Berkley team manager plays for the Bears on Senior Night.
Seger Hoff’s promising soccer career came to an untimely end, but not his love for the sport or the Berkley High School boys soccer team.
Hoff suffered a torn ACL in each knee during a six-month stretch while playing for club soccer teams before his junior year at Berkley and needed surgery twice.
He could have felt sorry for himself, but the outgoing teen took another path and it led him to the fulfillment of a dream.
Hoff became the Berkley boys soccer team’s No. 1 fan, and he was the team manager, de facto goalie coach, pre-game hype man and social media guru this fall during his senior season.
The 18-year-old Huntington Woods resident, named for Detroit-born legend Bob Seger, also was a mentor for the younger players on the Berkley roster.
“Everyone on the team respected Seger,” said Berkley coach Steve Wloszek. “Every coach will tell you he wishes he had more guys like Seger on his team.”
Even though his soccer playing days were over, Hoff played for Berkley on Senior Night.
He played about 15 minutes in each half in the Bears’ 4-0 win over Dearborn Heights Crestwood on Oct. 8 at Hurley Field.
It was the first and only time Hoff played for the Berkley varsity boys soccer team. He was on the junior varsity team as a freshman and sophomore.
Hoff wore a brace on his right knee, which has still not fully recovered from surgery, when he played on Senior Night.
It was Wloszek’s idea to have Hoff play once he got the OK from his parents, doctor and the athletic coordinator.
“I’m so happy that Seger stayed engaged with our program and created memories with his friends that he’ll have forever.”
The feeling was mutual.
“I told the guys before the Senior Night game that it was an honor to play one final time with my brothers,” Hoff said. “They’ll be in my heart always and forever. They mean the world to me. I hadn’t played soccer in two years, but I went all out.”
Hoff was in Berkley’s starting lineup vs. Crestwood. He kissed the Bear paw in the middle of Hurley Field before the game.
“I also did the pre-game ritual I’ve done since I was about 10 years old,” Hoff said. “I rub my hands on the goal posts and kiss them. For my team’s goal posts, I pray that no balls will pass through them. I pray for invincibility. For the other posts, I pray for many goals and many mistakes.”
Hoff was a defender before he suffered his knee injuries, but Wloszek played him at striker against Crestwood to give him a chance to score. He almost did.
“I was hanging out in the penalty box on a corner kick and the ball came to me,” he said. “I took a whack at it and it was going into the corner of the net before a defender got his toe on it. The keeper wasn’t going to get it.”
Wloszek said he needed someone to work with the team’s four goalies and he thought Hoff was the perfect person for the job, so he asked him to take on the role.
“Seger went on YouTube to learn about teaching goalie skills, and he did a great job with our goalies,” Wloszek said. “He knew what he was doing.”
Ryan Serwa, one of the Bears’ goalies, was an honorable mention All-State selection during a season in which Berkley (11-4-4, 2-2-3 OAA Red) made its furthest advancement ever in the state tournament.
The Bears lost 3-1 in the Division 1 quarterfinals to eventual state champion Novi Detroit Catholic Central, which went undefeated (13-0-3) this fall.
Hoff’s love for soccer helped him in his coaching role.
“I’m obsessed with soccer,” he said. “I understand the tactics, and I feel I can communicate them.”
Hoff plans to do more communicating when he heads out into the world after college. He wants to be a lawyer, and perhaps a congressman or U.S. senator someday.
He wants to be team manager for the men’s soccer team at whatever college he attends.
“I know soccer and I’m enthusiastic about it,” he said. “I know I can get that job.”
When high school sports resume, Hoff hopes to compete with the Berkley boys swimming and diving team this winter.
Hoff is president of the Kishon AZA chapter and became a bar mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park.
His parents are Michael Hoff and Theresa Tarrant. His brother Elliott Hoff played on the Berkley JV boys soccer team this fall.