ALBANY— He has a name and a face you might know — Michael Hoffpauir. He’s been living in Albany for more than 20 years, but now is the new head basketball coach at Monroe High School. Hoffpauir comes to Monroe after five years at Americus Sumter High School where this past season he led the Panthers to a 26-5 record and to the state championship game in Class AAAA. He inherits a program with great promise as most of last year’s team returns after a season that saw the Golden Tornadoes blow through their region unbeaten and also posted wins over crosstown rivals Dougherty, Westover and Deerfield Windsor — before the season was snatched away with an ineligible player ruling that led to forfeits.
“It was a very difficult decision to leave Americus-Sumter,” Hpffpauir said Wednesday. “But I’ve been in Albany since 1997 and that made the decision a little easier. I am excited to be a part of the tradition and heritage that Monroe offers.”
Prior to his five years in Americus, Hoffpauir coached at Randolph-Clay. He got his start in coaching with the help of Lee County’s head coach Kirven Davis when Davis was at Colquitt County. Hoffpauir had played basketball and graduated from Georgia Southwestern in Americus in 1996 and took a job with Proctor and Gamble out of college. He is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana.
Since the school term ended, Hoffpauir has been hard at work getting to know his team and getting them ready for the season to come. Summer workouts are in full swing, and his team hosted the Monroe Summer League games Wednesday at Monroe High. He said he has told his team to put the disappointment from last season behind and use it as a learning experience to grow from. “It’s water under the bridge,” Hoffpauir said. “I’ve told them to learn from it and move forward and take advantage of every opportunity available and do not take anything for granted.”
During the summer workouts the coach said he is concentrating on getting his systems in place and helping his players know and understand his philosophy on offense and defense.
He said he probably has different expectations and standards than their previous coaches and he is trying to convey those to his players. “I want them to see what hard work every single day looks like,” Hoffpauir said. “We are going to be very aggressive on offense and defense. We have to have intensity on defense and create a very stingy defense. That is one thing we are focused on.”
The coach also said, “We need a total team commitment to that intensity for us to be as competitive as we can be.”
The Golden Tornadoes played Wednesday at their own gym, but also played over the weekend at Albany State University’s summer team camp.
After the camp Albany State’s coaching staff met with Monroe’s senior post player Quadre Watts and offered him a scholarship to play at Albany State.
“That was a big deal,” Hoffpauir said. “Quadre was really happy and I am excited for him.” Monroe’s Marius Ellis has also been getting attention according to posts on Twitter where both the Universithy of Florida and the University of Mississippi have shown interest in the 6’5 forward.
“It is good for our program,” the coach said. “It shows the kids that if you work hard every single day people will notice and if you put in the work, maybe one of these days they can get to signing day.”
The Golden Tornadoes play in Region 1-AAA with Worth County, Crisp County and Cook County. Worth County took the region title last year after the forfeits by Monroe, but the Golden Tornadoes did not lose a region game last season until the season was forfeited. Still, Hoffpauir is pushing his team to get stronger. “I don’t take any team for granted,” he said. “On any given night any team can beat you. You have to be prepared and ready every time you take the floor.” he said. “We need to handle our business and be dominant every time.”