From social media beginnings, Alanna Locast, Carly Beyar and Shannon Fay grew their own women’s soccer brand and community, with fans from far and wide captivated by Soccer Girl Problems, and like many great stories, music has often marked the moment in this one.
Division 1 teammates in their days at Fairfield University in Connecticut, the Long Island trio began posting on Twitter as ‘@SoccerGrlProbs’ in 2011. Sharing light-hearted tweets about the situations female soccer players of all ages come across, they soon found that there were masses of teams and individuals out there who could relate to exactly what they were saying.
Over 20 entertaining videos followed (with more than 7 million views), and in the past three years, SoccerGrlProbs has attracted over 189,000 Twitter followers, spawned the launch of official apparel, and resulted in adoration from fans for Alanna, Carly and Shannon. Their army of supporters includes U.S. Women’s National Team and other professional players, and SoccerGrlProbs has very much become a brand in its own right.
In addition to their efforts as a collective, each SGP individual has their own personality, background, and journey in the beautiful game to share. Much will be covered in this two-part feature and as with every interview on here, music, soccer, and life are the subjects, with some added Soccer Girl Problems thrown in this time of course.
The three SGP members have different connections with music but it has more than played its part in each of their lives, on and off the field. It can only take a split-second of a song to set your mind on a trip back through your own personal story, and this rings true for Carly.
During her college career with the Fairfield Stags, she made the transition from defender to forward and was the team’s leading goalscorer with four in her sophomore season of 2011. She is taken back to this most special of spells in her life whenever she hears a song made hugely popular by a Brazilian singer, and it is a track that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Neymar have danced and celebrated to.
“When I think about my soccer team at Fairfield University, the song ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’ by Michel Teló comes to mind,” Carly, 22, said. “I loved that song and it actually made it onto our team’s warm-up CD.”
“It really pumped me up for games and made me think of my sister and her boyfriend who would sing that song all the time too.”
Coming from Sayville, Shannon played as a forward for Fairfield and led the Stags for goals as a rookie in 2010. Prior to that, she had starred at St. John the Baptist High School and she recalls how music would set the mood for her teams, with two tracks holding anthemic value in that regard.
“I think our walkout songs always have a special meaning to me,” the 22-year-old said. “I still remember freshman year, our first home game with the lights on the field, walking out to Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’; it was such a cool and memorable moment.
“In high school, when we would travel to an away game we refused to get out off the bus until Jay-Z’s (featuring Alicia Keys) ‘Empire State of Mind’ came on; that was our team’s song senior year.”
Also an attacking player while with the Stags, Seaford native Alanna, 24, is the musical aficionado of SGP it seems, and her taste in general differs from what gets her in the zone on game day, as she describes.
“Music has played a huge part in pretty much all aspects of my life. Alternative rock and acoustic music has always been a favourite of mine since I was younger.
“My favourite bands consist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Goo Goo Dolls, Marianas Trench, Parachute, and July for Kings. Solo artists Trevor Hall, Ed Sheeran, James Morrison and Matt Nathanson are up there on the list too.
“As for pump-up music for games, I’ve always played the same songs on repeat. Avicii, Eminem and ClayPark never fail me in that department.”
Since SGP was created, the familiarity people enjoy with it has grown hugely, but for over two years Alanna, Carly and Shannon’s identities as those ‘crazy soccer girls with endless complaints’ were kept secret. Recently though, people have got to learn and appreciate a little more about them as individuals.
It is easy for any of the three to tell which one has tweeted on the SGP account as they all have their own distinctive styles. Alanna is the one to carefully plan and put together a Soccer Girl Problem post, while Shannon tends to be much more blunt about it.
Carly has a dry and clever sense of humour and is a huge fan of comedy movies, but what kind of music strikes a chord with her?
“I am very open to all sorts of music genres. If I hear something that I like, I’ll listen to it and try to download to my iTunes for long bus rides to games.
“As I think back to when I was younger, my mom would play the ‘oldies’ station and it would give me so much energy! It was so upbeat and great to sing along to.
“In general, there are some songs that mean a lot to me that I can think of off the top of my head. For example, ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger sticks with me because my stepmother’s mom died around the time that the song played on the radio. It makes me think of her and how much I love her. “Another song that I love listening to is ‘Rolling On the River (Proud Mary)’ by Tina Turner; it makes me think of my mom when she used to dance around and laugh with my sisters and I as she cooked us dinner. I truly appreciate songs that make me think of my family members, teammates or significant other.”
