Hoffpauir focuses on new job

Published 12:40 am Friday, October 29, 2010

VIDALIA — Johnny Lee Hoffpauir may no longer be coaching baseball at Vidalia High School, but that won’t be keeping him away from the baseball diamond.

Hoffpauir retired from teaching this past spring, but requested to remain as baseball coach for the Vikings one more season without pay as a non-faculty coach.

The Concordia Parish School Board denied his request, however, ending his 31-year tenure as head baseball coach at Vidalia.

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Now, Hoffpauir will focus on his new job working with the town and the recreation board, along with its engineers, to help construct and promote the new recreational complex in Vidalia.

“I retired from the school system to get into this job,” Hoffpauir said. “I’ll be in charge of planning and building the parks, and (maintaining) and promoting them when they’re built.”

Hoffpauir said he applied for the job when he heard it was available, and that it was a good time for him to make a change.

“I really want to build this thing from the ground up,” he said.

“I’m really excited about this. Ballparks have been my life. Being around them is what I love to do. It’s been a challenge so far, but also a lot of fun. We’re going to end up having one of the best complexes in the South.”

When looking back on his career as head coach at Vidalia, Hoffpauir said he was proud of every player that played for him, and wanted to thank them for their hard work.

Hoffpauir said he started the baseball program back up for Vidalia in 1979. He guided the Vikings to a state championship in 1996 and more than 500 wins in his tenure.

“I think we had a successful run, and became one of the premier baseball programs in Louisiana,” Hoffpauir said.

“I’m happy that, for a school our size, we had three kids go on to play professional baseball, and over 25 kids go on to play college ball. It was a great run, and everyone that helped in the process, I appreciate them.”

And Hoffpauir wasn’t afraid to express his disappointment in the school board’s decision not to retain him.

Hoffpauir said he was told the school board didn’t want a non-faculty head coach on staff. That information did not come from the board, however, but from a third party.

“Over half the coaches in the parish are non-faculty. In the recent past, Vidalia has had a non-faculty head coach in another sport,” Hoffpauir said.

Hoffpauir also said he felt unappreciated by the staff at Vidalia High School after he found out he wouldn’t be coaching there anymore.

“I have not received any word as far as what took place, and because of that, I’m very disappointed, but not surprised,” he said.

Vidalia High School principal Rick Brown said he recommended to the school board that it retain Hoffpauir as head baseball coach.

“If I didn’t want him, I wouldn’t have recommended him,” Brown said.

Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein also said she recommended the school board retain Hoffpauir after talking it over with Hoffpauir and Brown.

“Once (Brown) and I talked and he was comfortable making that recommendation, then I felt it was OK to support it,” Blankenstein said.

No matter what the school board’s reasoning was, Hoffpauir said it couldn’t take away everything the Vikings accomplished on the diamond.

“I don’t understand what all was going on. All I can do is speculate that maybe there were personal differences that were involved,” he said.