September 1, 2006

10 Questions with Leslie Campbell

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With one defender to beat in his debut 10 Questions of the year, Paul Testa tried to put the moves on junior co-captain and standout sweeper, Leslie Campbell, of the women’s soccer team. His shins still hurt from not wearing protection.

1. Seeing as this is the only way to begin any conversation in the first week of school, how was your summer?

It was amazing

Do tell.

I spent a couple weeks in Europe. I was in Spain, and I was in Germany for the first week of the World Cup.

That’s fantastic.

Yeah, uh, I didn’t see any games. I was completely broke.

Whoa, wait, you did at least see them on T.V.?

Yeah. Of course. I sat in bars and cafes for seven hours a day. We were right by the Dutch national team where they were in camp, so we went out to their practice facility and saw everybody in Orange. It was awesome

It wasn’t exactly a great World Cup for an American. We’re you crying in your pint of Becks?

Yeah, I was pretty upset. I was a pretty big American fan. Most people really don’t claim that, but I really thought they were going to do better.

Who do you blame?

I don’t think Bruce Arena ’73 really got them prepared. I think there were a lot of individual mistakes. That Ghana game especially, Claudio Reyna killed them, bad calls killed them, but I don’t think they were ready to play. I think they were scared because for once they weren’t total underdogs and they had something to prove.

I feel like Landon Donovan never got on the plane to Germany.

He just disappeared for games. I mean that Italy game was ridiculous for so many reasons.

I was flipping out. It killed me because I’ve got my Italian heritage, my Sicilian roots and then my Toby Keith-listening, red white, and blue patriotism. I was torn. It was like a house divided.

2. It seemed like the ongoing the back-story of this World Cup was the never-ending chorus of complaints about all the diving. What’s your take? Full disclosure here, you are a defender.

I think it’s stupid. I also think it kind of gets ridiculous that it gets called so much because usually nothing comes of it. So I think the yellow cards for diving become unnecessary after a while. They fell down. They didn’t get anything out of the play, why stop and give them cards? This World Cup was awful in that regard. It wasn’t fun to watch because the whistle was blowing every two seconds and so often for dives. There was no flow to the games. There was no continuity.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say actually, it’s not unnecessary, and it’s a very real part of the game. If you’re a quality striker, outside of the box you’re going to get ruined, so why not take a dive inside the box?

Well, it’s ballsier to stand up and try and fight through it and try and score a goal, instead of taking the cheap way out and try and get a PK. Nobody wants to win on a PK.

It’s a cheap way out to make a professional foul in the middle of the field. You’re killing the play, either way. I think both are fair play, and I think the dive has its place in soccer. You just have to be skillful at it.

You mean hide it a little better.

Yeah, more Italy, less America.

3. What about yourself and your own playing experience, do you get the same kind of acting in the Ivy League?

Not to that extent. Diving especially, I’ve never seen it to be a huge problem in the Ivy League.

But have you ever intentionally taken a girl out?

Um, yeah I’m sure.

Was this like a tactical play or a personal thing?

Both. I mean there are the forwards in the Ivy League that everybody hates.

Such as?

Let’s see, Brown has a girl.

Can I get some names?

Um, they call her “Moose.” I don’t know. Tall and skinny.

Dirty hippies.

There were a couple on Princeton when I was a freshman.

Dirty preppies.

The big one that we don’t get along with is the Brown one. I don’t know why.

What’s her deal? You just shut her down, and she’s goes Zidane on your ass.

I don’t know, she’s just rude. Always talking.

I think a big part of the game that people only are starting to realize now with the Zidane head butt is the trash talking that goes on. What’s some of the best you’ve heard?

I haven’t heard anything very impressive. I try and stay away from that usually.

Nothing about your sister?

I wouldn’t say Materazzi was very creative with what he said.

But very effective.

4. How did you feel about the final result of the World Cup? Because personally I got over Italy knocking out the U.S. and then my Guido heritage started boiling up, and my hair started to get all oily, and I was just ecstatic.

[Chuckles awkwardly].

If I could pick a perfect World Cup ending, it would have been for those Perrier sipping, Sartre reading sissies, to first of all, have Zidane thrown out of the game for the most idiotic play I’ve ever seen, and then, have Italy for once in its life win a match in PKs. Forza Azzurri!

