I got a great email this week from Donna Koch, widow of long-time high school basketball coach Jim Koch, who guided the great 1972 Putnam City team to an undefeated season. For the Sunday Oklahoman, I wrote about Bob Hoffman, who played for Koch at PC and who coached Mercer to the big upset of Duke last week in the NCAA Tournament. You can read that column here, and a blog I posted earlier this week, which you can read here.
Donna has emailed me some over the years. I wanted to chat with her about the blog I was writing Monday, but I didn’t reach her. But never fail. She reached out to me to add to the story.
“What an emotional and wonderful day Tuesday when I turned on my MacBook Air to newsok.com/sports to see if the Thunder had won! And there I read a wonderful article on Bob Hoffman with very nice comments on coach Jim Koch.
“Emails and facebook responses poured in all day from California, Arizona, Ohio, St. Louis, Dallas, Seattle, Wichita, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Spokane.
“Enjoyed your article on Bob Hoffman. The last time I saw him, he was a little slimmer and hair a little blacker (I would imagine he would say the same of me, you suppose?).
“About nine years ago this coming May 12, Bob rushed in my front door on the morning of Jim Koch’s memorial service, exclaiming, ‘Am I too late?’ He was breathless trying to make the 2 p.m. service. But smiles came to his face as he saw Darrell Johnson, Phil Johnson, Jimmy Wooldridge, Steve MacIntubee, Don Lacy, Jerry Potter and a few other coaches sitting around my living room swapping stories of the magnificent 1970s at Putnam City High School.
“Alvan Adams had called that morning and we both cried because he could not be here. He was events coordinator in Phoenix, and the NBA playoffs were on. He could not leave. So all the rest of that 1972 state tournament team of boys were the pallbearers.
“And yes, Bob Hoffman, you made it in time.”
Great story, Donna. And great memories. Thanks for sharing them.