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Trevor Hoffman honors high school basketball coach

We chatted with the Hall of Famer about how Tom Gregory helped him get to Cooperstown.

MLB: All Star Game Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday night I was privileged to join Coaching Corps for their first ever San Diego Game Changer Awards. Coaching Corps is a charity whose mission is to recruit and train youth sports coaches to work in underprivileged communities and make sure all kids have access to trained coaching.

The Oakland-based charity reached out to us to let us know that Trevor Hoffman would be honoring his high school basketball coach, Tom Gregory at the inaugural awards ceremony. Before the event, I was able to chat with Trevor about the impact Tom had on his baseball career.

While the basketball court is a lot different than a ballpark, Trevor notes, “Hard work is obviously the common denominator. I think about when we would run at the end of practices, he would always talk about ‘Hey, you gotta touch the line.’” It was something he took to heart for his entire career, as those who watched the closer run across the outfield before games could attest. “I never didn’t cross the foul line when I was running. I think over 18 years if I’d taken a step short the whole way, I’d have shorted myself a lot of miles.”

Trevor hasn’t taken up the full-time coaching habit like his brother, but he’s spent some time getting the Padres in shape in Peoria, and he’s emphasized the idea of repetition and hard work that he learned from Coach Gregory. “You have to keep reminding the player on the things you expect of them. You kinda want to keep things simple. You want to give them a baseline of what to expect and how to improve, how to gameplay for each individual person. Hopefully guide them in a way that they can be more successful.”

While the focus of the evening was on the coaches, I had to spend a little time talking to Hoffman about his upcoming trip to Cooperstown. For the most dominant closer in National League history, he’s extremely humble about receiving baseball’s highest honor. “It’s a tremendous honor. Shoot, can’t begin to tell you how thrilling it is to know that you’re going to be enshrined with the greats I looked up to and pillars of the game that I never thought I’d have any contact with. Super thrilled about it; it’s gonna be a busy summer but I can’t pinch myself enough.”

He’s been thinking a bit about what he’ll say at his induction, but the hardest part isn’t the content, it’s the editing. “Unlike any other speech, where it’s always ‘how am I’m going to fill the allotted time’ where this one, I don’t know how I’m going to condense it down to ten minutes of words.”

Thanks again to the folks at Coaching Corps for having me, and for the good work they’re doing in San Diego and around the country.