Establishing and maintaining the right level of fitness is naturally vital for any successful athlete and SGP knows that all too well, especially when it comes to pre-season! The prospect of beep tests and suchlike do not fill too many players with enthusiasm but there are at least some non-technical aspects of training that can be helped with a song or two.
Shannon, who scored 26 and won the New York State Catholic High School Championship as a senior, picks out her number one band and explains how music helps to keep her motivation up in the gym.
“Dave Matthews Band has been my all-time favourite since I was a kid. Workout music, I love using Pandora and Songza and just getting a mix of my favourite artists while hearing new artists and songs.
“That helps me get pumped when I work out.”
As a junior in 2012, Shannon led the Stags for goals scored, netting a career-high total of five. A little further back from that, she held the role of locker room DJ alongside a player who wore the number 1 jersey for Fairfield at the time.
“My roommate freshman year, Kasey Cox, and I were the DJs for a while, but she transferred and I couldn’t handle the pressure alone.”
Aside from keeping watch for anyone who might be stealing socks, the locker room before a game is a place to find that fire for the battle ahead. There can be a fun atmosphere or a serious and shared focus, but if the team playlist hits the mark then the good vibes will be flowing when it comes to walking onto the field.
Fairfield’s aforementioned ex-goalkeeper gets another shoutout here, this time from Alanna, for the tracks she got to hear because of her.
“Since my taste in music is a little more on the mellow side, I was never the team DJ. I do specifically remember Kasey Cox, our goalie, always bringing in mix CDs for the locker room and pre-game music.
“I never knew a single song on any of the CDs she brought in, but within a week I knew the words to every single one.”
For Carly, who was a four-time state champion with South Side High School, music has undoubtedly signposted her career in its own way. The former Albertson Fury ’91 player had a nostalgic moment tinged with more than a touch of pain when she recently heard a song from her college days on the field.
“When it comes to pre-game motivation, I love hip-hop or rap music; it puts me in a serious and concentrated mindset that prepares me for the next 90 minutes. It is funny that you asked if music plays a role in bringing back memories because it happened to me earlier this morning.
“The song ‘Timber’ by Pitbull and Ke$ha came on the radio and I was immediately filled with sadness because my team played that song in the locker room before we lost in the MACC Finals versus Monmouth. So as much as I love that song, it brought me bad memories thinking about how we could have been MACC champions that day!
“It is amazing how powerful music can be when it comes to feeling nostalgic or thinking back to better or worse times.”
A big part of why so many people love SGP is that it gives them some light relief from the annoyances and difficulties that come with being committed to playing soccer. The game is also about a strong sense of belonging and sharing in the ups and downs. It helps to a large extent if you feel familiarity with your teammates before you work with each other on the field and singing can often come into the equation with inter-group bonding.
Like Shannon, her former Stags head coach Jim O’Brien graduated from St. John the Baptist High School in Long Island, and she recalls how he gave an unforgettable rendition as the final preparations for a big game were being put together!
“My coach Jim O’Brien danced and sang to an Eminem song in the locker room before our semi-finals game. I think that was the most memorable.
“I never had to do the initiation singing, luckily, but I did volunteer on an away trip to sing karaoke when we were out to dinner at a brewery somewhere in a small town up in Maine. My teammate Kasey Schulz and I loved the song ‘Kiss’ by Prince and gave an amazing off-pitch performance.”
Currently a grad student at Adelphi University, Alanna made the 2010 MAAC All-Academic Team while at Fairfield and was the first of SGP to graduate. It is difficult for her not to raise a smile at some of her memories from pre-game scenes with the Stags or from the bus rides to away fixtures. As she recalled these, she looked back on how she dodged a very uncomfortable situation for herself in her debut season!
“I don’t so much remember singing as I do bizarre dance moves in the locker room. Certain songs would always come on that would make everyone stop what they were doing, whether they were halfway through putting a cleat or socks on, and get up and dance like fools.
“I specifically remember on the first away game of the season my first year, we were doing karaoke over the team bus’ PA system. You had to listen to a song and belt out the lyrics to it into the microphone that projected all throughout the bus… the catch was you had headphones in, so no one else could hear the song you were singing along to.
“I luckily and quietly missed my turn at this!”
As someone who has played in various positions, it makes sense that Carly is versatile with her music listening. However, her diverse appreciation for artists and genres would not have saved her from the scenario Alanna mentioned!
You might even say Carly would rather have repeated pre-season training than take on this challenge. Well…you might.
“When I first joined Fairfield University women’s soccer my freshmen year, rumour had it that all the freshmen would have to sing on the bus ride to an away game with headphones in their ears. That way we wouldn’t be able to hear how badly we were singing!
