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January 29, 2001

Goals of Life

By Eric Rangus

The last goal of Caroline Hoit’s competitive soccer career was perhaps the ultimate in redemption.

A senior co-captain on last year’s soccer team, which reached the Division III Sweet Sixteen, Hoit—a prolific scorer in her early career—had shifted to the role of playmaker. She registered just one goal all season, but the midfielder’s five assists were good enough to tie her for fourth on the team.

That’s why she was an interesting choice when she was picked as one of five players for the shootout that would try to break Emory’s 1-1 tie with Trinity (Tex.) and send the winner into the Division III women’s soccer quarterfinals—the Elite Eight.

Particularly since Hoit’s penalty kick history wass rather spotty.

“I missed a PK in high school, in district finals. It was the worst thing ever,” Hoit said. Her team, King High School in Tampa, Fla., lost that game to crosstown rival Chamberlain in 1995, her sophomore year.

“We’ve gone a couple PK games in my college career, and I had never, ever, taken a PK,” Hoit continued. “And I never wanted to take a PK. I was, like, I just can’t.

“But this year, we were practicing PKs up until the tournament, and I was just determined to make every single one. I wanted to be ready, and I wanted to be the one responsible if we had a PK. I’ve been on the sidelines so many times depending on other people, and it was just time for me to depend on myself.”

So Hoit got the call. She was third in the rotation. Down 2-1, Hoit lined up and fired a knee-high shot to the right of Trinity keeper Jill Di Giampaolo . . . and found the back of the net, tying the shootout at two.

“It was like I’d gone full circle,” Hoit said. “It was just perfect.”

If this was a movie, perhaps that’s where the story would’ve ended. But the euphoria lasted for only for a few minutes. Emory’s final two shooters missed, while Trinity took a 3-2 lead in the final round, ending the Eagles’ season at 15-2-4.

“It was just one of those games,” she said. “What can you do?”

A four-year starter who played every position on the field except goalie, Hoit’s name is all over the Eagle record book. She is Emory’s all-time leader in shots (189) and game-winning goals (12). She is second all-time in assists (25), tied for sixth in games played (74), eighth in points (65) and tied for ninth in goals (20).

She is also the first Eagle soccer player to be named all-region four times (she made second team in 2000 in what was admittedly an off year).

But Hoit’s skills are not limited to the soccer field. An international studies major with a journalism minor, Hoit was named an academic all-American following this past season.

Just 33 soccer players across the country earned that distinction, and two were from Emory: Hoit, who carries a 3.78 GPA, was a third-teamer, and junior goalkeeper Andrea Pawliczek, an economics/chemistry double major with a 4.00 GPA, made the first team.

“Honestly, I can’t imagine Emory without soccer because it’s been such an integral part of my life,” Hoit said. “[Emory coach Michael] Sabatelle has always been there and my teammates have always been there, so it’s hard to separate the two.

“It requires a lot of time, practice, going away on the weekends, which can get kind of tiring with all your studies. It mentally and physically exhausts you; that’s the toughest thing, in terms of playing a sport. But I don’t think it’s made it that much more challenging—it makes you that much more focused. I think a lot of athletes would say that.”

A three-sport athlete in high school, Hoit was all-conference in volleyball, a regional qualifier in the 200 meter dash and a district champion and team MVP in soccer—her favorite sport. So much so that she takes her soccer talent on the road.

Upon entering Emory, Hoit knew she wanted to study abroad. She chose Argentina and spent last spring living and taking classes in Buenos Aires. She took a full load of history and political science classes—all in Spanish—and all from an Argentine and Latin American point of view.

She also played soccer with one of the women’s club teams in the Argentine capital. Women’s soccer in Argentina, Hoit said, is growing, but it still has a ways to go to reach the level in the level it has attained in the United States.

“But I can see the potential,” Hoit said. “It just has to catch on. I’m sure all the girls who going to be excellent soccer players aren’t playing yet. It’s just a matter of marketing the sport throughout the country. Latin America, you could say, is more of a chauvinistic place.”

Among Argentine men, soccer is a religion. The nation has won two World Cups, and its citizens take the game very seriously. The idea of an elite woman playing the game, to most Argentine males, is, well, foreign.

“I would talk about soccer to the men, and they’d be like, ‘Soccer? You mean, football?’” Hoit said mimicking a quarterback throwing a pass. “Because I would say ‘fútbol,’—because that’s what it is. Everyone would laugh. I would say, ‘I’m on this team. In college. Back in the States. I play a lot.’ It was definitely a different experience.”

While she enjoyed the experience playing in Argentina, it almost turned tragic. During a game in May, she felt her leftknee shift out of joint. “I thought it was gone. It was the scariest feeling.”
Hoit hobbled on the knee for about a month before getting an MRI, which gave her moderately good news. Her ACL wasn’t torn—just incredibly stretched—but doctors said surgery was still probably the best option.

“If I had hurt it in March, I might have considered [surgery],” Hoit said. “But I thought, this is my senior year. I have a chance to be a leader.” So Hoit declined surgery, went into rehab and played the season wearing a rather large brace. That knee, more than anything, contributed to her offensive decline.

But Hoit prefers to stick with the positive, like her last game. “I’ve thought about writing an essay on that penalty kick. I just thought I could put a good twist onto it,” she said.

“When you write essays for law school, people always think about obstacles to overcome, but I’ve been really blessed in terms of not getting sick or [seriously] injured. Obviously this year was a bit of a setback, but I’ve dealt with it fine.”

With only a few months left before she graduates, Hoit is easing into the next phase of her life. She’s taking just one class (personal fitness—a little ironic for an athlete), but she has two internships, one at CNN International and another at the Carter Center, where she’s working with the Latin American/Caribbean program.

She’s still a little fuzzy on what she wants her next step to be, but she sees no problem with that.

“People tell me, ‘Don’t rush into a career,’” Hoit said. “Obviously I’ll need money to support myself, but I’m told it’s not that big of a deal to take time off.

“I want to enjoy my last semester. I think it’s good that I’m making this transition and slowly separating myself.”


Back to Emory Report Jan. 29, 2001