University at Albany Men’s Lacrosse Team Embraces ‘Alive’

By Guest Contributor, Bernie Tylor

For over a decade, the University at Albany (UAlbany “Great Danes”) men’s lacrosse team has belted out Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ before every game. The tradition, which has been in full force this season and originated by a passionate Pearl Jam fan / former player, has gone viral in some circles and resonates far beyond the field.

Pearl Jam has transcended music on more than one occasion. The band’s songs have scored the backdrop to—or served as the inner voice of—major motion pictures, profiles of sports legends and documentaries. They’ve also created awareness around disease cure donation drives, social initiatives and causes against injustice, and helped fuel a variety of campaigns to elevate a broader message. Their compelling music and lyrics serve as something larger than a mere soundtrack.  

Pearl Jam has done it again. For years, a college lacrosse program on a big winning streak has been singing “Alive” for motivation every time they take the field. Many are starting to notice.

I’m Ready, For You 

It began in 2013, when UAlbany’s lacrosse coach, Scott Marr, asked a player to mix up the usual locker room setlist. The young man selected was a dedicated Pearl Jam fan. And the song he singled out was “Alive.” From that moment, the team has been singing the classic hit—arm-in-arm, passionately, unitedly—before every game, sometimes during and after, ever since.   

Thanks to this ritual, each of their on-field matches has caused a commotion on many fronts, including a frenzy of online articles, social media posts (check out the team in full-throated Alive mode here IG, X), and similar content shared from a diverse cross section (lacrosse junkies, avid sports followers, 90’s music sites, Pearl Jam or grunge-era loyalists).

Whether you follow the sport or not, it’s inspiring to see Pearl Jam’s music drawing together multiple intersecting storylines, generations, and fans in a compelling combination.  It touches on Pearl Jam’s influence and impact, the amplification power of social media, the pull of the human condition, and the thrill of sports competition at the college level.    

Alive has been captivating the team and its fans, increasingly gaining traction. It’s connecting communities. Diverse corners of interests—from music, to sports, to lovers of inspiring stories —are relating with each other as curiosity about the tradition’s popularity climbs.  

I Can’t See, I Just Stare 

It gets better. 

Alive’s meaning reaches beyond motivating a team. It’s even more special. Enter JP Honsinger, a 10-year-old fan of lacrosse and devoted supporter of UAlbany lacrosse. 

As reported, after being diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C Disease, a rare degenerative disease similar to Alzheimers, Honsinger turned to the team for solace and support. Since then, as a young man, JP’s unwavering presence and infectious enthusiasm have become integral to the team’s pre-game ritual. At each game, he joins the team in their warmup session and sings along to Alive, participating in fist pumps while the team claps and cheers.  

The camaraderie, owing to the Alive ritual, is a testament to the power of music and sports drawing people in one space, as one, as friends. The blend creates a seismic-level reaction and a unifying rally point. Alive is particularly fiery and powerful fuel for this connection. 

As a longtime follower of Pearl Jam and college athletics, witnessing the convergence of what UAlbany is performing on the field / in the locker room and what Pearl Jam tirelessly gives us each gig, it’s clear that whether a sports stadium or concert venue, despite these different environments, there are common ties at play which create harmony. The team itself, and the song Alive, are forces bridging the two. It’s gratifying to watch.

Win or lose each game, the song Alive has kept the lacrosse team, coaches, families and fans together. A memorable bond spurred by adopting Pearl Jam’s debut album tune that has carried them in the journey of several seasons.

I’m Glad We Talked

UAlbany is headed into the weekend to play the first round of the NCAA tournament, college lacrosse’s biggest stage.  

While they take on the game’s elite, going head-to-head in intensely battled showdowns, you may want to dial-in when UAlbany is playing for the rush of:  

  • Pearl Jam’s anthemic tune’s ability to lift moods and generate enthusiasm and inspiration.  
  • A team playing their hearts out to bring a collective best effort in momentous ‘win or go home’ games. 
  • The joy Alive and the players consistently bring to one young fan — JP Honsinger — who’s been absorbed in the momentum.

This year, what a treasure to observe so many people aligned at once . . . through those reverberating words, while rocking side by side, collectively, back and forth, celebrating in unison, inside a large arena: 

“Son,” she said, “have I got a little story for you

What you thought was your daddy was nothing but a…

While you were sitting home alone at age thirteen

Your real daddy was dyin’

Sorry you didn’t see him, but I’m glad we talked”

Oh, I, oh, I’m still alive

Hey, I, oh, I’m still alive

Hey, I, oh, I’m still alive

Hey, oh, oh-oh

While she walks slowly across a young man’s room

She said, “I’m ready for you”

Why, I can’t remember anything to this very day

‘Cept the look, the look

Oh, you know where, now I can’t see, I just stare

I, I’m still alive

Hey, I, oh, I’m still alive

Hey, I, hey, I’m still alive

Hey, I, oh, I’m still alive, yeah

A career communications professional in the DC-area, I have been a longtime freelance writer of concert and music performance reviews for publications covering a wide range of artists – from Pearl Jam, to the Psychedelic Furs, to Ben Harper, and many more in between.  I’ve been hooked on Pearl Jam since the band’s debut.  A proud father and husband, I enjoy contributing to causes and nonprofits that help make the world a better place.