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Allison’s Friday Favorites: Nonstop laughs in Stops with Kop

Haley Kopmeyer is the star of a new Reign video series, Stops with Kop. (photo copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Haley Kopmeyer uses her sense of humor to help showcase Seattle in Stops with Kop. (photo copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

What’s up, WoSo peeps! It’s another lovely Friday, and this one falls right in the midst of one of the craziest weeks of WoSo since the season kicked off. Five NWSL game days in the span of nine days makes things especially chaotic, on and off the field. Last weekend we saw Lauren Barnes get a red card just four minutes into the same game that later saw Becky Sauerbrunn, usually a stalwart on defense, nearly score an own goal. Then Wednesday night’s matches were full of penalty kicks, handballs, and called-back goals to make one of the most dramatic and controversial nights of soccer in a long time. If this weekend’s matches are anything like the last few gamedays, fans are surely in store for a roller coaster ride.

To tie you over until tomorrow’s matches, here’s today’s Friday Favorites, in which I talked to Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer about Stops with Kop and give an update on Equal Playing Field’s world record-breaking soccer match.

Laughs abound in Stops with Kop

Last weekend, the Seattle Reign had two new players take the field for warm-ups: Raisin Rapture and Shady Violet. If those names sound more fitting for drag queens than professional soccer players, you’d be right.

Rapture and Violet are the drag personas of Haley Kopmeyer and Jess Fishlock respectively, adopted by each in the most recently released episode of Stops with Kop, a video series that follows the shot stopper as she explores the sights and sounds of Seattle. Each episode a different teammate accompanies Kopmeyer on her adventures, followed by a visit to a local coffee shop where the two sit and talk about life with the Reign. Even head coach Laura Harvey has made multiple appearances in the videos. According to Kop, as she’s affectionately known by the team, the video was her brainchild inspired by the team’s 90+ series in 2015.  

“We did another segment that was sort of like a beyond-the-pitch segment, where basically they gave different players on the team GoPros and made little segments out of them,” Kopmeyer, who filmed episodes in Seattle before being given the GoPro while she was in Australia on loan with the W-League’s Brisbane Roar, said. “I really had enjoyed carrying around the GoPro and doing this, so this season I knew I wanted to do something again because we hadn’t done that in a while. I kind of wanted to do something that was maybe something a little more professional and a little more involved. I liked the GoPro and it was funny and it was quirky, but…there’s a very different feel when you’re always on a selfie stick. People only want to interact with you so much when you’re on a selfie stick.”

Kopmeyer went into the team’s office and told her idea to the team videographer, who told her the team was in need of an away game-day feature. From there, ideas started flowing, and two days later they were filming a promo for the segment. Two days after that, she was sitting in a coffee shop with Laura Harvey filming the first episode.

{MORE NWSL: Rachel Hill’s first pro goal came in perfect timing}

Although the original concept was just to feature Kopmeyer and a different teammate talking over coffee, that was soon deemed too boring and abandoned for more exciting, humorous ideas. For the second episode, Kopmeyer and Megan Rapinoe rode around the streets of Seattle on a tandem bicycle, and from there, things really started to get interesting.

I was thinking, ‘Okay, what are the places, what are the areas of Seattle that are really cool? What are things that are really unique to Seattle, or what are the stereotypes that are surrounding Seattle?’” she said. “I got super, super into it. I’m definitely an out-of-the-box thinker, I’ll say that.”

Kopmeyer said she’ll approach the team with her outlandish ideas, the videographer will tell her what they’re capable of doing filming-wise, and they’ll meet somewhere in the middle. For the fourth episode in which she visits the Seattle Aquarium with Rachel Corsie, she told the team she wanted to pet sea otters. The compromise was a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium, where she and Corsie were able to feed sea otters and play with an octopus.

“I’m going to push the limits for what you might normally put on camera, but it’s things that I wouldn’t get to do otherwise. I wouldn’t get to go behind the scenes at the aquarium, I wouldn’t get to get my make-up done by a drag queen.

“I’ve had a blast with it and I think for whoever gets that experience, the person who gets the experiences, they’ve really started to get into it. I know Harvs is feeling a little bit slighted.”

Although Harvey was featured in the first episode of Stops with Kop, she also had a cameo appearance in the most recent episode, when Kopmeyer and Fishlock visited a Seattle drag queen and underwent makeovers. That episode is by far the most talked about episode, spurring fans to post gifs from the episode all over social media and to make a large banner of the Kopmeyer and Fishlock in their drag make-up to hang in Memorial Stadium.

Fans so loved the image of Fishlock in a long, black wig that Kopmeyer decided to wage a bet. Kop tweeted that if a picture of her and Fishlock in their drag personas got over one thousand retweets, Fishlock would appear as Shady Violet during a Reign game. 

That tweet has received 1,048 retweets to date, and Fishlock wore her Shady Violet wig during warm-ups before the Reign’s home match against FC Kansas City, honoring the bet despite not actually agreeing to it.

“That was an error by me. I did not consult with Jess at all, admittedly, but she was a really good sport about,” Kopmeyer laughed. “I actually was like, ‘There’s no way it’ll happen. Nothing I tweet has that much following.’

“I think actually the real issue came once Megan Rapinoe retweeted it. Then she was done, there was no way it wasn’t happening. Meg is fully aware of her contribution to that.”

Although Kopmeyer didn’t want to give too many spoilers away about future episodes, she did say that the next episode to be released, the trailer for which appears at the end of episode five and shows a hip hop dance class—”Dancing is about my worst nightmare. I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable than dancing”—includes Beverly Yanez. That episode will come out before the Reign’s July 8 match against the North Carolina Courage. Earlier this week she filmed another episode with Christine Nairn, who recently returned to the Reign after a three-year stint with the Spirit.

As the activities in each episode continue to escalate, those on the team featured in the first couple of episodes are wanting a redo.

“They’re like, ‘We want new episodes!’” she said. “I’m trying to help a little bit, but maybe that’ll be a good playoff incentive.”

Fans can only hope.

Equal Playing Field breaks world record

Last month I talked with former USWNT and Washington Spirit midfielder Lori Lindsey about her involvement with Equal Playing Field, a campaign created to raise awareness about the inequality of women in sports. Inspired by the metaphorical mountains of inequality women in sports climb daily, co-founders Laura Youngson and Erin Blankenship decided to organize a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, to play a game of soccer in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for highest elevation soccer match.

On June 15, a group of 30 women—players, coaches, and FIFA referees—began the trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. On June 24, two teams, Glacier FC and Volcano FC, took to a FIFA-approved field of volcanic ash outlined with flour and using trekking poles as the corner flags. The two sides battled to a scoreless draw, but despite the lack of scoring, there was much reason to celebrate: at 18,799 feet, the world record was theirs.

Although the trek and soccer match have been successfully completed, according to Equal Playing Field, this is only the beginning.

Allison’s Friday Favorites will feature positive, encouraging or otherwise uplifting stories from around the world of WoSo every week. See something you think would be a good addition to Friday Favorites? Feel free to tweet it to me (@allibecc). All of the columns can be found here

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