“Luckily, our senior class never remembered to make us sing. We made it through the whole season without having to embarrass ourselves.
“To be honest, it was luckier for them because I have a terrible singing voice. It would have been a worse experience for my teammates to have to listen to me.”
Carly, who graduated this May along with Shannon, also has a special mention for another Stags player. She is a strong defensive player and a self-confessed devotee of a certain singer, as Carly reveals.
“Emma Pichl! My teammate Emma is a year younger than me and currently a senior on Fairfield University women’s soccer.
“She would always sing, no matter if we were in the locker room getting ready or at the cafeteria stuffing our faces. She always found a way to sing seriously or joking around, especially if it was a Miley Cyrus song because she is a huge fan of her.”
While keeping their individual identities a secret from SGP fans prior to earlier this year added to the intrigue, and kept them from accidentally getting into trouble with their university somewhere along the way, it also helped to further build the community around it. Understandably, Alanna, Carly and Shannon have become celebrities to the people who feel a bond with and look up to them.
It has been magnificently surreal for them and the excitement in the lead-up to any new video they post on YouTube is akin to a pro team getting ready to announce a new player signing! The videos are shot on Alanna’s iPad and the first of these has so far attracted over 3.4million views, with over a million in the first three days.
Nostalgia goes hand in hand with soccer and music so maybe one day we will hear some of the first songs SGP ever bought playing in the background on their videos (or even see their own interpretation). Shannon is the first to reveal which single she purchased back in the 90s and it would probably be easy for the song’s video to be recreated Soccer Girl style!
“Hanson ‘MMMBop’, in elementary school.”
Although she was just a kid at the time, Alanna’s first record was certainly in keeping with her taste nowadays, and she remains just as big a fan today of the trio.
“The first CD I ever bought was definitely a Blink 182 CD, probably at the age of 12. I was completely obsessed as a child, and still am a little!”
When Carly thought back to the first CD she had, it came down to two. One was very much about ‘girl power’, while the other was much more ‘girl rivalry’.
“As funny as it sounds, I immediately think of the Spice Girls and Brandy and Monica. I can picture exactly what the CD cover looked like and what (Brandy and Monica) song I absolutely loved, which was ‘The Boy Is Mine’.
“I was probably around 10-13 years old at this time.”
For anyone who is reading this site for the first time, male and female players from around the world have featured on here and discussed not just music, teammates and soccer, but their outlook on life. Alanna, Carly and Shannon have plenty more of their own personalities to share in part two of this interview but one of the best qualities of SGP is how they tell such a big part of their fans’ lives through their own experiences.
From something that all came from their tweets when they were covered in ice packs and exhausted one day from training for the game they love, they went way beyond just making their teammates laugh. It has become routine for the SGP community in various countries to enjoy what the girls put out there and whether it is about the injuries, the irrepressible desire to just wear sweats, or those oh so welcome tan lines, it is always entertaining and relatable.
Alanna, Carly and Shannon make the game that bit more fun and when you make people feel part of something regardless of where they happen to be, that’s a pretty amazing thing. Until part two of this feature, we end with each SGP member picking out some of the many moments from meeting fans that have stood out as meaningful, funny, or surreal.
“I think getting artwork from fans is always memorable,” Shannon said. “We were given a clay handmade SGP piece of art from a fan – shoutout to Claire, thanks!”
“We also had a fan travel a few hours to watch us play a game in Buffalo and gave us a letter after the game about how much she looks up to us and how we inspire her. That was pretty awesome.”
“We’ve heard our share of strange and funny things from fans while attending some of the Women’s National Team games,” Alanna said. “One thing that sticks out in my mind as memorable was this one little girl who had me sign her cast at the game because she saw in one of our videos that I had a huge arm cast on at the time and called me ‘injured girl’.”
“Last summer, I went to a U.S. Women’s National Team game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts,” Carly recalled. “Unfortunately, Alanna and Shannon weren’t with me but I managed to get recognised by SGP fans that attended the game.”
“I distinctly remember one girl noticed me and dropped down to the floor screaming with excitement. It was funny and amazing that she cared that much to meet a SoccerGrlProbs girl!
“In addition, just recently Alanna and I met (Canada captain) Christine Sinclair at the end of the Portland Thorns versus Boston Breakers game. She shook my hand and said, “You guys are hilarious”
“I turned around and said, “I am never washing my hand again.”
Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes and look out for part two of this interview!
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In the second part of this interview, Alanna, Carly and Shannon each choose which male or female soccer player they would record a song with, the Soccer Girl Problem that they each relate to the most, they reflect on their life in soccer, and more.