UNI Football kicked off its season home opener in a blowout win against the St. Thomas Tommies. The game was last Saturday, Nov. 21, with perfect conditions, no wind, and 72 degrees. As thousands of fans filled the stadium, they had no idea Mathew Cook wasn’t going to be the only UNI field goal kicker on the turf that night.
Melissa Hoffman, a UNI student, leader and fantastic roommate, won the HyVee Field Contest hosted at the beginning of the third quarter. Hoffman said she entered a contest giveaway she saw in a Facebook advertisement, not knowing she would have to participate in kicking a field goal, as the giveaway consisted of multiple prizes.
“I won a UNI backpack, … A bunch of panther gear, four-game tickets, and a $10 gift card to HyVee,” Hoffman explained.
Hoffman had three opportunities to kick a field goal from the 10-yard line. Although her athletic performance may be questionable, making only one of the three shots and losing the prize money, her excitement and energy were a triumph amongst UNI football fans.
“The energy was insane… I couldn’t actually focus on faces; it was just loud noise,” Hoffman laughed. “Once I hit the turf, my adrenaline started; it was a lot of fun, straight-up fun, the whole time.”
Tyler Hospodarsky, a graduate student at UNI, the men’s basketball and football game emcee, was right alongside Hoffman as she competed in the contest. When answering questions for the Northern Iowan, Hospodarsky commented on the effect Hoffman had on the crowd.
“Melissa’s energy before, during, and after the contest was exactly what a crowd like that needed to get loud and get excited. I could tell from the time she got out there that she was having fun and was going to do everything she could to perform well,” he said.
Who is Melissa Hoffman
Both on and off the field, Hoffman is an active member of UNI’s campus. Currently in her senior year, studying Family Services and Mental Health, Hoffman says the thing she is most passionate about is “giving back and helping people.”
Melissa has been an active member of the student organization Black Student Union (BSU) since her freshman year. She became the Chair of Finance for BSU her Junior year and still currently holds this position. She finds it essential to give multicultural students a voice and a “home” on campus and to push for the inclusion of all students to provide perspectives on lifestyles and backgrounds.
Hoffman was also the Jumpstart pathfinder for group H in the summer of 2021. Jumpstart is the summer bridge program at UNI used to acclimate students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students to campus before school begins. She used this experience to give back to incoming first-year students what she gained from the program during her freshman year. She emphasized the importance of building relationships with these students and allowing them to thrive in a university setting.
In her last year, Hoffman is focusing on her future career path and figuring out what area of family services she fits in best. She is currently on the hunt for an internship that will allow her to expand on her passion for working with and helping marginalized communities.
Hoffman’s involvement on campus has made a significant impact on many students at UNI. Her “giver” attitude and passion for creating meaningful change not only on this campus but out in the real world is what drives her to be great. And there is one thing she wants you all to know,
“I am not going to stop.” -Melissa Hoffman