Ten jumps forward, ten jumps back. Ten jumps more to the left and right.
Senior forward Kylie Hall acknowledges that she has “a ton” of pre-game rituals. She listens to the same playlist in the locker room before every game. She warms up with the same yellow ball when working with a partner and recites a short prayer to herself during the national anthem. This routine locks in Hall’s focus so that when she steps onto the soccer field moments before kick-off, “everything feels right.”
Hall’s stellar performance this season for the Emory University women’s soccer team has been record-breaking. Between playing East Texas Baptist University (Tenn.) on Sept. 9 and the University of Chicago (Ill.) on Oct. 8, Hall recorded an assist in seven consecutive games. On two separate occasions, Hall had three assists in one game, adding to her season total of 13. As a result of this incredible streak, Hall now holds the team record for the most assists in a single season and the most consecutive games with an assist.
Every athlete is prone to developing pre-game habits, but the reasons behind Hall’s success are not grounded in superstition.
When Hall was four years old, her parents signed her up for soccer in addition to other sports like dance and softball. By middle school, Hall realized soccer was the sport she enjoyed most. From then on, she dedicated herself to becoming the best soccer player she possibly could.
Hall gained attention from college coaches while playing in the Elite Clubs National League during her first three years of high school. Hall stood out to head coach Sue Patberg as a high-school player because of her high level of technical play and mature game awareness.
“I always knew I wanted to go Division III because I wanted to go to more of an academic based school,” Hall said. “I visited Emory and it literally felt 100 percent right.”
Despite the welcoming environment on the team, Hall had difficulty adjusting to college soccer during her freshman season.
“When I was a freshman, I was not the biggest on the field,” Hall said. “I remember coming in and being kind of timid, not wanting to take players on because I was afraid of losing the ball.”
Hall was not a regular starter during her freshman season. She was grateful for the minutes she received, but she knew that as one of the smaller players, she had to play to her strengths to remain on the field.
The following season was disrupted by COVID-19. The unfortunate break from games provided Hall with a unique opportunity. Still determined to become a better player, Hall trained alone in the fall and with her teammates in the spring to improve her skills and physicality.
“I was starting to really gain confidence again,” Hall said. “I just felt like I was more comfortable on the field and that I was becoming a better player.”
By her junior season, Hall’s hard work was evident on the field. She led the team in assists, scored five goals and was included in the United Soccer Coaches All-Region Second Team.
According to Patberg, Hall’s physical ability since joining the team has “grown tremendously” along with her game management and composure on the ball.
“A lot of players are accomplished players in high school and with their club teams,” Patberg said. “Not a lot of players grow as much as Kylie has grown in her game. To me, that’s a special thing. It’s a testament to her and her mentality.”
As a wide forward player, Hall is extremely fast and technical on the ball. She’s a great finisher and especially strong at delivering accurate crosses and free kicks.
“She can beat people on the dribble,” Patberg said. “She can deliver a ball on the dime 30 yards in the air or cut the ball back on the ground. She can score herself… This comes as a huge force for our program.”
Patberg said Hall has also become a “fantastic leader,” taking on the added responsibility of being one of the team’s captains.
Freshman defender Samantha Lim said as a captain, Hall is very approachable when anyone needs advice or help and leads by example on the field.
“She’s a great person to look up to,” Lim said. “She’s really kind and friendly. And as a freshman, she’s pretty inclusive.”
Highlighting her strength as a leader, Lim recalled how Hall missed a penalty kick when the team lost 1-0 to the University of Puget Sound (Wash.) on Sept. 5. Instead of dwelling on her mistake, Hall put the past behind her and focused on improving her penalty kick.
In three consecutive games between Oct. 8 and Oct. 16, Hall scored decisive penalties. Her penalty kicks against New York University and Brandeis University (Mass.) were the winning goals.
“I think that [focus] is just part of her nature,” Lim said. “She never quits.”
Hall’s composure on the field has propelled her game to new heights this season. While this success is due in large part to her hard work and personal growth, Hall is extremely humble and appreciative of the entire team effort.
“I’m really proud of myself, but I wouldn’t be doing that without my teammates,” Hall said. “I give all credit to them and to my coaches as well.”
Beyond sports and academics, Hall is involved with several Jewish organizations on campus. She is a vice president of Meor at Emory and a member of Emory Miracle. Hall loves to find ways to “help the community as a whole.”
When asked about Hall’s next contributions to the team following her record-breaking run, Patberg was overwhelmingly optimistic.
“The sky’s the limit for any player on our team, and for Kylie it’s the same thing,” Patberg said. “There’s no limit to what can be attained.”
With one more year of eligibility remaining, Hall plans to return for the 2023 season and hopes to “add some more wins to the [team’s] column.”