Yeah, when it got down to it I wanted Italy to win. At times, I thought France deserved to win that game. They had the better of the second half and the overtimes. I think it was awful of Zidane. He’s one of the world’s best players and that’s what he’s going to be remembered for and that’s not the first time he’s pulled shit like that. But, were you happy with them winning in PKs? Wouldn’t you have rather had them win, on the field, with Zidane playing for the full a 120 minutes?

Yeah I guess…

I mean I feel like it took something away from it.

I kind of like to see the French in tears. But I think a game has gotta end, and you looked at Italy in overtime, and there was just nothing left in the tank. They were trapped in back third. I think it’s a necessary evil.

Yeah, I was a big fan of Cannavaro for Italy.

Oh my God, my first-born son will be named Fabio Cannavaro Testa.

As a defender, playing the same position as Cannavaro, I was pretty excited to see it. I still can’t believe Zidane got the Golden Ball.

That was a travesty. Screw Zidane.

Yeah, Cannavaro was definitely the MVP of the tournament.

5. Let’s talk a little about you’re role on the team. You’re a junior, a captain, in a 4-4-2 you’d play sweeper, the last defender. How much pressure do you feel?

I put more of the pressure on myself than the coaches would ever put on me. Yeah I feel like a lot of it rides on how I play. I think people look to how I play and if I’m not playing well, they kind of feed off that.

I’ve heard you’re pretty competitive. Like you have to be the first one finished eating. So if was to thumb wrestle you right now who do you think would win?

Oh I’d definitely win.

Oh really? Prove it. Two-out-of-three.

Two-out-of-three?

All right, fine, straight thumb wrestling, elbows on the table, winner takes all. Ready?

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

I declare a thumb war.

[The match ended in a draw as Campbell failed to realize that whenever Testa talks to girls, his hands get incredibly sweaty]

All right we’ll call it a draw. I think I’ve dug my finger nails into you’re palm enough. We’ll save the rematch for another day.

I have a little arena at home you put your thumbs through.

6. Let’s talk a little bit more about your home life. I’m told you have a very interesting training diet, hitting all the five food groups from the bulk candy section at Wegman’s.

Haha, where did you get you’re information from?

I have my sources, and while they don’t have Wheat Thins at Shortstop, they do have Skittles [Now in limited edition ice cream flavors].

Ooh, my favorite.

See, this is what my predecessor lacked, or had too much of I guess, which is journalistic integrity. So for every embarrassing detail you tell me, I will give you a skittle. Tell more more about this –

Wait you’re gonna take the first one?

You want it back?

No.

Tell me more about your dining habits. Can you get all your vitamins from two pounds of starbursts at Wegman’s.

It’s [the candy section] my favorite section at Wegman’s

Yeah they’ve got the little Candy Land express train running around the top.

Yeah, and they’ve got a pretty good selection. I just eat a lot of candy. I don’t know.

You seem like you’re in pretty good shape.

Yeah, I’m usually pretty energetic. And I try and eat healthy the rest of the time. Like for a couple of days I’ll try to give up candy.

What’s your dentist say to you?

I don’t have any cavities.

I hate you.

That’s what my sister says, and she doesn’t eat that much candy and she has like five.

You’re some genetic sort of freak.

I got all the good genes in the family.

Do you cook ever?

No. Not at all. I tried to make rice the other day.

Rice is surprisingly tough.

It was minute rice though.

How long did it take?

Seven minutes, in the microwave, which might explain why it was so hard and crunchy when I took it out.

I think you should call Uncle Ben.

7. I’ve got something I want to tell you. I just want you to know, that this is my first time doing this with a girl.

[Nervously nods]

I mean I’ve done it before, once, last spring, with this guy on the tennis team. He told me he was in a house. He was nice, but he never called me…

[Slides chair away slowly]

So am I doing OK? Are my hands in the right spots?

You seem like you’re doing OK. You seem pretty comfortable.

Phewf.

8. Well, now that the awkwardness is out of the way, here’s the question I’ve always wondered about. I played soccer, but I was never a girl who played soccer, so I’m wondering, when you trap the ball off your chest — boobs — do they help?

[Laughs knowingly] We have this debate regularly at practice. One of goalies — we have a lot of chest trapping competitions — can just like hold the ball there. It’s very unfair; she can just like cup it.

