Have you ever heard a mix of EDM music, country and rap all in the same setting? The Loyola men’s volleyball team has brought all the genres together with their individual walk-up songs, which can be heard at the team’s matches.
The No. 11 Loyola men’s volleyball team (16-7, 10-2), has an eclectic mix of walk-up songs that not only get themselves hyped-up to serve, but the crowd as well.
Head coach Mark Hulse said the idea behind the walk-up songs came a few years back, when the team operations brought it up. Men’s volleyball is one of the only teams at Loyola who uses walk-up songs, but Hulse said his guys have embraced it.
“Serving is a uniquely isolated skill in volleyball, you control it beginning to end,” Hulse said. “There’s something to be said for deepening the habits and rituals that come with it.”
Each player on the team has their own walk-up song, even if they’re not a starter. Though the starters are the only songs heard throughout the matches, if a bencher comes in and serves, their song will be played.
When it comes to picking songs, each player has a different rhyme and reason for their pick. Redshirt senior setter Garrett Zolg said his song was a call to his personality, but also one that helps get the crowd excited as well. His choice? “Don’t Stop the Party” by Pitbull.
“Finding comfort in that song and those vibes that you’re kind of creating for yourself, you’re trying to pump yourself up and make yourself feel invincible when you go back behind the line,” Zolg said. “We’re trying to score points on the line, so putting yourself in a good mindset and just kind of letting the vibes flow out there.”
To switch up the vibes, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Colton Brooks said he decided on his song by bringing two opposites together, like yin and yang. Brooks chose “California Love” by 2Pac, the culmination of a cool and happy part of his life — California — and love, something he said he isn’t so fond of.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Henry Payne — whose walk-up song is “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez — said the songs allow each player to have creative freedom and also give them an identity behind the line. Though the crowd might not know the players personally, fans can get a sense of their personality once the song plays.
Hulse also sees the importance of walk-up songs for his team because of his own experiences.
“I think about Mariano Rivera with the Yankees, when they would play ‘Enter Sandman’ as he came out and the other team had to basically know the game was over,” Hulse said. “[It’s] kind of like a Pavlov response, I hear this sound, then the serve happens, and hopefully a positive result for us. Whenever I hear the song ‘Intoxicated’ I immediately think of Anthony Rizzo hitting a home run at Wrigley.”
Another way the songs help the team and the players is by giving them confidence when they’re getting ready to serve. Redshirt junior outside hitter Cole Schlothauer said his song, “Know We Were Here” by Jason Aldean, helps him refocus on his game plan — something he thinks brings an added intimidation factor when playing at home.
The players all have favorite walk up songs of their fellow teammates, especially some who don’t often get theirs played.
“Dan Mangun’s ‘Hooked’ by Notion. Every time he’s back there, I just know he’s gonna hit an absolute bomb when that song comes on,” Payne said. “I’d say [Mangun’s] is by far my second favorite song.”
Another team favorite is sophomore libero Matt Oakley’s “Stadium Rave” by Spongebob Squarepants. Brooks said though it doesn’t get played often, when he does it releases his inner child — he said it gave him so much energy just thinking about it.
Every walk-up song brings its own fun and unique energy to the players, team and crowd, something that Hulse said is special about them.
They can create special kinds of connections between players and fans, Hulse said, especially because of his own memories with them.
The Ramblers return to Gentile Arena April 7 to face No. 7 Ball State University, where fans can hear the teams’ walk-up songs in action. First serve is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.