Ohio Northern freshman star Alex Hoeffel’s journey began back in Continental, Ohio, a small village in Northwest Ohio. “Growing up in Continental was actually one of the best things that has happened to me,” Hoeffel told BGN. “Being from such a small town, everyone knows you. It is such a homely place where you know basically everyone.”
“I know I have so much support from my hometown while I am playing here. It was very important for me to stay close to home because I wanted my family and everyone who helped me reach my goals to be able to watch me.”
It didn’t take long for the beautiful game to become a part of Alex’s life. She recalled, “I have been playing soccer from a really young age. When I was about 8, my Continental team went to state. I began playing club soccer when I was 10 for Ohio Extreme. This experience and new coaching really drove me to work hard and be the player I am today.”
Hoeffel would go on to become arguably the greatest girl’s soccer player ever for Continental High School. She left the school as the all-time leader in career goals (168, which also places her in record books for the state of Ohio) and with the record for goals in a match (7). “My favorite high school memory was when I scored my 100th goal,” Alex said. “It was a really good feeling to reach one of the main goals I set for myself my freshman year.”
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She committed to Ohio Northern back in 2019, but her debut season was delayed by COVID-19. That gave Alex an adjustment period as she started her college soccer journey. She said, “I think the season being delayed allowed me to improve my skills and get used to the college level of play. Playing the intrasquad scrimmages in the fall gave me a lot of experience going against our amazing back line. My teammates pushing me at practice prepared me for the big games ahead this season.”
Finally returning to the pitch this spring, Alex has scored three goals and added an assist in her first seven NCAA matches. That individual success has also contributed to team success for Ohio Northern. The Polar Bears are off to a 7-0 start to the season and have outscored their opponents by a 15-0 margin. “Our team has had a strong beginning of the season,” the freshman forward said. “I think this is accredited to our upperclassman doing a great job leading us younger players.”
While things have been going perfect on the pitch, there have been some obstacles for Hoeffel outside of soccer. “The past year has been one of the most challenging things I have faced yet,” she explained. “I have/am suffering from depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. I recently got a semi colon tattoo on the inside of my finger. The meaning behind this is as it is used as a sign for readers to pause before continuing a sentence, I embrace the symbol as a reminder that my story isn’t over.”
Hoeffel, like athletes such as Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, wants to highlight the importance of taking care of your mental health just as you would your physical health. “It is very important for anyone, especially athletes, to take good care of their mental health,” Hoeffel said. “Mental health can affect your mood, sleep and energy. These are all very important to your performance on the field/ court. Seeking help and finding the correct resources are a good first step in the journey to recovery.”
As she navigates through life and soccer at Ohio Northern, Hoeffel pointed out that her main goal in the pitch is to continuing to improve her skills and make a positive impact on the field. “Obviously I would love to score a bunch of goals, but there is more to the game than that,” she said.
The next chance for Alex to help her team continue its hot start is tomorrow against Otterbein, another unbeaten Division 3 power this season. “In our upcoming games, we need to keep working hard, being gritty, and being ‘big in big moments’ as Coach (Mark) Batman tells us,” Hoeffel said. Kickoff is set for 7 PM ET and you can see all the big moments live here.