Music and sports correlate for some on BYU women’s soccer team

BYU women’s soccer player Bizzy Phillips, left, played the viola in the Alta High School symphony orchestra. Phillips finds a correlation between music and sports. (Bizzy Phillips)

There’s no denying the No. 13 BYU women’s soccer team is full of talented women and those talents aren’t just limited to the soccer field

Many of these talents extend into the world of music. Current roster players Stephanie Ringwood, Madie Siddoway and Brittain Dearden play the piano while Michele Murphy Vasconcelos and Carla Swensen are known for their singing abilities. Midfielders Bizzy Phillips and Elena Medeiros play two less common musical instruments, the viola and the organ, respectively. The combination of playing a musical instrument and soccer has benefited both worlds for these players.

Viola vibes

Phillips grew up playing piano. Like her older siblings before her, the Sandy, Utah, native chose a different instrument to play after playing piano for a few years. One brother played the violin while a sister learned to play the cello. Phillips took her mother’s advice and chose the instrument whose sound and size was in between: the viola.

She began private viola lessons in third grade and played in the school orchestra in sixth through 11th grades. Phillips continued private lessons until she left home to go to BYU.

Phillips said playing the viola in an orchestra helped her become a team player on the soccer field. The conductor’s role is to lead the musicians, but everyone has to listen to each other and work together to achieve a beautiful sound.

“When you’re playing orchestra, you have to recognize when it’s not your turn and when it is your turn,” Phillips said. “You have to be able to coordinate and you have to be able to listen.”

Phillips said in a similar way, she needs to be recognize what’s going on with other players all over the soccer field as a midfielder.

Kathy Morris, Waterford School Music Department Chair and Orchestra Director, worked with Phillips when she attended the school. Morris said she sees a correlation between sports and musical talents. She describes her orchestra as a team and, like in sports, focuses on practice technique, performing drills and finding a balance.

“At the end of the day, what really brings us together is we have to learn to play together as one team, as one unit,” Morris said. “There’s no win or loss column in music, but at the end of the day, our concert is the culmination for us.”

Phillips said she still plays at church sometimes and every year at Christmas, but she misses playing more often like she used to.

Organ opportunities

Medeiros may have scored eight goals and had one assist this season, but she is also a musical triple-threat. She plays the piano, guitar and organ.

Hailing from Bountiful, Utah, Medeiros grew up playing the piano from the age of six, but she never thought she’d play the organ. Medeiros took piano lessons from her grandmother until junior high school and then switched to another teacher until high school. When she was 16, Medeiros’ church asked her to accompany the congregation as an organist and she accepted the calling. She was one of three girls her age who rotated playing the organ at church every week until she left for BYU.

“I’d never touched an organ before,” Medeiros said. “I didn’t even know what an organ looked like.”

But Medeiros’ nimble footwork helped her to efficiently play the organ. Soccer gave her the hand-eye as well as hand-foot coordination to move her feet around, playing the pedals while using both hands to play on the keyboards at the same time.

Not all church organists know how to use the pedals, but the pedals are actually Medeiros’ favorite part.

“(The pedals are) kind of hard,” Medeiros said. “It just kind of clicked. I think it’s because I play soccer.”

BYU offers an introduction to organ playing class and it was there that Medeiros learned the proper technique.

Medeiros is also the proud owner of organ shoes. Organ shoes look like church shoes but are special because they have a thicker heel that allows organists to more easily rotate their feet on their heels and switch between playing different pedals.

Talents for life

Morris said the gift of music is lifelong. Sharing one’s musical talents can bring cultures and people of different races and religions together.

“It’s kind of like the universal language,” Morris said. “There’s no barrier when it comes to music. Everyone can partake of it.”

Playing musical instruments has added a diversity to both Phillips and Medeiros’ lives they wouldn’t have received otherwise. They recognize these talents can be developed throughout their lives.

Phillips said even if her body is broken and she can’t run around, she will still be able to play the viola.

“Soccer has to end and viola playing doesn’t,” Phillips said. “That’s why I want to, I should, get back into lessons because this is going to help me forever.”

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