Although music and sports may come across as two widely different topics, they actually share a lot more in common than one might think. For athletes at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), you can’t have one without the other.
“I love music,” says Kyle Bollers, forward for the TMU Bold men’s hockey team. “I’m the type of guy [whose] headphones are always plugged in.”
Bollers often took control of the team’s aux cord last year during games and practices. While balancing team-favourite genres like rap, EDM and even country music, Bollers found tunes that went over well amongst the team.
“Big Bootie Mix” swiftly made its way into the team’s daily routine, making its way into the dressing room and teammate suggestions.
Bollers, who is a Meek Mill fan, added that music is something that helps him calm down and stay focused throughout his hockey career, especially the song “Dreams and Nightmares.”
Whether you’re in second year like Bollers or in your fifth year like Rachel Farwell, music plays a big role for TMU athletes at every stage of their career.
Farwell, a women’s basketball forward, says she constantly tried to come out with as much energy as possible in her first year on the team and her pre-game music choice was a reflection of that.
According to Farwell, as a senior player, her role has shifted from “being a fireball of energy to being a voice of reason and a source of composure.”
As her role changed, so did her playlist. Her music choices have evolved from playing hardcore EDM—as she tried to mimic the feeling of being at a rave—to playing much less intense songs to stay level-headed.
Farwell, a fan of American country pop artist Jordan Davis, is the first to admit that she is never on aux duty because the country theme doesn’t coincide with the team’s liking of hip-hop and R&B after late night practices.
Whether it’s Haley Fedick, Eve Uwayesu or Lauryn Meek controlling the music, it usually results in players getting up and dancing in the locker room and singing along in warm-ups.
Bold women’s basketball head coach Carly Clarke, who enjoys Biggie’s music, laughingly admitted to singing a popular R&B song with the lyrics “superhuman” to boost team morale.
“For us, playing music helps create an environment and energy in the gym,” says Clarke. “We try to do some storytelling and create some motivation and I think it did that,” she added with a chuckle.
Farwell says the unique motivational speech from Clarke worked. It was an indirect way of saying that she believes in the team and motivation comes from within.
“She sang it and said ‘We give each other the ability to be greater than we could have thought,’” Farwell recalls.
“We came back to it a few times later in the year, after we had a successful game she’d be like, ‘That was superhuman!’” she adds.
Whenever the team looks back at Clarke’s solo, they often laugh at the fond team-strengthening and memory-building moment.
Both the men’s hockey and women’s basketball teams had a run at nationals in the 2022 season and with it came its own rallying song.
Much like how the St. Louis Blues adopted “Gloria” by Laura Branigan during their championship run in 2019 as their celebratory song after a win, Bollers coined “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” by ABBA as their version of “Gloria.”
“Everytime I hear it, it reminds me of last year; how far we went and how close of a family we were,” says Bollers. “Everytime that song came on, whether we were out or at the rink, it was something special.”
A karaoke session on the team bus led by Lauryn Meek gave Farwell and the women’s basketball team their “Gloria” as well—Nicki Minaj’s “Moment For Life.” It was a song that resonated with the 2022 national champions and bonded them together.
“After we won nationals, that song came on,” said Farwell. “We were singing it together because it’s about being a champion and embracing the moment and living in it. When we were living in the moment of ‘Oh my God we just won,’ it was also a full circle moment.”
Music has the power to bring people together and convey a message that goes past words and for the various teams at TMU, it creates memories that go beyond the boxscore.