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Nazareth junior Hailey Kober enjoying breakout year

Hailey Kober will play college softball at Chestnut Hill. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

At the ballpark, Hailey Kober can be heard from miles around.

Away from softball, she’s the exact opposite.

Kober is a junior shortstop on the Nazareth Academy High School softball team, and ever since she’s picked up a bat, she’s loved the game.

She also loves to win and support her teammates.

So it makes sense that when she’s in her comfort zone, she becomes a completely different person. A person who is ready to pop some ear drums in order to show her teammates that she fully has their backs.

“I’m not really outgoing but softball brings out that part of me,” said Kober, who lives in Bustleton. “On the field, I’m a completely different person. People are surprised. I’m a very quiet person, so when they see me on the field, they’re surprised because I’m not that way.

“I’m not loud outside softball, but I use my voice in softball. I don’t know why, I feel like I just become so comfortable and I know with my teammates, I can be a good leader on the field so I’ll use my voice.”

She’s that and then some.

On top of being a key cog in the Pandas’ defense, she’s the leadoff hitter, responsible for setting the table for her teammates.

Ever since she became a starter last year, she’s enjoyed doing whatever she can do to score runs, make plays and set the Pandas up for success.

“I’m the leadoff hitter so I have to get on base and move any way I can,” Kober said. “I’m also one of the leaders on the team, my coach told me that so I’m trying to do my best with that. I’m very comfortable with that. 

“I love being a leader, I’d like to do it outside softball. Last year when I started at short, I think I used my voice more. You need to be vocal if you’re playing that position just so everybody knows what’s going on. I really learned from it. It made me want to get into leadership roles in school.”

She’s putting those leadership skills to great use.

More importantly, she’s using those skills at a place she loves.

That’s why becoming a presidential ambassador for the school is the perfect opportunity to sharpen those leadership skills.

“Basically the president of our school picks us and we volunteer at open houses and things like that, and really just represent the school,” said Kober, who is also a member of Athletes Helping Athletes, the Cancer Awareness Club, Morgan’s Light, the Yearbook Club, as well as serving as an executive on the morale committee for Naz-A-Thon “I really like it, I love to give tours and talk about the school because I love Nazareth.

“I feel like it’s such a sisterhood and the girls are so close. My grade, we have 70 girls, and we’re all friends. I love the way our school bonds us together. Everyone is friends and really cares about each other. And we all love the school.”

That’s why she’s so happy she’s able to guide the Pandas in their first season competing in the Catholic League. 

Despite playing in the challenging conference, Nazareth is holding its own, going 4-5 in PCL play. With one winnable game left against Little Flower, the Pandas could go .500 and make the playoffs in one of toughest leagues around.

“I love playing in the PCL, it’s very competitive and I love playing against the schools in the city. I know a lot of the girls on PCL teams. I just played against a teammate on Wood. I love it because you’re playing against your friends. I feel like the competitor in me, it makes me want to play better against someone I know.”

Perhaps she’ll see even more of those girls in the future.

While Kober still has plenty of high school left, she recently committed to Chestnut Hill College, where she will continue her softball career.

She knows her decision was made early, but Kober thinks she couldn’t find a more perfect fit and is excited to get started at her new school, mostly because it reminds her of her current school.

“First, they did a Zoom call and then invited me on an official visit,” Kober said. “Then I stayed overnight and I loved it. They gave me an offer and I took it. 

“I love the school so much, I just wanted to go there. It reminded me of Nazareth, that’s part of the reason I picked it. I love Nazareth, you have a bond with your teachers and that’s how it is at Chestnut Hill. 

“It’s a lot of relief. The recruiting process is very difficult, but it wasn’t for me. I got it done so quickly. I found where I wanted to go so I didn’t have to worry about it.”

She also has a perfect major picked out.

“I like to watch true crime. I plan on majoring in forensics or psychology,” she said. “I really find it very interesting. I’m leading toward psychology, I want to study the brains of the criminals and work for the FBI. I’ve always loved it, my mom would watch the shows and I’d watch them with her. I am taking a forensics class now and I like it even more.”

But before she’s doing that, she has a lot of softball left. 

“We’re having a good year and we’re getting better,” Kober said. “It’s a great team. I really think we’re playing well. And we’re working to get better.”

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