BYU women's basketball sophomore Shaylee Gonzales poses for a pre-game outfit Instagram post. The team is taking advantage of Gonzales's social media presence to gain fans and grow the program. (BYU Women's Basketball)

BYU women’s basketball uses social media to gain fans and inspire others

The BYU women’s basketball team is using social media to inspire and connect with others and taking advantage of the online presence several of its players have gained.

Sophomore star Shaylee Gonzales has almost 200,000 followers and 6.8 million likes on her TikTok account, @shayleegonzales1.

“Having a social media presence really brings in tons of fans to our team,” Gonzales said. “It grows our fan base and gives a great opportunity to be seen and feel more connected to us.”

Gonzales’s most liked videos feature her and her teammates dancing after practice and getting ready for games. Each video gets anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 likes. Her latest video is of her and Kaylee Smiler (@kaylee_smiler) dancing to a 2012 remix of Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

The team’s social media accounts are also taking advantage of the online exposure by posting pre-game outfit photos of players and staff. The idea originated at the Daily Universe where staff highlighted both the men’s and women’s teams fashion in 2020 and was adopted by the team’s social media account this season.

“We do a really good job, between Shaylee and Paisley (Harding), and the BYU media in general with our pre-game outfits. That’s always fun,” senior Sara Hamson said.

Hamson said it has been great to see fan engagement grow in recent seasons. 

“It’s really helped with fan attendance the past years,” Hamson said. “From my freshman year to sophomore year, when Shaylee joined the team and brought that extra social media presence, it brought more fans and it was awesome.”

Hamson said she is curious to see how many fans would have attended the games this season if COVID-19 didn’t keep them out of the Marriott Center.

“It’s really fun getting my teammates in on the TikToks or Instagram pictures,” Gonzales said. “It’s super fun and we love connecting with other people and inspiring others.”

Gonzales and Harding are also vloggers on YouTube and have a combined following of 200,000 subscribers. They both film “Day in the Life” videos, plus behind-the-scenes footage of media days and team trips, including when the program traveled to Europe in 2018 for an offseason exhibition tour.

The videos give people a chance to see the team off the court and how it prepares for games on the court.

Harding’s channel frequently features members of the women’s basketball team and highlights major events in her life.

Gonzales’s channel features videos showcasing the team’s Nike merchandise, life as a college student-athlete, “Get ready with me” videos, as well as vlogs with her siblings. Viewers can also see her unwrap the YouTube Play Button award for reaching 100,000 subscribers and videos of her adventures around Utah, including Bear Lake and the lantern festival.

One of Gonzales’s most liked videos is called “A day in a life of a D1 athlete during COVID” and has over 200,000 views.

“This vlog means a lot to me because it’s my first time fully back in training with my team since my ACL injury,” Shaylee said in the “Day in the life” video following a year off due to injury. “It feels great to be back. Excited to film more basketball-related videos for you guys. Go Cougs!”

People can follow @BYUwbb on Instagram and Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Harding for the latest updates on YouTube and TikTok.

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