You won’t hear any songs from NBA YoungBoy before a De La Salle basketball game.
The Spartans take the court after hearing the bagpipes from Braveheart, then perform defensive slides and layup drills to the music from the training montage in Rocky IV.
That’s right. One of the Bay Area’s top basketball programs warms up to the same sounds that accompanied Rocky Balboa during his preparation to fight Ivan Drago.
It’s a tradition that started with former head coach Frank Allocco, who led the Spartan program from 1997 through 2015, and the three head coaches who have followed him have all maintained the practice.
“There are some traditions that make this place really cool,” current head coach Marcus Schroeder said.
The Rocky music has been a staple at De La Salle ever since Allocco took the job. His teams at Northgate, where he coached before coming to DLS, also used it. Clayton Valley head coach Frank Allocco Jr.’s team also warms up to the Rocky training montage, while De La Salle added the bagpipe intro in the mid-2000s.
Considering the Spartans have a 12-1 home record entering Wednesday night’s North Coast Section (NCS) Open Division Semifinal against Salesian, it seems to be working.
“It’s pretty awesome. Coach Schroeder really likes the songs,” said star point guard Alec Blair, one of the best sophomores in the entire state. “I’m a big Rocky guy. I’ve watched every Rocky movie.”
Blair clearly appreciates older music. He and teammate Billy Haggerty listen to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow” before each game.
The songs that follow the Rocky music during warmups have changed over the years. Van Halen’s “Right Now” was part of the soundtrack under Allocco, but Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” is the current choice. Warmups conclude with “God’s Plan,” Drake’s biggest 2018 track.
“I think the players love the new-age music,” Schroeder said. “It all fits together. This place has tradition, and these guys are writing their own story.”
East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) rivals may roll their eyes when the instrumental from the famed boxing movie series plays, but the players truly do appreciate the tradition.
“It reminds us of everyone that was here before us, and that’s a pretty cool thing to think about,” Blair said before tapping the giant Spartan logo on the wall before exiting the locker room.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]