Lil Uzi Vert and Technotronic: the music behind Chapman sports

women's volleyball
Music plays a major role in pregame preparation for Chapman sports teams, as it brings players together in the moments before a game begins. Chapman’s women’s volleyball is one of many teams that has a pre-game music tradition. Panther Archives

A locker room lays silent, before suddenly bursting with life: excited pregame preparation involves high-energy camaraderie accompanied by blasting music. Elsewhere, coaches solidify game plans to give their teams the best possible chance of victory. Throughout this scene, background noise is constant. Melodies permeate through the room. No matter what’s going on, music is always there.

For the Chapman women’s volleyball team, music is an important part of their preparation, said middle blocker Nayelli Munoz. The volleyball team has a playlist of songs added to by each member to build enthusiasm for their upcoming games.

“There’s a song that everyone requested, so sometimes during the warm-up you’ll hear yours and everyone can have their individual moment,” said Munoz, a senior psychology and Spanish double major.

Munoz added that the songs her teammates pick are ones they’ve used to prepare for their games in the past. There’s an eclectic variety that meshes old with new – songs from YG’s “Go Loko” to Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam” help lead the volleyball team to play their hardest.

While each member may have their own particular taste in the locker room, the players come together for one particular song during their hitting drill warm-ups. This 2013 song from electronic group Keys N Krates has been on the pregame playlist all four years of Munoz’s college career, one she says gets the team energized.

“We play ‘Dum Dee Dum’ during warm-ups and that’s been the song that gets everyone the most hyped,” Munoz said. “Usually it comes on during our hitting, because that’s what gets everyone going.”

Other Chapman teams currently in season share the same blend of personal music choices in the locker room while having a specific song that brings the team together during warmups. Chandler Siemonsma, a goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team, tailors his R&B music choice to his position on the field.

“I like to be more mentally relaxed before games, my music preference isn’t super hype – I listen to Khalid a lot,” said Siemonsma, a sophomore health science major. “I’ve always tried to calm my nerves; my position specifically is a mental game, so I don’t like to be amped.”

As with the women’s volleyball team, Siemonsma and the rest of the men’s soccer team find communion through one particular, near-ritualized song – by American band Earth, Wind & Fire.

“‘September’ for the past couple of years has been the first song that we’ve listened to as we’ve gone out on the field,” Siemonsma said. “We have a set playlist that we listen to, and that’s almost superstitious.”

However, the pregame scene for the football team is slightly different, as detailed by wide receiver Harrison Gross. While he said he still likes to listen to music on his own, particularly the song “444 + 222” by Lil Uzi Vert, the team doesn’t wait until warm-ups to bond over their music.

“Everyone is very focused; there’s all sorts of crazy things going on. We definitely try and make it collective,” said Gross, a sophomore public relations and advertising major. “We all play a song and everyone gets hyped to it together. It’s loud in there – not everyone’s in their own headphones, everyone’s engaged and it’s social.”

Gross said performing on game day without the team’s musical tradition simply wouldn’t feel right. He cited the music as a way to get everyone on the same page before kickoff, and particularly the ubiquity of hip-hop as a way to tie the team together.

“You want something that everyone on the team can get hyped to and I think hip-hop is the only genre that can do that. It’s like the common denominator,” Gross said. “People will like whatever they like, but people like at least a little bit of hip-hop.”

Amidst many of Chapman’s teams currently in-season, music can serve as a tool to help focus on personal success and bring players together.

“In no other way that a pregame speech or any other prep for a game can do, music serves as a way to get everyone on the same page emotionally, regardless of individual routines,” Gross said. “It’s more universal. Looking around the locker room at everyone’s eyes and seeing they’re all vibing to the same beat, it’s different than any other sort of preparation.”