April 21, 2004

Questioning the Crewmen

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In the wake of the lightweight crew’s victory over Princeton and Rutgers last Saturday, Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman sat down with the clown princes of lightweight rowing — seniors Drew Tennant and Tom Hendrix.

1. Why shouldn’t “lightweight” be considered a derogatory term?

Tom: Because pound-for-pound we can hang with any athlete on campus.

Drew: Yeah, we’re just as fast as any of the heavyweight rowers. It’s just that we’re four inches shorter.

And 50 pounds lighter.

T: Hey, we’re bigger than the guys who wrestle in the 125 pound weight-class.

Remember that Travis Lee won a national championship at 125 pounds.

T: Yeah. (pause) I guess he’d make a good coxswain.

Is the weight-loss tougher on rowers or on wrestlers?

T: I think it’s tougher for wrestlers because they have to make weight so much more. We only have to weigh in five times. And we don’t have to be an exact weight, the boat average is what matters. Wrestlers have to be closer to that number.

D: I don’t know, I think it’s harder for us. We can’t just go up in a weight-class when our bodies grow. You get stuck in that no-man’s-land of 160 to 185 pounds and it’s over.

2. Describe your weight-loss plan.

T: When we come back from summer, we have an extra nutrition lecture in addition to all the Cornell “nutrition,” “alcohol,” and “study habits” seminars that athletes have to go to. But it really picks up over the Florida trip during winter break. We have a discussion with [head coach Todd Kennett ’91] about nutrition and eating right. What foods to eat, what kind of calories to eat.

Do you guys count your calories?

D: Yeah, we keep a food journal.

T: Todd will go over everything with us, review our diets, and make suggestions.

Any tricks for getting over the hunger pangs?

D: Drink a lot of water. It will make you feel fuller for a while.

You go to the bathroom a lot, huh?

T: If you eat the right kind of calories, it’s really not so bad.

D: I eat a lot of filling foods, like plain oatmeal. That’s my big trick. It doesn’t taste like anything at all.

T: It’s easier than people think because everyone else is doing it with you. You’re on a team sport with other guys and you go through it together.

D: It’s just about making sacrifices, like eating fruit instead of potato chips. All those lame things that nutritionists suggest, we actually do — “Instead of having a tasty candy bar, have a piece of fruit and a handful of cereal.” What? This doesn’t taste like a candy bar! This sucks!

T: “Eat a lot of Grape Nuts, because they taste like cardboard.”

3. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to lose weight quickly?

T: Pooping.

D: Erging [rowing on a rowing machine] or going for a run before we get on the bus to travel to sweat out an extra two pounds. Dude, don’t say “pooping” or everyone will think you take laxatives.

T: You’re right. Only natural. All-natural pooping. Selling a kidney.

D: We always joke about giving blood before weighing in and then reinjecting it.

You guys are sick. So, is the Atkins Diet full of shit?

T: Yeah, especially if you’re an athlete. You need carbohydrates to recover and give you energy. We’re naturally omnivores, we’re designed to eat everything.

D: You need a quick source of energy or else you’ll just end up over-processing protein or something. It’s not so much what you eat necessarily, it’s how much.

Yeah, didn’t Atkins die of malnutrition or something?

T: I think it was something with his heart. They said it was unrelated to the diet.

Sure it was.

4. Your coach is a unique individual. What is your favorite Todd Kennett story?

(long pause)

D: There’s so many …

T: When he goes hunting, he names the deer that he kills.


T: Everyone is going to take that the wrong way.

D: He doesn’t hunt for the killing, he hunts to be close to nature. He’ll stalk the same deer all day or whatever, so he gives it a name.

T: Doesn’t he hunt with a bow, too?

D: I don’t know, there’s so many classic Todd stories, but I can’t think of any that we can say in print.

Ok, let me put it this way — Between a grizzly bear and Todd, who would win in a fight?

T: The bear.

Where’s your faith?

D: Definitely Todd. He wouldn’t quit until he was dead. And Todd would be armed.

T: Yeah, he’s a fighter.

