Ashlynn Shade embracing her new nickname: 'Yeehaw'

The freshman loves country music and tries her best to get her teammates into it, too.

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Photo: Ian Bethune

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Last week’s Weekly

Ashlynn Shade embracing 'Yeehaw' nickname

The joke started early in the season.

Back in November, SNY put out a quick video where UConn’s players say who their favorite musical artist is and what they listen to pregame. Most of the answers were in the genres of pop, R&B, or hip hop. Inês Bettencourt went off the board with Brazilian funk, though that isn’t all that surprising considering she’s from Portugal.

Ashlynn Shade went in a different direction. She picked country star Luke Bryan as her favorite artist. Thus created a nickname for the freshmen: Yeehaw.

At first, it was just a joke among fans on social media. But following a career-high nine-rebound performance for Shade against Creighton on Feb. 19, the team itself got in on the fun by including a cowboy hat emoji in a tweet about the freshman.

Shade decided to embrace it all by replying with a cowboy hat emoji of her own.

“I was like, ‘This is kind of my like little niche now. I've kind of adapted to it,’” Shade said. “You don't see many basketball players into country music like I am, so I'm kind of embracing it.”

While the whole team hasn’t gotten on board with country music in the same way Washington State did last year with Shania Twain’s hit, ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman”, Shade believes she’s made a few converts. During the aforementioned SNY video, Aubrey Griffin mentioned that she’ll listen to anything upbeat before a game, “even if it’s country,” she said.

Ice Brady also asked for Shade’s country playlist.

“I was like, ‘It's kind of a lot, but here you go,’” the freshman said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Shade’s apartment experiences plenty of musical whiplash. Between her and Jana El Alfy, there’s quite a mix coming out of the speakers there.

“Jana’s my roommate so we would alternate music,” Shade explained. “I would play some country music for her and then she would play some Arabic music.”

The freshman also believes she’s getting some outside help in converting her teammates to country music fans from an unlikely source: Beyonce. The singer is best known for R&B, soul, and pop but she recently came out with a pair of country songs. While Shade herself hasn’t listened to them beyond a few clips on TikTok, she’s thrilled about the superstar’s genre shift.

“It's definitely getting my teammates more involved with country music,” she said.

For Yeehaw, that’s all she could ask for.

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