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Hoffa visits are a family affair

Posted: August 9, 2012 - 1:22pm  |  Updated: August 12, 2012 - 12:09am
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Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa lets the children in Myra Smeak's second-grade class at Martinez Elementary hold the shot during a visit to his nephew Jesse Gutierrez's class.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa lets the children in Myra Smeak's second-grade class at Martinez Elementary hold the shot during a visit to his nephew Jesse Gutierrez's class.

Jesse Gutierrez and Evan Hoffa scored some serious cool points Thursday morning.

Fresh from his bronze-medal winning performance at the London Olympics, and well under the radar, shot-putter Reese Hoffa visited his nephews’ classes at Martinez Elementary and Grovetown Middle School, respectively.

“It was for my nephew, it was for Jesse,” Hoffa said after his visit to Myra Smeak’s second-grade class. “Just to help him with his confidence being in school ... I think it would always be cool to be able to have someone that you know in the Olympics, and it helps that you know an Olympic medalist.”

Smeak found out Tuesday that Hoffa, a Lakeside High School graduate, wanted to visit her class but she had to keep it a secret.

“I’m a little bit star-struck, he’s an Olympic athlete,” said Smeak. “He’s also a Georgia alumni and my family are huge Georgia fans. So that was another added bonus, and he’s from around here so I’ve been kind of giddy keeping it to myself.” she said.

During his half-hour visit to Martinez Elementary, Hoffa let the 22 students pass around his bronze medal, showed videos on his tablet and helped them hold his 16-pound shot.

Comments from the students ranged from, “It looks like a giant penny,” about his medal to “it looks fluffy,” when first shown the shot, and “you’re so big.”

While impressed with his medal and shot, students clamored for him to juggle, especially after he showed a video of himself juggling three fire sticks in his yard.

His juggling of three soft balls received huge applause.

The best part for Tristan Tranum was holding the shot, which he acknowledged was a little heavy.

“He was awesome,” said Tristan. “He plays sports, he’s an athlete and he can also juggle.”

When asked about his diet, Hoffa said he ate broccoli, which drew protest from the students. He quickly got them back on his side by adding he eats pizza and drinks milkshakes.

The three-time Olympian was headed back to Athens, Ga., and is preparing for a trip to Europe, but said he has plans to come back to the area and visit some other schools.

Gutierrez was seemingly more excited to see his uncle than a famous athlete. He did, however, say his uncle may inspire him to be a shot-putter.

While the students and teachers got to meet and hear from an Olympic-medal winning athlete, it was also beneficial to Hoffa.

“I get some interesting questions and I think it helps with their interacting with older people. It helps me being able to speak in front of large groups of people. You always get something out of it.”

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