Kyle Nilsson ’25 from San Francisco, Calif. is competing in his third season on the men’s soccer team. In this installment of Seven Questions, Nilsson discusses his favorite memories on the team, his preferred pre-game music and his professional soccer role models.
Hamilton Smith: Did you always know that you wanted to play soccer in college?
Kyle Nilsson: I played a lot of competitive sports over my life, which boiled down to three serious competitive opportunities: tennis, ski racing and soccer. I liked the team aspect and collaboration involved in soccer, so I pursued playing for SVSA [Silicon Valley Soccer Academy], which kicked off wanting to extend my soccer career further into college.
HS: Set the scene of your ideal weather conditions and time of day for a match.
KN: I would say 65 to 70 degrees under the lights, a 7:30 p.m. start. There is something about playing under the lights that unlocks a new level of happiness.HS: What would you say is your biggest weakness as a player?KN: I would say converting that final step in the attacking third of the pitch. I do a great job supporting and leading the attack to get in front of the goal but forget that final run or shoot just wide of the goal. HS: What is your favorite memory on the Middlebury soccer team?KN: Definitely when [my teammates] Eujin Chae, Jonathan Summerow and I hosted a pickup tournament our freshman spring to support a charity called Grassroots Soccer. We ended up having over 60 participants and raising over [$6,000] for the organization. Our entire team showed up, and it was great to celebrate the community by playing the sport that we love. HS: Who is your favorite professional soccer player, and why?KN: Jordan Morris has been my favorite. He plays with type 1 diabetes, which my brother also lives with. Jordan has shown the world that his condition does not define him, and he proves every time he steps on the pitch that he deserves to be there. My brother plays incredibly competitive high school water polo, and he too shows the world that he can compete at [a high] level despite playing with a life-threatening disease.
HS: If you could choose a song to play every time you step on the field, what song would you choose?
KN: We are One [(Ole Ola)] by Pitbull. It brings back memories of watching the 2014 World Cup, which was my favorite era of soccer to watch. Such amazing players, such amazing vibes, such a demonstration of the beauty of soccer.
HS: Who is your greatest role model in soccer?
KN: Coaches Elias, Potter, Conrad and Emmett have shown me that soccer is so much more than just a sport. It’s a family, a community, a network and a method which brings us together. I’ve learned through playing with my teammates that in everything we do, in all the hours we train, in all the games we fight in, we ultimately grow and learn as [athletes].
Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.