Conrad Oddoye ’20Music Major
Posted on November 16th, 2022 by

“A last-minute collegiate track career, a musical score to finish, and then there was COVID.”

Basketball got him to Gustavus from Alberta, Canada. But always there was music, which Oddoye had been playing since he was seven and composing since he was ten. “I was producing music in my room in Co-Ed,” he says, and soon it was all he could think about. Sophomore year he stepped away from the court to play in several bands, including the cleverly named Bandated Reporters, so called because three of the members were Gustavus mandated reporters.

But the thought of singing live at a gig and failing miserably terrified him. Finally, he went to the Gustavus Counseling Center, where his counselor named it: performance anxiety. Oddoye had an “aha” moment. “That was a huge part of my basketball career—being awesome in practice, then hands shaking, legs feeling like Jello in games, worried about letting a team down.” He sang at that gig, and it’s been easier ever since.

One day, track & field assistant coach Nathan Harder, admiring Oddoye’s height, invited him to try the high jump and discus. Oddoye didn’t like it. “Then I saw the sprinters,” he says. “That looked fun.” Plus, he didn’t experience as much performance anxiety—he wasn’t a top sprinter, so not much hinged on his success. And every single week of practice he was earning a personal best. He ran one collegiate 200-meter race before he was off to Spain for a semester. He was about to run another race and begin rehearsals for the spring musical when COVID hit.

Talk about anxiety. “I was extremely stressed out,” he says. “When you don’t know where you’re going to live in two weeks, it’s hard to focus on the assignment that’s due on Wednesday.” He ended up as one of the 70 or so students—mostly international students—approved to stay on campus through the spring semester. He then stayed through the summer, waiting for his visa so he can work in the U.S. and pursue graduate school in counseling psychology.

When life opens up fully, he’ll play live shows again. Until then, he’s pretty zen, spending the summer making music in his on-campus apartment, walking a professor’s dog, and not being too hard on himself. “I feel like everyone deserves grace,” he says, “especially during a time like this.”


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