Saints more than just football stars
EDWARDS – If a football player told you a 4-4 was his favorite, you would assume he was talking about a defense. When talking to Vail Christian football players, however, it may mean something else.For the five musically inclined Saints, the first 4-4 they learned was a time signature.”I started taking piano lessons when I was five, started playing the trombone in sixth grade and got a guitar for Christmas in eighth grade,” said Jon Armstead.Between Armstead’s cadre of instruments – which also includes the bass, Bjorn Bauer’s fiddle, Tommy Peskorz’s guitar, Chase Gruber’s guitar and Jaryd Francis’s drums the boys can form an 8-man football equivalent of a big band.As dedicated as the Saints are to football, they may be even more so to their instruments.”I started playing the guitar in eighth grade, and have been playing for about an hour a day ever since,” Peskorz said. “I’ve had a couple of lessons but have taught myself. I love it.”Some are so passionate that they have missed football practice to practice their instruments.”I’ve missed football to go take lessons and do a bunch of stuff with the violin,” Bauer said.On Thursday night, however, some of the boys waited until after practice to perform in the Vail Christian talent show. Gruber and Armstead’s band played the Ramones’ version of “What a Wonderful World,” while Bauer jammed out on his fiddle.”It was my best performance,” Bauer said. “It was the first time I got to play Celtic music.”In addition to his love for Celtic music, Bauer also plays bluegrass and classical.
So is he the Yo Yo Ma of the football field?”I guess you could say that,” Bauer said, laughing it off.All in the family”My dad used to rock me to sleep with the band Poco,” Armstead said. “I didn’t get lullabies; I got rock bands.”Francis, who dabbled in the piano and violin, traces his drum roots back two generations.”I play mainly because it’s what my family does,” Francis said. “My dad is a drummer, and my grandmother was in a marching band.”Bauer’s mom gave him a classical introduction to music.”My mom made me listen to (Antonio) Vivaldi a lot,” Bauer said. “One day, I said I wanted to play the violin.”While Peskorz plays the classical guitar, he cites Green Day as one of his favorite bands. Gruber, on the other hand, plays electric guitar but likes classic rock.Their coach Tim Pierson has an idea as to why some of the guys took up instruments.”They play guitars because they know chicks dig the guitars,” Pierson said.
As for Bauer’s fiddle, Pierson was a bit surprised.”Two years ago, we were at a team dinner and Bjorn got up in front of everyone and played the fiddle,” Pierson said. “I thought, ‘Man he’s going to be an all-state linebacker.'”Playing through painInjuries have plagued the Saints on the field this year, but the injured have kept on playing their instruments. The day after Peskorz broke his right wrist in a game against Christian Fellowship, he played at church.”It went fine, but it hurt after a little bit,” Peskorz said.Peskorz’s injury has brought about an adjustment in his play, though.”I usually play the six-string guitar, but in the talent show (on Thursday) I had to play the bass,” Peskorz said.In the time when he would be at practice, Peskorz plays at coffee houses.Armstead, whose arm is in a sling when he’s not playing the guitar, says he likes practicing his instrument better than practicing football. “I like playing football better (than practicing music), but I don’t like practicing football because that’s when I get hurt and dislocate my shoulder,” Armstead said.So he should be safe from injury while practicing on his guitar.
“Well, you’d be surprised,” Armstead said about possibly getting injured while playing the guitar.Rock starLast year when Armstead was late for a practice, he told Pierson it was because he had been playing music at a show.”Coach Pierson pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, Jon, you have two personalities. You are either a football star or a rock star, and we can’t have both on this team,'” Armstead said. “I think I told him I chose a rock star, just because you can play that until you’re 70 yearsold. I mean, look at the Rolling Stones.”Not all of the Saints think the two are mutually exclusive.”If you are good at both (music and football), you’re good at both,” Francis said. “Being good at one doesn’t really limit you.”Some players give Bauer flak about playing the fiddle, but both he and his coach agree that it’s only in a joking manner.When he goes away to college next year, Armstead may have to decide weather to be on a band or a team.”If I had to choose between football and music, I’d go with music all the way,” Armstead said.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado