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|Josh Hoffpauir named head coach at PRCC|
Even when he was competing in the minor leagues with farm teams for Oakland and Baltimore, Josh Hoffpauir still had another dream besides playing at the next level.
"My dream has always been to be a head coach," said Hoffpauir, the son of Johnny Lee and Pam Hoffpauir of Vidalia. "My dad told me back then that I was losing my mind. But I told him this was something I always wanted to do."
Hoffpauir's dream became a reality last week as the three-year Pearl Riverl Community College assistant baseball coach was elevated to the position of head coach after Jamie McMahon resigned to accept a position as assistant baseball coach at Nicholls State University.
Pearl River is located near Hattiesburg, Ms., in Poplarville.
Pearl River President Williams Lewis recommended Hoffpauir to replace McMahon soon after McMahon's announcement.
"Coach McMahon had been debating on this decision for about two or three weeks," Hoffpauir said.
After McMahon turned in his resignation, Hoffpauir was called to the president's office.
"He told me he had already made contact with some coaches in the area and talked with (former USM) Coach (Corky) Palmer and some of the guys at Southern Miss and a couple of board members," Hoffpauir said. "He then said they would not be taking applications because they wanted me to be head coach It's a good feeling knowing they have that kind of confidence in me. I'm comfortable there and have been for three years. I like the administration, athletic director and other coaches."
Hoffpauir was a second-team All-Conference USA selection in 2000 for Palmer at USM, batting.333 with 12 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, drove in 35 runs and had a .400 on-base percentage. He stole a team-high 18 bases that year, including a school-record six against Cincinnati.
Hoffpauir played for Northwestern State and current Mississippi State head coach John Cohen for two years and current Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn for one year. Hoffpauir was third on the career triples list with nine. He was named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year as a freshman and earned All-Southland Conference honors as well.
McMahon, a 1993 graduate of Oak Grove High School, served as head coach of the Wildcats for five seasons. He guided the Wildcats to MACJC Tournament berths in 2008, 2009, and 2010, as well as Region 23 berths in 2009 and 2010.
"This is going to be a fun ride," Hoffpauir said. "I have not one bit of doubt in myself. I have been preparing for this for a long time."
Hoffpauir hit .452 for his father at Vidalia High from 1993-96.
Hoffpauir's brother, Jarrett, plays for the Las Vegas 51s, the triple-A farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays. Hoffpauir played briefly in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals last year and with Toronto this year.
"I talked to Jarrett and I told him that surreal and unreal feeling he had after being called up was kind of where I am right now," Josh said. "It hasn't really set in, but I know I'm excited about it."
After transferring from Northwestern State to Southern Miss, Hoffpauir started his professional career in the Oakland A's organization in June 2000. He played in the Arizona League that fall, was named the Arizona A's Most Valuable Player and was selected to play in the all-star game. He signed a free agent contract with Baltimore in 2002 and advanced to the triple AAA level by the 2003 season. He signed a free agent contract with Seattle in 2004, where he played for Tacoma (AAA) Rainiers in the Pacific Coast League, before playing in Texas Rangers' system in 2004.
Hoffpauir was an assistant coach at Holmes Community College before taking the job at Pearl River.
"I told my wife (Khara) that it was a blessing for us to come here," Hoffpauir said. "I had talked to a couple of other schools about head coaching jobs, but pulled my name from one of them because I wanted to show Pearl River I was tied to them. I want to be a part of this program. This is where we want to be."
Hoffpauir recruited all the players on the current Pearl River team.
"I wanted to show them that I am loyal," Hoffpauir said. "My dad has stayed at the same school for 35 years, so loyalty has been instilled in me."
One of those players was pitching standout Sean Kelly, who signed with Kentucky after previously courting another offer from Arkansas.
"We've been pretty succesful with 30 sophomores signing with four-year schools and about half with Division I schools," Hoffpauir said. "The Hattiesburg area is a hotbed for baseball in the state. We have to overcome some other things that other schools do not have to, but that just means we have to play harder. And we'll definitely be branching out. We have the opportunity to move in the direction of the Miss-Lou because we've got a few ties there."
Speaking of branching out, Hoffpauir and his wife Khara have a 2 1/2-year-old son Zach and are expecting a baby girl around Christmas Day.
"It's certainly an exciting time," Hoffpauir said.
Hoffpauir said the timing could have been better with the hiring, but it could have also been worse.
"We've already started school, but it's early enough because we are not too much into the (fall) season," he said. "If it would have happened around Christmas it would have been more difficult. Now we can start moving forward."
Hoffpauir is interviewing assistant coaches at this time.
"Within one day I could already tell the difference," Hoffpauir said of being named head coach. "Now if something goes wrong, the finger is pointing in my direction. I have to be able to handle those things. In the past I could deflect the blame. But that's something I know I can handle and will handle."
Hoffpauir said his team's will be like the Florida Gators in football.
"We're going to play a fast-paced, aggressive style," he said. "Everything is going to be fast and intense. You can epect us to be flying around the baseball field. We are going to run a ton, play hard and play the game the right way. There's only one way to do things, and that's the right way."
Pearl River finished third in the state last year and fourth in regionals, losing out to LSU-Eunice.
"I didn't take this job to keep us afloat," Hoffpauir said. "I want to take us to the next level and I have full intentions of moving forward."
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