Team USA places 2nd in international tourney
By Dana Trumbull
Claire Hoffman, 2018 AJHS alumnus and most valuable player on the high school’s golf team for three of her four years of competition, took her golf game to Australia this July to play for the American team in the Down Under Sports Cup tournament. The United States team took second place in the international tournament, and Hoffman’s team finished third in the USA tournament.
The experience was not without its challenges. Hoffman played her first round of golf with rental clubs due to lost luggage, and she found that she needed to adjust her game to the unfamiliar conditions.
“Trees line all the fairways, and you really have to play smart as a golfer and use strategies on the courses to play well,” Hoffman said. “The ball didn’t fly as far as normal and the greens were slow. I had to learn to control my shots and control my mental state.”
Hoffman, who raised more than $5,000 in community donations in order to make the trip, said that she, “looked at it as an opportunity to keep playing and experience golf in a whole new way and a whole new world.
“I had to do a lot of fundraising, and I had to save a lot of money on my own as well. Quite frankly, it wasn’t easy, and I was told ‘no’ a lot – like to the point where I almost gave up,” Hoffman shared. “I talked with several companies and worked with many people over a course of six months to make this happen. I cannot tell you how many meetings I had and how many presentations I gave to explain what I was doing and where I was going.
“At one point, I ended up in the front office at AJHS, talking with Mrs. Nancy Johnson. She told me there were a couple of ladies in Belinda’s office [athletic department secretary] who could help me. So I marched myself into the office, apologized for interrupting and explained. The ladies that I talked to were a part of the Pueblo community on Idaho. They ended up donating a majority [of the money] and helped sponsor my trip. Thanks to them, I was able to make this trip of a lifetime happen.”
In addition to earning MVP for three of her four years playing golf for AJHS, Hoffman earned the Prospector Award twice and qualified for state competition as an individual three years in a row, placing in the top 50 each year.
Regionally, she placed No. 2 as a senior and ranked at No. 12 in the qualifying rounds at state. Her accomplishments are even more remarkable in that she did not start playing golf until she was a freshman in high school. “Golf was a random opportunity I took a chance on, and I pursued it over the years. I have slowly become more involved in it by helping coach juniors, which puts a whole new perspective on golf as well. It also helped that my dad played golf when he was younger (and still plays), so he had some idea of the direction I needed to go in.”
Summarizing the Australian trip, Hoffman stated, “It was definitely a good experience and I learned a lot about myself.”
Photo above: Golfers get ready for a day of play in the Down Under Sports Cup Tournament in Australia. photo: downundersports.com