Hall gets to big­ger yes af­ter be­ing drafted

For­mer Vir­ginia star cor­ner­back ex­e­cutes plan to seal en­gage­ment

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS - BY BEN­NETT CONLIN The Daily Progress

Bryce Hall wanted to pro­pose to Anzel Viljoen on Tues­day, April 28. The for­mer Vir­ginia cor­ner­back planned the event with the help of Catesby Wil­lis and, de­spite the anx­i­ety of propos­ing, felt con­fi­dent in the plan.

Viljoen and Wil­lis, team­mates on the Vir­ginia field hockey team that made the Fi­nal Four this past sea­son, were sup­posed to go on a run Tues­day which would end — in a way un­known to Viljoen — by meet­ing Hall at the Ro­tunda, where he would pro­pose.

Mother Na­ture had other plans.

Chilly weather caused Viljoen to opt against go­ing for a run. She told Hall she’d go Wed­nes­day, when the fore­cast seemed bet­ter for run­ning.

Hall, who was se­lected by the New York Jets in NFL draft sev­eral days ear­lier, used the ex­tra day of plan­ning to his ad­van­tage. Avery Mul­laney, a mu­tual friend, photograph­er and UVA

cheer­leader, wasn’t in town Tues­day but could pho­to­graph the event Wed­nes­day.

An ex­tra day also gave Hall a chance to tell his friends about his plan.

One of Hall’s friends, clearly a ro­man­tic, had ex­tra rose petals avail­able. Hall lined the path to where he waited for Viljoen with the petals.

As Viljoen fin­ished her Wed­nes­day jog, Hall bent down on one knee and pro­posed. Viljoen said yes as mu­tual friends popped out from hid­ing places and cheered.

“Man, it re­ally just kind of came to­gether, flowed to­gether in a per­fect set­ting with­out me re­ally try­ing to, but it just worked out that way,” Hall said. “I think it was pretty cool, and it ended up be­ing a re­ally good pro­posal.”

The pro­posal wasn’t with­out hic­cups, how­ever.

Viljoen planned to run a slightly dif­fer­ent route from the one she took to reach Hall. Wil­lis, want­ing to hold up her end of the bar­gain by bring­ing Viljoen to Hall, sternly told her friend they had to go a dif­fer­ent way.

“She was like, re­ally rude to me about it,” Viljoen laughed. “She’s never that rude, and I was like, ‘Oh my good­ness, I won­der if some­thing hap­pened with her this morn­ing?’”

The en­gage­ment came a cou­ple of years af­ter the two ath­letes met at UVA. They be­came ac­quain­tances their sopho­more years, with Hall ap­pear­ing in­ter­ested in a deeper re­la­tion­ship.

“Bryce was def­i­nitely into me, very clearly, but I would say it was prob­a­bly more so the ac­cent that he was into,” Viljoen, a New

Zealand na­tive, said with a smile.

Ac­quain­tances turned to friends af­ter the two hap­pened to be bap­tized on the same day the sum­mer af­ter their sec­ond years at UVA. The friend­ship grew from there, with their shared faith play­ing a cen­tral role in their re­la­tion­ship.

The friend­ship grew into a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship in the fall of 2019, af­ter Hall’s sea­son-end­ing in­jury against Mi­ami. Viljoen stopped by to visit her friend in the hos­pi­tal, stay­ing with Hall into the night.

“I think, hon­estly, af­ter that night, when I left the hos­pi­tal we both kind of knew, ‘Yeah, this is go­ing to be some­thing,’” Viljoen said.

Hall’s en­gage­ment came four days af­ter he was drafted by the Jets.

“It’s been a crazy week, hon­estly,” Hall said, grin­ning.

For those who in­ter­act with Hall, it’s not sur­pris­ing to see him keep per­spec­tive through an ex­cit­ing week. Af­ter he suf­fered his sea­son-end­ing in­jury against Mi­ami, Hall con­soled some of his team­mates and coaches who were dis­traught that his se­nior sea­son was cut short.

Out­side the lime­light, Viljoen was among those en­sur­ing that Hall was OK when she checked on him in the hos­pi­tal af­ter his in­jury.

“She’s very kind and she’s al­ways ser­vant­hearted, and she just makes my life so much eas­ier but adds a lot of joy and just ful­fill­ment as well as so much sup­port,” Hall said. “I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that. I haven’t nec­es­sar­ily had that be­cause I’ve been so used to do­ing things on my own.”

Hall, who is used to lift­ing oth­ers up, seems to have met his match.

COUR­TESY OF AVERY MUL­LANEY

For­mer Vir­ginia foot­ball player Bryce Hall pro­poses to his girlfriend, Anzel Viljoen, at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia.

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