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May 28, 2012TUSCALOOSA | While the University of Alabama softball team was winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament, it was working on a secret project.
As soon as the Crimson Tide finished off South Alabama to win the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional, left fielder Kayla Braud hurried home to finish it.
Now UA softball is going viral - so far in a small way - with its YouTube video of the team dancing and lip-synching the song "What Makes You Beautiful" by boy band One Direction.
The video was posted on the video-sharing website on the night of May 19, and had logged nearly 18,000 views by Monday. While that falls far short of the Harvard baseball team's "Call Me Maybe" video on YouTube - it was posted about two weeks earlier and has topped 10 million views - Alabama's production may pick up a lot more traffic with the team headed to the Women's College World Series this week.
"We've done them for a couple of years now," Braud said, "and I always make an end-of-the-year video of the team. We made a video last year, but we didn't really do it (with music synchronized) on purpose, more on accident.
"So we decided we're going to have a little bit of fun and have a gnome in there."
That's right, a gnome.
Actually, the gnome that pops up throughout the video in random spots is volunteer assistant coach Whitney Larsen, a former UA player who donned a red pointed hat, a yellow shirt and black pants to go with white beard, mustache and eyebrows made of cotton balls for the shoot.
"I don't know how Whitney Larsen came up with the gnome idea, but she was the gnome for Halloween and she snuck in the back of everybody's pictures," said infielder Ryan Iamurri, who provided the camera and filmed most of the video. "So we'd all take a picture and you'd see a little gnome in the background.
"We decided that she would do that in our video."
The gnome not only pops up at odd places throughout the video, but closes it with about a minute of unorthodox dancing with trees, crawling through leaves and other scenes.
"I think the gnome makes the video," Braud said.
Said Iamurri of Larsen, "That whole thing was her idea. She's a camera ham."
So is the rest of the UA team, as the video makes clear. They dance in synchronization on top of the dugout, in the team clubhouse, in a luxury box at Rhoads Stadium and even outside the stadium while the SEC Tournament is going on -- the Tennessee team can be seen getting off the bus in the background of one cut.
Iamurri and Braud also filmed sequences on a road trip to play at Fordham in New York, getting video on the airplane and at LaGuardia Airport.
For Braud, it was an expression in fun and togetherness.
"I think the video is great, but making the video is half the fun," she said. "It's so much fun to spend time with your teammates like that and get away from softball a little bit and do something creative and fun. It was fun for me to edit because I get to see my teammates goofing off.
"It's cool. It shows that our team is more than softball. We have a good time together and just about every single person made it."
Braud returns as a senior next season. As the chief editor, she knows she will have to find a way to top this year's video.
"We've got to up it every year," she said. "We upped it this year and we're going to do something big next year. We've just got to figure out what that is."
As for those Harvard baseball players, they filmed their video entirely on the bus from one camera angle. They may lag far behind in online plays, but the Alabama softball players are confident that theirs is better.
Said Braud, "We put a little bit of production value in ours, we rehearsed a little bit."
"I've got to say that a lot of other teams have done them and I feel like we're on top," Iamurri said. "We try to do the best at everything, and that includes music videos."
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.