The week before February break, members of the men’s basketball squad checked their phones to find, “Boys this is unprecedented … Forget about Lip Sync Battle, this is Karaoke Battle Thursday night 8PM FIRESIDE CAFE” blaring across their screens from head coach Paul Culpo. After distinguishing that it would be coaches versus players, the message finished with, “The public can decide who is truly the best. B THERE or B SQUARE. No excuses, this is a team function everyone of you rock stars must attend and participate.”
At 8:04 p.m., neither coaching staff nor men’s basketball players could be found among Fireside’s packed house for the Valentine’s Day Karaoke Competition put on by the Campus Activities Board.
“I kind of have to be here,” said senior starter Tyler Arsenault after trickling in with teammates at 8:09 p.m. “I’m a little nervous, but this is a great opportunity to hear how bad I am at singing.”
Student singers offering country ballads and early 2000’s bops took to the stage to belt their chosen numbers.
“Wait, what? He just signed us up?” said sophomore Taurian Archie from the back row as three of his teammates made their way to the cafe’s small stage.
Arsenault, sophomore Ben Mrowka and junior Chris O’Brien were the first players to hit the stage with a tear-worthy version of Jesse McCartney’s “Beautiful Soul.”
They were followed by the much anticipated performance by the coaches, Culpo, alongside assistant coaches Jason Kratky and Keith Schneider, who got the crowd going with an energetic rendition of Biz Markie’s, “Just a friend,” dedicated to Culpo’s wife in the audience.
“I got an email from CAB about karaoke and saw that practice got done before it,” said Culpo after a roaring crowd offered standing ovations and cheers of “encore!” following his performance. “I’m not always easy on the guys so I thought it would be a fun way for them to get to see me in a different light.”
Freshman player Eli Lombardi serenaded the crowd in a solo rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” followed by various other performances by players and students alike.
The collaborative evening came to a close with the first-place prize awarded to Culpo, warranting a winner’s performance. As the opening notes of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumper” blared through the speakers, every men’s basketball player in the crowd rushed the stage for energetic and hopeful chants of “I get knocked down! But I get up again!”
“Looking back on it all, it was actually a lot of fun! I’ve never done anything like that before, and having other guys on the team participate made it that much better, and I think helped us build upon our friendships” Arsenault said. “He’s (Culpo’s) a funny man. Great to see how he was able to bring us together and take our minds off of basketball for a few hours and share a few laughs.”