Fans of collegiate sports teams are usually walled off from the players they cheer for.
Without access to the locker room, it’s impossible to know the intensity of a workout or the passion of a halftime speech.
The Georgia soccer team sought to bridge the gap between player and fans on Sept. 22 and 23 when they recorded their trip to College Station, Texas, to play Texas A&M through Instagram Live.
Sophomore midfielder Landon Lambert originally suggested the idea, passed it on to junior midfielder Keely Cartrett, who in turn requested permission from the team’s information director because Lambert was “kinda scared” to ask.
“I felt like sometimes [the team’s Instagram page] is not as connected, I guess, to us,” Lambert said. “So, I thought it’d be cool if we took it over.”
Lambert, an intended journalism major who applied to Grady’s Sports Media certificate program, used the “Team Takeover” as an opportunity to explore her desired field of study. She and Cartrett posted photos, videos and graphics before and after the team’s flight on Sept. 22 and its game against Texas A&M on Sept. 23, a 2-0 loss.
Lambert and Cartrett also responded to fan-submitted questions throughout the trip. They received more questions than they could answer.
“I was just scrolling [through the questions] forever,” Lambert said.
Of course, Instagram’s audience skews towards the younger crowd. And it turns out younger fans are eager to talk to the Georgia soccer team. About six girls asked what it would take to play collegiate soccer.
“They were all younger girls that you could tell were like, ‘I want to play,’” Lambert said. “A lot of them said, ‘I want to play collegiate level’ or ‘I want to play at Georgia. What is it going to take for me to do that? What do you guys do?”
In response, the players espoused traits like hard work, competitiveness and integrity. The answer was predictable, but it was exactly what Georgia soccer head coach Billy Lesesne wanted to hear.
“Did you see some of those answers? Some of those were parts of our core values and some of the things we talk about in our meetings,” Lesesne said. “So when our coaches saw that, we said, ‘Hey, they’re picking up some of the things that we keep presenting them with.’”
The Instagram Live showcased most of the players and some of their talents, including Reagan Glisson doing flips on Texas A&M’s field. The only prominent Bulldog it didn’t show? Lesesne.
While acknowledging social media’s promotional importance, Lesesne said he wasn’t too keen on making a camera appearance.
“Every time I saw them filming things, I would just kinda slide to the side,” Lesesne said. “Let that be organic within the team. I didn’t want to disturb their groove. I think they were having a good time.”