Gopher baseball's Noah Berghammer gets his reps in on a Wednesday afternoon. He tirelessly works on his craft. It's a passion that's been a big part of his life since he was 4 years old.
But he's not on Siebert Field's turf, in the batting cages or in the weight room. He has two keyboards, a laptop and mixing software set up in a study room in 17th Avenue Residence Hall.
"It's kind of my release," Berghammer said. "To get away from baseball and to get away from academics a little bit."
His top priority, he says, is baseball. But with surgeries holding him back from seeing any real practice time in his first year on campus, he's had enough time to work on his music and a book he's writing.
"It's probably been good for him to venture into that space and fill his athletic space up with some of his creative artistic space," Gophers head coach John Anderson said about Berghammer. "It's always good to be diverse and be able to have some other passions that you can go to, and not just be passionate about one thing."
The freshman released his debut single, "Self Destruct" on April 18. He calls it a "vulnerable" track, but he said his 34 teammates have been supportive of his other passion since the single was released. He has also been working on a non-fiction book about his experience after graduating high school titled, "The Push and Pull."
"I haven't got any negative feedback like, 'you're a baseball player, don't do music,'" Berghammer said.
Berghammer, a Janesville, Wisconsin native, tries to make a song a day, recording the tracks with his guitar, keyboards, beat pads and microphone. He puts them together himself using the software on his laptop, though he also records in The Pearl Recording Studio in Minneapolis to work with a professional technician. He said he tries to stay as unstructured as possible, and he comes up with music by sitting at the keyboard pounding away until something comes out of it. Some of the artists he uses as inspiration are Jon Bellion, Andrew McMahon, Khalid, Chelsea Cutler and Maggie Rogers.
When he's writing music, he tries to think of themes that resonate with the masses. His songs often have emotional themes, and he said he's reached back into his life to find things that people could relate with. He's even thought about making himself or his teammates a walk-up song, though he's worried about potential backlash from the NCAA.
"I like to keep it separate where it's like they're listening to my music because it's good music, and then they like how I play baseball," Berghammer said. "I don't like to intertwine them in that way because I don't want to lose any credibility."
Berghammer, who is a business and marketing major, said his end goal when the time comes to turn in the jersey, cleats and cap is to run a record label and sign new musicians.
Two of Berghammer's teammates, senior pitcher Nick Lackney and senior outfielder Ben Mezzenga have gotten into music as well.
Lackney said he enjoys cooking to take his mind off the baseball grind, though he's also tried his hand in music, putting a southern country twang on Christmas songs in a December 2016 album he released on SoundCloud titled "A Nick Lackney Christmas."
"If I focus on baseball too much, then my whole life is going to be out of wack," Lackney said. "For some guys like Ben Mezzenga and Noah Berghammer, music is their outlet and kind of helps them balance."
Mezzenga has gotten into modeling, blog posts, videography and other types of expressive art forms. And though he's majoring in communications, he said he hopes to be an actor someday. Mezzenga's nearly 13,000 Instagram followers make him one of the most followed athletes at the University.
"I've never had really anyone on a team of mine have passions that are so out of the box, like art-type passions," Mezzenga said. "I have a lot of those kinds, but I've kind of kept them hidden because I feel like in the sports world a lot of people are like, 'you've got to stay within your sport.'"
Berghammer, who was ranked as the No. 3 infielder out of Wisconsin by Prep Baseball Report last season, had a surgery on April 23 that will keep him out of training for a couple more months. He's planning to play in the Northwoods League for the Willmar Stingers in the summer to get ready for a hopeful first year of playing. Berghammer plans to release an extended play album around July — around when he'll get back into playing.
"I don't want to ever be known as one-faceted," Berghammer said. "Even though it might not be a career one day, maybe I'm not ever a recording artist that gets paid 'X' amount of dollars to make music and stuff like that. But if I can do it as a hobby for the rest of my life, and still release it to people, even if it's 100 people, it's good enough for me."