Growing Up With a SLU Parent: Reliving Your Parent’s Experience While Also Creating Your Own

By: 
Colby Hoffman
Class of: 
2020

For some people, their dad has an obsession with golf, fishing, or their prized collections of hats and ties. Maybe they have a love for cars, or for cooking on the grill every chance they get. For me, however, I grew up with a father who has a different kind of obsession: his pride for St. Lawrence.

While you may be thinking, ‘Hey, that’s a little weird,’ let me give you the full story—the one made up of my dad’s experience at St. Lawrence and its intersectional relationship with my own. Growing up, I was donned in SLU t-shirts in kid’s sizes, had the importance of the Hoot Owl (every Laurentian's favorite bar to come back to) hammered into my head, and always called each one of my dad’s fraternity brothers from St. Lawrence my ‘Uncle.’ Every morning when my dad drove me to school, he somehow was able to bring SLU into the conversation and reshare one of his many stories from his four years here, sometimes barely being able to tell the story at all due to his incessant laughter. Some of my dad's favorite memories are with alumni who have kids that I am now current students with, so everything has come full circle. In addition, my dad was roommates with now University President William L. Fox ’75, who was also President of Beta Theta Pi while they were here at St. Lawrence, whom I also see while out and about on campus. 

To other people, my dad’s continued fascination with this small school tucked away at the top of the Adirondacks may seem a little extreme, but to these judgments he always says. “Once a Saint, always a Saint.” You could only imagine the look on my mom’s face in response to my dad’s classic statement when he decided to paint one of the rooms in our house scarlet and brown.

Growing up in Hingham, Massachusetts (a small town on the South Shore just past Boston), my dad set his mind on letting everyone in our area know about how great his alma mater is. Not only does he actively recruit high school students to look at St. Lawrence, but he also maintains connections amongst the 120+ alumni and current students who reside in Hingham. If you ever find yourself in our town, you will be sure to see the employees at the local coffee shop, Atlantic Bagel, wearing a SLU hat or a t-shirt while working, or a car drive by with a ‘St. Lawrence University’ bumper sticker—a reflection of the local alumni who love to spread the Saints’ logo in any way that they can. If you run into my dad and have a conversation with him, he will almost always end with, “Great talking to you—see you around campus!” though he graduated and left Canton in 1975.

Many people have asked me if my dad pushed St. Lawrence on me when the time came for me to decide on a school, but for me, St. Lawrence has always been a part of my life; I knew the significance of an Adirondack chair, I went to Camp Chipmunk during my dad’s Reunion weekends (a camp for children of alumni), I came up to campus every year for my family’s annual football game against King's Point Merchant Marine Academy (called the Hoffman Cup to honor my late grandfather, Captain Richard A. Hoffman, who was a dedicated SLU parent), and every Christmas party and family get-together there were at least ten or more SLU alumni present. I had already experienced what it was like to be part of the St. Lawrence family without even realizing it.

As I toured school after school looking at women’s lacrosse programs, I came to a point when I was deflated and frustrated. I am the youngest of four kids, and each one of my family members went to a completely different school, my dad being the only St. Lawrence grad in our family. All I wanted was a school to call my own; I didn’t want to follow in anyone’s footsteps. My high school college counselor looked me straight in the face and said, “Where will you be the happiest? When you are much older, which school will you be most proud to be an alum of?” To everyone’s surprise—as well as to my own—my gut feeling was to be a Saint. I haven’t looked back since.