Senior defies stereotypes through guitar, football

February 26, 2015 — by Rachel Hull and Michelle Leung

Senior Alec Furlong may seem like the epitome of a stereotypical jock — but he is anything but.

On fall Fridays, senior Alec Furlong was a wide receiver for the Falcon football team, running routes and catching passes. Bulky uniform and all, he seemed like the epitome of a stereotypical jock.

But Furlong is anything but.

For at least five years, he has also dedicated himself to learning the guitar. His athletic and artistic talents may seem at odds, but he said that he often defies perceptions — for example, he plans on majoring in computer science.

“I don’t really [fit] the stereotype,” he said, “and people who get to know me [know] there are a lot of things that I do that aren’t really like the typical football player mindset.”

Senior Jordan Vogel, one of Furlong’s friends and teammates, said that Furlong is much more comfortable playing guitar than football.

“It definitely shows that he is more passionate about playing guitar than football,” Vogel said. “He really likes to play [guitar], and he always gets pissed off when we’re talking over him when he’s playing.”

Furlong’s interest in music began when his parents told him they wanted him to play an instrument in elementary school. He initially started with piano but didn’t enjoy it because of the restrictions his parents placed on him.

“If I wanted to play video games, I had to practice 30 minutes of piano before I could play video games,” Furlong said. “And basically that system wasn’t working.”

At that point, his parents signed him up for guitar lessons, hoping that it might be a better fit. Though Furlong enjoyed them at first, the guitar lessons were eventually discarded like the piano lessons, just another activity he was being forced to do. Though disappointed, his parents told him he could quit.

Instead, their change in attitude inspired Furlong to continue his lessons and tough it out.

“When my parents said I could quit, it was a reverse psychology thing, and it made me stay with it,” Furlong said. “[Since then] I got an acoustic guitar, and I started [to] really like playing it.”

Although Furlong sometimes regrets his decision to give up piano, he is glad he stuck with guitar. He attends guitar lessons for half an hour to an hour every week with his private tutor, who he described as “a total redneck.”

“He is one of the most childish people I’ve ever met in my entire life, and he’s as broke as most musicians,” Furlong said. “And he’s also one of my best friends.”

In addition to his weekly lessons, Furlong practices almost every night on his acoustic guitar. For now, he prefers to stick to covers of songs that are meaningful to him such as “What Might Have Been” by Little Texas. He also occasionally writes his own songs.

Thus far, he has only performed in local competitions like Saratoga Idol and Mr. Saratoga. Furlong also often plays guitar while casually hanging out with friends.

“He’ll play when we’re at the beach, and we’ll sing along, jam along, have a freestyle sesh while he’s playing guitar,” Vogel said.

No matter where Furlong ends up in college and beyond, he plans to continue playing guitar. He said that he may join a band in the future, although it would be purely for fun. He dreams of attending UC Santa Barbara, the alma mater of musician Jack Johnson.

“He comes in and plays at the mess hall every once in a while, and I have this dream of going up and playing with him,” Furlong said.

For Furlong, playing the guitar is “like an escape.” Playing guitar also acts as an outlet for stress; for example, once when he had an English essay due at midnight, he chose to “wind down” with the guitar for an hour or two afterward.

“It’s just relaxing and fun,” he said, “and I feel like at this point if I hear a song, I like to analyze it and figure out how to play it myself. And I guess I like the freedom of being able to play anything I can.”