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Boilers By the Numbers

By Bob Sternvogel

Date: 12/13/2002
Author: Bob_Sternvogel
© Bob_Sternvogel


    No, this column isn’t devoted to statistical analysis -- the “numbers” to which the title refers are of the musical variety. Since Sharika Webb recently mentioned that she’d been treated to renditions of “the Spiderman song” (“spins a web”, get it?) during games, I’ve been toying around with the idea of which tunes could be adopted by the band and/or Gold Mine to serenade Shereka’s teammates. Unlike such acclaimed stadium organists as Nancy Faust of Comiskey Park fame, I can’t do justice to any piece of music by performing it. Nevertheless, I humbly feel that some of my selections are truly inspired, while others are subject to replacement via suggestions from the ranks of the literal or figurative Mackey Arena “bleacher creatures”. In alphabetical order by athletes’ last names, here is the list of airs:

    HANNAH ANDERSON – “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”

    Indeed, “nothing remains quite the same” for Hannah. Not only has the one-time team manager metamorphosed into a (currently injured) player, she’s gone through more majors than has any ragtag army. Having shifted her concentration from microbiology to psychology to communications, Hannah can certainly relate to Jimmy Buffett’s lyrics. “Oh, yesterday’s over my shoulder/ So I can’t look back for too long/ There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me/ And I know that I just can’t go wrong”. When she tore her ACL, Hannah might have related to the sentiment of “If it suddenly ended tomorrow/ I could somehow adjust to the fall”. Let’s hope, however, that when she eventually looks back on her life, she’ll be able to say of “good times and riches” that “I’ve seen more than I recall”.

    CAROL DUNCAN – “The Warrior”

    Neil Sedaka did write and perform a little ditty called “Oh Carol”, but his lyrics don’t exactly paint a picture of the freshman from Nappanee. Disarmingly engaging off the court, Duncan becomes a fierce competitor once she hits the hardwood. You can practically hear her belting out “I am the warrior” as she snags a rebound. “Stay with me, we’ll take the night” may be her cry as she hits a clutch shot. As she wrestles for a loose ball, those in attendance might well respond to a query of “Oh, who’s the hunter/ Who’s the game” by affirming, in unison, that Carol is indeed the aggressor, as opposed to the quarry. Many a Purdue fan will eagerly join Patty Smyth in assuring Carol that “I’ll hold you close in victory/ I don’t wanna tame your animal style”.

    EMILY HEIKES – “Emily”

    Okay, I’ll admit that this decision was the result of a Google search. The tone of such potentially college-related couplets as “It seemed like such an amazing deal/ when she was looking at the brochure” may be a bit too cynical to reflect Heikes’s Purdue experience, and one would hope that the sophomore isn’t overcome on road trips by a sense of being “stuck on a bus with strangers/ wishing she could be at home”. Still, it can certainly be said of #52 that “Emily works her fingers/ right down to her aching bones”, and that her blue-collar ethic may well occasionally cause her to relate to such lyrics as “lyin’ in bed/ the pain in my head/ from running around all day”. Plus, the fact that the group known as Fastball performs this tune is certainly appropriate in the case of an athlete who gives off the impression that she’d be “working around the clock” on her game if such effort were deemed necessary.

    LINDSEY HICKS – “Thank You For Being A Friend”

    This tune was selected for no better reason than that it served as the opening theme for “The Golden Girls”, a TV show Lindsey claims is her favorite. Then again, who better to pay tribute to a woman in Old Gold (or Vegas Gold) than Andrew Gold? Plus, Hicks has certainly taken enough road trips by now to know what it’s like to have “traveled down a road and back again”. Her improvement from her sophomore to her junior season suggests that the Ohioan may have promised the staff that she’d provide “whatever you need any time of the day or night”. “And if you threw a party/ Invited everyone you knew”, Lindsey, the occasion may well be your 21st birthday, which is being celebrated as I post this column on December 13, 2002.

    BRIANNA HOWARD – “The Valley Road”

    Since Brianna is on an academic (as opposed to athletic) scholarship, this song’s refrain of “Walk on, walk on” certainly applies to her. Having gone from starting for a high school state championship team to being the last Boiler off the bench, the freshman can certainly relate to Bruce Hornsby’s opening line: “Sometimes I lead, sometimes I follow.” Anticipating Howard’s decision to play for Kristy Curry despite the lack of guarantees that Brianna would play in any given contest, Hornsby continues: “This time I’ll go where she wants me to go/ She said maybe today maybe tomorrow”. Of course, Brianna will see more action as she demonstrates additional “Range” on her shot…

    BETH JONES – “Beth”

    A slam-dunk (or, more appropriately to the junior’s style, a soft “Kiss”) choice. Since the three-point shot is her specialty, “Beth, I hear you callin’” might be a reference to the Ohioan’s proclivity for dialing long distance, so to speak. If she’s out of town but wanted on campus, Jones can certainly point out that “I can’t come home right now”. She could go on to take a few liberties with the original lyrics by declaring: “Me and the girls are playin’/ And we just can’t be around”. I really want to say more, “but Beth, what can I do?”

