An­them singer with ‘pitch’ a catch

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MILTON smil­ton@thes­pec.com 905-526-3268 | @mil­to­natthes­pec

Brett Koc­sis left the room for a mo­ment while his two daugh­ters, seven-year-old Sienna and six-yearold Hai­ley, were watch­ing the movie “Frozen.”

“I heard some­one singing along to “Let it Go” and I thought ‘that’s pretty good,’” he re­calls. “I walked around the cor­ner and it was Sienna singing. And she had pitch.”

Three years later, Sienna Rose Koc­sis beat out more than 100 other ap­pli­cants to be­come the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ 2017 an­them singer.

Af­ter the 10-year-old Cale­do­nia Cen­ten­nial Pub­lic School stu­dent belted out a ful­some ren­di­tion of “O Canada” be­fore last Satur­day’s home opener, the ca­pac­ity crowd went ba­nanas in ap­pre­ci­a­tion, and sev­eral Ti­cat play­ers mobbed her with con­grat­u­la­tions.

Her pre­sen­ta­tion and, more im­por­tantly, her voice, were as ma­ture as those of an adult veteran. And she ex­uded self-as­sur­ance.

“It was re­ally cool,” she said of her first an­them, which was fol­lowed up by an equally pop­u­lar, and a bit quicker, ver­sion in Game 2 at Tim Hor­tons Field Thurs­day night. “It felt amaz­ing, there was fire­works in the back­ground and the big flag. There’s a big echo com­ing (from the sta­dium speak­ers) so you have to keep your beat. It’s awe­some. It’s more ex­cit­ing than nerve-rack­ing.”

At the urg­ing of her fa­ther and her mother, Carly, she be­gan tak­ing singing lessons from Pa­tri­cia Cur­rie, who’s also en­tered her in a num­ber of lo­cal singing com­pe­ti­tions, the ma­jor­ity of which she’s won.

“She’s un-be-liev­able,” says Ti­cat cen­tre Mike Filer, him­self a tal­ented mu­si­cian. “The big thing is her con­fi­dence. She’s 10, and she’s singing in front of 25,000 peo­ple.”

Sienna Rose says she tries to look at as many of those faces as pos­si­ble dur­ing the an­them.

“I just like see­ing peo­ple’s re­ac­tion when I sing,” she says. “I saw a bunch of peo­ple stand­ing up, re­ally sur­prised and happy. A lot of peo­ple leaned over and said ‘great job’”

She says Hai­ley, now nine, is also a good singer, but is more shy about per­form­ing in pub­lic. The sis­ters, she says, get their singing prow­ess from Brett Koc­sis, who fronted the band Zye, which toured for sev­eral years and of­ten opened for acts such as Ted Nu­gent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hon­ey­moon Suite, and The Head­stones.

Sienna Rose loves pop mu­sic and her fam­ily jokes that she can be­come the next Taylor Swift but her favourite per­form­ers are Me­lanie Martinez and Ari­ana Grande and her favourite song is ‘Hap­pier’ by Ed Sheeren.

A num­ber of Armed Forces per­son­nel were on hand to pro­mote the In­vic­tus Games Thurs­day night and lis­tened to Sienna Rose prac­tice an hour be­fore game time.

“I couldn’t be­lieve such a big voice was com­ing out of such a small body,” said Chief War­rant Of­fi­cer Jeff Aman of CFB Kingston.

An­them singing is a vol­un­tary po­si­tion, but the Ti­cats have pro­vided the Koc­sis fam­ily with sea­son’s tick­ets. The first game Sienna Rose ever saw came af­ter she’d al­ready sung the an­them that opened it.

While she was singing, he par­ents stood a few me­tres away, far more ner­vous that she was. “It was just so emo­tional,” Brett Koc­sis re­calls. “I tried to hold it to­gether as best I could, same with my wife, but we ended up sob­bing.”

And nearly 25,000 fans cheered.

PHO­TOS BY GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMILTON SPEC­TA­TOR

The Ti­cats got off to 15-13 half­time lead Thurs­day, as QB Zach Col­laros, top, lets loose with a pass; while the Esks’ Bran­don Zyl­stra is de­nied a catch by Hamilton’s Justin Rogers, left, and Richard Leonard. For a pic­ture of Sienna Rose Koc­sis and Drew Ed­wards’ game re­port, see thes­pec.com.

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