by Ryan Holt | AHL On The Beat
Cooper Marody has always been musically inclined. But it took a surprise from his dad to get him to fully invest in a passion off the ice.
“The summer after my senior year of high school, my dad surprised the family when he bought a guitar and started to learn how to play,” the Bakersfield Condors rookie center said. “I think the next day I went to a cheap shop in Northern Michigan and picked up an acoustic guitar to start learning how to play.”
The Brighton, Michigan, native was reserved and self-described as shy growing up. An opportunity to use music as an outlet was one he was able to jump at to express himself. It’s become as much a focal point as his work in the arena.
“I would always sing in the car growing up or watch hours of YouTube videos of artists,” he said. “But guitar led to learning how to play piano, writing songs, and now working with guys in Nashville to produce actual recorded songs.”
Marody spent countless hours learning how to play, any way he could. He would ask his dad, consult some buddies, and study videos the same way he would study his shifts on the ice.
“It’s funny because I’m doing things that I never thought I would be doing,” the 21-year-old said. “In Juniors there was the shoe-check thing where you have to get up and sing in front of people which was the first time I had ever done that. Then in college (University of Michigan) there was an athlete talent show fundraiser where I had to get up and perform in front of everyone. It definitely gets me out of my shell.”
An opportunity to express himself creatively through music certainly takes time to hone the craft. It’s always a work in progress, much like his developing career on the ice. The constant quest to be the best is a motivation that drives him.
“As much as I love watching and learning from hockey, which I do a lot, I know that I need a break from the game sometimes,” he said. “It allows me to access a different part of my brain. I’m a big believer in being a multi-dimensional person and not putting all your self-worth into one thing.
“When I’ve adopted that mindset, it’s not held me back or restricted me from being a better hockey player. Music has allowed me to see that hockey is just a game in the end. It doesn’t take away from the work I put it in on the ice, in the weight room, or in the summer. I love coming to the rink and enjoy what I do. I love playing the game.”
The parallels between being creative on and off the ice are certainly there for the Oilers prospect who was acquired via Edmonton via trade last season. Marody is one of six rookies to average over a point-per-game. His 14 points in 11 games in fifth on the team, and his success has already led to two call-ups to Edmonton.
“I live with Heebs (Hebig), he likes the post-game jam sessions,” Marody laughed. “We get along great and with Benny (Benson) we hit it off at development camp. All three of us have a great relationship off the ice which I think is so important. It’s not always going to go your way and we all have each other’s backs. We’re pulling for each other and are working towards the same goal.”
Much like trying to perfect little aspects of their game, Marody has gained a deeper appreciation for the time spent creating music.
Often, spending a full day in the studio without even coming close to finishing a song. The work and the creativity needed to stand out is never ending. He describes his style as pop country with R&B influences from his youth.
“I try to write about my life and my experiences. That’s real. I call it pop country, because I didn’t grow up on a farm and drive around in a pickup truck on the back roads,” he quipped. “Maybe I’ll have something out on iTunes/Spotify this summer.”
Being in the “Country Music Capital of the West,” a place which has produced legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, is also a bonus.
“Definitely did my research when I came out here last year. That history is cool,” he said. “We have a pedestal for making a difference for people by playing a game, which is awesome. Whatever talent you have, don’t be afraid to show people. Do what you love and that’s something I try to express.”
Expressing his creative nature at the rink and in the studio, who knows, the once shy kid from Michigan may just be in the next star under the bright lights. Whether he has a hockey stick in his hand or a six-string under those lights, he’s sure to bring the same work ethic and passion.