Hanover — Like those who performed in it, Tuesday night’s fifth annual Dartmouth Athletics talent show was well-rounded.
There was singing and piano playing and a sock puppet performance for an audience of about 200. There were magic tricks with cards and a mostly shouted rendition of Stand By Me by eight men’s lacrosse players that would have seemed more at home in a fraternity basement than on the Spaulding Auditorium stage.
Rich Parker, the Big Green men’s golf coach and one of the event’s four commentators, hit just the right note with a thought late in the performance.
“I know how dedicated you kids are in your classrooms and on the field, but it’s stunning to me how talented you are in other ways,” Parker, a Lebanon High School and Plymouth State graduate, said after a musical act by a heavyweight rowing trio. “That was unbelievable to me.”
Katelyn Stravinsky, a Big Green administrator who provides academic and life skills advising to student-athletes, said the show’s organization is somewhat catch-as-catch-can, given the time demands on potential performers.
“With everything they’ve got going on, rehearsing can be a challenge,” she said. “But they want to do this, and lots of those who come to watch say they had no idea someone had that skill. It’s a comfortable forum to get to know each other better.”
Past acts have included the men’s swimming team lip-synching while dressed only in tiny swimsuits, goggles and caps and the women’s basketball team performing a hip-hop act. Athletic director Harry Sheehy once brought the house down by singing Livingston Taylor’s Oh, Hallelujah, and former Lebanon High football standout Cody Patch, who also suited up for Dartmouth, sang and played guitar so well, he won the event.
Mammoth football tackle David Morrison delivered a sublime rendition of a Coldplay tune on the piano one year, but no gridiron warriors were available on Tuesday because a spring practice session ran past 7 p.m.
The show was hosted by women’s golfer Tara Simmons and basketball player Wesley Dickinson. Parker, women’s basketball coach Belle Koclanes, rower Hattie Van Metre and track decathlete Mary Sieredzinski were the commentators, with the crowd voting at the end via smartphone to determine first and second place.
The first act, Trackelback, featured seven athletes from the track teams: a female singer in civilian attire and six males clad in dress shirts, ties and skimpy running shorts. They performed OutKast’s Roses, utilizing electronic keyboards, violin, rhythm guitar and a man smacking the block of wood upon which he sat. An unintentional air of danger was included when the keyboard player tossed his box over his shoulder and went to march offstage without first unplugging the power cord.
Next up, much to the delight of the audience’s female members, was blond skier Tanguy Nef, who performed La Valse d’Amelie by Yann Tiersen on piano while clad in his Lycra racing top. The freshman also wore a winter cap with a red, plaid brim and fleece ear flaps tied atop his head.
Simmons introduced Nef as someone who “when he’s not crushing it on the slopes, is crushing it during dates at the Market Table restaurant.”
Said a clearly smitten Van Metre after the performance: “I would like one of those Market Table dates, please.”
Soccer player Henry Baldwin was up next and performed several card tricks. Eight of his teammates whooped and hollered from the front row, and Sieredzinski said the display had “reinstated my belief in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, leprechauns and the Tooth Fairy.”
Volleyball players Zoe Leonard and Samantha Bozoian followed with one of the hour-long show’s best musical acts.
Leonard, a Hawaiian who said everyone in her elementary school was given ukulele lessons, played that instrument in accompaniment of Bozoian’s beautiful voice. The pair performed Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love while sitting on high stools. Softball players Alyssa Jorgensen and Sophie Ausmus, daughter of Detroit Tigers manager and Dartmouth alumnus Brad Ausmus, later did something similar with Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, their voices perfectly harmonized.
Leonard said she would have been less nervous before strangers, because “we see these people every day and, if it had gone poorly, you know it would have been talked about.”
Added Bozoian: “I felt more pressure than when we play, because I practice volleyball every day. But we just looked at each other before we went out and said ‘Let’s have fun.’ ”
The pair noted that teammate Sara Lindquist is a standout singer who has released an album and performed in national competitions. They said another friend, who’s on the football team, records his own songs, singing and playing the guitar and keyboard.
“But he’s very low-key about it,” Bozoian said. “I don’t think he likes for many people to know.”
What everyone at Tuesday’s event now knows is that hockey player Sarah Lopez-Wheeler is unflappable. The freshman, from Cambridge, Mass., sauntered onto the stage with a sock puppet named Nurmen on her right hand, plopped down at the mic and told “dad jokes.” So relaxed was her delivery, so arch her facial expressions and so easy her confidence that the cheesy wisecracks were greeted with shouts and laughter.
“When I speak, it’s not me, it’s Nurmen!” Lopez shouted at the crowd, staring it down before raising a sign that read “LAUGH NOW” on one side and, inexplicably, “HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY CAROL” on the other.
Asked Nurmen: “What’s the difference between a dirty bus stop and a lobster with breast implants?” (Long pause.)
“One’s a crusty bus station and the other’s a busty crustacean!” (Cheers and boos.)
The eventual winners, heavyweight rowers Joey Carleo (violin), Ian Marx (piano) and Trevor Knight (vocals), delivered a smashing rendition of Zac Brown’s Colder Weather. Marx’s lengthy beard seemed to brush the keys, and Knight’s vocal power was impressive.
Nef received second place and in a nod to his fawning fans, said into the microphone, “Thank you very much for voting for me. Please send nudes.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews or 603-727-3227.