Former Sun Staff Photographer Tina Chou called up the 2011-2012 equestrian team, wanting to know more about each of its members. What better way to learn more about a person than to ask her teammates, right?
Which of your teammates have unusual talents, hobbies or activities and what are they?
Okay, um that’s hard, everybody has some really weird talents. There are some weird girls on my team, including myself, I’m sure. Okay so I’m gonna go ahead and start with Erika Hooker. Beyond the fact that her last name is Hooker, which is pretty sweet, um ... she could pretty much barbecue roadkill and still make it like, you know, five-star cuisine. She can barbecue better than any guy I’ve ever seen and she loves it. So that’s my secret talent girl.
—Bronwyn Scrivens ’12, Open
Naz Behzad … One of her special talents is that she is a trained assassin and has a black belt in jujitsu, but actually she’s not good at that stuff at all or tough because I beat her up all the time. She’s kinda a little bit like a ninja though because her hair color is black, but another thing she’s really good at is giving super horrible random pointless advice. A funny story was when we were on our way to Nationals, we actually named our GPS after her because it was confusing everyone very badly, giving bad directions kind of like how Naz gives bad advice, so we were like screaming at Naz all week even though she wasn’t there with us.
— Mary Beth Hannon, Sophomore in Advanced Walk, Trot, Canter
Well, Caroline Rusk, or “Carl” as we fondly call her, has a fascination with birdwatching, and not your run-of-the-mill look out your window and stare at some birds. She actually goes on like day trips to watch birds, I guess, and did research with birds last summer. I also know she has chickens at her house, so I guess day-to-day she just has an avian obsession.
— Emily Kowalchik, Senior in Intermediate
Well I’d like to say that as a team first, we all collectively are trendsetters. We bring the Ralph Lauren look to Cornell. And then I’d like to talk first about Georgi (de Rham) and say that her special skill is the consumption of peanut butter and because of all her protein consumption she’s the fastest stall cleaner ever … she picks up poop really fast. For Mary Beth (Hannon), I want to say that her special skill is she can get her swoll on. She’s the most jacked on our team, which is surprising because she’s also a ginger, so not because she’s small, because she’s a ginger. Also, I’d like to talk about Alyx (Cheng) and her special skill is that she’s really good at the downward dog position in yoga.
— Nazanin Behzad, Senior formerly in Intermediate Fences and Novice Flat
I’m going to talk about Caroline Rusk first. I call her Carl — um, her name is Carl, but I want to say how good she is at writing poetry. She started her haiku career when she was only 9, but now she’s published in three different countries and actually Obama included some of her work in his inauguration speech. She also illustrates her poems with My Little Pony drawings, which she actually colors herself but they’re really good. Her boyfriend does a few too. She uses crayon to color in the lines, but she probably does it the best out of anyone in this world. And her apartment is also covered in her My Little Pony drawings, it’s not really like an activity but more of a lifestyle.
Charmaine is the next biggest character, or the biggest character, on this team. No, Charmaine’s the biggest character on this team. She actually doubles as a full-time car mechanic, and I’m actually not lying or extrapolating on this one, she’s actually a full-time car mechanic. She tried to sell her car to the team, a car salesman. This is all to cover up for her Mafia background, she’s part of the Singaporean Mafia and makes numerous threats to people on the team … She’s part of the Mafia and our whole team’s actually a little bit afraid of her. She beat me up once and that’s not a joke either, she broke my knee cap so I had to take like 6 months off from riding. But, I’m glad there was no permanent damage done. She’s on the same assassin squad at Naz Behzad, they’re part of the Singaporean Mafia. Naz is actually Singaporean but she doesn’t realize it yet.
— Emily Webster, Senior in Open
One of my teammates has the habit of always eating dessert first — Mary Beth Hannon. And, she usually starts her dinner with some banana cake, vanilla ice cream, sliced bananas and butterscotch sauce.
— Georgiana de Rham, Sophomore in Intermediate
I wanted to talk about Zofia (Hilton) and she’s a really great baker. She makes cakeballs, which sounds kind of dirty but they’re actually delicious balls of cake covered in white chocolate or chocolate. She’s also a cat whisperer. Zofia also comes to practice with scratches all over her body from her cat, from practicing her cat whispering. And Katie Fink is really great at calligraphy, her handwriting is impeccable. She also is a pro at turning out the lights since Lights Off Cornell, and Katie has a talent for undoing bras — other people’s bras, without them realizing it. It’s pretty sneaky. Like while they’re wearing them, without putting her hands underneath their shirt, from the outside. And last I’m going to talk about Emily Webster. She and I go running together and she’s always the one whose pushing me to run like Seabiscuit — a very fast and motivated runner, and she ran a marathon like a week ago, so she’s training for her next one next month.
