Palmetto High School senior Greg Hoffman looks at life differently today than he did just a couple of years ago. His change in outlook came after he suffered two major concussions during his freshman year.
“My whole childhood and up until the end of my freshman year, I played soccer,” Hoffman says. “I played for Cutler Ridge Soccer. In January of that year, I got a severe concussion playing soccer and then I got another one within six months.”
The second concussion came when he was snowboarding and fell 38 feet off a jump ramp on Mt. Hood. After the second concussion, doctors banned him for participating in any sport that could put him at risk. At first, he didn’t want to accept the diagnosis. But once he did, he focused on new things.
“I developed a lot of new interests,” he says. “I’m a lot more involved in school and the community.”
When he finally returned to school, he joined the Spanish Club.
“I helped out with the Hispanic Heritage Show,” he says. “Last year and again this year, I’m vice president of the Spanish Club.”
Hoffman also became a member of the Model United Nations Club.
“I went to two conferences,” he says. “I got awards in both.”
At one event he was named Outstanding Delegate and received an Honorable Mention at the other. He’s now vice president of the Model UN club as well.
“That interests me because one of my potential interests is politics,” Hoffman says. “It’s a good skill to learn, to negotiate.”
Along with immersing himself in Spanish club and Model UN, Hoffman put time into the Fairchild Tropical Garden Challenge. His involvement in the challenge stemmed from his Advanced Placement Environmental Science class. Palmetto’s involvement in the challenge resulted in awards last year and the year before. Hoffman’s involvement included attending the leadership conference. He also wrote a research paper and a movie review on an environmental documentary.
“And I helped out on making a solar invention,” he says.
The rules called for the invention to be something that could be used in an emergency situation.
“We made a beacon that reflects in the sky,” he says.
Last year, Hoffman joined the Palmetto Integrity Network.
“We help spread integrity,” he says. “We encourage people not to cheat.”
The organization produces an Integrity Day Assembly.
“This year we’re going to be going to other schools around the area telling them (the kids) not to cheat,” he says.
Hoffman got involved in soccer again last year, but he didn’t put himself in danger. He became a coach for Dade County Sports at Howard Drive Elementary.
“I coached kindergarten through fifth grade teams,” he says. “Other than the first day, which was an intense learning experience on how to deal with children, I did very well. It was really great getting back in the sport.”
Because of the time he needs to put into applying for college, Hoffman has to wait until the second half of the school year before he can coach again. Those college applications are likely to go to the University of Miami, Tulane, Texas, Northeastern, Emory and McGill University in Montreal. He’s interested in majoring in business.
His new experiences have included teaching at the Beth Am Hebrew School, interning at Fair Districts Florida and studying abroad. He studied in Spain and lived with a family in La Coruna.
“It was awesome,” he says. “It was an amazing experience.”