    SABRINA KEYS – “San Francisco”

    The freshman has made no secret of the fact that she prefers the “summertime” temperatures of Northern California to Tippecanoe County’s chill of a not-so-early fall. While Sabrina is tough enough on the court, you get the sense she’s one of the “gentle people there” when she’s hanging around her neck of the woods. Her decision to attend college thousands of miles from home, in part because she doesn’t like the Pac-10, brings to mind the following selection from Scott McKenzie’s opus: “All across the nation such a strange vibration/ People in motion/ There’s a whole generation with a new explanation/ People in motion people in motion”. As for Mackey Arena, it’s likely that for Sabrina’s Senior Night game, there “will be a love-in there”. Be sure to wear some flowers (or scrunchies) in your hair…

    ASHLEY MAYS – “Centerfield”

    So what’s a baseball song doing on this list? Well, Ashley does share a last name with “Say Hey Willie”, one of the finest center fielders of all time -- indeed, one of the greats of American sport, period. And John Fogerty’s plea to “put me in coach – I’m ready to play today” certainly resonates with the freshman from Indianapolis, who puts in more time than she’d like “watchin’ it from the bench”. Still, there must be a tune out there uniquely suited to Ashley. Any nominations from the peanut gallery? If your submission is accepted, you’ll enjoy at least “a moment in the sun”. So put on your thinking (baseball) caps. “You know the time is now”.

    MARY JO NOON – “Last Train to Clarksville”

    Although songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were actually referring to the Tennessee city in which Austin Peay State University (Purdue’s opening-round victim in last season’s NCAA tournament) is located, Clarksville is also the name of Mary Jo’s Indiana home town. Before Mary Jo figuratively takes the Boilermaker Special from campus for the final time, many a fan will be heading for Mackey, perhaps saying to Noon: “I’m leavin’ in the morning/ And I must see you again/ We’ll have one more night together/ ‘Til the morning brings my train”. Although it sometimes seems as if Mary Jo’s been on campus since the Monkees were a hot young act, her eventual departure from West Lafayette will likely bring forth more than a few laments of “I’m feelin’ low, Oh, no, no, no!” once the reality sets in.

    MISSY TAYLOR – “Bicycle Race”

    Since freshman students generally aren’t allowed to bring cars to the Purdue campus, Missy is one of the players whose “wheels” are two in number and connected to a non-motorized vehicle. At the pre-season BOILERmaker NETwork banquet, Missy revealed that she’d occasionally come close to being hit by a car, and pleaded for drivers to watch out for her, “’cause y’all drive crazy around here!” Thus, Missy can certainly relate to Queen’s lyrics: “I want to ride my bicycle/ I want to ride my bike/ I want to ride my bicycle/ I want to ride it where I like”.

    ERIKA VALEK – “Living In The Real World”

    Although Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen” does mention “the fine Colombian” which “make[s] tonight a wonderful thing”, the lyrics don’t otherwise paint a picture of Colombia-born Erika, who turned 20 in April anyway. However, one of the junior guard’s favorite TV shows is “The Real World”. Meanwhile, Blondie is the name of both the group that performed the song I’ve chosen to honor Valek and the Applebee’s dessert Erika admits to preferring above all other such indulgences. When Erika’s stealing the ball from out of nowhere and grabbing rebounds to boot, she can’t be blamed for thinking “I can do anything at all/ I’m invisible and I’m twenty feet tall”. If she goes on to win a national championship and play in the WNBA, she might indeed recall the aspirations of her high school days and conclude: “I’m living in a magazine page to page in my teenage dream”. In the meantime, Purdue fans hope to be “living in the real world” in which Valek regularly leads the Boilers to victory.

    SHARIKA WEBB – “Spiderman”

    The freshman from Indianapolis Cathedral “spins a web, any size” necessary to nab the ball from an opposing dribbler or passer. “In the chill of night/ At the scene of the crime/ Like a streak of light/ [S]he arrives just in time”. Sharika can’t, of course, receive a salary for playing college ball. For now, she’ll have to be satisfied with the fact that on-court “action is [her] reward” for practicing and keeping her grades up.

    SHEREKA WRIGHT – “Right Down the Line”

    Although “Right Time of the Night” was a strong contender, some of Gerry Rafferty’s lyrics clearly pertain to the Boilers’ candidate for All-America, Naismith, and multitudinous other honors. Particularly evocative of the junior’s career is the following selection: “You’ve been as constant as the Northern Star, the brightest light that shines,/ It’s been you, woman, right down the line”. Although I could recite a litany of Shereka’s statistics or compile a video package of highlights, I’ll simply conclude this tribute by echoing some more of Mr. Rafferty’s words: “I just wanna say this is my way of telling you everything I could never say before,/ Yeah, this is my way of telling you that everyday I’m loving you so much more”.

    For now, I leave you readers with an excerpt from a little ditty popularized by the aforementioned Nancy Faust: “Hey, Hey, Goodbye”.

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