— Caroline Rusk ’12, Open Fences and Intermediate Flat
Naz (Behzad) has some pretty special skills. She’s this really great professional videographer. She’s working on the documentary — well, it might be more like a mockumentary, of CUET (Cornell University Equestrian Team). She’s pretty much always there, like one of those reality TV shows where the camera’s rolling 24/7 and you have no privacy… So it’s very much more like a reality TV show than a documentary because we just don't have any privacy when she’s around. But, besides the videography, she’s also a choreographer. She has like these really baller dance moves and they’re very like, subtle, but she whips them out and you’re like “Damn, what just happened?” So that’s Naz. Then I wanted to talk about Emily Webster. So she’s really good at like stripping, but mostly in Mann Library. I don’t know if you’ve been to the fourth floor, but there's actually a pole there; she spends a lot of time stripping in Mann Library. But besides that, I think that for Webster, if this whole med school thing doesn’t work out for her, she would have a really great career in shoe-polishing at the airport. So, at least she has that as a back-up plan. And the last girl I want to talk about is Grace (Bradshaw). Grace is like a beautiful fine artist. She’s so meticulous and pays so much attention to detail when she paints jumps.
— Katie Fink ’12, Open
Emily Webster is really obsessed with safety pins, and one time, because we host our own shows twice a year and Binghamton usually brings horses because we don't have enough to host the show on our own, … someone tried to take one of her safety pins and she threatened him with death if he didn’t bring them back the week after. So, he brought her a box of new ones the next time we saw each other at a show … Who else has weird habits? … Georgi de Rham. We can never find her and she’s always eating peanut butter. Oh, Charmaine Tan is the Godmander. Like, Charmander but God instead of Char. There is a conspiracy that she’s part of the Singapore Mob … Um, we’re all up before daybreak on a regular basis so it definitely takes a special kind of crazy to do that. All the sane brain cells have kind of left us at this point … Also, Naz Behzad taught us all that in the Jay-Z song, when he says “That’s Kray” it’s not crazy, it’s like The Kray Brothers and she was like really really insistent that we all get our act together.
— Alyx Cheng, Junior in Open Flat and Fences
Okay, well Alexa (Bruer) has a very peculiar talent … and that is taking her clothes off. Whenever we’re on the bus at horse shows, she can get changed faster than anyone else on the team. It’s a weird talent … Who else can we talk about?
Bronwyn (Scrivens). She is strangely good at showing up in every picture that Pixel has ever posted on the Internet … That’s true, actually, any team picture really, as well. Yeah, she has a very strange talent of doing that. She shows up in every team picture we’ve ever had. It’s weird, you like can’t get rid of her, she’s like Waldo …
— Erika Hooker, Senior in Novice Flat and Fences
Well I was going to say that an interesting hobby Erika (Hooker) has is, um, she has this strange hobby of picking up beastly-like men … um, in particular, Tarzan-like men, who tend to show up in the middle of the night at the team house and climb through bedroom windows to find her at about midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and … I don’t know, she just has this strange fascination with men that kind of look like Tarzan and act like Tarzan. So, she tries to find them wherever possible.
— Alexa Bruer, Senior in Intermediate
One of my teammates Thea Dickson likes to knit and write novels in her spare time. I know she loves to do both of these and she actually just finished writing a novel last semester that I haven’t read yet. I know she was really excited about it and I personally can’t wait to read it! And Amanda Fan, her unusual talent is that … I’ve talked to her before and she’s never had any artistic lessons or anything and I’ve taken classes with her and when she doodles … it’s amazing! Like she’s an amazing sketch artist and that’s her kind of thing she likes to do in her free time. Her drawings are incredible. I think her sketching is her true talent.
— Zofia Hilton, Senior in Advanced Walk, Trot, Canter
So this is kind of like a talent but it’s really a non-talent — Emily Webster cannot cook. Like, she cannot boil water, she really really cannot do anything that involves a stove. She can’t turn her stove on. Another weird one would be Zofia Hilton. She’s going to be one of our captains starting next year; she makes amazing cakeballs. Erika Hooker, she can clean stalls, go over an entire stall in 5 minutes and it’s an amazing talent that I would love to have. Naz (Behzad) is really good at not shutting up, that was the other thing.
Caroline (Rusk) is our voice of reason. Oh, and the other thing about Caroline is that she basically like, she basically takes care of all of us and she keeps us from going off the loony bin. Thea (Dickson) is really good at walking around like a zombie on zero hours of sleep. Alyx (Cheng) and Bronwyn (Scrivens) are obviously really good at being tall … Oh and the other unusual thing is that Mary Beth Hannon, she’s a redhead, and therefore she has no soul. Also Georgi (de Rham) is never there. Whenever you have a team thing, like a gathering or like a cheer, she’s never there, or like a picture, she’s always off somewhere else, so she’s good at disappearing. That’s her talent, and she’s always in a totally legit place whenever she’s like doing it, but she’s just never there. I don’t know how it happens, it’s like she just vanishes. Poof, puff of smoke, don’t know how she does it.
