- January 29, 2020
As the clock struck 0.0, the familiar loud buzz of the scoreboard sounded.
Windermere Prep boys coach Brian Hoff looked up to see the score: Lakers 65, Ocoee 51.
Despite it being a preseason warm-up for his team, a smile broke through Hoff’s game face. This wasn’t just any win — it was his first as the Lakers’ head man.
“Even this preseason, my guys have been working their tails off to improve, and that’s what’s so encouraging about this group, is they are some of the hardest working — and most selfless — group that I’ve ever coached,” Hoff said. “Those two traits can take you a long way. I’m excited about this group we have here.”
Hoff moved into the job at Windermere Prep in June following the departure of Ben Wilson.
At the time, Hoff was sitting at his desk at Providence School of Jacksonville, where he had been the associate head coach for six years. There, he helped the Stallions to two state titles (four appearances in the finals overall) under the guidance of the legendary Jim Martin.
Although assisting at Providence has its perks, once Hoff was offered the gig, the answer was an emphatic, “Yes.”
“There’s certain jobs in this state that are jobs that you just can’t turn down, and I think this is one of them,” Hoff said. “I think this is one of the top basketball coaching jobs in this state. We have all the resources here to be successful.”
Coming into the program, he knew that winning — and winning big — was absolutely attainable, especially considering the Lakers are only two years removed from winning the Class 3A state title.
“There’s certain jobs in this state that are jobs that you just can’t turn down, and I think this is one of them. I think this is one of the top basketball coaching jobs in this state. We have all the resources here to be successful.”
This season’s players will be getting a coach whose years of experience and love for the game go back much further than when he was assisting at Providence.
Hoff recalls that at age or 6 or 7, his parents brought home the family’s first basketball goal. It was a simple present, but it sparked a lifelong love of the game.
“They put the goal up in the back, and that was the best day ever,” Hoff said. “(My three brothers and I) … would just play
basketball all day — so I fell in love with the sport then. It’s crazy how much the game has blessed me from then to now.”
His passion eventually led him to walk on to the basketball team at Florida State University as a shooting guard in 2005. By his senior season, Hoff was a scholarship player and a team captain.
Like most athletes looking to go into coaching, once his playing days were over, Hoff went to straight to the high-school level and began his career under Martin.
Now at Windermere Prep and working with totally new players — some of whom have never played at the varsity level — Hoff is starting anew. But the good news, he said, is that everyone seems to be getting “it.”
“I’m a new coach, so I’m going to have a little bit different of a philosophy than coach Wilson did, so it’s a little bit of a learning curve for some of these guys,” Hoff said. “The guys are really doing a great job on putting their thinking caps on and giving me all they’ve got.”
Still early in the season, there is plenty of time for Hoff and his boys to get the kinks figured out.
In the meantime, Hoff will get to enjoy his favorite aspect of the game of basketball — growing.
“The thing I’m most looking forward to the most is just growing,” Hoff said. “I’m looking forward to getting better as a team, getting better as a coach and just building those lifetime memories that you have with a team.”