Hofmann helped fuel Panther turnaround

Senior athlete Emma Hofmann (right) has been a team leader in girls soccer as well as cross country throughout her high school career. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

Senior athlete Emma Hofmann (right) has been a team leader in girls soccer as well as cross country throughout her high school career. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

By Mike Schoeffel

Emma Hofmann has learned many important lessons during her four years with the Liberty Hill girls soccer program. Perhaps the most crucial one, however, is that fear is something to face head on, not something to run from.

“I understand now that excellence is a choice and I’m the only one with the power to define my potential,” she said. “I no longer let fear control who I am.”

Hofmann’s courageous approach paid dividends during her senior season. She led the team in goals (16) and points (37), and helped the Panthers qualify for the third round of the Class 4A postseason, where they fell to Wimberley (18-3-2, 6-2-0 in District 27-4A), 2-0, on Tuesday.

Hofmann and her teammates were out for revenge in that game after losing a regular season match to Wimberely, 4-1, on Jan. 27. The Panthers (15-7-0, 11-1-0 in District 25-4A) entered that bout as the underdog and came up just short of pulling off the upset.

Despite the loss, Hofmann and the Panthers have much to be proud of. They started the year 0-4, prompting a fair amount of “anxiety, especially considering the high goals we set for ourselves,” she said. But the Panthers regrouped. They tallied 15 victories in their last 19 games, including 12 in-a-row before the Wimberley loss. They won their first two playoff games, over Gonzales and Fredericksburg, by a combined score of 14-0.

“We turned things around by believing that said growth would come as long as we were willing to seek it,” said Hofmann.

Hofmann, too, has done her fair share of growing not only this year, but throughout her varsity career. She started her freshman season on defense and “didn’t even think to ask for a chance to play on offense,” as she put it. During her sophomore season, then-head coach Galen Munger decided to try her at forward. The following year, her junior campaign, was what she called a “breakthrough season.”

“I had a lot of fun exploring an offensive aspect that was previously foreign to me,” she said. “[Coach Darren] Bauer has done a phenomenal job of helping me understand that game and helping me overcome any fear.”

Bauer helped Hofmann blossom into the offensive forced she eventually became. He guided her along as she transitioned from a career defensive player into a prolific goal scorer.

“She’s grown tremendously over the past two years,” he said. “She has become stronger on the ball, more confident in her movements…those attributes she has developed have led her to become one of our most dangerous and feared players.”

From fearful to feared — that has been the main story line behind Hofmann’s time with the Liberty Hill girls soccer program. After graduation, she’s moving on to the University of Texas where she plans on majoring in Middle Eastern studies. Even though her time on the high school pitch has come to an end, Hofmann said she has created a lifetime of memories.

“I’ve been pretty lucky to share in four years worth of a lot of love and laughter and joy,” she said.