Lauralee McIntyre had an instant rush of fame after being frequently shown on ESPN during UCLA’s championship run at the College World Series, and the exposure may lead to multiple jobs for the 22-year-old.
McIntyre, whose boyfriend Eric Filia was the offensive star for the Bruins, talked with Larry Brown Sports about the opportunities she has received since the tournament. She told us what it was like to blow up in notoriety, and the story of how she and Filia began dating.
Though McIntyre was shown on TV during each of UCLA’s five College World Series games — including the two games in the finals against Mississippi State — she really didn’t realize until returning home to Los Angeles that she was blowing up online.
“Honestly, in Omaha, I had no idea. The Internet connection there was really slow, so I actually didn’t have access to any of the blogs or tweets,” McIntyre told Larry Brown Sports in a phone interview. “I couldn’t accept Twitter followers or anything like that until a few days afterwards.
“I didn’t really realize it until after it had happened.”
McIntyre did say she heard from friends and family that she was receiving some attention online.
[Previously: Eric Filia's girlfriend has been very popular at the CWS]
“My sisters and other people would contact me and say, ‘Hey, I saw you on this blog’ or ‘I saw your picture on this,’ but I was so high off of my boyfriend winning the College World Series, it didn’t really hit me or affect me, if that makes sense.”
McIntyre, who graduated from UCLA in June with degrees in anthropology and political science, says she was surprised by all the attention she received, but she welcomes it.
“It was a pretty mixed reaction. I was surprised because, honestly, that was the last thing I expected. I was there to watch baseball games. I was sweaty, I was crying because it was such an emotional, exciting time for me. Obviously I wasn’t anticipating being on camera at any point. But it’s flattering in a lot of ways. I was flattered because I was representing my boyfriend [in Omaha] and I was happy that he reacted to it positively. He wasn’t jealous, he took it like, ‘oh, cool, I’m glad people know you’re my girlfriend.’ And I’m glad I got to represent my school.
“I took it positively. I thought it was exciting.”
Though she didn’t really realize she was becoming famous during UCLA’s title run, McIntyre says she began receiving attention upon arriving in Omaha, which came as a shock to her. She says that’s when Filia began to realize something was up.
“People in Omaha are so kind. In LA, everyone’s beautiful. In LA, to be tall, blonde, whatever, you just fit in. But in Omaha, the day we got there, I was walking through the tents and people would ask to take pictures with me. I was like, ‘What? Is it cool to be a UCLA student? I don’t get it. For what reason?’
“I think at that point [Filia] actually realized it. Like, ‘Wow, these people want to take a picture with her, they like her.’ He also told me that people would text him and say, ‘Hey, I saw your girlfriend.’ They would take pictures of the TV and would send it to him. It become a game for a lot of our friends and family. I think he realized that [I was becoming famous] right away.”
Since the tournament ended, she has even been recognized in everyday life.
“I’ve been recognized quite a bit. People have said, ‘Are you the right fielder’s girlfriend?’ or they’ll say ‘good game, congratulations.’
“I had a layover in Las Vegas and people recognized me. I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me and associate me with the College World Series and as Eric Filia’s girlfriend. It’s exciting. It’s different — I’m not used to it, but I feel lucky that people recognize me and want to say hello.”
Many drew immediate comparisons between McIntyre and Katherine Webb, who became famous for similar reasons. Both women were shown in the stands during NCAA national championship games, and both are girlfriends of top players on the winning teams. But McIntyre says she was not aware of who Katherine Webb was.
After being informed about some of the opportunities Webb has had since the national championship game, like posing in the SI Swimsuit Edition and co-starring in the ABC reality show “Splash,” McIntyre told Larry Brown Sports that some similar opportunities have been presented to her.
McIntyre says she has several meetings this week, but she did not want to mention any specific opportunities to avoid jinxing them. The jobs are “primarily modeling opportunities, guest appearances and co-hosting opportunities,” she says.
McIntyre says she is mostly interested in the modeling opportunities. The UCLA graduate has some modeling experience, but says she never rigorously pursued modeling because her top priority has always been school. She says most of her past modeling opportunities came to her, like this.
“I’m so fortunate. How lucky can you be? You just go to a game and [this happens]. I’ve been very blessed to have this opportunity.”
