May 20, 2014

Sherrod Reflects On Joining Whiffenpoofs

Junior Brandon Sherrod was forced to make one of the most difficult decisions of his young life shortly after the Yale men's basketball season ended in April. Sherrod, an accomplished musician, was one of only 14 juniors selected to the 2014-15 Whiffenpoofs, the world's oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group.

The dilemma Sherrod faced was that in order to sing with the Whiffs, he would have to withdraw from Yale for a year. The Whiffenpoofs perform all across the United States, and travel around the world in March. That would mean missing the 2014-15 basketball season. After much soul-searching, Sherrod elected put off his senior season of basketball for a year to join the Whiffs. He will return to the team in 2015-16.

Sherrod's story has garnered national attention. He appeared on the CBS This Morning program last week, had discussions with Good Morning America and the Today Show and was mentioned on Live With Kelly [Ripa] and Michael [Strahan]. In addition, an Associated Press account was picked up by outlets all across the nation, including ESPN.com, the New York Post and New York Daily News.

Sherrod recently reflected on his decision in a Q&A with the Yale Sports Publicity Office.

SPO: When did you first start singing?

BS: When I was about eight or nine years old in church. I sang with our ministry's (Jesus Save Ministries in Bridgeport, Conn.) youth choir and the praise and worship team.

SPO: Do you have a most memorable performance? 

BS: I remember performing a concert for a summer program for the Music and Arts Center for Humanity in Bridgeport. I was about 15 years old and I sang the whole concert while playing the drums at the same time. It was different, and that's when I knew music was something that I cared about deeply.

SPO: Why are you so passionate about music?

BS: Music has been a passion of mine way before basketball came into the picture. As a result, music has provided an outlet for me when I had nowhere else to go for entertainment, and it also allowed me to make new friendships and new relationships that I otherwise would have never made.

SPO: What led you to try out for the Whiffenpoofs? 

BS: I was intrigued after a friend of mine, Michael Blume, told me about the group during my sophomore year. Michael raved about how amazing the experience was, and that I had a chance to get in with the voice that I had. The combination of the experience that I would receive with the group, and the encouragement from people like Michael who had confidence in my vocal talent fueled my desire to try out for the group, so I did.

SPO: How helpful and understanding was Coach Jones during the process?

BS: Although he was disappointed (as am I), Coach Jones was extremely understanding during the process. Most coaches would have handled it in an unsupportive manner. Coach Jones understands the vast opportunities that Yale affords. As a result, this understanding enabled him to support me in my endeavors with the Whiffenpoofs. BIG THANK YOU to Coach Jones.

SPO: How have your teammates reacted?

BS: My teammates have been extremely supportive from the time that I found out that I was in the group. They have expressed their support for my decision, and they have been very understanding with the fact that I'll be gone for one year. We're a band of brothers, so I wasn't surprised when they supported me.

SPO: Did you expect to receive so much attention? What has that experience been like?

BS: I had no idea that my story would take off the way that it has. It is truly a testament to the amazing power of Christ. 1 Peter 5:6 says "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." With this scripture in mind, I've tried to model my life after it.  The experience has been hectic, but a lot of fun.

SPO: What will you miss the most being away from the team for a season?

BS: I'll miss it dearly. Basketball season has been something that I've looked forward to every year for the last seven years. It will certainly be tough not joining the team for the regular season, but I'll be back!

SPO: What are you most looking forward to during your year with the Whiffenpoofs?

BS: Just getting to know the group. The guys from my class are all amazing in their own respects. I'm definitely looking forward to getting closer to them, in hopes of gaining a new set of brothers. Oh, and also the traveling. I've never been outside of the United States and I'm looking forward to that.

SPO: How do you plan to prepare for the 2015-16 Yale season?

BS: I'll be working out every waking moment I can. I'll be coordinating with my strength and conditioning coach Mike Harris and Coach Jones to ensure that I have a regiment to keep me in tip-top shape.

Here are a few of the feature stories from various news outlets on Sherrod's decision:

And video from WTNH's Sportzedge:

 

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity