In the fall of 2005, sophomore Paige Hoffman was wondering what she would do if not recruited to play college volleyball. After all, her older sister, Lauren, was a senior and one of the best outside hitters in their league, yet she was getting zero attention from coaches. Making matters bleaker was the fact that Cathedral Catholic High in Encinitas, California had a very good volleyball program and still no college coaches were anywhere to be seen, much less beating her door down.
When NSR area scout Dwight Castimore (San Diego) strode into the Cathedral gym to scout a volleyball match, he had no idea that within a few days both sisters would be under his wing in pursuit of their dreams to play in college. Their mother, Trish, convinced that she and her girls needed the help of professionals, enrolled Lauren and Paige and from that point on their hopes rested on the shoulders of NSR and Dwight.
The six-foot Lauren had hoped to be noticed and picked up by a major DI program. However, getting involved in the recruiting process so late meant that most of the country’s top teams had already secured commitments for her class. Nonetheless, she got plenty of notice from smaller programs and two full-ride offers from mid-major Division I schools, Loyola of Baltimore and Manhattan (NY). But the prospect of traveling the length of the country to play was unappealing to Lauren, so she opted not to play in college.
By signing on with NSR as a sophomore, Paige had the luxury of seeing which level of volleyball she could expect to play in college by gauging the questionnaires she was receiving from college coaches. “After starting with NSR, I began getting questionnaires from everywhere,” Paige said. At six-two, Paige got interest from about 50 colleges ranging from the Ivy League to the Atlantic 10. “Nothing really felt right to me, so when I didn’t respond to them, most of those opportunities went away.”
She did, though, decide that a big school wasn’t for her. Paige told Dwight that she was more interested in going to a smaller school. That’s when Dwight picked the phone up and called the head volleyball coach at Seattle Pacific University from the highly competitive NCAA DII Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Once Head Coach Chris Johnson saw Paige’s NSR online video, he contacted her. “He wanted her right away,” said Dwight.
Accepting the only official visit which she would take as a senior, Paige drove the 20-hour trip north, a tad out of her original 6-hour limit. The wintertime climate in the Seattle area was a shock after having rarely ventured out of Southern California, but two things swayed her. “First, is it absolutely beautiful here. It is like being on vacation nine months of the year. And, the team dynamics were incredible which is so very important to me. The people here were so nice and the girls on the team were so kind to me. Driving home I decided I would go to Seattle Pacific.”
Paige has never regretted her decision. “I love it here. It is the perfect school for me. If it weren’t for NSR and Dwight, this would have never happened. And, financially, my parents pay less for me to go to SPU than they did for me to attend high school,” she laughed. With a total student body enrollment of 4,000, the school’s low student-to-teacher ration fits right into Paige’s needs.
“Every one of my professors knows me by name. They are so helpful here, always open to helping me with anything I need,” she said. Obviously it has paid off. Paige has been on the Dean’s List each semester since her arrival to maintain her academic scholarship. That, along with “two small loans” and her athletic award, which increases this year, makes college very affordable for her family. She currently maintains a 3.6 GPA and plans to earn her MBA upon graduating two quarters early next year.
Paige has made her mark on the school in other ways as well. This past year SPU’s athletic department heads selected Paige as one of two student-athletes to represent the school at the NCAA Division II Leadership Academy held in Portland. The conclave occurs only every few years bringing outstanding DII student-athletes together to discuss leadership and its impact on their teams, schools, communities and conferences. Paige returned to help lead SPU’s Student-athlete Advisory Committee. She along with respresentatives from every SPU sport, meet regularly to organize and spearhead volunteer efforts around the Seattle area.
And, what about this year’s team? “I think we will have a great team. It is a really good mix of veteran players and newcomers.” Paige was no slouch her sophomore season. One of just two Falcons to play in all 113 games, she hit at a .252 clip (10th in the conference) with 180 kills, and had 69 blocks which tied for the second-highest total on the team. With a career-best 9’10″ approach touch, there’s no reason to think her stats will suffer anytime soon.
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