— Charmaine Tan ’12, Beginner Walk, Trot, Canter
Okay, well I want to talk about Naz (Behzad) ... she has this thing about recording videos, and so instead of recording our show rides silently, like everyone does, she does this play-by-play thing — like a sports commentator. And after (Coach) Chris (Mitchell) reviewed one of her videos, she wasn’t allowed to record for the team ever again. But that doesn’t stop her because, if you’re ever on the bus with her, and you turn your head, it won’t be surprising if she has an iPhone in your face, like that happened to me once. And then another person I want to talk about is AmFan (Amanda Fan). She [was] a senior and she has a talent that anyone would be jealous of because she can eat like no other, like anytime, anywhere, and anything — and she won’t gain a pound from it.
— Katie Rong, Senior in Walk,Trot
My friend and teammate Mary Beth Hannon has a really weird talent of telling us these very awkward reproduction facts that she learned about in all her vet classes? And she’ll say it at a very awkward time during team stuff and they’re all really gross and and we’re all like “Awww, Mary Beth!”
— Renee Botelho, Sophomore in Beginner/Advanced Walk, Trot, Canter
Rachel (Ruden) and I share a love of “herping,” which totally sounds kinda ... suspect, I know. But it’s really just going out catching frogs and salamanders and snakes, I swear! Leads to a bunch of odd nights in the cold out in the middle of nowhere, getting weird looks from people. Fun times. Thea has some pretty sweet knitting skills and makes all these cool hats and little animals. And Maddie speaks in a British accent. That has to count for something!
— Amanda Sevcik, Junior in Novice
So I would say that Emily Webster is like a cat whisperer. All the cats are drawn to her. Mona, our barn cat, won’t leave her alone and follows her around absolutely everywhere. It’s like she has a special connection with them that no one else has ... Naz (Behzad) has really good navigational skills. If we’re lost she'll get us anywhere. We got lost in Ohio when we were going to North Carolina and she got us to North Carolina.
— Sofia Steinberger, Sophomore in Intermediate
One of my teammates, Amanda Sevcik, really likes Volkswagen buses and ... every time she sees one she likes to take pictures with them. Or ... you know, she just likes to collect pictures of them and she wants to have one one day ... Also, Becca Harrison and I took the same freshman writing seminar with the same professor, but at different semesters, so we like to talk about it — it was a Shakespeare writing seminar — and I make fun of her that she’s going to marry the TA who taught it. And we like to watch Shakespeare films together and stuff like that. So we’re both kind of Shakespeare-obsessed!
— Thea Dickson, Junior in Beginner Walk, Trot, Canter
Well, there’s Katie Rong, um, she has this telepathic connection with the TCAT bus drivers ... or something. And she can tell you how to get to Oxley any time of the day off the top of her head. Like “Oh yeah, Route so-and-so will be heading to Statler in about 8 minutes.” And she’s basically more reliable than the bus schedule. That’s her talent. And then there’s Charmaine — also known as The Charmander — whose really good at getting her car to start. Like every morning she can be seen like before practice with a flashlight and the hood up fiddling around with her car ... And then there’s Renee (Botelho) and she’s really good at knowing when I have slept through my alarm and I owe it to her that I was awake for most practices at 6 AM.
— Caitlin Parrucci, Sophomore in Novice
So I think I have two. First, one of our captains, Emily Kowalchik. She’s like crazy superstitious and I’ve lived with her in our team house on Cook for some time. For example, she wears nail polish all of the time, but on nights before our competitions you would find her freaking out about needing to take it off. She won’t show with it, but always dominates, so it must work. Maybe more of us should try. Also, Thea Dickson’s nickname is “Super Thea” because she’s always doing a million things at once. But, most people, even most teammates, don’t know that she participates in National Novel Writing Month every November for more years than I know. So, while making it to her 15 jobs and 5:45 a.m. practices, she somehow finds time to write books and even sometimes go to class.
— Becca Harrison, Junior formerly in Novice
My roommate for the past 2 years, Alexa (Bruer), since I live with her I kind of get to see a different side of her. ’Cause everybody sees like her really strong personality on the team and I don’t think anybody really knows about her secret flute-playing talent? So there was this one night when I heard music coming from her bedroom and I walked in the room and it was like midnight and she was watching this Pirates of the Caribbean video on YouTube and playing along on her flute to the music. And that’s pretty much the only talent I know about anybody on my team.
— Brianna Boub, Senior in Advanced Walk, Trot, Canter