Tom Hoffman, a 1975 graduate of St. Lawrence, very nearly followed in his father's footsteps and came to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
His father, Capt. Richard A. Hoffman is a 1944 graduate of Kings Point and wanted his son to experience an education at the service academy.
But Tom Hoffman decided to study at St. Lawrence. While at St. Lawrence, Tom pledged and entered into the Beta Zeta chapter of the Beta Zeta Phi fraternity. Ironically, he wasn't the only member of the Hoffman family inducted into the organization; Capt. Hoffman was inducted towards the end of Tom's stay at St. Lawrence due to his active commitment and involvement with the organization.
Because of the father-son ties to both institutions, The Hoffman Cup, winner of the St. Lawrence-Kings Point contest, came about as Tom tried to come up with an idea for his dad's 80th birthday.
"Dad is somebody who has sailed all over the world and seen it all, and his 80th birthday was (Oct. 4)," said Tom Hoffman, who back in 1979 became the youngest public relations director in the NFL – handling the publicity for the New England Patriots at the time. "I was thinking very hard about what to get him for his birthday, because it's difficult to come up with something for a guy who's seen as much as he has. When I was at UMass [as a graduate assistant], they played for an Anderson Cup every year with Holy Cross. So I approached my Dad with the idea of starting a Hoffman Cup, as a way to give back to the two schools him and I have been associated with."
The idea went over very well with Capt. Hoffman, who also saw this as his way to give back to a school that gave him so much.
"I love the idea of sponsoring this award," said the Captain, the Academy's 185-pound wrestling champion during his tenure here. "I've been around a lot of alumni who have given back to the school in their own separate ways and I didn't have the chance to just yet. Once Tom came to me with the idea, I thought it would be an excellent way for me to give back to the school."
In addition to the Pewter Cup that will be passed on each year to the winner of the annual battle, a team MVP award will be given to the top player from each side. Also, the Hoffman family donates $1,000 to each school at the game every year.
The idea of the Hoffman Cup, like the beginning of many great awards, has its unique, touching story, and is an excellent way to add a little more meaning to the teams' conference rivalry. May it was a good thing that Tom Hoffman chose not to go to Kings Point after all.
The Hoffman Cup through the years
Saturday will be the ninth edition of the Hoffman Cup between the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and St. Lawrence University.
The series stands at each school winning four games.
St. Lawrence won last year's encounter, 13-6.
2003 – Merchant Marine 21, St. Lawrence 7
2004 – Merchant Marine 33, St. Lawrence 27 (OT)
2005 – Merchant Marine 27, St. Lawrence 21
2006 – St. Lawrence 49, Merchant Marine 7
2007 – St. Lawrence 40, Merchant Marine 16
2008 – Merchant Marine 23, St. Lawrence 17
2009 – St. Lawrence 41, Merchant Marine 22
2010 – St. Lawrence 13, Merchant Marine 6
Photo: Mariners running back J.L. Gosselin. Photo by Greg Matalas