April 13, 2010

Jeff K.’s 10 Questions With Warner Phipps

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In this week’s Special Edition web-only 10 Questions, Sun sex columnist Jeff K. (with limited input from Sun Sports Editor Alex Kuczynski-Brown) sits down with sophomore Warner Phipps, of wrestling fame. They discuss everything from crazy shenanigans in the townhouses (involving satellite T.V. and guinea pigs) to “Angel Wings” (it’s not what you think) and fellow wrestler Troy Nickerson’s Facebook fan page.

1. How did you end up wrestling for Cornell?

Well … I grew up in Nebraska so Cornell wasn’t really on my radar at all. I took a trip to the New York State Fair and so I stopped and visited –– and that was August of my senior year –– and I kind of liked it, liked the idea of going away from home. I didn’t want to go where all my high school teammates and everybody went. … Financial aid package worked out, so I could actually go to school here cheaper than if I stayed at home and went to Nebraska.

Alex: When you visited, was there something that really appealed to you about Cornell?

It was the luster of it. I wanted to be able to say ‘Yeah, I got into an Ivy League school,’  you know [laughing]. … My counselor told me I was [unqualified]. When I told him I was applying I was like ‘I need you to send my transcript to Cornell,’ and he’s like ‘You mean Cornell College in Iowa?’ and I was like ‘No, University.’ And he’s like ‘You won’t be able to get in there.’ I wasn’t stupid in high school, but he had seen my test scores. He knew.

2. I know when you were a freshman here you lived in the townhouses.

That’s true.

… and I hear there were a lot of escapades maybe involving getting satellite T.V. and things like that.

Yep. We were up here all Winter Break for wrestling, and we couldn’t stay in the townhouses so we were staying somewhere else and we wanted to have T.V. because for some reason we hadn’t bought it, but we had T.V. until November, and then all of a sudden we lost it. And when you have something and it gets taken away … we were so bored. So, Dish Network had this special going on … and yeah, I read through the townhouse rules, it never said anywhere that you couldn’t have a satellite dish. So the morning that everybody moved back in –– actually, it was the morning before that, or whatever –– I met the satellite guy there at like 7 a.m. so nobody would be around, and we mounted it right next to our front door. It’s a little obvious. They lasted nine days and then had to go speak to the J.A.’s about it.

It wasn’t in the rules then I guess?

They said –– because they have contracts with DirecTV and Time Warner –– to protect themselves, the ruling they pointed out in the contract we violated was we installed something within 12 inches of a window … that’s what we did wrong.

Was there something about hamsters?

[laughing] Guinea pigs, mm-hm. Technically they were never there, but [laughing] we had to keep moving them around. The cleaning people would find the wood chips on the ground and cuss at us and get all pissed. … We kept them in the bathroom most of the time ’cause that floor was easier to clean, and so then on Mondays when the cleaning people would come we’d have to run home from class and put them under our beds and pile all of our dirty clothes on there so they couldn’t see them.

Interesting adventures in the townhouses.

Yeah, they didn’t last very long. … We even bought all the extra Vitamin C drops for their water. They just … I don’t think this is a conducive environment for guinea pigs.

3. I was said to ask about “Angel Wings.”

Who did you talk to?!

[everyone laughing]


Oh my god. Yeah, I met this girl –– at a Sammy party I think it was –– the beginning of freshman year. She had angel wings tattooed across her back …

Alex [interrupting]: Wait, the phrase “Angel Wings” … ?

[laughing] No no no, actual wings! Tattooed on each shoulder.

Anything more than that?

Some stuff happened.

Did you find out about the angel wings before you met her, or a little bit after?

It was like an intrigue thing. Obviously downstairs at the frat, it’s dark, you can’t see a lot. But she had some other ink. She had something on each wrist. … We’d been dancing for awhile and I hadn’t noticed it. She was wearing like a strapless dress or something. She turned around and I was like ‘Is that wings?!’ So you could see, from my position, how I was instantly intrigued to find out more. … Later found out they were about six or eight inches tall … but she turned out to be a not-nice person. And it ended shortly after.

Ironic, with the angel wings.

I know, it was an interesting experience.

4. So I am wondering why you’re not a direct rival with Segway Kid, considering your modes of transportation around campus.

I mean I see him and I just don’t talk to him. I try to avoid him. I think my ride’s way sweeter [laughing]. I know it is. A Segway’s like … you can’t burn that out. You can’t ramp that. Yeah, you can ride it to class. But I can put some flags on mine, I can take it in the Statler.

