Some people excel at playing piano, some at soccer. UCI senior Max Haymer does both.
With his quick feet, he’s played Division 1 soccer for the Anteaters for four years. With his quick hands, he plays jazz piano professionally while pursuing a bachelor’s in music.
“I’ve been balancing soccer and piano since I was seven,” he says. With soccer, he could avoid using his hands, which he “instinctively protects in any physical activity.”
Good thing he didn’t play football.
“Max epitomizes what we look for in student athletes,” says George Kuntz, men’s soccer head coach. “He competes every day. He’s been a great defensive midfielder for us.
“He’s also one of the best jazz pianists in the world. We were worried that he didn’t get his fingers insured by Lloyd’s of London.”
Kei Akagi, Chancellor’s Professor of Music, says Haymer “has the potential to be one of the outstanding musicians of his generation. He represents the new breed of jazz musician that reveres the past but is in no way bound to it. His skill and knowledge are very impressive for his age.”
During his college career, Haymer found he could channel his energy into the two different disciplines.
“It’s fun to find ways that piano and soccer cross over,” he says. “The athleticism carries over to the piano, while learning to be calm while performing in a concert has helped me stay calm and take my time on the field.”
Haymer hasn’t had to choose between his dueling passions until this year, when he formed his own band, the Max Haymer Trio.
“A lot of job opportunities came up that conflicted with games and practices, and I had to turn down gigs.”
After graduating in June, he will devote more attention to composing and performing jazz.
“As I start my career in music, I hope to keep playing in L.A. and to make a name for myself, then move to New York because that’s the center of the jazz world. I also want to go on tour.”
As for soccer?
“I’ll play at the highest level I can until my knees don’t work,” he says. As he’s proven at UCI, he can have it both ways.