I’d agree.

But I feel like it probably hurts more.

Yeah, but you’d take the pain for that kind of skill.

Yeah, it definitely looks a lot better when she does it.

9. Moving a little off topic —

[Still munching on Skittles] There’s pink in here?

[Snaps fingers] Focus.

Sorry, limited edition Skittles.

I think what the people, our readers (my mom basically) want to know is in a fight, tiger vs. bear, who wins?

Tiger vs. bear?

We’re talking like grizzly bear vs. bengal tiger.

I think the grizzly bear.

I would say the same exact thing. But people like the case of the of tiger. They say it’s quicker. It’s got more maneuverability. You know, speed vs. power.

But like a bear can climb trees, and stuff, they can fish they can do whatever they want.

Fish?! Is this bear going to lure the tiger into a trap with some fresh salmon?

A tiger can just like run away.

Have you ever seen
The Jungle Book?

I’ve seen The Jungle Book.

Tigers are pretty badass.

I know. I just don’t see them in a fight.

So the natural question from this is, can we get a guarantee of a victory over Princeton this year?

Yeah. On our home soil this year, I think we can do it.

Let’s talk about the team in general, because it seems like at least this past season, and in recent years, that you guys have a great non-conference record and then it comes to the Ivy League and the wheels just sort of fall off.

I think the main thing is that the teams in the Ivy League are always better than our preseason opponents, so I think our preseason record is sometimes a little misleading. But in my two years, I think the problem is that once we start losing we have a hard time getting back out of that slump. I think it’s been a mental thing with the team.

I mean it seems like you guys have the talent.

Yeah, I mean the talent, tactically and technically, is as good as the best in the Ivy League. Certainly in the top-4. I just think that mentally we just get discouraged really easily. We’re Cornellians and we ready for perfection every time and then as soon as we can’t be perfect it kind of throws us off.

[Cough] Brazil [Cough] How about your new head coach Gretchen Zigante and the new assistant coach Emily Wyffels ’05. How has the team responded to the new coaching staff?

I think the team has responded amazingly better than either Gretchen or Wyffels ever expected. I mean people were so excited for the change after last season, and so ready to do whatever Gretchen wanted us to do. She’s done a good job of just making sure that practices have been fun again. The biggest thing this spring was nobody wanted the spring to end, every day we’d get on the bus and go home from practice and be like “Wow, I had fun today.” What a novel idea to so many people that soccer could be fun again. And I think having Wyffels there, someone we’ve known as a friend, and as a captain, and now as a coach has made things easier to always have some to talk to.

Yeah, about that, I’d watch out because she’s been a great source of detailed 10Q’s info. She’s worried that you’re going to get diabetes.

I think I’m good. She tells me that a lot, but then she brings me a lot of candy, so it’s kind of her fault. She made me cookies the other night.

Really, all she sent me was an email.

10. What’s the hottest men’s team at Cornell? First off, my predecessor gave the ultimate props…

I know he chose us. Yeah we were excited with Per. All right, so, I saw this question coming.

Wait, are you dating anyone?

No. Completely unbiased.

Should we put a little personal ad in the paper?

Yeah we should, I would like that. You can work on that for me. Yeah, I don’t know this is a hard one.

Blah, blah, blah. Get to the point. You’ve had time for thinking, now it’s time for picking.

I’ve, thought pretty hard but to come up with an answer is hard.

Don’t give me this ‘my dog ate my homework’ crap. Just put it out there.

I discussed this with some people. We went through most of the teams.

Any teams ruled off straight off the bat? Hockey players, bad teeth maybe?

No we didn’t rule anybody out, but our team has very eclectic tastes. And so I got a lot of votes out, but I think we decided to keep it in the sport and throw it out to men’s soccer.

Goallllllllllllllll!!!!

Anybody who watched the world cup this summer know’s that soccer players are always the hottest.

I will counter with the Ronaldhino.

Well, OK, there’s an exception to every rule.

All right, men’s soccer. Anybody in particular on the team? I hear senior Dan Marks is pretty in demand, with his two Facebook groups and all.

No, I don’t think I want to name any names. Keep it out there as a general idea.

Ten Questions with Paul Testa will appear every Thursday, or until the women’s soccer team goes Wayne Rooney on his ass. Threats can be sent to pft4@cornell.edu.