The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Matt Korman, who plays on The University of Calgary’s baseball team, says the game is currently his number one priority, but his passion for music has him rethinking his plans for after graduation.

Korman, a full-time communications student is also the lead singer and bassist for the band Humbabe, named after baseball slang, combines his love of the sport with his musical pursuits.

If that all sounds like a pretty full plate, it’s because that's the way Korman likes life.

“I’ve always loved pursuing as much as I can,” Korman says. “It comes naturally to me, I love to be busy, and I don’t function well when I’m not busy.”

When asked about which of his activities gives him the most enjoyment, Korman chose music a head of baseball and academics. Calling it his “passion”, Korman started playing music at a young age, forming bands with his neighbours and writing songs.

 Profile Korman playing 2 ZW Korman and Thorn performing at Koi located on 1st S.W. Korman and Thorn would like to continue playing well after they graduate from the University of Calgary. Photo: Tyler Adams

“When I was eight my neighbours from across the street and I started a rap band. Then when I was 12 I got my first bass guitar, my neighbours got a drum kit and vocal equipment, and we started a band called Emergency Exit.”

Korman would like to start touring and recording with Humbabe. The group plays a genre he classifies as “Canadiana folk,” referencing bands such as The Barenaked Ladies, Hey Rosetta, Said the Whale and The Tragically hip, calling them “all giant inspirations.”

“I like to write happy-go-lucky songs, where I make fun of myself and poke fun at the people around me. I’m a sappy love songwriter.”

Korman also talked about how he finds the motivation to write his songs.

“I’ve always found that inspiration comes when you least expect it. I’ve spent a lot of late nights just writing a song because I can’t get it out of my head. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m so inspired to go finish that lyric or write that riff.”

Fellow Dino’s teammate and Humbabe’s drummer Tyler Thorn knew Korman was the right guy to play with because of a conversation they had when naming the band.

“I asked him why he didn’t want to call the band Matt Korman and the Humbabes, and he said ‘I don’t treat myself as if I’m above the people I work with. I’m not where I am without the people around me.’”

This humbling approach resonated with Thorn and helped him decide that committing to the band was the right move for him.

Although Humbabe doesn’t have any recorded music online, they play gigs whenever they can and are hoping to find some time to record.

Thorn and Korman both said that they’d like to continue working together past their expected 2021 graduation.

“If we see some success and people have an interest in our music, then, of course, I’d love to continue playing together.” Said Thorn.

Korman adds, “Hopefully after school is finished, we’re going to spend some time just making music, maybe going on a Canadian tour, hit a recording studio and see what happens.”

Korman also has bigger aspirations to work in the music industry and says he’s “thought about going down to Nashville and writing for other people.”

Despite all this, he still says that baseball is currently his “number one priority.”

Profile Korman Dinos ZW Korman celebrating a win with the University of Calgary Dinos. He says his brief stint at Minot State University set him up for success back home in Calgary. Photo: Tyler Adams

Growing up, he played in the local Rocky Mountain Little League, Babe Ruth Calgary and for the Calgary Rockies of Baseball Alberta. During his time with Rocky Mountain Little League, Korman and his team won the 2013 Canadian Junior League Championships and went on to represent Canada at the 2013 Junior League World Series in Taylor, Michigan. Korman’s best baseball memory came moments after they secured their win in the Canadian Championship final.

“I remember I was catching, and we struck the last kid out, and everyone started screaming. I went out to our pitcher and picked him up, and then the dog pile ensued.”

 Moments after the celebration, Korman describes what keeps him going in such a mentally demanding sport. “My coach dragged me out from the bottom [of the dogpile] and said, ‘You did it tonight Korman. You really did it.’ And that has stuck with me forever.”

Out of high school, Korman decided to attend and play baseball at Minot State University in North Dakota. However, after one year of redshirting as a rookie and half a season of playing, he realized that life away from home isn’t always what its made out to be and decided to transfer back home to Calgary and join the Dinos.

However, he still feels the experience was rewarding. “I learned a lot about myself down there, and I never regret going to Minot.”

Current Dinos’ pitcher and Korman’s teammate from the Babe Ruth league, Daniel Lavery has always known Korman as the hardest worker on the team.

 “He is a player we want as a leader. And he already is one even though he’s only a sophomore.” 

                                     — Dinos head coach Geoff Freeborn                                                                             

“Throughout the entire time I’ve known him, he’s been a very motivated player and driven to succeed in everything he does. He’s always had the reputation of someone who works hard and wants to get as good as he can as a player.”

Back home in Calgary, Korman quickly found a comfort zone on the diamond. Now in his second season with the Dinos, Korman has found a way to become one of the top players in the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference (CCBC).

Lavery thinks Korman’s time in Minot forced him to take his game up a notch. “Playing at that higher-level forces you to step up and find a way to compete with the better players.”

Lavery also mentions how he’s seen Korman grow off the field. “The experience of being on your own in a country that you didn’t grow up in forces you to adapt into someone different.”

Korman had a batting average of .302 along with zero errors in the field in his first season. In March of 2019, he signed a contract to play with the Yorkton Cardinals of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL), a collegiate summer league for some of the top college players from Western Canada and the Western United States.

Dinos’ Head Coach Geoff Freeborn loves having Korman in the program and says he has progressed a lot since he came to U of C. He also feels Korman holds a leadership role on the team despite only being in his second year.

“He is a player we want as a leader. And he already is one even though he’s only a sophomore.”

Korman thinks his experience with the Dinos and playing in the WCBL will give him a chance to pursue a professional career overseas.

“I want to use baseball as a vessel. I would love to travel to Europe while playing baseball.” He adds, “I understand how lucky I am to have this opportunity, and I don’t want to waste it.”

Coach Freeborn also says Korman’s work ethic is a stand out quality.

“I’ve seen him hitting in the cage at times on his own. Maybe even too much. He’s there at times when guys wouldn’t be there hitting for an hour. But he puts in the extra work before practice and after practice. It is the little things that take you to the next level.”

Lavery notes how busy Korman is with everything on his plate and how impressive it is that he manages it all.

“Whenever you talk to him, he’s got something new going on. A new project at school, new songs that he’s writing or a show is coming up. It seems that he loves doing it all and enjoys having a busy schedule, and it’s amazing to see him handle everything he has going on.”

Adding to his ambitions, Korman is also thinking about a Masters in marketing.

“I would love to work as a marketing expert. There are lots of jobs in the music sector outside of being a musician. It would be very cool to be a recording label or artist’s marketing manager.”

In Korman’s mind, the ideal situation for his future involves music and baseball. When asked about his perfect scenario when considering everything he is pursuing right now, Korman says, “I would love to go play baseball in the professional leagues in France or the Czech Republic and to be a travelling musician at the same time.”