Freshman brings percussion to dugout


Kevin Hall

Andrea Roberts, a freshmen catcher for the Panthers’ softball team, not only aids her team in games she also provides them their own soundtrack while beating buckets at some games.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

Eastern softball freshman Andrea Roberts remembers watching the University of Alabama softball team play when she was younger, amazed by the sounds coming from the field.

Not all those sounds and sights came on the field, but in the dugout, where the Crimson Tide players had formed its own drum line called “Bama Beats.”

“They would always play drums in the dugouts with softballs and on the cubbies,” Roberts said. “It was something that sounded really cool, and it was something I wanted to do when I got to college because it’s cool and everybody gets into it.”

Roberts made the first road trip of her collegiate career to Louisiana for games against Louisiana State, Incarnate Word and Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin’ Cajuns formed their own drumming sideshow, banging rhythmically on buckets with their bare hands. This caught the eye of Roberts and her teammates, especially when they faced Ball State a week later.

“We were like, ‘oh my God that’s really cool, we should do it,’” Roberts said.

The Eastern players still had to decide what to play, and who would be the “band leaders” for its new faction. Roberts, who has played the drums since the 6th grade, immediately stepped forward and offered her talents, as did sophomore Hannah Rachor.

Roberts said she started playing pop music because the rhythm is much smoother than other music, but she began to adapt to the sounds and form her own beat to it as well.

“I like to do pop and hip-hop because those are some of the easiest ones,” Roberts said.  “But sometimes with country, it’s a little bit different because it will have some jazz type of swing beat to it.”

Rachor said that most of their beats come from improvisation and whatever pleases the team.

“YouTube gave us a few ideas for beats,” Rachor said.  “But other than that, it’s usually improvisation and testing out what sounds good and what doesn’t.”

Eastern coaches Angie Nicholson and Stephanie Taylor encouraged their team to play throughout the games, believing that it kept the energy up and the players in the game. Not everyone was on board at first, but changed their minds when some of the songs started growing on them.

“Our girls can go along with the beat and it just sends a positive vibe throughout the team,” Rachor said. “It not only keeps us in the game, but as we get louder, the other team can get frustrated and allow it to interfere with their ability to play.”

One of the favorites among the team is “The Train.” Freshman Michelle Rodgers and sophomore Ashlynne Paul are two of the biggest fans of the song, which starts in a slow, rhythmic beat before picking up speed, with the breaks between each strike of the bucket becoming fewer and fewer the longer it goes much like the sounds of a train.

“It sounds like the chugga-chugga of a train and we all clap to it really fast,” Rogers said. “It’s kind of what we do when we have a big hit or something,” Paul said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Roberts doesn’t remember if it was herself or junior Kylie Bennett, who was drumming when the train first started. During the usual rhythm of the song, the rest of the team started adding an extra, hard clap, for every 4th or 5th one.

“We just decided to call it the train because it gets faster and faster,” Roberts said. “Kylie will start it with her hands and then I’ll start with the drums. Eventually I’ll go really fast and everybody just starts clapping on a steady beat.”

An original drum line of two people expanded to more as Bennett, Rachor, Roberts and Paul have formed a quartet of drummers for the Panthers.

“I don’t have many beats, and everyone kind of makes fun of me for it,” Paul said. “I’ve picked up some stuff from Andrea this year to fill in at certain points. It’s worked out, she’s a good teacher.

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].