From the court to the athletic office


Abby Gearhart-Hoffman sits in her office.

Nathan Bottiger, Sports Editor

A screaming crowd mixed with a loud rumbling in the bleachers is something that has been rare at Pitt-Johnstown.

The new assistant athletic director Abby Gearhart-Hoffman said she has something similar in mind that she would like to become more common.

Gearhart-Hoffman said one of her goals is to gain a wider athletic fan base and more support from students.

She said believes some students are unaware that some sports teams exist on campus.

“I want to make it a more engaging environment for students and athletes,” Gearhart-Hoffman said.

After Amy Buxbaum’s move to a position in Finance and Administration, Gearhart-Hoffman took over the assistant athletic director position in July.

Gearhart-Hoffman is a Pitt-Johnstown 2010 alumna who has worked at the university since her graduation. She also played volleyball for four years.

Gearhart-Hoffman said she fell in love with the university, and knew that this is where she wanted to have her career.

Gearhart-Hoffman even had her wedding to Kurt Hoffman Aug. 31 at Pitt-Johnstown’s J. Irving Whalley Memorial Chapel.

She said many of the friends she’s made while working at Pitt-Johnstown attended the wedding, and some attended the ceremony on their lunch breaks.

Gearhart-Hoffman said she jumped at the chance she had been waiting for.

She said the opening did not just provide her with another stepping-stone, but the opportunity to achieve her goal.

Gearhart-Hoffman acquired a degree in secondary education-mathematics, and said she is overwhelmed with excitement that everything has fallen into place.

On top of getting married and beginning her long-term career, she is set to graduate this semester with a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus.

Gearhart-Hoffman said Buxbaum, her mentor, helped her in her new setting.

“I’m very grateful and thankful for her.”

Buxbaum said she is glad to mentor someone who shows so much enthusiasm about athletics and has talent.

“I’m really excited for both Abby and the university,” Buxbaum said. “She will have a great impact on the athletic department.”

Buxbaum replaced Kelly Austin (now a chancellor at Penn State-Schuylkill) as the vice president of Finance and Administration.

Gearhart-Hoffman has the responsibilities of providing and surveying student athletes’ grades, assuring compliance with NCAA regulations and coordinating a Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

The committee is a way to encourage student-athletes perform voluntary community service.

Gearhart-Hoffman said she was involved in the committee as an athlete, and did her share of community service projects.

Raymond Wrabley, faculty NCAA representative, works with Gearhart-Hoffman on academic and compliance issues.

Wrabley said Gearhart-Hoffman has not changed since she had his class freshman year, and that she still has the same spirit and qualities that make her a great fit for the position.

“She’s thorough, knowledgeable, conscious and organized,” he said.

Wrabley said they work mainly on the academics portion of the job for now, but that compliance is important due to the NCAA’s strictness.

“She is obviously passionate about athletics being part of education.”

Gearhart-Hoffman was the president of the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cat Maniacs during her senior year, and is now trying to breathe new life into the program.

Gearhart-Hoffman said she is going to look  toexpand the Maniacs to support more than athletics.

She said anyone who is interested should contact her by email at [email protected], and that the maniacs are to hold tryouts for the Mountain Cat Maniac Mascot.

At her 2010 graduation ceremony, Gearhart-Hoffman addressed her class and ended her speech with a quote by Fred Rogers.

“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love, once you’ve heard their story.”

Gearhart-Hoffman said she has taken this quote and made it her motto, and that it has become one of the driving forces behind her personality and dedication.

“Take time to get to know people,” She said, “You’d be surprised at what you learn, the commonalities you find, and how it affects your daily approach to life.”