TECUMSEH (KSNT) – Mikey Hoffer is used to jumping over obstacles in his life, and I mean that literally. The junior from Shawnee Heights is a state and national champion in the high jump
However in the past year, he’s had to overcome a higher bar, one that you can’t find on a track.
“Seeing her go through the pain, and just seeing that tear her apart, day by day, it really hurts,” said Hoffer, a multi-sport athlete for the Thunderbirds.
Hoffer is talking about his mom, Shirley Stubbs, who was battling cervical cancer for a year.
She lost her fight on February 10th.
“I didn’t know how to take it at first,” Hoffer said. “I went up to her and was just like, ‘wake up, wake up.’”
Hoffer stood at his mom’s side through thick and thin, all while keeping the issues to himself especially from his basketball team.
However when the news spread of her passing, the team, along with the community, stepped in to let him know, he was not alone.
Social media posts from the Shawnee Heights community flooded Hoffer’s timeline, offering prayers and condolences.
“I’m really blessed to have so many people reach out to me,” Hoffer said. “I’ve had people reach out to me that I’ve never talked to or I haven’t talked to since 2nd grade. It really just shows how great character people have here.”
The basketball team was the front of all the posts, as they knew one of their own needed their support.
“We really just try to pick him up and help him with anything that he needs and as a whole team,” said Trey Brown, Shawnee Heights senior and Hoffer’s teammate. “It inspired us to play for him and his mom.”
Which sets up the night of February 14, Valentine’s Day, and Hoffer’s first game since the tragedy.
Shawnee Heights was taking on Hayden with Centennial League implications at stake. With that in mind, head coach Steve Wallace decided to do something special for Hoffer, who rarely sees time in varsity play.
“He pulled me into the locker room and just stared at me for about a minute, or it seemed like a minute, it was so long,” Hoffer recalls. “He just said ‘you’re starting tomorrow in honor of your mom.’ I didn’t know how to react to be honest, I kind off teared up a little bit, it felt like an honor to do that.”
So Hoffer made his first start in a varsity uniform, and after Hayden scored the first points of the game. The Thunderbirds drove down the court. Brown had the ball at the top of the key, when he saw Hoffer cut backdoor into the paint. Brown passed him the ball, and Hoffer was mere inches from the basket with an open shot.
“It was kind of like a moment of silence,” Hoffer said. “I had the ball in my hand, and I’m going to score the first points.”
Lightly, Hoffer shot the ball and it gently went into the basket. The reaction in the gym though, was anything but gentle.
The crowd exploded as the ball cut through the net, but Hoffer simply just went back down to the court to play hard-nosed defense, a trait he’s known for in practice. However, even he knew what just happened was special.
“It was like a movie really,” Hoffer said. “After it went in, I got very emotional.”
Not only was the basket Shawnee Heights’s first points of the game, it was Hoffer’s first points in his varsity career.
“I mean it felt great just because it was to him,” Brown said. “Knowing it was for his mom made it even better.”
Wallace was in disbelief when it happened, as he explained how he didn’t set up any plays for Hoffer to score, it was just how it all worked out.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” Wallace said. “I was probably going to take him out at the first buzzer anyways. It was kind off a story book type thing so just happy for him.”
When Hoffer did get subbed out, the crowd enhanced the experience even more for Hoffer. Chants of “Mikey, Mikey!” filled the gym, creating a memory no one in the building would soon forget.
“That was something special,” Brown said. “It was something you couldn’t even put in a movie.”
Shawnee Heights would go on to win that game, but victory was already achieved thanks to one shot powered by all the support.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without the Shawnee Heights community and without my mom,” Hoffer said. “That’s how I’m me today… is because of them.”
Hoffer hopes to make some more noise in the high jump when track season is fully underway.