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College for Playin’

December 15, 2013

When I was a sophomore in college at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, the men’s college basketball team there was very good, and received national notoriety in Sports Illustrated magazine, not so much for the success of the team, but more so for an NCAA men’s basketball first – the team had four brothers on their starting team – Charlie, Tom, Joe and Mark Niego.

Charlie and Tom Niego were identical twins who were in their senior year at Lewis. Charlie was a point guard and Tom was a forward. Joe Niego was a junior and played forward. Mark Niego was a freshman and played guard. They had all played basketball together since they were kids and seemed to have a sixth sense for where each other was on the court…and that translated to success on the court. The team had a winning season and competed for the conference title right down to the very last games of the season. The Niego’s have since been inducted into the Lewis University Sports Hall of Fame.

My best friend, Pat Wheaton, and I had followed the basketball team the prior year, and now were having fun enjoying the success this team was having on the court.

There was a song out at the time by Dire Straits called Money For Nothin’. Somehow Pat and I had the notion to change the lyrics of the song to tell the story about the Niego’s and we thought we had a fun way to promote the team. “Look at those Niego’s, that’s the way you do it…play for Lewis University…”


An original draft of the lyrics for the song


I called Paul Strolia, a friend at Lewis who had a band, Aidas, with his brother John Strolia, that played at some of the dances at Lewis U, and asked if he would meet Pat and I for lunch over Christmas break and pitched the idea to him about recording a song with the lyrics we had written to the tune of Money For Nothin’ and called it College for Playin’. Paul agreed to do it. Paul and his band recorded a demo at Paul’s home, and later we convinced the campus radio station (WLRA-FM) manager, John Carey, to let Paul’s band make a studio quality copy, which they recorded in the WLRA-FM recording studio.

The song turned out great, and imagine how excited Pat and I were when the song we had conceived was introduced by radio station DJ John “Johnny S” Sonnefeldt and played on WLRA-FM!

The college television station’s John “Moa” Walsh edited a music video with the song and video from the basketball season. It turned out great too.

That was an exciting and fun time for Pat and I.

I kept in touch with Paul Strolia over the years as he went on to be a talented musician.

One night about 5 years ago as I walked into the bar Paul was performing at he was singing Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi and ad libbed “Ooh, Ed Novick’s here, Ooh, Living on a prayer”. At the time, I was living on a prayer. But it was nice to have a friend who made me feel significant and good about myself like I had many years prior when our song production was playing on the radio.

Today, I was going through a box of old cassette tapes and found the tape that had the radio broadcast of College for Playin’ with the introduction from Johnny S, and a copy of the studio recording of College for Playin’ and listened to them again. It reminded me how excited and proud I was to hear my brainchild on the radio. It also reminded me of the talented individuals I was fortunate to associate with and befriend so many years ago. (And, now that I’ve found my tape recording of College for Playin’, I’d love to get a copy of that music video…if you have one, please let me know.)

Coincidentally, tonight I went to see my talented musician friend, Paul Strolia, perform at Brazen Head bar in Crestwood, IL. As I approached the bar I could hear Piano Man by Billy Joel being sung by Paul, and as I walked in the door, I hadn’t taken 5 steps into the bar and Paul recognized me and ad libbed the lyrics to “sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say ‘Ed Novick what are you doing here?'”.

Well, Paul, I was there to see a friend, a fellow artist and dreamer, and someone who reminds me of who I am and where I come from. Thank you for believing in my dream when you did, supporting me in it, and being a friend who still makes me feel good to be me. (It was good to hear you’re still making dreams come true and performing music so talentedly as you do.)

HEY! Do you want to hear the actual radio broadcast as introduced by Johnny S and the College for Playin’ song recorded by Aidas? Click the following link which will open a new browser window with an AudioPal player and then click the play button. Are you ready? Click here!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Niego permalink
    December 15, 2013 6:32 pm


    Is there a way to put on link to your blog so we can hear the song again. It was well done.

    Joe Niego


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