Published: Feb. 17, 2015


Courtesy of Colorado Athletics

By Jennifer Osieczanek | Coloradan | CU-Boulder Alumni Association

Under bright stage lights, before an audience of empty chairs, Eli Stalzer runs his fingers across the keys of a large, black piano. He’s come for an interview, not a rehearsal, but he can’t help himself: He’s been a piano player since age eight.

Stalzer’s clothes – gray Nikes and black sweatpants with a Buffs logo on his right hip – hint at his other life at CU, the other big reason, besides his music studies, that he came to CU Boulder: Basketball.

“Great music program, great basketball, really it was just a perfect fit,” says Stalzer, a 6-foot-3 junior guard from Brea, Calif., just north of Anaheim.

Stalzer joined the men’s basketball team as a freshman in 2012 and this season is averaging 6.5 minutes of action in the 15 games he’s played. Like any true competitor, he’d like to play more.

But his commitment to music leaves him at a disadvantage when it comes to basketball: Besides classes and homework, Stalzer rehearses piano eight to 10 hours a week, and there’s no way to work on your jump shot at a piano. It’s a compromise and he negotiates it as best he can. Lately he’s been trying to master Bach’s Prelude No. 2, Chopin’s Nocturnes, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (first movement) and Claire de Lune by Claude DeBussy while squeezing in extra time in the weight room so he’ll be stronger on the court.