How Courtney Mathewson gets the whole water polo team to train to old-school rap

ESPNW—The defending Olympic champions in women’s water polo have a deep appreciation for one another, and sometimes that means respecting everyone’s unique musical preferences. The players take turns sharing their playlists during each lifting session — and for the entire two-hour workout, everyone must train to one team member’s favorite songs. This continues on rotation until all 17 players have shared their top tunes in the weight room.

“You have to listen to it, no matter what. It creates a tolerance for music across generations and tastes,” explained attacker Courtney Mathewson.

“I don’t think we can get through a lifting session without some music playing. Hearing someone motivating you through the speakers gives you a little extra push to get through some tough exercises. It’s definitely a huge part of the culture in water polo.”

And when it’s her turn to press play, she couldn’t be more excited.

“My playlist is a reflection of who I am. It’s a huge mix of old-school rap, country and classical. It’s one of those lists where you don’t know what song is coming up next. Each song has some relation to something that happened in my life,” Mathewson said. One in particular that stands out is Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode.”

“It was popular when I was in high school. I used to always listen to it in my boyfriend — now husband’s — car. It’s something that’s stuck with me why not try this out. It makes me nostalgic. It always reminds me of home, growing up and spending time with friends,” she said. “It reminds me of a time that I’m really fond of, and it’s really fun when it’s blaring loud in the weight room.”

Get Mathewson’s whole, unpredictable list at!