Softball: Dugout chants keep Northwestern focused, maintain positive atmosphere

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Softball: Dugout chants keep Northwestern focused, maintain positive atmosphere

The Wildcats pack up their equipment in the dugout. NU’s dugout chants both lighten the mood around the team and keep the Cats focused.

The Wildcats pack up their equipment in the dugout. NU’s dugout chants both lighten the mood around the team and keep the Cats focused.

Daily file photo by Andrew Golden

The Wildcats pack up their equipment in the dugout. NU’s dugout chants both lighten the mood around the team and keep the Cats focused.

Daily file photo by Andrew Golden

Daily file photo by Andrew Golden

The Wildcats pack up their equipment in the dugout. NU’s dugout chants both lighten the mood around the team and keep the Cats focused.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Assistant Sports Editor

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Softball


Every time Lily Novak steps to the plate, the voice of trainer Natalie Meckstroth ringing out from Northwestern’s dugout is unmistakable.

“Li-ly!” she’ll yell out.

“No-vak!” the Wildcats will respond.

This will continue through a few repetitions, sometimes at a faster tempo and sometimes reversing the senior first baseman’s first and last name.

“(Meckstroth) just one day started yelling ‘Lily’ and we yelled ‘Novak,’” senior pitcher Kaley Winegarner said. “That’s how that came about.”

It’s that simple. NU’s dugout chants are much more spontaneous than choreographed. But the Cats will cycle through many cheers during a game, several of which are player-specific.

Junior Morgan Newport, known as “Newp” around the team, walks up to Snoop Dogg’s song “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” which features a high-pitched voice chanting “Snoooop” in the opening seconds. Newport’s teammates have created a spinoff of that introduction, chanting “Newwwwp” in a similarly high-pitched voice throughout each of her at-bats.

Other chants are variations on players’ names: the team will chant “Maeve Rage” for freshman shortstop Maeve Nelson, and “Judd” for freshman catcher Jordyn Rudd.

Winegarner said she and Novak are the main dugout cheerleaders, along with Meckstroth, performance coach Tyler Jorgensen and equipment manager Meli Resendiz.

“I don’t even know if I consider them cheers,” Winegarner said. “We just say stuff that’s going on, loudly. We just start chanting stuff that’s happening. Lily’s rhythmic, so sometimes we bring rhythm into it, but they’re never premeditated at all. They’re just from the hip.”

Sometimes the chants are based on the game situation — NU will chant “base hit scores a run” with runners in scoring position, or “base hit, ball four” when a Cats hitter is facing a three-ball count.

Coach Kate Drohan said the chatter from the dugout can help NU succeed on the field.

“There have been moments where our dugout has carried us,” Drohan said. “They understand how much that dugout impacts the momentum of the game. They’ve gotten us a big out to get us off the field or they’ll extend an at-bat, so that’s been huge.”

Drohan also said the role of the dugout is not limited to cheering. She called the dugout “a sacred place” because of the coaching and adjustments that happen there.

She said the dugout cheers not only keep the Cats loose, but also help them focus on the game.

“That’s a really sacred space in our game, and in particular in our program,” Drohan said. “How we carry ourselves, the juice you bring in the dugout, all that stuff really matters. Our goal is for when our hitters step in the batter’s box, they feel like all 18 of us are in there with them. The momentum of our game is so critical, and the dugout can control it. That’s where our team has really excelled this year.”

NU’s dugout is starting to get attention outside the program as well. When the Cats traveled to Michigan State last weekend, the BTN Plus broadcasters repeatedly noted how much fun NU seemed to be having. The fact that the Cats have won 19 straight games and are undefeated in Big Ten play certainly doesn’t hurt.

Rudd said the cheers help keep the team energized when there’s a break in the action, and stay positive on the rare occasions this season that things have not gone well.

“Even if things aren’t going your way, all of a sudden Lily starts doing a beat and you see Maeve dancing like crazy,” Rudd said. “It keeps things positive and light, for sure.”

Email: benjaminrosenberg2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bxrosenberg

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