Coach of the Year David Hoff leads paralympic sled hockey team into World Championships

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 8:56 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) – This weekend, the USA Paralympic Sled Hockey team is taking the ice in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for the World Championships.

The team is led by North Dakota’s David Hoff, who earlier this year was named the Paralympic Coach of the Year.

Your News Leader spoke with Hoff and his players about the bonds they’ve formed and how this team succeeds.

David Hoff is well-known in hockey circles, but you wouldn’t tell it from the man himself. Aside from his hockey acumen, Coach Hoff is also known—and respected—for his humility.

“This team sacrifices so much and it is not about individual success in any way. And as I told the team when we talked about it, cause they brought it up with me.. it’s the same with the players, it’s no different for me. I’m one-twenty-fifth of this program,” said Hoff.

Hoff was invited to take part in a USA sled hockey camp in 2011, and worked his way into the program, before eventually taking over as head coach in 2018, experiencing two Winter Olympics.

“I remember going through the opening ceremonies as we walked into the stadium, and I remember hearing ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the United States of America.’ And the thought that went through my head was ‘How did I get here from small-town North Dakota?’”

Hoff coaches a team that includes five Purple Heart recipients, including Travis Dodson, who lost parts of both his legs from an insurgent’s grenade while deployed to Iraq in 2007.

Dodson said he enjoys getting to play for Coach Hoff.

“He just has such a way of really getting what he wants out of you, out of you, by teaching it to you. it’s really refreshing to be a part of it, honestly,” said Dodson.

“I think I’ve learned just a little bit about what war is from the perspective of people who were there and who were living it, and it’s been something for me. This has been so much more than hockey for sure,” said Hoff.

Leading this team of heroes, by example.

The U.S. team swept its pool play this week, defeating host country Canada 3-0.

Travis Dodson scored one of Team USA’s three goals, his fifth of the tournament.

They’ll face off with the winner of the China-Korea match Saturday in the semifinals.

You can follow the tournament results on the Moose Jaw 2023 live results website, as well as #MooseJaw2023 on social media.