Pete Hoffert

Pete Hoffert is a man of Salem. Turning 80 in July, he has lived in Salem his entire life as did his parents. After a long career as a teacher and serving as a baseball coach at both Walker Middle School and South Salem High School, Pete became involved with Salem Sports and Breakfast Club and, together with Don Kerzel, in all likelihood kept the club – founded in 1954 honoring high school athletes since 1959 - from extinction.

Hoffert grew up watching his father play fast pitch softball. That was his first exposure to the diamond that would continue to shape so much of his life. His first baseball coach was Salem attorney Bruce Williams at the age of 11. “I still remember Coach Williams buying each player a new bat.” Bats, back in those days, were only made of wood. Not an insignificant expense. 

Pete attended St. Vincent Elementary from grades 1-8 before Serra Catholic High School from grades 9-12 and was an athlete. He played both basketball and baseball for Serra, but baseball was where he really stood out. His dad and Coach Williams had built a foundation. At Serra, Hoffert came under the tutelage of Harvey Koepf. Koepf had been a member of Salem's professional baseball team – the Senators. (Most people don't realize that the Salem Senators were a pretty big deal “back in the day”. They played in a 5000 seat stadium – Waters Field – at 25th and Mission Street. The Senators played approximately 70 home games against teams out of Spokane, Wenatchee, Tacoma, and Vancouver, B.C.) Being coached by a former professional baseball player in then “small-town Salem, Oregon” was a big deal. The Sabers were good. Enough so that in 1961 Serra won the state baseball championship. Pete was a key part of that success.

Hoffert's baseball talents led him to Oregon College of Education (O.C.E.) in Monmouth where he continued his baseball career from 1963-1966. He also earned a Bachelor's Degree and, subsequently, a Master's Degree. [O.C.E. eventually became Western Oregon State College and then Western Oregon University (W.O.U.), as it is known today.] He was coached by Dr. Bob Livingston who was also the Athletics Director. As a senior Hoffert was recognized as the Wolves' Most Valuable Player and was chosen all-conference, all-district, and honorable mention National Association of Interscholastic Athletics (N.A.I.A.) All-American.

From his dad, Coach Williams, Coach Koepf, and Coach Livingston Pete “learned many things...about baseball and life in general. Early on, because of these coaches, I decided I wanted to teach/coach young student-athletes.”, and so his teaching and coaching career began.

Hoffert started teaching in Salem in 1967 at Walker Junior High School (grades 7-9). He taught English and Social Studies and coached the Wildcat baseball team (yes, middle schools actually did have competitive, well-coached baseball teams in those days) for 12 years. In 1979 he made the leap to South Salem High School as an English teacher where he remained for 19 years until he retired.

In addition to teaching Literature and Composition, Pete coached baseball - 9th grade for 8 seasons; junior varsity for 7 seasons; varsity head coach for 4 seasons. Altogether, he taught in the Salem (and ultimately Salem-Keizer) School District for 31 years.

Interestingly, and simultaneous to his early teaching career, Hoffert also served a stint in the Oregon Army National Guard beginning in 1969 where he was stationed in both Portland and Salem. He was on active duty until 1976.

It was during his high school coaching days that Hoffert really became aware of SSBC and what it did for high school athletes. “When athletes from our varsity baseball teams were selected to be honored I also attended the meetings and was always impressed by how much the club's recognition meant to the athletes and their supporters. So, upon retirement, I began to attend the meetings regularly and volunteered my time. I continue to be involved because of SSBC's unique purpose in the Salem-Keizer community.” Pete has been involved in SSBC as a “regular” since 1999. He took over the duties of treasurer in 2012.

Pete and wife Nancy have been married for 54 years. Nancy was also was a teacher in the Salem-Keizer School District, primarily kindergarten. Son Tom is a Sprague High School and, like his dad, a W.O.U. graduate. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Salem Chamber of Commerce. Daughter, Jainie is a Sprague and Pacific University graduate. She is currently a Physical Therapist for the Salem-Keizer School District. Pete and Nancy's grandson Tommy is a sophomore currentlyat Sprague High School and grandson Robby is an 8th grader at Crossler Middle School.

Beacons are often those who see a need in a community and jump in, volunteering their time. Pete Hoffert saw a need. His entire working life served youth and for over 25 years he has helped insure that Salem Sports and Breakfast Club continued to honor the kids who excelled on our fields, courts, courses, pools, mats, and tracks. Few knew of his vital role. Just the way Pete wanted it because it is about the kids. His example is one that others can follow. It's one that makes a community work. For that, Pete Hoffert is a Beacon.

By Bryan Sutherland