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Northwest Missouri State University


Alumni Spotlight

June 11, 2018

Alumnae represent teachers on game show

Northwest alumnae Ally Varner Logan and Michelle Thomsen are pictured on the set of "Beat Shazam," while recording an episode of the game show that aired May 29. (Submitted photo)

Northwest alumnae Ally Varner Logan and Michelle Thomsen are pictured on the set of "Beat Shazam," while recording an episode of the game show that aired May 29. (Submitted photo)

Northwest Missouri State University alumnae Ally Varner Logan and Michelle Thomsen have been singing and dancing together since the day they met as freshmen in Millikan Hall. Recently the pair got the opportunity to show off their music knowledge on the popular game show “Beat Shazam.”

A twist on “Name That Tune,” the show pits three two-person teams against each other to guess the names of hit songs faster than Shazam, the music identification app. Teams earn cash by being the first to correctly guess the song, and the lowest-scoring team is eliminated at the end of rounds one and two, leaving one team to play for $1 million in the final round.

Logan was “obsessed” with the show last summer and decided to submit an application to appear on it. In September, producers called and ran her through an intensive interview process. “They quiz you non-stop,” she said. “I started studying right away, and we didn’t stop until the cameras were done rolling.”

After completing the interview process, Logan and Thomsen could only wait. Then, in December, they received the call of a lifetime and were invited to compete on the show. They flew to Los Angeles two days later and recorded the episode. Logan told her husband and mother, and Thomsen told her father, but confidentiality agreements prevented them from telling anyone else.

It wasn’t until the episode aired May 29, the first of the show’s second season, that anyone beyond Logan and Thomsen knew the outcome.

If you don’t mind spoilers, keep reading. Or, watch the episode here.

The episode was themed as a showcase of “True Heroes,” and the teachers in Omaha, Nebraska, went up against a pair of firefighters from New Jersey and two 911 dispatchers from San Diego. 

After neither team guessed the first song correctly, Logan and Thomsen were the first team on the board when they correctly guessed the second song, Shawn Mendez’s “Mercy.”

But the game remained close with neither team taking a dominating lead. Logan and Thomsen needed the last song of the first round to survive and got Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” faster than any of the other teams. They advanced and battled the firefighters in round two.

The suspense of the game kept things interesting for the 100 or so family, friends and coworkers of Logan and Thomsen, who gathered for a watch party on the night the show aired and had no knowledge of the outcome. “It was so fun to watch their reactions,” Logan said. “I think at first they were like, ‘Oh, they go home right away, but at least they got on.’”

During the second round, Logan took the controls on a category spotlighting David Bowie songs. After correctly guessing “Modern Love,” she broke into a dance with host Jamie Foxx. “He was so fun,” Logan said. “He brings this other energy. I was super nervous and really competitive, but with him there you just forget and have fun.”

They edged the firefighters and advanced to the final round, where contestants earn $1 million if they identify all six songs correctly by their exact title. Logan and Thomsen missed two of the first five songs but held their focus and took the show’s ultimate risk, going for the opportunity to double their winnings on the final song.

“My husband said go for it, and I did not want to,” Logan said. “I wanted to walk away, and I would have been so mad at myself.”

The final song was Tal Bachman’s “She’s So High,” and Logan shouted the title immediately.

“I’ve always loved that song,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite songs. Michelle and I do karaoke constantly, and I just love that song.”

Added Thomsen, “They played the song and all of a sudden I see Ally press the button and say it, and I’m like, wait, what just happened? I didn’t hear the song at all. I didn’t even know she got it right until they actually showed it.”

Their winnings totaled $278,000. They split the money equally and intend to give a portion of it toward projects at the schools where they teach.

Logan, a native of Union Star, Missouri, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2013 and returned to Northwest to complete her master’s degree in special education in 2014. She recently completed her fifth year of teaching preschool at Hitchcock Elementary School in Omaha and will transition to teaching fifth grade in the fall.

Thomsen, a native of Omaha, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2013 and recently completed her third year of teaching kindergarten at St. Phillip Neri Catholic School in Omaha.

Reflecting on their time at Northwest, both value the education they received and their practicum experiences at the Horace Mann Laboratory School. They said they talk up the University whenever they can.

“I felt like as soon as I got to my teaching role, it just came more naturally because I wrote all these lesson plans starting sophomore year – being able to go to Horace Mann and interact with the kids and realizing this is actually what I want to do and how I like to teach,” Thomsen said. “I got to experience different kinds of teaching styles.”  

Logan said, “The teachers actually knew who I was and got to know me and my personality. They push you in the best possible way. I went on to get my master’s because I loved everything about it so much and I felt like I couldn’t learn too much.”

In the days surrounding the show, several of their former instructors and staff supervisors at Northwest connected with them to provide words of support and congratulations.

“The amount of Bearcats who have reached out about this show has been amazing,” Logan said.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468