You can’t go out with friends after school because of soccer practice. You only get tan on your knees, because you’re constantly wearing shin guards and soccer shorts. You struggle pulling up your skinny jeans because your thighs have become so muscular.
When Carly Beyar, 23, of South Hempstead, Alanna Locast, 25, of Wantagh, and Shannon Fay, 23, of Sayville, were college soccer teammates at Fairfield University in Connecticut, they jokingly started tweeting such humorous soccer-girl laments at #soccergirlproblems. That’s turned into a business venture targeting female soccer players from ages 12 to 24.
Their initial tweeting exploded. Their subsequent Twitter handle, @SoccerGrlProbs, now has more than 200,000 followers — leading the three teammates to make more than 80 humorous YouTube videos with more than 13 million views. They star as horrified salon staffers who have to give pedicures to soccer players with calloused feet, overzealous soccer moms doling out orange slices at halftime (that video was filmed at John Burns Park in Massapequa) and hyped-up, mustachioed referees red-carding roommates for putting their feet on the coffee table.
While still in college, they formed a company called SoccerGrlProbs that now sells T-shirts, sweatpants, water bottles and other paraphernalia with their funny messages; they say they’ve sold more than 20,000 articles of clothing. By now, fans recognize them and want to take pictures with them when they attend soccer events such as U.S. Women’s National Team games. Companies have sent them to cover soccer events such as the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
“They’ve gotten very popular,” says Lindsay Fleischer, 16, of Smithtown, who plays for Intense Soccer Academy. She’d heard of them even before her soccer team helped film a video called “Soccer Taxi” for SoccerGrlProbs last summer, posing as players being dropped off at practice at the Baymen Soccer Fields in West Sayville.
“I think I’ve watched every single video they’ve ever posted. They’re so funny,” says Alexis Benedetto, 17, of Hauppauge, who also plays for ISA and was in the “Soccer Taxi” video. “I feel like I almost look up to them in a way, and when I had the opportunity to be in one of their videos, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes!’ ”
Everything leading to SoccerGrlProbs began during preseason for Fairfield University’s Division 1 soccer team in August 2011, when Beyar, Locast and Fay were all playing forwards. “We all had ice packs on our legs and we were all dirty. Everyone’s laughing and thinking, ‘This is funny,’ ” Locast says. They started tweeting.
“These are things a unique section of girls can relate to,” Locast says. If you understand this early-on tweet, you’re one of them: “That moment of severe depression when your pre-wrap breaks.” For the uninitiated, the girls use the pre-wrap to wrap around their foreheads so that flyaway hairs don’t get into their eyes during practice and games.
Followers beseeched them to make a video. Within three days, their first amateur video illustrating comical challenges, filmed using an iPad in their campus dorm rooms, locker room and soccer field, drew 1 million views. They decided to sell a T-shirt that said “I can’t, I have soccer” for $19.99. They thought it would be cool if they could sell 300 T-shirts online. They sold out in one night.
Their earliest videos, when they thought all their followers were fellow college-aged soccer players, include off-color language. But once the threesome realized that tween and teen girls were also following them, they tried to nix the swearing (though, parental warning, some slips get through here and there).
The women spent a year during 2014 to 2015 in a joint Fairfield University/Town of Fairfield program called FAME (recently renamed FUEL), an entrepreneurial incubator to help launch new businesses. “It really, really helped us understand what we were dealing with, how to do everything financially and legally,” Beyar says. “We weren’t business majors.”
Everybody was rooting for them to succeed, says Christopher Huntley, a business school professor and a co-founder of the program. “They started out with one tweet in 2011 and by the time I was talking to them, they were selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in T-shirts with funny sayings on them,” Huntley says.
Beyar and Locast are now living in their childhood Long Island homes and Fay is living in Manhattan as the three graduates continue to expand the business, operating primarily out of a space in the city. “I knew junior year I wanted to do this as long as we could,” Beyar says. “This happening to us was such a blessing.”
Their latest goal — pun intended — is to get on TV’s “Shark Tank” and have investors Mark Cuban or Barbara Corcoran back them. They’re in the midst of submitting their video application to the show.