September 15, 2005

10 Questions With Field Hockey Senior Natalie Serle

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After spending the weekend leading the women’s field hockey team to successive victories over Columbia and St. Francis, senior co-captain Natalie Serle crossed sticks with Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman.

1. It looks like both of us have oft-mispronounced names.
Yeah, how do you say yours? My friend and I have a bet.
It’s like “pear.” Who won?
I did.
I knew I liked you. I’m guessing that your last name isn’t “Surrrrl,” right?
Right, it’s “sur-LAY.” Actually, I’m a French countess.
You’re whaaaaaa??? Countess? As in servants and large country estates?
Yes, we used to own a fleet of ships in Holland.
Holland? Why the hell isn’t this kind of thing in the media guide? I’m not prepared to address nobility!
Yeah, I always win that fun-fact “break the ice” game in class.
Do you own a corset? Are you wearing one right now?
Unfortunately, no.

2. Okay, m’lady, I want you to be honest: How hard is it to resist the temptation to misuse your hockey stick?
Whoa, let me think about that for a minute … you know, I’ve never actually had that temptation.
Oh, come on.
No, really! Misuse my stick? I was not expecting that type of question.
We like to keep people on their toes here at The Sun.
I mean, I’ve shoved a few girls before.
But you’ve never full-on whacked anyone? Never used your stick as a club? You’ve never wanted to?
No, no I haven’t.
This must be your fine aristocratic countenance showing through. Very prim, very proper. It just wouldn’t do to hit someone about the head. Bad form.
Very true.
Have you ever seen this kind of thing happen in a game, though? Has anyone ever lost control like that?
No, never. I’ve been hit in the face with a stick before, but I don’t think it was intentional. I got seven staples and 29 stitches.
Do you have problems with metal detectors?
No. I don’t think I have a scar or anything anymore.
Oh yeah. You can’t even tell.

3. Once and for all, is it a skirt or a kilt? You’ve played some lacrosse as well, so I’m taking you as the expert on this issue.
Kilt. Definitely a kilt.
Is there really any difference?
I feel a skirt is more of a single unit. A kilt, you button it up. So, sometimes it unwraps.
Do you have experience with this?
Actually, my kilt fell off during a game once, and I was running around for a little while in just spandex. It was rather embarrassing.
So, you guys do wear stuff under your kilts? You don’t go for the more traditional Braveheart look?
Oh, no. Definitely not.
Does Scotland have a good field hockey team?
I think Holland has the best one. I’m not sure that Scotland has a team.
Ah, Holland. Good ships in Holland. Serviceable ports.
Oh, stop.

4. Most people don’t realize that field hockey is a popular international sport, and is played by men, too. Why hasn’t the men’s game caught on in the United States?
On the west coast, actually, there are a few men’s teams, more than on the east coast. And I know a few guys from rival high schools who tried to get on a team. But I guess it’s kind of how we don’t really like soccer here as much as they do abroad.

5. The nomenclature of “field hockey” suggests that it should be played on a “field.” Or, in other words, “on grass.” Or, in even more words, “not on Astroturf.” Which do you prefer? Why is field hockey always played on an artificial surface?
Grass is so much more unpredictable. Like the ball can hit a divot and pop right over your stick.
Yes, but isn’t that part of the game? Isn’t uncertainty part of the essence of sport?
But it’s so much prettier on turf. I can’t even stand watching a game that’s on grass now.
Do you seriously want to go on the record as saying that Astroturf is prettier than grass?
I do, yes. It’s so much cleaner on turf. I can’t even fathom playing on grass anymore.
No pesky grass stains for your maidservant to wash out of your kilts, eh?

