If you haven’t seen “High School Musical 3,” you probably don’t know that Troy Bolton graduated from East High School and was going on to attend UC Berkeley to be a theater major and basketball player. If this were actually true, Troy would have gone to UC Berkeley in 2008. Here is what it would actually look like if Troy Bolton was a Golden Bear:
Supersenior Troy Bolton was seen lurking outside the Cal men’s basketball team practice Nov. 18. As sweaty players filed out, exhausted and ready for rest, Bolton looked at them woefully. “Wanna play knockout?” he said sheepishly. No one even looked his way.
The once — almost — famous Wildcats basketball player is now entering his fifth year at UC Berkeley and expects to graduate in December. Bolton was a high-school basketball star and was recruited by Cal to play on the team. After a season and a half of warming the bench, Bolton decided to quit the team and dedicate himself to his numerous other passions.
While basketball may not have been his calling, Bolton has certainly found a home among friends involved in the school’s thriving a capella scene. The proud ninth member of the highly esteemed Men’s Octet, Bolton frequently refers to the other guys as his “brothers.” When Bolton auditioned for the group, it was already at its eight-member capacity. Bolton’s voice was so sweet and his stage presence so dynamic that the group extended the invitation for him to join as the first and only ninth member. But due to the fact that the word for a nine-person group is nonet and the Men’s Nonet sounds a lot like the Men’s No-nut, the group opted to remain the Men’s Octet.
“These guys have been with me through it all,” Bolton said wistfully. When pressed about what he’s referring to, Bolton sighs and whispers the name, “Gabriella.” One of the major factors in Bolton’s decision to come to UC Berkeley was so that he could be near his high school sweetheart. His girlfriend, Gabriella, was accepted early to Stanford. The two chose schools so they could be near each other. Blinded by love, they naively thought their relationship could survive the longtime rivalry.
“I thought we really loved each other. I never thought it would end like this,” Bolton said, alluding to their painfully public breakup at one of his first performances with the Men’s Octet. The show ended with the song “Stanford Girl?” Like most Men’s Octet performances in the week before the Big Game, the performance featured plenty of Stanford-bashing. Up until the last song, Gabriella had found it all in good humor. She sat in the front row, dead center, and smiled up at her singing boyfriend. Until the last song.
As soon as Bolton hit the last high note, Gabriella stood up and angrily stormed out. Running after her, Bolton grabbed her hand, apologized and professed his love. Much to his disappointment, she just yanked her hand away and told him that she never wanted to see him again. The two haven’t spoken since that fateful a cappella concert.
After quitting the basketball team and breaking up with his girlfriend, Bolton found himself spending long, sleepless nights lying alone in bed, wondering what direction he wanted to take with his life. “As an athlete,” Bolton said, “I barely had any time to focus on school. I’m trying to turn that around right now.”
Spending his years as an underclassman soul-searching, Bolton’s attempts to find the perfect major remained fruitless. “That’s when I decided on ISF,” Bolton said. “The chance to create my own major has really allowed me to focus on what matters the most and what truly interests me. And for me, it’s always been about music and sports. That’s why my major in sports, music and society is perfect.”
Bolton’s focus is on the intersection of music and sports, particularly how musical theater and basketball affect individuals and society as a whole. While there has not been much previous work done on this specific subject, Bolton is proud to be a pioneering researcher in this subject. “Some of my friends make fun of me for my dual passions, but I know I’m not the only one who’s ever wanted to delve into the dynamics of sportsmanship and musicality,” he said.
As Bolton looks toward his uncertain future, there is one thing he knows to be true. “We’re all in this together,” he said.
Contact Rachel Feder at [email protected].
A previous version of this article misspelled Troy Bolton’s name.