It's no secret that a killer playlist can motivate you to get on the bike, the track, or the squat rack. Music can make or break a workout, and convince us to push our bodies just a little farther. For Penn’s athletes, music is a must. It plays over the sound system during warm–ups, in their locker rooms before they come out, and in their earbuds traveling to and from games. Music is a huge part of most teams’ pre–game routines. It brings teams together. It calms them down. It gets them in the headspace they need to be in before their big moments.
For men’s basketball captain Darnell Foreman (C '18), pre–game music alleviates the stress of a college basketball game — “We kind of use it just to like relax, to try to take the seriousness away. The one thing we don’t want to do is be tense or nervous when we play.” Darnell tells Street that men’s basketball’s taste in music focuses primarily on popular, current rap. You can catch the team listening to artists like Jay–Z, Quavo, Travis Scott, and Drake. More specifically, though, Darnell identifies “No Limit” by A$AP Rocky featuring G–Eazy as his team’s anthem. With a few minutes left on the clock, the team blasts “No Limit” in the locker room; everyone knows the words, knows the song’s intimacies and drops. In this way, it gets everyone on the same page. In a sport where chemistry is paramount to success, Darnell feels the music gets the team ready to work as a unit: “and then when we play that song it’s just another step for us to come together and show that camaraderie. Most people think, ‘like, yeah basketball is so serious,’ but when you see us at ease, when we are out there listening to them and singing in unison, it’s kinda cool.”
For Darnell personally, he acknowledges that music can be a superstitious ritual for some athletes. Darnell, however, doesn’t like to subscribe to that mindset. He makes sure to change his own personal music for workouts, for travel trips, whatever, to keep his mind sharp. “I don’t have like a set thing. I try to be like the game; every game is different so I kind of like provide a different sound track to that...I just go out there and play the game.”
Softball player Beritt Batterton (C ’20) echoes Darnell. For the softball team, the bulk of their music comes in the form of a communal warm–up CD that plays for the two hour warm–up before the game. Unlike the basketball team, the softball team doesn't listen to music in their locker room. Beritt's teammate, Jurie Joyner (C'18) jokes, "the only music we listen to in the locker room is the cries of our opponents." Beritt tells Street that there are nearly 200 songs on their warm–up playlist, so not only are the songs very diverse, but that there’s also a random element to the CD, since it starts and ends at a different place every time they play. This spontaneity, though, brings the softball team energy. Beritt explains, “We definitely have songs like [“Bad and Bougie”] that when they do come on, like, everybody just starts dancing or goofing off. It’s kind of fun you never know when the song comes on and then everyone is like, ‘oh my God’ and starts dancing and it’s fun.”
The softball team, however, has more of an opportunity to personalize their own music. Each player has a couple “walk–up songs,” that play before they go up to bat. Often, these songs have personal significance to the players, and Beritt explains that each player’s walk–up songs matches their personality. Beritt's favorite walk–up song is “Bring ‘Em Out” by TI. Beritt explains her thought process for choosing this song: “You can make it as hype as possible...[it] gets going really quickly.” Plus, “Bring Em Out” psychs Beritt up: “It makes me very confident going into that bat...whenever I walk up to bat and the song starts playing, it definitely gets me in the zone.”
Football player Sam Follansbee (C '18) adds a layer of historical legacy to the picture of team unison and team relaxation that Beritt and Darnell painted. The football team has two unanimous team song—“Dreams and Nightmares” by Meek Mill—that has a special meaning for the players. As a senior, Sam recalls the legendary 2015 season, when the team (who had gone 2-8 in league play the year before), turned their record around to win the Ivy League. Sam explains, “so there’s some history in it — the Meek Mill song and the Hum are ones that the seniors adopted like three years ago, and they kind of have that triggering effect where when they're played it triggers that spot in your brain that gets you ready to play a football game.” More specifically, though, the football team connects with the underdog narrative and local connection to Philly expressed by “Dreams and Nightmares.” Sam says "being from Philly, it was kind of an underdog based song…we talk about the Philly mentality all the time, and setting ourselves apart from the rest of the Ivy League.” Sam speculates that these songs will continue to define the Penn football program, hopefully well into the future.
Inspired by these Penn athletes? Check out the cumulative workout mix below!