6. Respond to the phrase, “chicks with sticks.”
Yeah, I don’t know where you guys came up with “Stickwoman.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn’t come up with this. Don’t lump me in with those “guys.” I’m merely an impartial journalist.
It’s awful. Absolutely awful. I just – ugh – it burns my ears. Wait, are you writing “Stickwoman?” Are you writing this down right now? I don’t want you to spread this around!
Look, I’m going to have to mention it. I can’t offer you retroactive “off-the-record” status. Besides, I’ve never even heard of “Stickwoman.” I asked about “chicks with sticks.”
Well, I guess that happens, but “Stickwoman” is the one that bothers me.
Why? Do you feel it’s derogatory?
No, not derogatory. I’d just never heard that until I came here … “Stickwoman, Stickwoman!” I just don’t like it.
It seems like it’s more a word that guys use.
Yeah, none of us ever refer to each other as “Stickwomen.” It’s like calling baseballers “batsmen.”
Or calling them “baseballers.”

7. Freshman Alyssa DePaola was just named Tompkins County Trust “Athlete of the Week.” Just how good is this freshman class?
They’re great. It’s hard though, because they outnumber the three other classes.
Yeah, is it difficult leading a team that is 50 percent freshman?
Well, they’ve been forced to step into roles and perform almost immediately, and they’ve done that pretty well. They’re all delights. I like them.

8. So, your freshman are delightful. Apparently, the entire male population of Cornell thinks so, too.
Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard.
Two weeks ago in this space, I was vehemently assured that the field hockey team was the hottest on campus, and that your freshmen were largely responsible for this. Are they really that hot? Are we all missing something by not coming to your games?
I’m going to sound very, very cocky when I say this, but the Cornell field hockey team is the hottest women’s team on campus. It was an accolade that was long overdue.
That’s fine – we like “cocky” here at 10 Questions. Just last week, an equally cocky women’s soccer player made a similar claim about her team. I’m assuming you disagree with this?
I do.
She also said that her team could kick your team’s ass.
Yeah, they mentioned that they have balls, but they forgot that we also have balls. Theirs are filled with air. Ours are like boulders.
Yes, but yours are smaller.
Right, smaller and harder.
Yeah, but they have larger balls.
It’s not the size of the balls in the fight.
So, size doesn’t matter?
The size of the balls doesn’t matter.
Ah. Okay, then. Let’s take your balls out of the equation. Make it a fair fight. They’ve got some tall girls on that team and, of course, “soccer legs.” Can you still win?
Hey, we’ve got some 5-10ers on our team. And we’ve also got some little nuggets who will run around and-
Whack people in the knees?
Yeah, things like that.
Okay, so what’s the hottest men’s team at Cornell?
I could go the cliche route and say lacrosse or baseball or soccer – which is the body type I like – but I think I’m going to go with the darkhorse and say football.
How is football the darkhorse??? [Unintelligible screaming] On what mythical plane of existence is football the darkhorse???
No, they’re underappreciated!
Underappreciated? I can’t even dignify this with a response.
They have the best personalities –
[Hysterical laughter]
No, they’re good kids, though.
Oh, I know. They’re wonderful kids.
Hey, they’re the biggest team. I like those odds.

9. Who’s playing you in Cornell Field Hockey: The Movie?
Hmm … should I go with “pretty?” Should I go with “talented?”
I’d probably go for bot

I don’t really have a favorite actress … I kind of went through a Kate Winslet phase last year. We didn’t have cable for a semester, and all we had was a tape of the second half of Titanic.
I’m so, so, so sorry.
I memorized every single line. It was a dark point in my life.
Are you like me? Didn’t you think that she should have been the one in the water at the end? I mean, she had a good 50 pounds on DiCaprio at that point. She could have lasted much longer.
Oh, totally. And I’m sure there was another door floating around somewhere.

10. If you could have either the ability to fly, the power of invisibility, or the strength of 100 men, which would it be, and why?
I would choose flight. With the strength of 100 men, you’d just get bored. All you’d do is lift things, and that’s your fun for the day. Flight would just be such a rush all the time.
Are you an adrenaline junkie?
Yeah. Well, no. I don’t like rollercoasters.
What? So you’re going to have the power to fly and just hang out two feet off the ground?
Well, I guess I’d be okay with the flying because I’d know that I was in control.
So, it’s all about control?
Oh, yeah.

10 Questions With Per Ostman will appear weekly, or until he gets fired. He swears that he’ll interview a guy next week. Suggestions, complaints, and threats should be sent to

Archived article by Per Ostman
Sun Senior Writer