You can?

I have.

That’s right! Was that just your first instinct when there was a talent portion of Ivy Man, to just ride your moped?

No, I was struggling to figure out what I was gonna do. … I’m pretty competitive, so I didn’t want to just half-ass anything. I was like ‘If I’m gonna do this, I’m not just gonna get up there and do something that’s not funny or anything.’ So I was originally thinking, there’s a YouTube video where this guy does the Evolution of Dance … and I was gonna redo that. But yeah, that’s just not original. And then, I don’t even remember, we were sitting in Trillium and something got said about Hulk Hogan’s theme song –– ‘I am a real American.’ I think it was on one of the Power Hour mixes, like DVD mixes somebody had on the team. So anyway, I was like ‘Yeah, I have to do something with that.’ It was one Saturday in the fall, we were behind the apartments down at Valentine, and I was ramping it a little bit, and we were like ‘You should ramp your scooter at the stage at Statler.’ Just kind of went from there. I was really surprised, I thought the stage was going to be bigger. I had never seen it and so not a lot of planning went into it.

I think your only downfall was that you almost set the stage on fire. If not for that, you had it locked up.


The flames were necessary. You can’t jump from a scooter without jumping over flames.

I mean, it just wouldn’t have been right.

5. I know a lot of wrestlers [are] great wrestlers, but in other sports … [laughing]. What would your sport be if it wasn’t wrestling?

I don’t know, I hate running so that’s out, and I can’t swim to save my life. I mean, kind of [laughing]. I haven’t died yet, but I’m terrible –– I get so tired.

You passed your swim test, right?

Yeah, I passed it, but my roommate and I last year were doing it and we thought it would be funny to just slow everybody up, so we were just taking our time. Like just barely swimming along. And then I got tired and I had to finish and I was struggling. I’m not actually a terrible swimmer, I just can’t swim very long. I think I just swim wrong and it wastes a lot of energy. And I’ve never played baseball … probably football I guess. I can’t play basketball, I can barely dribble. Football’s the only other thing I could do. Maybe golf.

No beach volleyball?

Beach volleyball, hmm, my vertical is terrible. I might be able to go 10 inches, I don’t know I can’t jump for anything. There’s a lot of things our team used to be into that I’m just like no thanks, I’m not really into volleyball. There’s been this whole transition, especially the seniors who graduated last year, they all were into the same things. So everybody did that. Now that they’ve graduated we’re all like ‘We didn’t like doing that, so we’re not going to do that anymore.’ I don’t think we played beach volleyball once this year.

What’s the new team consensus on things to do? And not go to Johnny O’s.

Yeah, we’ve had some fun from parties at Valentine. We try to do themes for them. One was a blacklight theme. The Catalina wine mixer was a very, very enjoyable time. There’s quite a few of the guys that like to golf, if the weather permits. Lot of guys play Halo; that’s a big time consumer. There’s a lot of time spent at Johnny O’s, though [laughing].

6. So we were talking about basketball. When you guys were in the NCAA tournament, and you guys got second place, that was when Cornell basketball was making its run. Did you guys feel like you were a little out of the spotlight when you guys did such a great job?

I wouldn’t say that. I mean, any wrestler you ever talk to, it’s not a limelight sport. It’d be the same thing if … I mean the women’s hockey team was in the national finals. They probably didn’t get as much publicity as they felt they would have if basketball hadn’t been getting it. I think in the end it was just Cornell was in the limelight a lot. … I don’t think too many of the guys on the team put much stock into that, you’re not really doing wrestling to be famous. You do it ’cause you like it. Sometimes when you don’t like it you still do it.

7. So we’ve got four weeks until Slope Day. And, well excuse the Cornell reference, but there are a lot of people on the fence about Drake. What would be the Warner Phipps perfect Slope Day?

Hmmm, the perfect Slope Day. Good weather, obviously. See, I’m biased. My music choice would get shut down automatically. I’d like a good country music singer. Garth, or I think even Kenny Chesney. He could play all his beat songs about summer. It would be a good time. People would wear straw hats, I could rock my cut-off jean shorts. Probably make a grand entrance on my scooter. And I’m 21 now, so I can drink in there. That will be a big plus for this year. I think that’s the biggest thing –– I think they need a little country brought in. Pussycat Dolls just didn’t do it last year. Asher, uh-uh, no.

You think Cornell could accept like a Rascal Flatts? I think that would be the closest we could get.

