On and off the pitch, VT’s Kahlil Dover strives for growth

A native of Reston, Virginia, Kahlil Dover was able to stay in his home state to play NCAA soccer for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Explaining that decision, Dover told BGN, “It’s known that out-of-state tuition is cumbersome, so being recruited by an in-state university and being able to play in one of the most competitive conferences has pushed me to become a better player, but more importantly a better person. It also has allowed my family to watch games in person, which is substantial for them and myself.”

Before beginning his collegiate career at VT, Dover was a two-sport star at South Lakes High School. In addition to soccer, Dover utilized his talented feet on the football field, too. As a placekicker, he was an All-Conference performer and Special Teams Player of the Year in 2016. How difficult was it to transition his kicking from soccer to football? “For one thing, a soccer ball and a football are two different shapes and learning to kick a football was a bit of a learning curve,” he answered. “The culture instilled in football is very different from what I have experienced in soccer, but I still had a blast hitting people on kick-offs and even retrieving my on-side kick.”

With that experience, he’s more than qualified to weigh in on NFL fans constantly ridiculing the position. “Watching NFL kickers endure hassling and compete under immense pressure is unfortunate because it is a highly skilled position contrary to popular opinion,” Dover said. “It takes a kicker to understand what another kicker is going through, so it breaks my heart to see missed extra points, field goals, and even poor punts.”

Since arriving as a freshman in 2018, Dover’s played in 35 matches for the Hokies. In the fall of 2020, he was able to score his first collegiate goal. After that abbreviated fall season, Kahlil got to see two of his VT teammates get selected in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft: Daniel Pereira (1st overall pick) and Kristofer Strickler (second round pick). “To see Dani go #1 was a huge morale booster for our team and program. We are beyond grateful that we were able to aid in his development,” Dover said. “Additionally, I look up to Kristo, and his success with the draft was a motivation for me to increase my work rate and apply myself wholeheartedly. Both these guys have great personalities and deserve the fruit of their labor.”

Now, the focus turns to building on that success in 2021 and adapting to restrictions and challenges regarding the COVID-19 pandemic . Kahlil said, “Before the pandemic, I dribbled a soccer ball on campus to and from classes, but because of classes held online, I have not been able to get in as many touches as normal. I spent my winter break focusing on my fitness, which has been a weak point in my game.”

He continued, “I want to be in the best shape possible and reach the team goals laid out for the semester. These goals include a team GPA above 3.0, competing and winning the NCAA tournament, and winning our spring schedule.”

The Hokies started off that spring slate with a big 2-0 win vs. a quality Coastal Carolina side over the weekend. Dover was able to play 46 minutes off the bench in the win. Tomorrow, the Hokies (ranked #13 in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll) will host Duke at 1 PM Eastern, live on ACCNX (ACC Network Extra).

Before this season kicked off, Kahlil was able to attend the 2021 Black Student-Athlete Summit. “My biggest takeaway from the summit is that culture within teams is valuable,” he recalled. “It is vital to remember that, after our collegiate careers, we will be citizens in our ever-changing communities, but this is often forgotten behind the weight that winning receives. How can we best use this time and our platform to further our development as young men?”

He added, “Regarding racial inequality, education is necessary for broadening our perspective allowing the norm to be challenged. For starters, social media traps us with our own beliefs and surrounds us with people who typically have the same opinions.”

“Rather than hearing what we want to hear, it is paramount that we hear as many sides of the argument as possible and begin to have those uncomfortable conversations with ourselves, friends, family, peers, etc. Because we do not grow within our comfort zones, but only when we step outside of these individually defined boundaries can change occur.”

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.