Long before she led the UW women’s hockey team to two NCAA Division I championships, goalie Alannah McCready ’10 was a member of several boys’ youth hockey teams in Blaine, Minnesota.
“When I was growing up, there were no girls’ teams for me to play on,” says McCready. Her persistence to follow her passion and play anyway — a virtue that would serve her well off the ice, too — eventually led to a full athletic scholarship with the Badgers.
After graduating, McCready got a job doing PR for a sports management company in New York. She loved it, but her interest in music — something she’s pursued since she was young — felt like her true calling. At the UW, she spent her few spare moments writing songs.
Her uncle Willie Wisely, a recording artist in Los Angeles, recommended her to Nashville music producer Dan Hodges, who in turn reached out to her with an opportunity to record some tunes.
“I was looking for validation that I was going to make the right decision,” McCready says. “I knew that if I didn’t take that opportunity when it came available to me, that I might not ever do it. So I wanted to jump in, full force ahead, and see if I could make it happen.”
She decided to move to Atlanta to pursue music full time. Several years and two albums (including last year’s Ricochet Heart) later, McCready is touring and making good on that goal.
“I’ve gotten messages from people [about] how the songs have impacted them,” she says. “That’s what we do it for.” Many of these songs, such as “Enemies with Benefits,” draw from her own romantic history. That’s especially true for her 2015 debut album, Love Hangover.
“In college I had some tough relationships,” she says. “So the first album really pulls from those relationships.”
McCready gained something else from her college days: the self- discipline she learned from playing hockey.
“When you’re an athlete, you have to be very self-motivated and very disciplined with your everyday schedule,” she says. “[This] really helped in transitioning to be a musician, because being an independent musician is all self-driven. If you don’t do it yourself and motivate yourself, it’s not going to happen. No one’s going to do it for you.”
Published in the Spring 2019 issue