You think?

I don’t know, I mean Taylor Swift would be––

You could bring Taylor Swift and nobody’s going to complain. Yeah, I’m not a big Rascal Flatts fan. They’re a little too … one of my biggest pet peeves is poseur country folk, and I feel like that’s Rascal Flatts. They’re not that country. The hats they wear, that’s not a country hat. That’s something you’d buy at a western souvenir shop, or something like a novelty shop. Like, come on.

Billy Currington. Would you take that?

I’d take that.

8. Fair enough. So Alex said that your coach, Rob Koll, is very famous for one-liners and motivational speeches. Do you have a favorite?

[laughing] He’s got one joke, and he’ll tell it like 1000 times and it’s all the same punch line. He’ll be like ‘Two apples were hanging in a tree, and the one apple said to the other one, ‘I really wish that sun wouldn’t shine on me’ and then about that time a squirrel walked by and said ‘Yea I really hate the sunshine.’ And then the other apple goes ‘Holy shit talking squirrel.’ The punch line every time is ‘Holy shit talking something.’ … He’d just change it to anything. Like ‘Two chairs were sitting under this table––’ and you see it coming, too. He’ll get up there at the beginning of practice and he’ll be like ‘I’ve got a good one today’ and as soon as he starts everybody just knows what’s coming.

Alex: So it’s not even meant to be motivational?

Oh no, we never have motivational jokes. We had a real stud show up. He’s a freshman … real quiet, reserved kid. But he just turned out to be awesome with having a joke every day. Like he would call home and get some from his dad or whatever. … Koll didn’t like to get started until somebody at least said something. … [teammate Matt Panasevich] is a tremendous delivery person, he gets all into it with the hand gestures and stuff. But his are pretty raunchy. … The freshman boy, though, he stepped in and kind of took over so Koll didn’t have to say any for awhile. I was fine with that.

9. I had one more obvious thing to talk about. And maybe it could have started at the beginning, but I figured it deserves to be in the back … and that’s of course mullets. I mean, just anything you want to say?

I love mullets, I do. … I’m kind of paraphrasing his words, but you know the Vikings defensive end Jared Allen? He rocks an awesome mullet. And he says ‘You know it’s like the people in the 80s: they didn’t rock a mullet because they thought it was a sweet haircut. They did it ’cause they were bad ass.’ … And that’s what it’s all about. I cried when I had mine cut off. It was sad. I loved the attention of it. Like you walked around and everybody was like –– they’d never seen haircuts like that. I had a little bit different style mullet, I had a little curlier hair. I straightened it a few times before going out … you get a little bit different looks. … I have thought about bringing it back.

Why’d you have to cut it?

I did it before the holidays. … It survived a lot longer than I ever thought it was going to. I actually made it to my sister’s wedding with it. She made me pin it up, though. But I pulled the bobby pins out at the reception. … It had been there from March through December, and I snipped it off because grandmas didn’t really like it, either. I always heard about it. Not directly ‘You need to cut that,’ but those annoying minor references to how good you used to look.

It can always come back.

It can, and it takes a lot longer than I thought. I was thinking back … a mullet, like a really good one, too –– the awkward stages in between are what stink. … When it was fully grown out for me, yeah I was loving it. … But when you’re growing it out you’re kind of tired of dealing with this thing –– ‘I think I might just cut it off.’ You’ve gotta close out those negative thoughts.

10. I’m sure you were invited to this also, but what are your thoughts on Troy Nickerson making his own Facebook fan page?

Alex [interrupting]: Wait, he made it himself?!

Jeff [laughing]: I don’t know, I was invited to it by Troy.

It’s a good picture on it [laughing].

I thought about joining for a couple days, and then I saw Troy at Dunbar’s, talked to him, and then talked to him about it the next day.

What he’d say?

I was just like ‘Oh Troy I guess I can be a fan of you on Facebook now that we’ve had this whole conversation.’ He was just kind of like ‘Oh yeah, uh, yeah.’ I don’t know, he didn’t really have much to say about it.

At first when I was thinking about it –– I don’t know if you’ve ever seen his page, but he’s got like 2500 friends. Troy’s a stud, so all these little wrestlers from Ohio and Pennsylvania, they add him. They don’t know him. They just want to be like ‘I’m friends with Troy Nickerson.’ The thing to find out, though: is Troy a fan of Troy Nickerson? Has he fanned his fan page? That’s what I want to know.

We’ll get to the bottom of that.

Original Author: Jeff K.