA/Muscle Milk Student Athlete of the Week
  • Soccer America National Player of the Week
  • Pac-12 Men's Soccer Player of the Week
  • SoccerSavings.com Player of the Week. 

The awards keep piling up for UCLA forward and Alabama native, Chandler Hoffman, who leads UCLA and Pac12 Men's soccer scoring with 7 goals and 14 points. After a second-half hat trick to lift the Bruins to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over rival UCSB on September 16, Hoffman helped the Bruins secure a 1-0 overtime win at USD on Sunday September 18th. 

Hoffman is surely on the radar of every MLS team as well as US Soccer. As his star continues to rise, SoccerNation News reached out to the Hoffman family to gain some insight into Chandler's journey from his youth days in Birmingham, Alabama, to his current spot on the UCLA roster.  While Chandler studies in the prestigious UCLA Communications Program and works to bring UCLA Men's Soccer to the National Championships in Birmingham this year, his parents, Jon and Angie, took time to share more about their son's soccer career.

SoccerNation News:  When did Chandler start playing soccer? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  5 years old

SNN: Do you remember his first game? What was it like? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Neither of us knew anything about soccer. A friend at church (Nancy Majors) encouraged us to sign him up for soccer. His first game really all we remember is that he scored several goals and people were telling us how good he was.

SNN:  Are there any other soccer players or athletes in the family?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  No one else in our family played soccer. Jon (dad) played football and baseball growing up and then played baseball at Augusta State University. Angie (mom) played tennis growing up and then played tennis at Augusta State University.

SoccerNation Soccer News
Chandler Hoffman, UCLA Forward, Living His Dream

SNN:  At what age did Chandler start taking soccer more seriously? What club(s) did he play for? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  He started with American Soccer Club rec for one year, then he played for their competitive American Jets 91 travel team at U6 (they didn’t really travel much until a couple years later). Later (when he was 16 or so) American Soccer Club joined with Mountain Brook Soccer to form Birmingham United and secured the Development Academy program for Alabama where he played until he graduated.

SNN:  Looking back at Chandler's younger years, what advice would you give to soccer parents with kids in the younger ages? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Try to get to know the families of the players so that you can make great memories together on tournament trips and throughout the season. Some of our best friends and memories were made through soccer and we treasure all the trips and games we have shared over the years. Also, take advantage of soccer trips to visit the colleges that may be close by (even if the soccer players would rather not). It really is a great opportunity to see college campuses and college towns. Try to enjoy every season as much as possible – time passes so quickly.

SNN:  When he was getting into competitive soccer, did you travel a long distance for his practices and games?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Practice for club (including Academy) fortunately was very close to home. As for games, the older he got the farther we traveled. For academy, there were showcases in California, Chicago, etc.

SNN: Every soccer journey is different for every player, but for Chandler, would you say that high school soccer or club soccer was more important for his college recruiting process?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  For recruiting, Academy and high school were equally important. For his personal growth, high school was a great experience. Fortunately, in high school he had very good coaches and very good teammates. Also, the level of play in our area was pretty good. For his highlight video, high school was huge as one mom videotaped almost every game in good quality. Academy was invaluable in allowing lots of college coaches to see him all at once.

SNN:  Do you have any advice for high school soccer families going through the college recruiting process?

JonandAngie Hoffman:  Try to visit as many schools as you can before it is time to decide so you can start thinking where you would like to be. Talk to as many college soccer athletes to become as educated as you can about the process and the recruiting rules. Sometimes you may have to take steps to get your name and talents known by college coaches if you are not in a well known soccer area. If college coaches don’t know you exist, you will never be recruited.

Chandler Hoffman, as a youth soccer player meeting Cobi Jones

If you have the talent to play at the college level, you must take the initiative to market and promote yourself to college coaches. It is worth it to get a good quality highlight reel to showcase your talents and then get it to the coaches. Chandler took the initiative to put together his own video -- thanks to a team mom,  Mia Jones, who tirelessly videoed the high school games and another friend, Zac Jasinski, who videoed when Mia’s mom retired.  Chandler edited the video himself and sent it out as a YouTube link in emails to all the coaches at the schools where he thought he might like to play. 

I would encourage students to really take their grades seriously if they want to play soccer in college. If they have a good GPA and strong SAT or ACT scores it will make them even more attractive to the coaches because the student may qualify for academic money instead of having to rely on strictly a soccer scholarship which limits what the colleges can offer.  We always stressed to Chandler to be a life learner and put forth 100% in all things and give God the glory.

