One week before his freshman orientation at Hampden-Sydney, current sophomore Hunter H. Hoffler '19 added World Champion to his list of accomplishments--a list which already included National Champion, Team USA captain, and business entrepreneur. Even though he only began fly fishing at the age of 12, Hoffler quickly established himself as a dominant force in the sport, qualifying for the men's national team three times before he was even old enough to compete on it.
As a 12-year-old spending the summer in Wyoming, Hoffler decided to give fishing a try. It wasn't long before angling was "consuming my life," according to Hoffler. "Every single day I was waking up at dawn and coming back at dark."
When his family returned to Georgia, Hoffler looked for trout waters closer to home, a rarity in the Southeast because of the warmer weather. His search led him to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, where a fishing guide quickly recognized the young angler's talent. He introduced Hoffler to a regional fishing team called Team North Carolina, and the rest is history.
Hoffler contends that within a year anyone can learn the muscle memory required of a good fly fisher, but the knowledge base a fisherman builds up over time is what separates him from the pack. By high school, Hoffler started home schooling so he could have the time and flexibility to fish more. "I would park myself at my desk and get weeks of work done, so I could go out and practice my trade a lot more than most people have the opportunity to do." The advantage, says Hoffler, is that "I've experienced so many scenarios that I can often approach a piece of water I've never seen before, dissect it, and relate it back to something else I've fished."
Hoffler has represented the United States at three world youth championships in Ireland, Poland, and Colorado. He takes great pride in representing his country on the international stage, embracing what he calls a "team medal mentality." The five team members "share everything with each other in hopes for Team USA to win, rather than trying to achieve a better individual placing." This approach led to great success, earning the team one silver and two gold medals. Hoffler's individual gold in 2015 proved that "when you have a team medal mentality, everyone does better."
In the midst of this success, the opportunity arose to create a television show. Hoffler, then 16 years old, joined forces with his mentor and Team USA coach Paul Borque to found Drift Media, a production company that films, produces, and edits the show in-house. Three seasons and 26 episodes later, In the Loop--Modern Tactics on the Fly is a staple on the World Fishing Network. In the Loop features Hoffler as the host-a young angler who learns from the sages of the sport, then transfers that knowledge to the audience. The show's cutting edge graphics and cinematography caught the outdoor television industry's attention, and now the company produces commercials, documentaries, and other television shows.
Despite his early success in competition and business, Hoffler knew that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Daniel Hoffler '16, and attend Hampden-Sydney. The College fosters an environment of self-reliance that immediately appealed to Hoffler. He believes Hampden-Sydney prepares young men for the real world more than any other college he considered. Hoffler says, "From what I can tell from my business ventures and competitive fishing, when you get out there, nobody is going to hold your hand. That's what I love about H-SC: employers know that we will transfer the hard work we've done here into the work place."