5. In my interview two weeks ago with women’s tennis player Akane Kokubo, she mentioned that the lightweight rowers were “kind of ugly.”

T: I think she slipped up. She didn’t mean it.

That’s way too diplomatic to be how you actually feel.

D: Has she seen the football team? I mean, come on. We can’t bench 300 lbs, but we don’t have huge guts either.

T: We don’t have any fatties on our team. Best abs on campus.

D: Why are we the ugly ones? Cornell’s not exactly filled with beautiful people. We lift with the lacrosse team all the time. Nobody’s making calendars out of those guys.

6. That said, what is the hottest women’s team at Cornell?

T: Soccer, maybe lacrosse.

D: Lacrosse is pretty good. There’s this lacrosse girl in my gym class who got a black eye. She was unbelievably hot.


D: The black eye is gone now, and it’s not the same. For some reason, that made her outrageously attractive.

Words escape me.

D: It’s a boxing class, so if her partner slipped one day and gave her a shiner again…I’m not the only one in the class who thinks this.

T: I’d like to say that I’m not in that gym class.

So, if you were dating this girl and her black eye faded away…

D: Oh, I’d never take direct action. But I’d encourage her to get into fights on the lacrosse field.

That’s comforting to hear.

7. What is “The Mystery House?”

T: 424 Dryden Road. What is it, nine? Nine guys. All former or current lightweights. It’s the most run-down piece of property ever.

D: It’s cheap.

T: It’s where all of our famous parties are now. We used to have a contingent on Oak, but that’s gone.

D: The guys who used to live there were always late to practice, and one day Todd said, “It’s a mystery how they ever make it here at all,” or something. The name just stuck.

T: We have a sign out front and everything. And the house is the brightest, ugliest blue in all of Collegetown. It’s right across the street from — are they football guys?

Yes, I believe so.

T: Yeah, they always play baseball in the street.

D: I’ve heard they drink sometimes.

8. If you could have the ability to fly, the power of invisibility, or the strength of 100 men, which would you choose?

D: No one wants to be invisible. The only thing you can use it for is sneaking into women’s locker rooms. Once you’ve had a girlfriend, it’s not that appealing.

T: I’d go with flight. Remember the movie “The Boy Who Could Fly”?


T: I wanted to be him.

D: Having the strength of 100 men is the way to go, because I bet you could jump really far, so that would be like flying. And then you’d be really strong so you could kick the flying guy’s ass.

T: If you put that strength in the boat, that means the boat would have the strength of 107 men.

D: Yeah, we could go really fast.

T: Then, if you had two guys in the boat with the strength of 100 men, that would be like 206 men.

D: And three would be 305 men…

Are you guys engineers?

T: Yes.

D: Why do you ask?

T: How do you know if an engineer has an outgoing personality?

I don’t know.

T: He looks at YOUR shoes when he talks to you.


T: All the stereotypes are true. Everybody in the engineering school is short and smells terrible.

D: We’re at least guaranteed to take one shower a day after practice. That’s more than I can say for our counterparts.

T: Come down to the Excel lab in Carpenter Hall. Around prelim time.

D: It’s worse than the locker room.

9. Rowing is one of the f
ew varsity sports where women can compete on the men’s team. What is it like having coxswains like Ellie and Mary Ellen around?

T: It keeps us cleaner. I don’t really think it matters to them much, though. All we do is subject them to crude humor. But they seem to roll with the “punches,” eh Drew?

D: Shut up.

I haven’t seen any shiners around the boathouse.

D: We’re really not that offensive. The worst that it gets is something like, “Shut up and steer the boat already!”

There is a perception floating around our society that women don’t drive well. Does this carry over to coxing?

T: Actually, I think our male coxes steer worse than the women. So it’s reversed.

10. If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?

T: The Coors Light Twins.

That’s only two. Who would you take as your wingman?

D: Me!

T: I’d like to give a shout-out to Dave Coors.

Didn’t they row here?

T: Pete, Adolph, and Adolph? I don’t know. I think Dave plays lacrosse.

Either way, I don’t think you’re getting hooked up.

Archived article by Per Ostman
Sun Senior Writer