(The following was featured in the 2010 Homecoming football program on Oct. 8.)
Ten months later and there are still people that ask to take a picture with her, be her friend on Facebook and want to know, “if it hurt.”
Kassidy Shumway, 6-foot senior forward from Bountiful, Utah on the nationally-ranked BYU women’s soccer team, found herself in the national spotlight on Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, the day after BYU’s win over New Mexico in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
The “ponytail incident” (or how it came to be known) brought a wave of attention to Kassidy overnight, with a couple YouTube videos that have each been viewed more than three million times.
“It’s a little funny that people made such a big deal about it.,” said Kassidy. “I still meet people that ask me if it hurt or if they can take a picture with me.”
Kassidy says she’s over the incident and hopes BYU’s soccer match in New Mexico won’t be awkward for anyone. BYU will travel to Albuquerque to play the Lobos on October 16.
Kassidy’s husband Drew — who has played lacrosse at BYU for two years — was surprised by all the attention, and how many people have talked to him about the incident.
Nearly a year later, Drew likes to have some fun with it. “When I see people that I haven’t seen in a while, I introduce her as, ‘This is my wife, the ponytail girl.’ And they say, ‘That’s your wife?’ Yes, I’m married to the ponytail girl.”
Kassidy and Drew were married on Aug. 7, 2009, in the Bountiful temple. They first met watching a Jazz game and then watched the rest of the season together.
“We bonded via the Jazz,” Drew said.
“We had some mutual friends that introduced us,” Kassidy said. “We all love to watch the Jazz play so one time we were getting together to watch the Jazz play Boston. Everyone went over to Drew’s house, and we spent some time together making omelets and pancakes. I remember going home and thinking how cute he was and how easy it was to talk to him. We ended up watching all the Jazz games together after that.”
“That mutual friend who introduced us while we were watching the Jazz game was actually on my lacrosse team,” Drew said. “So now the lacrosse team is a pretty big supporter of the soccer team and a bunch of the girls on the soccer team support the lacrosse team. We call it a partnership.”
Drew says he goes to every soccer game he can, and even attends some away games. Only lacrosse can keep him away from the games and he’s really excited to watch Kassidy play in her senior season and see what the team can do.
“This team’s great because I get along well with all of the girls and we play so well together,” Kassidy said about playing for BYU. “We have so much fun with each other so it’s more than just playing soccer.“
When asked about one of her favorite memories from her four years at BYU, Kassidy smiled and remembered a time her freshman year during practice when she and teammate Katie Larkin decided to play a joke on the team.
“In practice one day we were working on set pieces when Katie Larkin and I schemed that I was going to run around the ball then go to the other side of the goal and bark like a dog to distract everyone so she could take the shot. I did it and everyone dropped to the ground laughing, including Larkin, so it didn’t actually work but we all laughed pretty hard. It was epic. We like to have a lot of fun together as a team and I think our coaches let us because we all work so hard. They know how committed and serious we are about the game so a few laughing incidents are okay.”
The BYU women’s soccer team has been consistently ranked in the top 25 since the program’s inception under head coach Jennifer Rockwood. In Kassidy’s four years at BYU, the Cougars have been to the NCAA women’s soccer college cup every year, been MWC conference champions twice and MWC regular-season champs twice.
Kassidy played soccer, basketball and ran some track when she was younger but decided to continue with soccer in high school. She was on the all-state first team her sophomore, junior and senior years at Woods Cross High School, led the team in scoring all four years and competed on the Olympic Development Program (ODP) state team for four years as well.
The skill level Kassidy played at in high school improved at BYU when she came to play for coach Rockwood.
“Kassidy has been an important part of our program since she arrived her freshman year,” Rockwood said. “She is an outstanding example of a BYU student athlete and has proven to excel both on, and off, the field. She brings a tremendous amount of energy and passion to every game.”
Despite her natural ability to play at a higher level, Kassidy says she does remember having to go through a transition phase as she got used to playing at the college level.
“Once conference started, my freshman season, I remember the first game I started was later in the season against Air Force,” Kassidy said. “I scored two goals. It was the one game my parents didn’t make it to, unfortunately, but after that it sort of fell together for me.”
Since that time, Kassidy has been a star forward for the Cougars. Entering the 2010 campaign, she had recorded 20 goals, 145 shots and 10 assists in 70 games over three seasons. Kassidy currently holds the number two scoring spot on BYU’s roster with four goals, one assist and 21 shots through 11 games in 2010.
As a freshman in 2007, she was named to the NSCAA Women’s Division I All-West Region Third Team, the All-Regional Freshman Team and All-MWC First Team. The following season, in 2008, she was recognized as a member of the All-MWC Second Team. Last season as a junior, Kassidy was named to the 2009 All-MWC Tournament Team and All-MWC First Team.
This season, a nationally-recognized soccer Web site called CollegeSoccer360.com ranked all the senior classes in every women’s soccer program by compiling their four-year combined season records and determining the winningest senior class. In Kassidy’s four years, she has helped BYU compile the No. 6 ranked winningest senior class position.
“Her work ethic and competitive nature sets a high standard for our team, and she is consistently the hardest working player on the field,” Rockwood said. “Kassidy has developed into a great leader over her time at BYU. She has a genuine concern for her teammates and is willing to do whatever it takes to help them become successful.”
Through her years as an athlete at BYU, Kassidy says her family has been very supportive and helped her get through everything. Her mom even offered some extra advice to Kassidy in the wake of the “ponytail incident.”
“My mom said she wanted to cut my ponytail off and sell it on eBay,” Kassidy said. “She said it could probably pay for all my schooling. Of course she wasn’t serious, but it’s a funny thought.”
While millions of YouTube viewers might know Kassidy as “the ponytail girl,” she hopes to be known by something more.
“One thing I try to do everyday in practice, and especially in games, is work hard. I want people to remember that I always gave 100 percent, went for every ball, slid for every ball and did my best. I want to people to say, ‘how’d you do that?’ after a big play or a great save. I want people to remember that I always hustled and gave it my all.”