[Josh Popsie has moved from being the center of attention on the ice to being the center of attention on-stage- Photo courtesy of Josh Popsie]
By Ryan Lazo, Editor in Chief, @RMLazo13
Josh Popsie glides onto the ice and finds his familiar spot in between the creases. He takes his stick, bangs both sides of the pipes and stares down at the opening face-off about to take place in front of him.
As St. Bonaventure University’s Club Hockey team’s starting goaltender, Popsie is used to being the center of attention — the hero when the team wins a hard-fought overtime game or the goat when the ear-piercing horn sounds an opponents goal.
But as Popsie skates off the ice, takes off his pads and unwinds from the mental exhaustion it takes by being a goaltender, he thinks about music. He thinks about lyrics, beats and inspirations behind each of the words he visualizes in his head.
Because while Popsie’s teammates are used to hearing the pop of his glove saves or the puck careening off the post as he cuts off the attacking angle, off the ice he also deals with the static of the microphone as he records his newest song.
Popsie signed with Native Samurai Records, a company based in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 15, 2013, fulfilling another dream that he’s had since he was young.
“I’ve played hockey since I was two years old. I’ve played on travel teams my entire life,” Popsie said. “But I also played drums as a kid. I always wrote lyrics in high school and it was something that I took pride in.”
But Popsie never once thought it was a dream that could be reached. The lyrics he would write during his time in high school — he only shared with friends, never to be shown to the world. However, the world would get their first listen of Popsie’s music just prior to him leaving for Oxford in June of 2012.
The Concord, New Hampshire native decided to put together a mixtape, done entirely on his own and recorded in a friend’s basement. He put the mixtape online for download thinking he would get at a best-case scenario, just 200 or 300 downloads.
He was wrong.
“I got back from Oxford and it had over 3,500 downloads. I was like, ‘what?” Popsie said. “I knew the music was good, but I knew it was a bit different. My stuff is lyrically-driven, not about cars and money, but it hit me that I can do this.”
But it has not come as a surprise to those who know Popsie best.
“He’s really passionate about everything he does, so it’s no surprise he dedicates a lot of his time to his music,” Sean Perhacs, Popsie’s teammate said. “I know he writes a lot of songs whether to pass the time or to just improve. So matter what, he’s always working on it, just like his game.
Because Popsie is taking on the challenge of being a recording artist while also being a student who is aiming to graduate with his master’s degree in Intergrated Marketing Communcations. And the challenge is more than many can imagine.
While many students only have to wake up for class, Popsie finds himself having to wake up at 6 a.m. in order to work on collaborations for his music.
“I produced two songs with a guy over in England, so with the time difference, I’m up at 6 a.m.,” Popsie said. “I’m trying to go back and forth with this guy, which way you want to take this song, early in the morning. I have work, class and music has literally taken over my life.”
But the way Popsie has handled himself by both continuing to work hard and focus on the task at hand is not surprising. It’s the same mentality he took to the ice with him during his time on St. Bonaventure’s Club Hockey team.
“Popsie was always a leader. He knew how to combine fun, but also keep a winning mentality, something that not many players can do,” D.J. Hromowyk said of his teammate. “Popsie would be all smiles but if things needed to turn around, he was never afraid to say something.”
And that’s the reason Popsie has engulfed himself into the world of music.
Music is a way for a person to express themselves and the feelings they have on certain subjects. Popsie is no exception.
Take a listen to his single, “Emilie,” a song he made in memory of his friend and the pain, fun and memories are immediately apparent in the lyrics that come out of your headphones.
But Popsie said he would not have been prepared to do any of this without the experience of putting his pads on and standing in the crease, facing down a team intent to put one into the back of the net he was protecting.
“It’s the most scrutinized position in any sport. It’s the one of the only positions where if you make one mistake, you lost your team the game,” Popsie said. “Having that kind of pressure has helped me with performing because you still get nervous, but I can deal with it better.”
While Popsie’s focus is no longer on making the critical saves in net, he is still dealing with the constant pressure of producing new music, slowly proving himself with every song he releases much like he did in net, one save at a time.