She's Got the Beat
Being busy high school students, all of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team players are involved in some sort of extra-curricular activities. For U.S. midfielder Alex Doll, that requires a crash cymbal, a snare and a hi-hat.
“You hear about the Duke Ellingtons, the Jimmie Luncefords, and the Fletcher Hendersons, but people sometimes forget that jazz was not only built in the minds of the great ones, but on the backs of the ordinary ones.”
-- Cab Calloway
U.S. U-17 Alex Doll is one of the ordinary ones. She is the first to admit that. But as a drummer for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Jazz Band, it doesn’t stop her from having a great time pounding the skins.
Doll has been playing drums since she was in elementary school, first just a snare and then moving to a full set in high school. She decided to try out for the BCC Jazz Band because she heard it was fun and just enjoys playing. She made the band and is one of a trio of drummers that also includes her younger brother Jimmy, a 15-year-old freshman, who Doll admits “is better than me.”
“I really enjoy playing the gigs,” said Doll, a high school junior. “We go to different restaurants and retirement homes, festivals, county fair and street fairs. It’s like being on a soccer team, except it’s a different group of friends and interests and I enjoy having that part of my high school experience.”
The BCC Jazz Band has an excellent reputation in the area and Doll says there are some really good musicians on the squad, which plays swing, Latin and sometimes, a little bit of funk.
When asked if it was more difficult to play soccer or play the drums, Doll gave an answer that in keeping with the tradition and rhythms of jazz was free-flowing.
“It depends on what songs we play and I guess what game I would be playing in,” said Doll. “Sometimes soccer is really hard, but sometimes playing jazz is even harder. I mess up a lot. My instructor always gives me this look and I just know it’s bad.”
Doll doesn’t let the missed beats bug her. Like on the soccer field, she’s just trying to get better and enjoys the learning process.
“For me, playing drums is about being creative and doing different kind of fills,” said Doll. “But because I don’t listen to jazz enough, I don’t have that many ideas. It’s like soccer, the more you watch great players, the more ideas you get on the field.”
Doll’s musical tastes run more towards John Mayer, Corrine Bailey Ray, Jack Johnson, the Script and Tristan Prettyman, but when she grabs her sticks, she likes the Latin beats.
“I like Latin a lot,” she said. “I like the feel of it, and I like playing all the beats and all the different Latin fills you can do.”
Still, she won’t be a music major in college. She has verbally committed to Stanford for the Fall of 2011 and admits that her strengths lie more in science and math. And on the field, Doll’s goals revolve more around playing in a Women’s World Cup than in Carnegie Hall.
“As a drummer, you are very important and a big part of the band because you keep the beat, but you are still sort of in the background,” said Doll. “In soccer, all eleven players on the field can help the team win in many different ways at any given time during the game and I really enjoy that teamwork and camaraderie.”
There is one problem regarding Doll’s future drumming career. She basically got kicked out of the band. With all her travel for soccer and with the U.S. National Team, she was “politely asked” not to return during her senior year. Jimmy will have to keep up the family name. Still, she is planning on continuing her drumming next year (just not with BCC) and wants to perhaps find a small jazz band when she gets Stanford.
So if you happen to be strolling around the Quad at the Stanford campus in a few years and see a young lady, sticks in hand, sitting behind a drum kit wearing a Stanford Soccer t-shirt and grooving to some Latin beats, that’ll be Alex.