From the Classroom

From an aspiring meteorologist to working in the NFL

Toni Hall’s unique journey led her to a profession she never expected.

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On February 12, 2023, while millions of fans tuned into Super Bowl LVII to cheer on their favorite players and teams, Toni Hall, age 26, found herself feverishly working on uploading content to the NFL’s Instagram account as a social media coordinator for the National Football League. All eyes were on her. There was no room for errors. One mistake and the whole world would see.

“You guys can not mess up,” she remembers her bosses told her.

The 26-year-old was born to Tony and Michelle Hall in Houston, Texas. She lived in Texas for most of her life, moving from San Antonio to Austin. At a young age, Hall aspired to be a meteorologist and work for the Weather Channel. Hall’s passion for meteorology stemmed from her father’s passion for smooth jazz music. When Hall was growing up, her father would turn on the Weather Channel to watch a special segment,

Local on the 8s. The two would listen to the weather report and soak up jazz music in the background every night. For Hall’s 15th birthday, her parents drove her to Atlanta, Georgia, to see the Weather Channel building. After witnessing her first natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Hall was attracted to watching and studying the weather. Natural disasters fascinated her and made her want to chase tornadoes in particular.

As a senior in high school, Hall had her sights set on one college to pursue her passion: Texas A&M University. Every day, Hall anxiously waited for her acceptance letter to her dream school. It never came. Instead, Hall decided to attend Prairie View A&M University, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and sister school to Texas A&M University. Hall planned to transfer to Texas A&M after attending Prairie View A&M for a year. But unexpectedly, she fell in love with the campus and made lifelong friends.

“I tell you my everything changed my freshman year. It was a hard decision, but I just knew in my heart it was meant for me to stay at Prairie View,” Hall said.

After deciding to stay at Prairie View A&M, Hall’s passion for meteorology started to fade, knowing she would not transfer to Texas A&M to study meteorology. Because Hall was still interested in being on the Weather Channel, she decided to shift her focus from meteorology to media and reporting. Shortly after, Hall secured her first internship with ABC13 Houston, the eighth-largest television news market in the nation. During her internship Hall hoped to develop her television reporting skills. At the time, Hall was commuting one hour to and from ABC13′s studio in Houston and was required to report to the studio at five in the morning every day. Hall was shocked after being called to her boss’s office at the studio one day. She had been fired from her internship. The reasons: Hall was working too hard as a sophomore in college, they could tell she did not love reporting hard news, and the company wanted her to take a break.

“That was the first time I experienced tough love in my career,” Hall said.

Getting fired from her first internship at ABC13 scared Hall away from the TV screens, cameras, and bright lights. Again, Hall shifted her focus and passion. This time from television and reporting to the business side of media. She thought she would be interested in advertising and marketing, but she wasn’t. Hall was passionate about sports and wanted to immerse herself in the culture. She conducted interviews with Black and African American celebrities ranging from the sports industry to the music and entertainment business.

“A journalism bug started developing,” Hall said.

After Hall graduated from Prairie View A&M University, she continued to pursue her growing passion for journalism by attending the University of Southern California to earn a master’s degree in Specialized Journalism in Sports and Entertainment. Determined not to pay the hefty price tag for her tuition at USC, Hall was the first-ever recipient of the GRoW @ Annenberg Scholarship. According to the USC Annenberg website, the GRoW @ Annenberg Scholarship is “a philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting humanitarian efforts across the globe, as well as innovative projects in health, education, art, the environment, civic and cultural life, and more.”

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After she graduated, Hall worked at FOX Sports as a Production Assistant before applying for a job at the NFL. Hall first discovered the job opening at the NFL through a friend in the sports industry who sent her the job posting and encouraged her to apply.

Hall was hesitant because she was comfortable at FOX Sports. Eventually, she decided to apply, and six rounds of interviews later, shebecame the Social Media Coordinator for the NFL’s Instagram account. Hall’s Sundays were forever changed.

While most people look forward to relaxing and watching football on Sundays, Hall’s Sundays were quite the opposite. As an NFL Instagram Story Lead, Hall posted between 40-50 Instagram stories every Sunday. After the NFL’s New York Instagram team kicked the morning games off, Hall would log on at 12 PM and work until 9 PM, posting player entrances, sponsorships, and highlights throughout the day. Every Sunday, Hall would receive hundreds of raw photos and video clips from the NFL’s photographers and videographers and have to use her creativity and judgment to decide what content went on the NFL’s Instagram.

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Tony and Michelle Hall were thrilled and blown away after finding out that their daughter would be working for the NFL. Growing up, the Hall family was a huge Alabama football fan, and Hall’s father, Tony, was a football coach for her brother’s team. Hall said her parents are beyond proud of her, because she is making an impact in a professional sports league every day. Hall thanks her parents for being so supportive of her career and journey to the NFL.

“Having parents who want to see their kids grow up and change the world means everything,” Hall said.

For Hall, one of the hardest challenges about her job was fatigue. Hall described being a creative content creator as both physically and mentally draining.

“By week 15, I was ready for football to stop,” Hall said.

Hall offered advice to other social media content creators. She suggested taking breaks to recalibrate and regather oneself after working for such a long period of time. Hall takes her own advice seriously and enjoys spending time in nature, whether it’s taking a long hike or soaking up sun rays at the beach. Hall considers herself a “nature nerd” and even dedicates her Instagram username to nature: @lost_n_nature.

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As a Social Media Coordinator for the NFL, Hall has been able to collaborate with some NFL players like Marshawn Lynch, Kenny Stills, Ryan Neal and Tre Norwood. Off the field, Hall says her faith has played an important role in her life. As a strong Christian, Hall strives to act as an “agent” and spread her faith to those who have never heard about God. Hall’s ultimate goal in life is to combine her love for sports and her love for

God. She hopes to create a safe and inviting platform where professional athletes can talk about God and share their testimonies and relationship with Him. Hall said that all the money, fame, and material objects are not important to Hall because she believes the true treasure is knowing God.

Throughout her time at the NFL, Hall has learned countless lessons that have impacted and shaped her life. From her first day, Hall dealt with imposter syndrome being the only African American woman on her team. However, she quickly learned that she was chosen to be in this industry and that she was meant for the job. Hall said she appreciates her boss, who took a chance on her because she entered her job at the NFL with little to no experience in social media.

“NFL social - I don’t care what anyone says, that’s the best social team in the world,” Hall said.

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After reflecting on her journey to the NFL, Hall provided advice to those looking to follow in her footsteps and eventually work for the NFL.

“The NFL is a great place to start, but not to stay. You’re going to learn so much from the greats, you’re going to want to build something on your own,” Hall said.

Hall learned from the best of the best of social media from her time at the NFL. In the future, she hopes to take her talents and use them in a different way.

“Always reach back to the next generation and show them that you [they] can do it too,” said Hall.

Toni Hall is currently transitioning into a new role within the NFL. For the upcoming season, Hall is moving from the NFL’s Los Angeles offices to the New York office. Hall will work as a Player Content Coordinator out of the NFL’s New York office, where she hopes to capture unique content and inspire the next generation.

In addition, watch the documentary on Toni Hall.