Hofland recognized for 60 years of coaching football
Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 10:28 AM
By Brooke Kern
Stevens County Times
MORRIS, Minn,. --- Prior to kickoff on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta assistant football coach Neal Hofland was recognized in front of a packed crowd at Big Cat Stadium for his 60 years of service to coaching football. Although most of the crowd joined him on the football field as former players, coaches and cheerleaders and family, he received a standing ovation from everyone in the stadium.
“Having (head coach) Kevin Pope and my family put this together and seeing all the people that came out. All those people on the field with me, my family… Brought tears to my eyes,” Hofland said.
Hofland moved to Chokio in 1963 to be a teacher and started as an assistant football coach that same year under George Dieter.
“George was a mentor for me as a young coach,” said Hofland, who coached under Dieter for six seasons until taking over the head coaching role in 1969. “We worked well together.”
Hofland’s history as a head coach includes coaching the Spartans to a perfect season and a Class Nine-Man Championship in 1991 and another state championship in 1993.
“I have had a lot of special moments through the years,” said Hofland, who was the Chokio-Alberta head coach for 35 years until 2003. “My first year as head coach, we were undefeated at 10-0. I think that really jumpstarted my career. Every coach wants to have his first season go that way.”
The Minnesota State High School League’s playoff system was not held until 1972, so the Spartans went 9-0 in the regular season and beat another top team in New London in the playoffs to go undefeated.
In his 35-year head coaching career, Hofland complied 263 victories, 17 conference championships, seven section titles to go with the state crowns.
Hofland was inducted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005 and continues coaching as a varsity assistant with Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta with specific duties on the offensive and defensive lines. ram.
“Coaching for 60 years is incredible and we’re blessed to have him,” Pope said. “He’s been with me since I started with the Tigers 10 years ago. He’s a wealth of knowledge.”
Hofland once joked to Minnesota Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen that he would be on the football field until the day he died.
“One year at a time,” Hofland said. “If my health is good and Coach Pope will have me, I’ll continue to coach.”
Here is a look at Hofland’s legacy:
Chokio-Alberta High School
· 1978 --- State Tournament appearance
· 1991 --- State Champion
· 1992 --- State Tournament appearance
· 1993 --- State Champion
· 1999 --- State Tournament appearance
· 2000 --- State Tournament appearance
· 2002 --- State Tournament appearance
· 2005 --- State Tournament appearance
Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta
· 2016 --- State Tournament appearance