Drake, Kanye West, J. Cole.
Scrolling through most athletes’ pregame playlists, that’s what you’ll find — there’s nothing more important than music to set the tone for an upcoming game.
But ask sprint football quarterback Andrew Paolini, and he’ll tell you that he’s listening to something different.
For him, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin do the trick.
As unorthodox as his music choices may seem, when it comes time to step onto the field, Sinatra’s soothing voice puts Paolini in just the right mindset to lead his team.
After losing CSFL MVP quarterback Eddie Jenkins to graduation two years ago, Paolini found himself with a big role to step into. Despite that, Paolini has been nothing short of incredible.
Although Paolini only has two games under his belt — with an opening loss to Army and a 55-28 win against Mansfield — it’s his poise that stands out over his experience.
“He always has his head on his shoulders — he’s always thinking and maintaining his composure, even under pressure,” sprint football wide receiver Brendan McCaffrey said. “He's someone that everyone can really count on.”
It’s not just the players that feel this way, either. Paolini’s steady demeanor was echoed by the sprint football coaching staff.
“It's contagious — his confidence — that people just believe he's going to get things done and that carries through the whole group,” coach Jerry McConnell said. “He has become the leader of the offense, and everybody knows he's the guy.”
Paolini knows he’s the guy too.
“I'm filling some pretty big shoes of Eddie Jenkins, but at the moment, I'm just trying to be the best quarterback I can to help the team win,” Paolini said. “I lead by example and try to be the best example I can be of how to be a sprint football player.”
It’s not just talk. Everybody around the program sees Paolini setting that example.
“He went to the running backs meeting, to the receivers meeting, and to the offensive line meetings; he just wanted to learn,” McConnell said. “That’s carried over significantly for him. He has a great understanding of our offense because of the effort that he invested in learning it, and it’s translated to the field.”
While Paolini evidently has some natural talent, it's clear that his on-field success has also been bolstered by his training routine and dedicated studying habits as well.
Despite his success, it’s a surprise to many that Paolini hasn’t always been destined to be a quarterback.
“My whole family's a baseball family. My dad's a baseball coach, my older brother went on to play college baseball, and I was supposed to go play college baseball myself,” Paolini said. “But I stumbled upon sprint football.”
Some of the NFL’s great talents come from a background in baseball — Joe Theismann, Kyler Murray, and Patrick Mahomes, to name a few. For the Penn sprint football team, Paolini might as well be their Mahomes; his natural arm talent in addition to his NFL-level work ethic make for a lethal combination.
“He's always willing to stay after practice to go over the playbook,” McCaffrey said. “If somebody forgets a play or runs the wrong route, he’ll stay after practice and work with that person to make sure they know what they're doing and why they're doing it.”
With the work Paolini puts into his game, the pregame playlist he chooses seems like an afterthought.
But when Paolini settles into a game, he — like Sinatra — finds himself hitting all the right notes.