As we celebrate Homecoming on Oct. 21, when the Fighting Illini take on the Wisconsin Badgers, it is important to honor each member of our Family. From the players and coaches on the field, to the Marching Illini, to the cheerleaders, to everyone wearing Orange and Blue throughout Memorial Stadium, to the Fighting Illini faithful near and far, our Family is the most important part of our success, both on and off the field. To honor the various members of our family, before each football game, we will share stories about those who represent what we stand for in Illinois. This week’s edition of the FamILLy Focus series highlights the Hoffman family, which includes several generations of Illinois graduates and lifelong Illini fans. The Hoffmans have two sons, JP and Anthony, who are members of the Fighting Illini cheer team, which plays a major role on Illini game days.
The Hoffman family produces Orange and Blue blood. There is no doubt about that. Between parents JR and Rose meeting – and eventually getting married – at school, to four of their six children attending Illinois, to their two youngest sons serving as cheerleaders for the Fighting Illini, U of I and part The most important part of family history is information.
“I don’t think about my life very often. When I’m sitting on the field of Memorial Stadium, the place is going well, the cheerleaders and the football team and the musicians are still there celebrating their school, it makes me sit down and think about the culture of our family,” JR Hoffman said. “We met here, we got married here, and after 30 years, we are able to enjoy and celebrate in a very special way.”
After graduating from Illinois in 1992, JR and Rose Hoffman were married at the Newman Center on campus later that year before moving to Rockford, where JR was finishing medical school. He then lived in Evansville, Indiana, before moving to the Hoosier State and living in Jasper for 13 years.
Despite living three hours from Champaign-Urbana, Mr. Hoffman still found ways to help the Illini. The couple created a game room with orange walls and blue lights, and JR wears an Illinois tie to work on game days, though it sometimes draws a friendly welcome from Indiana or Purdue fans.
The Hoffmans finally had their own home in June 2012, when they returned to Champaign. One of their daughters chose to attend Indiana University, although JR and Rose often visited Bloomington. This included a weekend trip to watch the Illinois-Indiana football game, although they continued to show their loyalty to the Illini, removing the Orange and Blue from enemy territory.
The second daughter of the family, Honor, became the first child to follow in the footsteps of their parents and go to Illinois, finally graduating from the College of Education in 2017. Their eldest son, Joe, previously spent his first year in college elsewhere. chose to transfer to the U of I as a sophomore and continue the family legacy, graduating in 2022 from the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
JP Hoffman became the third Hoffman son to attend Illinois. Currently a senior at the Gies College of Business, JP joined the cheer team before his junior year even though he didn’t compete in sports. After playing football in high school, JP decided to give it a try.
“Freshman year, I met the captain of the cheerleading squad,” JP Hoffman said. “At that point, I was able to do back. We became friends, and they were like, ‘Hey, you can do back. You’re so fast. You’re so strong. Maybe you should try it. Join the cheer team.’ They’re always looking for more guys to join the team because it’s so rare to find male cheerleaders. I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a shot.’ I tried, they took me, taught me the ropes, and I’ve been happy ever since.”
JP became the first head of the family in Illinois, but he was not the last. His younger brother, Anthony, who is the sixth and youngest child in the Hoffman family, chose to join the team in August. A freshman in the College of Applied Health Sciences, Anthony was excited to have fun with his brother, especially after missing the opportunity to play soccer together in high school.
Although the brothers will only have a year of fun together, Anthony is making the most of every game and practice they get to spend together.
“I just realized this is home and every other mascot is giving Block I,” Anthony Hoffman said. “If JP was excited enough and he was strong enough and fast enough, I was like, ‘If I’m going to the U of I, this place where I feel like it’s been home for years and years, then JP could do it, maybe I could.’
“The regret of not being able to play with JP was a big, big regret for a long time, and this opportunity came along. I took it, and I’m not happy about it. I think it’s amazing that it’s something that my brother and our family can experience, it’s crazy all around , it’s crazy for our family, it’s crazy for us, we picked it up, we ran with it, and we’re doing great on it, it’s an amazing experience all around. . It’s been an all-around time that I’m very grateful for.”
The Hoffman family is making the most of JP and Anthony’s time, and JR and Rose attend every football game to cheer on their sons on the sidelines. Whether it’s during the Illini Walk at Grange Grove or inside Memorial Stadium on game days, Illinois cheerleading has become a family affair, something Rose, a proud mother, will never forget.
“My favorite memories of the game now,” Rose Hoffman said. “It brings me to tears when at the end of the game, he’s standing there singing the Alma Mater, swaying back and forth. We went to school here, and now they do too. I just feel so blessed.”