Beats and Cleats


by Kyle Park

For years, music and sports have coincided, and the reference of sports in music has grown rapidly in both communities. Many artists have been using lyrics to highlight certain moments in sports while also honoring some of the sports legends. Athletes and musicians draw many similarities in pop culture, as both are occupied by celebrated icons who dominate their respective fields.

Some athletes have even made a name for themselves in the music world. These include basketball superstar Damian Lillard, football legend Deion Sanders, soccer star Memphis Depay, and more.

“I think I started to become more invested in music toward the end of my career in college and started to feel myself getting better at it,” Lillard said. “I started to notice that it was a good balance for me, something I really enjoyed aside from sports. I got the same kick out of it. When I wrote something I really liked, I felt good about it and I just became more and more passionate about it and I started to care about it more.”

Damian Lillard, who goes by Dame D.O.L.L.A on stage, has launched several albums over the years with his most recent coming out in 2021. One of the tracks titled “Kobe” honored Kobe Bryant for what he has done? for the sport of basketball and pays homage to him as he passed away in February 2020.

I just wanted to create something to pay proper tribute to someone that had a tremendous impact on me.

— Damian Lillard

Here at Paly, many athletes have multiple musical hobbies aside from their own sport. From vocalists to flutists, Paly is filled with multi-talented students who take part in both music and athletics.

Paly junior, Carlos Valencia, also known as Lul Neto, is a rapper and singer who is also a threat to other teams on the field, sacking quarterbacks as a defensive end on the football team. Valencia released three albums this year in addition to the time he spent on the gridiron

by Kyle Park

“I’d have football practice all week and then have a game at the end of the week on Friday,” Valencia said. “Throughout the week, I’d be practicing my music, not really recording anything, and then by Saturday or Sunday, that’s when I would go to the studio and record my music.”

When it comes to putting in the time to sharpen your skills, music and sports are very similar.

“It takes dedication to do both,” Valencia said. “It takes time and practice to get it done and perfect your craft.” 

Many athletes who participate in both of these activities are often asked which craft they will continue in the future: music or athletics. Paly soccer player and violinist Gopala Varadarajan (‘23), reflects on what he sees himself doing with his future.

“I’ll play soccer for fun in college,” Varadarajan said. “But when I’m older I will definitely continue music too because both of those are my biggest passions and they are what make me, me.” 

Sports and music may be originally perceived as two separate hobbies, but the two pastimes can correlate with each other. Music can help regulate emotions, create muscle memory, and inspire you to get up and get moving. Junior soccer player and oboist Addie McCarter has observed the symbiotic relationship between the two hobbies. 

When I’m doing these activities, it’s an escape from other stresses such as school.

— Evie Kramer

“I’ve found that a lot of strategies I use to help myself gain composure during musical performances and competitions also work on the field and have helped me perform under pressure,” McCarter said. “I think athletes and musicians get stuck in the ‘practice makes perfect’ mindset that is so heavily stressed by our coaches and educators, and when we don’t perfectly perform a skill we practiced, we often get burnt out and feel like we failed.”

by Kyle Park

Many of these athletes and musicians use either their sport or their musical hobby as a way to escape from the stress of the other. As academics play another large role in many of these athletes’ lives, these hobbies give them the time to express themselves and free them up from their anxieties. 

Junior volleyball player and singer/guitarist Evie Kramer uses athletics and music to do this. 

“When I do both I feel accomplished, and when I’m doing the activities, it’s an escape from other stresses, such as school,” Kramer said. 

Without one another, many of these athletes feel like they are missing something. Whether it be either only doing their sport or only doing music, they feel as if they need to be doing both to balance each other out. 

It takes time and practice to get it done and perfect your craft.

— Carlos Valencia

“I think playing a sport and playing music is very different,” Kramer said. “But doing them both feels balanced and I think I would feel unfulfilled if I just did one.”

Sports and music have gone hand in hand for decades, and Paly students represent the next generation of multi-talented athletes. Whether they plan to pursue a path in both music and athletics, or neither, their commitment level for these students is off the charts.

by Kyle Park