Please Don’t Stop the Music: Inside Varsity Athletes’ Playlists

If you’ve ever wondered about the sounds arising from the Garcelon speakers as you make your daily pilgrimage to Commons, look no further. “Energetic,” “rowdy,” “smooth” and “hype” are just a handful of the words that Bates athletes use to describe their practice and pregame playlists. 

As I spoke with members of the football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball teams, I unearthed the inner workings of our Bobcats’ pregame and practice playlists. To no one’s surprise, hip-hop gets many of our athletes game-day ready. 

Tony Hooks ‘23, a captain of the football team, mentioned while speaking on building his team’s playlist that while “it’s hard to get 77 inputs,” there’s still “something on the playlist that everyone likes.” Unlike many sports, with its contact-heavy nature, the football team needs its music to provide “some juice” to the players.

Such “juice” is delivered mostly through rap and EDM house music. Songs by artists like Drake, Pop Smoke, Fifty Cent and their walkout song, “Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill, are just a few that do the trick.

But this sort of playlist doesn’t just happen. Hooks began the season by making playlists for each practice. While a testament to his dedication to the team, the task eventually became too tedious due to the length of their daily three-hour practices. Now Hooks delegates music duty so that there is “a mix of different people’s suggestions,” and even the coaches can contribute.

Not all teams, however, have the benefit of music during practice. For both the men’s and women’s soccer teams, it has been a long-standing coach rule that music is not allowed at practice. Though this might sound difficult, according to center forward Courtney Gray ’23, it can actually be helpful in getting the team extra pumped on game day. Listening to music during their pregame warmup is “almost like a mental cue…[that] we’re about to play a game… like this isn’t just a regular day,” said Gray.

Gray, like Hooks, cited EDM remixes and Pop Smoke as some of the songs that get them hyped before their games. In addition, older pop songs and some ABBA, specifically “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” get the women’s soccer team locked in. 

Instead of handing off aux to get these tunes pumping across Garcelon, Gray said that players added their song suggestions to a Google Doc over the summer. Then, team captain Elizabeth Patrick ‘23 mixed the songs together in GarageBand, allotting about twenty seconds per song. This democratic process even extended to their walkout song decision. Seniors on the team picked five song options and the rest of the players voted on their favorite. “Bluenotes” by Meek Mill was the winner.

Playing the same sport does not guarantee the same process for playlist building. Ty Kennedy ’23, a member of the men’s soccer team, said that his team sends out a Google spreadsheet where everyone inputs their song choices. Although “not every single person’s song is necessarily getting picked” when it comes to putting the songs on a Spotify playlist, “it’s pretty easy to fit in most of the songs that people want.”

Their playlist changes from year to year, reflecting the current team. Kennedy says that this year’s team has several international students, resulting in appearances of global hip-hop, afrobeat, and some UK grime on their queue in addition to popular EDM and hip-hop. Despite the yearly turnover of the playlist, one mainstay of the playlist is “Baianà,” a Brazilian EDM song by Bakermat. No matter the song, Kennedy says that the team has “a lot of guys who just like to dance.”

International music isn’t limited to the men’s soccer team. Alyssa Lowther ’25, a member of the volleyball team, shared that her teammates from Canada and Hawaii have contributed French and reggae songs to their playlist. The bulk of their playlist, though, is filled with Pop, 2000s throwbacks, some classic Pitbull songs, and a good amount of Drake.

Each year the volleyball team assembles a new playlist. To build this year’s, Lowther texted her teammates asking them for three to four song suggestions each. This resulted in a variety of genres and artists. Their team song this year is “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers, which Lowther says makes them “feel at home.”

While many practices begin with songs like Kanye West’s “Power” and Pitbull’s “Fireball,” the team also changes things up. “Sometimes we have Pitch Perfect practices, with just the riff off,” Lowther says. Other times, the team will hand off the aux to their coach. According to Lowther, music is a good way to tune in to the game and adds to the energy of the court. “It’s super fun when all of a sudden you see your teammates singing along.”

For the Bates Volleyball team, music is more than just easy listening during practice. Lowther mentioned that college sports can be mentally draining. “Our team specifically is working on using our sport as an outlet from the rest of our life rather than letting it defeat us or bring us down.” She says music helps them achieve this at practice by creating a fun and supportive environment. 

Though they share much of the same music taste, each team’s personality is embedded in their queues. The football team needs intense music for their contact-heavy sport while the women’s soccer team needs something smoother as they make their way across the field. The men’s soccer team loves good dancing music while the volleyball team thrives on sing-along songs. Whether they use a Google doc or a spreadsheet, Apple Music, Spotify or Title, Bates athletes’ playlists are a key component of their pregame.