Star runner battles her own body, makes TV appearance

By: Katie Obear – Staff Writer

As a senior hurdler and sprinter for the University of Dayton track and field team, Jordan Hoffman is not your average student-athlete.

Hoffman, originally from Westerville, Ohio, and a pre-medicine major at UD, earned a silver medal in the 60 meter hurdles competition at last month’s Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships with a time of 8.75 seconds, and won a bronze medal in the 60 meter final with a time of 7.71.

That performance was only the conclusion of a stellar indoor season for Hoffman. Throughout the season she was named the A-10 Performer of the Week, A-10 All Conference, earned the 4th best time in UD’s history in the 60 meter, and set a personal best and the UD record for the 60 meter hurdles, with a time of 8.61 during the preliminaries at the A-10 Championships.

Originally, Hoffman planned to attend Ohio State University before she committed to the University of Dayton. She hadn’t even planned on running track until the end of her final high school track season.

“I visited UD prior to track being an option, and I loved it,” Hoffman said. “I wanted to come here, it was my first choice, but I couldn’t afford it. I had all that set up, and then at regionals [UD coach Jason Francis] came to my meet and offered me the scholarship on the spot and I was overjoyed. I really love it here and I know this is where I’m supposed to be.“

Hoffman ended up accepting Francis’s offer to attend UD and run track.

“She started dropping seconds each week in her race over the last three to four weeks in her senior season,” Francis said. “Each week [she] got better and better and really come into her own, [and] we were able to make Dayton a possibility for her.”

But this was not the first unlikely possibility Hoffman faced. She was diagnosed with Fibroadenoma, a condition that causes noncancerous tumors to occur in the breasts of girls and women under the age of 30, at the age of 17.

“When I went through puberty and everything I thought this was just how it was, your breasts just hurt when they grow,” said Hoffman. “My mom was like it’s probably just growing pains, you’ll grow out of it. “

“My little sister went through the same thing and she could lay on her stomach and that’s when I was like, wait this isn’t normal?” Hoffman said.

She had her first surgery right before her 18th birthday, during her senior year of high school, to get four of her tumors removed. She has had three surgeries so far to remove a total of nine tumors.

Even everyday things that college students take for granted can negatively impact Jordan, like wearing a backpack.

“I have to wear my backpack on the edges of my shoulders because the pressure from the straps pushes and that really hurts,” Hoffman said. “On bad days, I can’t use my arms.”

Hoffman demonstrated that on her bad days she has to walk around with her arms crossed against her chest to cope with the pain. This condition has impacted her academic life as well.

“If I’m up late studying for a test, sometimes stress will make it worse, and there’s been times when I have had to stop studying and just go home and go to bed because I just can’t [deal with it],” Hoffman said.

During practice, Hoffman detailed that she modifies workouts to make it easier in dealing with her condition, or even cuts practice short.

For Hoffman, track has been her escape from the pressures of everyday life and from her condition.

“It’s kind of nice to have that hour to two hours where I don’t have to think about school, my doctor’s appointments, I don’t have to think about anything else,” said Hoffman. “I can control track, I can control how I do and the harder I work the better I do. No matter how much time and effort I put into my condition it doesn’t mean it’s going to make it better, but I can put in effort in track and I can see the results.”

Hoffman and her family decided to take her story to the hit television show, “The Doctors,” to see if they had any suggestions for her to cope with the pain she experiences.

Hoffman’s story will be airing on “The Doctors” on March 9. The Emmy Award-winning daytime show is hosted by emergency room physician Dr. Travis Stark and by plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon and airs locally on channel 2 at 2:30 p.m..

“I’m excited for it to air, but scared to see what people will say about it and the reactions I will get about it being public because it’s a personal story,” Hoffman said.

While Hoffman was in Los Angeles for the taping of the show, she had to the chance to meet another celebrity, Ben Higgins, the current contestant on “The Bachelor” for season 20.

“I saw him out of the corner of my eye as we were walking down one hallway, and I told my mom like, ‘Oh my gosh, Ben was there!’ because we watch that show every single Monday,” Hoffman said. “That was cool. I’ve never been star struck, but it was cool because that’s a current show we watch.”

As might be expected, Hoffman is experiencing a little more exposure since making the appearance in Hollywood.

“There has been a lot of attention, it’s weird. I’m not that kind of person; I like to sit back in the corner and just kind of watch everyone else,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman is out currently with a foot injury, but even that didn’t stop her from competing at the conference indoor championships.

“It had been bothering me progressively for about a month and a half before indoor conference but we wanted to ignore it and fight through until conference, so that is what we did,” Hoffman said.

After she got back from the A-10 Championships, she officially began treatment and is in a boot for her injury.

Hoffman isn’t one to let the negative aspects of her condition stop her in any way, even in her perspective on life.

She offered advice to anyone suffering from a painful condition that affects their everyday life.

“Stay positive. I’ve stayed positive because my tumors were benign. I’m blessed that they weren’t cancer. If this is what I have to live with to not have cancer, its fine,” Hoffman said. “Look at the good things in your life. All of us here at UD are just blessed to be here.”

The Flyers will be starting off their 2016 outdoor season at the Vanderbilt Black and Gold Invitational on Friday, March 26 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Check @FlyerNewsSports for updates on the Track and Field team and all other UD sports.

Photo: Dayton track runner Jordan Hoffman (middle) races to the finish line during the Kentucky Invite on Jan. 15 held at the University of Kentucky. At that meet, Hoffman set what was at the time a school-record finish in the 60 meter hurdles, 8.61 seconds. Photo courtesy of University of Dayton Athletics.