Women's Basketball, Kutztown, Coach Carolyn Kieger

Head Coach Carolyn Kieger watches her team during Penn State Women's Basketball's game against Kutztown on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Lions defeated the Golden Bears 64-44 in the exhibition match.

Swiping through TikTok on a Thursday afternoon, influencers pop up such as Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, Matisse Thybulle… and the Penn State women’s basketball team.

Scrolling through head coach Carolyn Kieger’s TikTok account (coachkiegs) and assistant coach Ginny Boggess’s (g_boggesspsu) there are videos of the coaches doing popular TikTok dances, the Lady Lions doing trick shots and other assorted trends on the one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world.

“We just hoped people would think it was funny...we asked the players, ‘oh, can we post this, is it cool enough?’ And they were like, ‘it’s supposed to be silly,” Boggess said in a video call last Thursday.

“We want to be who we are, but we also want it to be relevant content,” Boggess continued.

While the short videos are fun to watch and entertaining, these TikToks are really about allowing the women’s basketball team to show the world who they are and what their team is about.

“We’re so much more than coaches,” Boggess said. “And so little of our day is spent on the court – we're there two, two and a half hours a day and the rest of the day, we’re just people trying to mentor these young women to be the best they can possibly be.

“[We're helping] them navigate being 18 to 22 years old, which is the most challenging time of their lives. So we just want everyone to know who we are and what we’re about off the court.”

The idea to make a TikTok was brought up by the director of video and recruiting operations Ali Sanders and operations assistant Amari Boyd.

“I have a friend who does a similar job as me at another school, and she had her team posted a video – they got 13,000 views and they’re a smaller school,” Sanders said in a video call on Tuesday. “I was like ‘what is this?’ I heard about it, but I knew right then the new platform for the younger generation of recruits was really on [TikTok].”

Boggess said coaches across the state will reach out to her to say they’ve seen her and Kieger’s videos on the platform, and that it has been a useful recruiting tool for the team.

“It’s been really useful [for recruiting]. I’ll reach out to a coach near Philly, down near Harrisburg, or over in Pittsburgh and they’re like, ‘oh I saw your TikTok, I saw Coach Kiegs, she’s got moves she can dance,” Boggess said.

“I had no idea people would love it this much. I kind of had to nag coach a little bit to make them. She obliged and she thought it was fun too once we actually made the videos. So I was like, alright let’s post them,” Sanders said. “The feedback we got was incredible.

“And it’s not only from the younger generation, who now thinks it’s pretty cool that we’ve done some fun videos, but also our fan base finds it really impressive.”

Videos from TikTok make their way over to the Penn State women’s basketball Twitter and Instagram accounts, and have found success on those platforms as well.

“I think the biggest impact we’ve actually seen hasn’t yet been on TikTok the app, but bringing those videos over to the platforms we have,” Sanders said. “I think people just enjoy watching those right now, and as we’re growing our following on TikTok, we’re really using Instagram and Twitter.”

More importantly, the videos are allowing the Lady Lions to bond, even though they are all far apart from each other due to the coronavirus.

“The trick shot TikTok, that one was really fun... and that was a chance for them to bond with their own families at the beginning of the quarantine,” Boggess said. “It’s been hilarious for us to get on our team Zoom and them compete with ‘I had this many people see this one, and oh I’m gonna challenge you on that.

“It does break up the monotony of, ‘how are your classes, how are your workouts, how is your family?”

Boggess’s personal favorite TikToker is Twitch from the Ellen Show, with Sanders' favorite being the pose challenge from Penn State women’s basketball player, Anna Camden.

“I honestly used to be one of those people that was like ‘I’m never getting the app, I’m not going to be involved,’” Camden said in a video call on Tuesday. “And then I got it and started watching them, and I thought they were so funny.

“In the winter, I saw a couple and I was like ‘hey I can make ones similar to this, I could actually do that,’ and a bunch of my teammates actually made jokes like ‘you could totally be TikTok famous, you should definitely make some.’”

Women's Basketball, Northwestern, Camden (11)

The Lady Lions fell to the Wildcats 82-59.Forward, Anna Camden (11) dribbles the ball during Penn State Women's Basketball's game against Northwestern on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. The Lady Lions fell to the Wildcats 82-59.

Camden’s favorite TikTok she’s done is the pose challenge, and she knew it was going to be successful.

“For the first one, I kind of did. Just because I know Penn State fans are the best in the country, and I knew they love us and how much they support us,” Camden said.

“Especially getting all the other sports involved, I figured we would get good feedback. The second one blew up triple the amount of times as the first one did, and I didn’t expect that.”

Camden’s latest pose challenge on her TikTok (annacamden) has 2.5 million views, while her first pose challenge has 1.6 million views as of May 19.

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Camden said she saw TikTok as an opportunity to grow her personal brand and get her name out there, as well as a way to bring attention to Penn State women’s basketball.

“We live in a such a social media based era, that it would be foolish of me not to try and use that platform to get us more fans and more awareness to our school,” Camden said.

Boggess believes TikTok isn’t for every sports team, even though it is emerging — or some would argue fully emerged — as a popular social media platform.

“As far as other programs and other staffs going to TikTok, every culture – every sport is different. If it’s something that's authentic to you and something you can have fun with and your staff can get on board with, I do recommend it,” she said.

“Don’t do it just to do it because it’s a craze, people really pick up on whether you’re real with it or not.”

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