McIntyre was born in San Diego and raised in Roseville, Calif., which is north of Sacramento. She went to Sierra College and transferred to UCLA for her junior year. Despite double-majoring in political science and anthropology, McIntyre aspires to be a lawyer. She says she is preparing for the LSAT and was just planning to do that until many of the opportunities arose.
“I’m definitely going to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself that won’t hurt my future career as an attorney. I don’t want to do anything that would hinder my credibility in the future,” McIntyre told LBS.
The story of how McIntyre and Filia began dating is every bit as surprising as McIntyre’s sudden rise to fame. McIntyre admits that she was attracted to Filia and actually made the first move.
McIntyre told LBS that she and Filia would see each other around campus frequently, possibly because they had a class around the same time. At a university where tens of thousands of people roam the campus in a given day, crossing paths with someone so often was more than coincidence. McIntyre says she usually keeps to herself as she walks on campus but, one day, decided to smile at the Bruins right fielder when they walked past each other.
“When I walk to class I’m usually on the phone or busy, I’m very focused on school. I take school very seriously — I’m not there to socialize — so I’m usually focused otherwise,” McIntyre explained. “But one time I remember seeing [Filia] and finally decided I would smile at him. So I smiled at him and he didn’t smile back! I’m like, ‘jeeze, that’s a downer!’ I take this huge risk and the one time I decide to smile at a guy and he doesn’t smile back?’”
McIntyre says Filia later explained why she didn’t get a good response from him — he didn’t think he was the intended recipient of the smile.
“According to him, he thought, ‘Oh, there’s no way this girl is smiling at me.’ He looked left, he looked right, and he’s like, ‘I wonder what this girl’s smiling at, because it’s definitely not me.’”
Despite initiating and having her interest unrequited, McIntyre pressed forward. She says Filia was wearing an athlete’s backpack — UCLA athletes wear special adidas backpacks that have their sport and number embroidered on the back — and saw that he was No. 4 on the baseball team. She says she had a friend who was also on the baseball team and asked him about Filia. The mutual friend put the two in contact.
“We officially started dating at the beginning of this year and it’s been great ever since. He’s my best friend, we get along really well, we have a great relationship. I’m very luck to have him,” McIntyre says.
When pointed out that she initiated the relationship, McIntyre laughed.
“I’m very picky. I’m an anthropology major, so when I ‘pick out my mate,’ I really look at genetic quality,” she theorized. “I’m not saying Eric and I are going to have kids, and if we are, it’s decades down the road, but I’ve always been attracted to genetics. I think, ‘Could I make good-looking kids with this person?’ I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true. Eric has everything that I want. Genetics — he’s very good looking in my eyes. Everything about him [I like].
“So yeah, I did initiate the move. I’ll take that. I certainly did!” McIntyre humorously admitted.
It didn’t take long for McIntyre to get involved with Filia’s baseball career. She says she attended every home game this season, and all the local away games including contests at UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. McIntyre even made the road trip to Stanford.
“I love the game environment. Whether it’s baseball, basketball or football, I love the sporting environment,” she says.
McIntyre didn’t attend many UCLA sporting events in her year and a half before meeting Filia because she was focused on academics, but she says she has always been a sports fan.
McIntyre played sports growing up and described herself as a tomboy until she physically matured. She played basketball and volleyball in high school, and also played softball, soccer and did cheerleading growing up. She also says sports — specifically baseball — are a big part of her family background; her grandfather and stepdad played professional baseball, and her brother played high school baseball.
McIntyre has a positive attitude about her unpredictable surge in exposure, though she jokes that she wished she were a little more prepared for her big TV moment.
“It’s just crazy because I never anticipated it. In a lot of ways it’s bad. It’s like, ‘dang, if I’d have known, I would have gotten my hair done or I would have looked better!’” McIntyre said while laughing.
“I wouldn’t have worn my old UCLA clothes!” McIntyre joked. “I think I looked fine, but I didn’t look my best.”
McIntyre is thankful for her moment of fame and is keeping everything in perspective.
“I’ll pursue what comes and make decisions as they present themselves. But absolutely. I’m blessed. It’s truly a blessing that I have these opportunities present themselves just from me going to a baseball game. I’m very fortunate.”
Photos courtesy of Lauralee McIntyreGoogle+