More Than Just a Talent Show

May 24, 2013
 

DAVIS, Calif. - Sophomore forward Clint Bozner captured the best Individual or Duo award for performing his own original composition on the ukulele at the sixth-annual Aggie Idol.

One week after his Idol victory, Bozner spoke with UCDavisAggies.com to share his point-of-view regarding his experience at Freeborn Hall that night. 
                                                                                             

Q: Since you were the last to perform, what was it like wait for hours before it was your time to take the stage?
Bozner: I spent some time with Megan Heneghan (women's tennis player and last year's individual/duo winner) and her group before they went on stage to perform. They were great and I thought to myself, `I have to follow that?' I found Michelle Roppeau (SAAC advisor) and told her that I didn't think I could play, especially when I saw the size of the crowd.

Describe the moments leading up to your performance.
Once the group before me ended, the curtains closed and I saw someone adjusting the microphone for my song. As I headed out to the stage, I thought about providing some sort of introduction but was too paralyzed to talk.

As nervous as you were at that time, what went through your mind once you started playing your ukulele?
One the curtains opened, and I saw everyone, I just froze for a moment or two. I started to pick (at the ukulele), but my fingers would not move. If you notice on the You Tube video of my performance, I made two mistakes at the beginning. Once I played the first chord of the song, it felt as if it was just the ukulele and me.

There was a part where I could hear the crowd clapping while I was playing, that let me know the audience liked what I was doing.

What inspired you to write the piece you performed at Aggie Idol, "Getaway?"
There are lyrics; I chose just to play the instrumental version. That is another reason why I was nervous before I hit the stage - everyone else that performed a song or played an instrument also had someone singing the lyrics.

I started this piece last summer when I was dating a girl named Bella, I wrote this song for her. She knows that this piece was written for her; unfortunately, she moved away and things happened. However, I still have that song.

How surprised were you when the judges' decision was announced?
Shortly after I finished my act, everyone joined me on stage to see who won. When I heard it was me, I was stunned at first because there were some great performances that night. Once a few volleyball players came up to hug and congratulate me, everything hit me and it felt great. It was nice to receive accolades for something other than sports.

Where can I find your trophy?
I ended up giving the trophy to coach (head coach Jim Les). You can find it on his desk.

When you walked into Freeborn Hall that night, what were your expectations?
Coach and some of the players were joking around and busting my chops since I play the ukulele pretty much every day. They were encouraging me to win, but really wanted me to enjoy my time on stage. 

Since I was the only men's basketball player that had an act, all I wanted to do was positively represent my team and my sport. There are rivalries between teams; everyone wanted to win for their team that night.

I thought that competition would be intense once I saw other people practice during rehearsals. That night is a great reflection on my first year here (at UC Davis).

How so?
In the eyes of most people, I do not think I was seen at the favorite to win. Winning Aggie Idol was an experience similar to my first season as a Division I basketball player; I think a lot of opponents and fans did not know what to expect from me, and I ended up with a positive result.

I'm undersized for my position, I know people see a goofy white guy run up and down the floor until I grab a key rebound or tip-jam someone's missed shot. I enjoy proving myself everywhere I go, regardless of the situation, and surprising people.

Whether it's a basketball game, or a talent show, I just try to perform to the best of my abilities.

Outside of your teammates, very few people knew that you had only seven months of experience playing the ukulele prior to your Idol performance.
During the season, some of the guys gave me a hard time on road trips, especially the Hawai'i trip where my ukulele made its first appearance. That's what we do; we joke around with one another. But after Aggie Idol, when they saw how many girls congratulated me, they were in awe.

A couple of guys on the team have started coming over to my place to learn how to play the ukulele, and learn my song. Iggy (Nujic) and Avery (Johnson) have really taken to the instrument, even J.T. (Adenrele) has tried to play on occasion.

Why the ukulele?
The instrument is small and portable. When I am on the road, I think coach might not like it if I packed a guitar on every trip since I know how to play that as well. It is not as easy to carry a guitar with me around campus either. This instrument is so small and portable; I can just throw it in my backpack and take it anywhere.

If you already know how to play the guitar, why not focus more of your time and efforts there?
The ukulele is a happy instrument; I do not know how anyone could be mad while strumming that instrument. I have seen people jam on guitars, rock out, scream, yell and seem angry while playing.

Look at Iz Kamakawiwo'ole (professional ukulele player); when he played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," he was happy. Here is this big guy, and he was the happiest person in any crowd whenever he played this tiny instrument. I think the ukulele allows people around you to just feel happy whenever someone is just strumming and playing any song.

What is the main difference between playing the guitar and the ukulele?
The chords are simple on a ukulele but strumming a guitar is not nearly as difficult for me with my fingers.

You decided to learn how to play the ukulele before the start of the basketball season, shortly after you arrived to Davis. Why learn a new instrument at that time of the year?
It was a hard transition at first because the jump from junior college to Division l is a big one. But it was nice to have a hobby to take my mind off of the things that were taking place around me. It gave me a break from classes, studying and basketball. To play at a high level, I needed to invest more of my free time towards the sport. Playing the ukulele was my new escape.

How will this experience help you as a basketball player when you return to the court next season?
As was the case at Aggie Idol, I was really excited, and a bit nervous before my first game played at UC Davis against Eastern Washington. I was excited, and nervous, in all of the games where I played well - at Utah State in their own tournament and at Hawai'i, for example.

Performing as well as I did at Aggie Idol will make me a stronger person because I feel more confident and at ease performing in front of large crowds. I was just as nervous that night as I was before that Eastern Washington game, and everything turned out great.

Athletics translates to life, if you are confident and trust yourself, great things can happen.

Besides the trophy, and bragging rights until next year's Aggie Idol, what did you end up taking from that event?
This was a great experience that helped me build my confidence. In life, confidence is probably the most important thing to have. If you have the confidence to take a shot during a basketball game, write a report, apply for a job or, perhaps, start a business, the biggest obstacle has already been dealt with.

Does this mean that everyone will have to wait until next year's Aggie Idol to watch you perform again?
If you are at the Davis Farmers' Market on the weekend, you will find me walking around strumming my uke in the morning. I also like to play between classes when I have some free time. During high-stress times, like midterms and finals, you'll find me freestyling around campus because the ukulele is a great way to relax and take it easy.

What would you tell other student-athletes who are thinking about performing in the next Aggie Idol?
If you do not try, then you are missing out on a great experience. If your act does not go as well as you hope, at the very least you will have a great story to share. 

Aggie Idol provides people with an opportunity to see just how talented student-athletes are. I can do a lot more than shoot a basketball; I think a lot of people realize that now.
 

The original Aggie Idol, conceived by then-SAAC officer and women's lacrosse standout Katie McMahon, ran in 2007. The inaugural show took place in Upper Hickey Gym, then it moved to Freeborn Hall the following spring. This is the third year that Aggie Idol has supported Team Davis. Past charities were Heifer International (2007), Special Olympics Northern California (2008) and Invisible Children (2009). Roppeau, director of athletic academic advising and the SAAC advisor, has overseen all six shows.

For more information on supporting Team Davis, visit http://www.team-davis.org