It’s a rare form of trash talking Skylar Rosson and Lauren Morgan are the subjects of as Southeastern Conference athletes.
“Ew, your hair is ugly.”
“Fix your hair, it’s big.”
Rosson, a goalie on the soccer team, and Morgan, a midfielder for Mississippi State, do bring it on themselves, though.
They are the founders and sole members of Poof Nation, an exclusive club of two involving big hair, bright colors and extravagant makeup.
A club that meets every time the MSU soccer team takes the field.
“I did the big hair in high school,” Rosson said. “Then we started doing it in games our junior year.”
The “big hair” is a massive poof in the back, well-placed to not be knocked down if either needs to head the ball over the course of the game.
“We braid our ponytails and do really sparkly head bands,” Morgan said.
“I wear blue makeup and she wears pink,” Rosson added.
They’ve even got a special handshake before the game, after which they make sure the poofs are intact.
The pair certainly stands out on the field, with Rosson guarding one goal and Morgan regularly attacking the other.
Of course, the extra attention makes them easy targets.
All the more reason for them to perform well, which they’ve done as MSU enters conference play this weekend with an unblemished 7-0 record, including five shutouts.
“If you played bad like that, you’d look stupid,” said Rosson, who led the SEC in saves last year. “It’s motivation to do good.”
“You can’t wear that and have your hair like that and play bad,” Morgan chimed in. “They can’t talk bad about us since we’re playing good and we look like that.”
That doesn’t stop the opposition form trying initially, of course, Morgan said. Poof Nation has taken the field often enough now that other teams’ players and coaches know who they are.
Poof Nation is known.
“The other teams always talk,” Morgan said. “They all talk crap about us.”
Until MSU finds a way to shut them up, that is.
And so far, they’ve done that. Thanks in part to Poof Nation.
Outside of being motivation for Rosson and Morgan, head coach Neil Macdonald said Poof Nation has actually helped his team out.
“It’s probably been quite a beneficial thing all around,” Macdonald said. “It speaks volumes about their personalities. They’re not afraid of anything and they’re willing to put themselves out there, which is a good example to the other girls on the team.”
As redshirt seniors who have both missed seasons due to injury, Morgan and Rosson are leaders of their team, something Macdonald needs as he infuses freshmen and sophomores into the rotation.
MSU has four freshmen in the starting lineup, including budding star Honeye Heydari, who already has five goals and four assists as one of the three starting forwards for the Bulldogs.
She’s the third piece in what Macdonald calls a “triple-threat” at forward, with sophomore Dana Forbes and junior Elisabeth Sullivan, who now has a bit more room to run in the MSU attack.
“Honeye’s been outstanding; she’s incredibly relaxed and confident,” Macdonald said. “Last year, Elizabeth got a lot of special treatment because she was really leading the line for us. … We’re not one-dimensional anymore.”
Macdonald said the injection of youth and speed, paired with veterans like Morgan and Rosson and an extremely strong defensive backline, has allowed his team to be “more creative” and more successful attacking the goal.
The effectiveness and execution of the game plan has increased tremendously, according to Macdonald, who said MSU’s pass completion rate is up at least 15-20 percent from last season.
Of course, the road only gets tougher from here, as the Bulldogs travel to South Carolina and Kentucky this weekend as they begin SEC play.
“All the upper-classmen know that SEC is so much faster and stronger than what we’ve been playing,” Rosson said. “We’ve gotta do the same thing we’ve been doing, just 10 times harder.”
Said Morgan, “It’s gonna be aggressive and dirty. People are gonna take cheap shots at you, and you have to be expecting it and willing to give it back.”
Macdonald called it a “definite step up,” saying conference foes will be a new challenge for his freshmen, who he hopes can get acclimated quickly.
But in the meantime, and for the rest of Rosson and Morgan’s final season, they’ve got Poof Nation to depend on.
Oh, and to be clear, the Poof is not a trick. There are no Bump-Its or anything of the like, so don’t try asking.
“All natural,” Morgan and Rosson chimed together.