The football coach Alonzo Stagg was a strong supporter of gymnastics and had a strong influence on Daniel Hoffer. Like Stagg, Hoffer has been affectionately called a “task master.” Eventually Hoffer moved into the gymnastic coaching position at the University of Chicago where he was a long time gymnastics coach. He maintained a large number of athletes including Courtney Shanken, 1975 USGHOF Honoree, and Shanken’s twin brother. Between the brother’s, four gold NCAA medals were won after Hoffer’s passing.
Hoffer was in the right place at the right time when the NCAA authorized the first NCAA Gymnastics Championship, and his offer to host the meet was accepted. Hoffer’s University of Chicago’s gymnasts won the first team NCAA Championship, (1938). By virtue of providing many years of service to gymnastics and of being the coach of the first NCAA National Gymnastics Team Champions, Hoffer was inducted into the 1st Class of U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame Inductees. Shankin remembers doing a vault that Hoffer liked and complimented him on his performance. Imagine the difference between the vaults of today and the straight-legged stoop from the far end of the “long horse” that Hoffer liked so well being a competitive vault today, (2007). Times do change. Courtney Shankin was the first winner of the D. L. Hoffer Memorial Award, a trophy given each year to the outstanding gymnast at the U. of Chicago. The trophy was initiated to memorialize Hoffer’s many years of coaching. Although stricken with cancer during his last years, he remained in the gym to the last. Former member of his teams were pallbearers at his funeral. Hoffer died a few months after his NCAA win and Bud Beyer took his position.
Sources: Bruce Frederick’s Roots, 3rd Ed. provided information and the Line Drawing, Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, provided research information, and interviews with Courtney Shanken were conducted by the Web Manager. Introduction and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.