Also, one last piece of advice is to make wise decisions in high school. College coaches are making an investment in a player, and they will not choose players with questionable character or behavior. Don’t let a foolish decision like drinking alcohol or smoking pot cost you a lifelong dream. Don't go to parties where people are drinking. Choose friends who have the same values. So many kids think it is no big deal and lots of cool kids do it, but I know so many great athletes that struggled because of bad decisions that cost them precious opportunities to excel. Coaches want kids who are not only great soccer players but who are responsible and good decision makers.

SNN:  Did Chandler ever participate in ODP (Olympic Development Program)? 

JonandAngie Hoffman:  Yes. Every eligible year he made the Alabama State Team and was their leading scorer. He was never selected to Region III team.

 

SNN:  How about US Soccer Youth National teams? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman: He has never been to a national team camp. The U-20s showed interest this year but he was too old as you can’t turn 21 in this year and he turned 21 in August. 

SNN: Any Club ID programs?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  No.

SNN:  How did Chandler & UCLA come together? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Chandler had dreamed of playing at UCLA but most folks told him it would probably not be a good idea. They told him if he did go there he would get lost among all the talent and probably not play much. Chandler emailed Jorge Salcedo his highlight video, and the conversation began. Kenny Arena, son of Bruce Arena and the UCLA assistant coach, along with several other college coaches, came to Chicago in May of 2008 for an Academy Showcase event. Chandler scored a hat trick in the first game and a brace (two goals) in the second. 

SNN:  Where there any other schools that were high on his list of choices? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Maryland, Wake Forest, UNC Charlotte, New Mexico, UNC. There were lots of other offers, but these are the main ones he was interested in.

SNN:  What made him choose UCLA? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Weather, tradition, coaches, the challenge, ability to compete for a national championship, ability to compete for playing time.

SNN:  Did he go to soccer camps on campus? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  No.

SNN:  Did he contact the school, or did they reach out to him?

Jon and Angie Hoffman - Proud parents with their son

Jon and Angie Hoffman: He contacted the coaches at UCLA during his junior year of high school. It was a mix for other schools, some contacted him, others he contacted.

SNN: Did you visit the campus together as a family?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  We (Jon, Angie, and Chandler) made an unofficial visit in June 2008, after his sophomore year of high school. We made our official visit in the Fall of 2008, during his junior year of high school. Chandler signed his letter of intent to attend UCLA starting in the Fall of 2009.

SNN:  It seems that the UCLA soccer program tries to recruit not only good players, but young
gentlemen. Do you agree? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Yes. We were very impressed when we visited with the coaches and the caliber of the players we meet. Once Chandler was there and we began meeting the recruits and other players we have continued to be impressed. The guys are smart, well spoken, genuinely good guys. Great examples of student athletes.

SNN:  Chandler broke his leg on the first day of pre-season his sophomore year. Were you back in Alabama at the time? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman: Yes.

SNN:  Who contacted you? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman: Chandler called us on Kenny Arena’s phone on the way to the hospital 

SNN:  How long was his recovery? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  He hurt his leg on Aug 17 (his birthday). His first game back was Oct 15 (eight regular season games left). The first game when he was really fit to start and play real minutes was 11/5 (three regular season games and three playoff games). So he played in 11 games total but really only played significant minutes in the last six.

SoccerNation Soccer NewsSNN:  That time in his college career must have been difficult for you and for him. What got you all through that time? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Our faith in God, prayer and support from friends, and the comfort knowing that the prognosis was for a complete recovery.

SNN:  When Chandler comes home to visit, what does he like to do? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman: Visit with Friends, eat at some of his favorite local restaurants, play Wii with Mom, Dad and Shana (older sister), see his hometown friends, and go to church.

SNN:  When you come out to visit him in LA, what do you do together? 

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  Eat at new restaurants, visit friends we have made in LA and surrounding area, and watch soccer of course!

SNN:  When will you be coming back to UCLA to watch Chandler play?

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  We're coming back for the big Pac-12 weekend, when the team opens up conference play with home games against Cal (Sept 30, 7pm) and Stanford (Oct 2, 3pm). Last year, UCLA and Cal were fighting for the Pac-12 title. This year UCLA wants to win it back!

SNN:  Thank you so much for your time, and best of luck to Chandler and the Bruins this season.

Jon and Angie Hoffman:  You're welcome. UCLA soccer games are marvelous experiences for youth players and their families.  The level of soccer and the passion on the field are amazing. Soccer families who live within driving distance of NCAA soccer should really try to come to games – especially UCLA games!

UCLA Men's soccer continues their season on September 23rd when they host Seattle University at 5pm at Drake Stadium.  Anyone who "likes" the UCLA Men's Soccer Facebook page can get free admission by showing the Facebook flyer at the stadium gates.

UCLA's full schedule can be found here.

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