Cori Kennedy was almost not famous.
Kennedy, a Minnesota State Mankato softball senior whose "instructional" videos have made her a Twitter star with millions of views, made the first one in December as a joke to send to her five siblings.
"They were unimpressed," she said. "They thought it was just, 'Cori doing Cori things.' "
She forgot about it for a while, then added it to an Instagram story a couple weeks ago. A graduate assistant with MSU Mankato softball saw it, thought it was hilarious and told her she needed to put it on Twitter.
In the 40-second video, recorded during some down time while Kennedy worked at a batting cage in Rochester, she advertises hitting tips. The biggest piece of advice: "Swing at every pitch. Don't care where it is. We're here for a good time, not a long time." She then proceeds to show off a way to intimidate pitchers: by pointing your bat straight at them.
The Twitter-world agreed it was hilarious almost immediately after she posted it on April 10.
"I posted it and let my phone charge. I was watching a movie with teammates and roommates, and checked my notifications and saw it had 45,000 views," Kennedy said. "I went to bed and woke up and it had like 600,000 views."
Now it has more than 2 million views and the tweet has been "liked" almost 75,000 times as of Thursday afternoon. A subsequent video has more than 2 million views as well.
We probably shouldn't blame her siblings for almost squashing the viral videos, though. The Kennedy family is so used to Cori's sense of humor that the videos didn't seem out of the ordinary.
"That's how I am and it's a family thing. I'm one of six kids. My grandma is a hoot. Hilarious. My friends are surprised she's not the one who's gone viral," Kennedy said. "We're kind of a goofy bunch. If you can survive the Kennedy household you can survive anything. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Another thing that defines the household: toughness. The Kennedy kids — Cori is the second oldest of six, and there are three girls, three boys — went to or still attend Kasson-Mantorville High School; her brother Patrick is a junior and one of the top high school wrestlers in the nation. He's an Iowa commit.
And Cori Kennedy's legend began growing two years ago, when as a sophomore catcher she caught all 71 games the Mavericks played in their NCAA Division II championship season. Oh, and she did it while battling a torn rotator cuff and a torn meniscus in one of her knees.
"I mean that year required a lot of mental toughness," she said. "I'm really feeling it now that I'm a senior two years later. I definitely feel like a senior — a senior citizen, if you will. But I wouldn't take it back for anything."
But the videos? It's a whole new level of fame.
In the last two weeks, she's been asked to prom on Twitter. Players all over the country are duplicating her bat point and sending her videos. Opponents are recognizing her and giving her shout-outs during games.
"After I made the first video, I had players coming up to me saying 'You're the Twitter girl! We love your stuff,' " Kennedy said. "And in Sioux Falls [Wednesday], one girl got in the box and in the middle of the at-bat she says, 'I'm a huge fan, by the way.' "
Kennedy, a mass media major, has a summer job lined up doing commentary for National Pro Fastpitch — the professional women's softball league. Until then, Minnesota State Mankato has more softball left. The regular season ends this weekend, and the Mavericks are hoping to embark on another playoff run.
As for videos? It's hard to duplicate viral success, but Kennedy has already done it once. Her second video, a spoof on slap hitting, has her running through various points on campus. People keep giving her advice and telling her not to try too hard — which shouldn't be a problem. When inspiration strikes, Kennedy lets it rip.
"I'm trying to film something today," Kennedy said Thursday afternoon. "We'll see what happens."