September 27, 2007

10 Questions With Amy Gordon

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When I [Sun columnist Drew Webb] arrive to interview volleyball senior co-captain Amy Gordon, I find that she has brought me a bag of chocolates that she got from Tasti-D-Lite. In them are chocolate covered animal crackers. I eat them.

1. Even though we are both athletes, I’m not going to take it easy on you. Prepare for the hard-hitting questions that everyone else is afraid to ask. On a scale of 1–to-10, how would you rate my columns?
[Hesitates] Ummm, 10?
You didn’t sound too sure there, have you read them before?
I’m sure I have. When are they?
Oh, then I have. I always do the crossword puzzle on Mondays.
They must have made quite the impression on you because that is right where they are next to.

2. How many times during a match do you hear the cheer, “Bump, set, spike it, that’s the way we like it?”
[Laughs] Up until just now, I haven’t heard that since I was thirteen.
I think I’m going to put in that you laugh at everything I say. Wait, I thought that that cheer was a big part of the volleyball culture.
I mean, as kids, yeah. We did lots of cheers then. But not anymore.

3. I was reading your bio, and it said that you have had 23 digs, four kills and 121 assists this year. Just in technical terms, what are digs, kills and assists?
A dig is when the other team hits the ball over the net, and you are the one to hit it first. So, basically you keep it in play. A kill is when you hit the ball over the net, and the team can’t get to it. Every time the ball crosses the net, it will either be a kill or a dig for one of the teams. An assist is when you are the person who hits the ball to your teammate before she makes a kill. The assists are my job.
So that’s the “bump it” part? No, I mean, the “set it” part.
That doesn’t sound too hard. Your teammates are diving to keep the ball in play while you just set it up for your other teammate to make the kill.
It’s actually very hard because I have to what we call, “put the ball in a better place,” meaning I have to run all over the court to make sure that I set the ball nicely for my teammate.

4. Now, you guys just got back from California, how did that go?
It was a lot of fun. It provided great experience, especially for our freshman girls playing against that type of competition. We didn’t win our two matches, but I definitely think it has helped us prepare for our upcoming Ivy League matches.
And those are the important ones?
Yeah, they are the only ones that really matter because almost never does a team from the Ivy League get an at-large-bid, so you basically have to win the Ivy’s, which we have done all of my three years so far.

5. What is your favorite [Strength and Conditioning] coach [Tom] Howley quote?
[Laughs] Probably, “It’s a beautiful day.”
But you have to add the “Mmmm” before the quote and the “Ughhh” after it.
Oh yeah. I think it’s my favorite because during the offseason we have two seven a.m. workouts a week, and he always will say that when it’s like negative five outside. But coach likes us to get excited when we work out, so we are always saying things like “Let’s go Red.” Sometimes, if there is a silence in a class that a few of us are in, then we will shout that out.
Nice. I don’t think we’ve ever done that, but my vernacular has definitely changed since I’ve been here.
Yeah. I’m convinced that coach Howley is one of the reasons that we have been successful. For instance, he always makes sure that we run through the line when we are doing sprints. But it’s not just through the line; it’s like three yards past it. He watches it so that it’s like an electric fence.
A lot of our success is owed to him too. He doesn’t get enough credit in the media.
Along those same lines, and this is something that I think surrounds most female sports, how do you deal with femininity and weightlifting? I mean, hmmm, I don’t even know how to say it. I probably should have thought up these questions before talking to you.

I know what you are saying. I remember being worried before I came up here because lifting weights and conditioning three times a week, you know, I didn’t want to bulk up like a man. But if anything, I think that it has given me confidence to hang out with the guys.
Really? That’s interesting because I have never thought of that before.
Well, I’ve always been sporty, so I like being in shape. For instance, when I was little, I was Sporty Spice for Halloween. Plus, volleyball isn’t the most masculine sport. Even the outfits are spandex shorts.
I’m still waiting for when we change to that. Maybe be like the wrestlers who only wear spandex shorts when they work out. Always been jealous of them.

6. So, you’re an AEM major. What plans do you have for after college?
I’m actually dealing with that right now. I have a lot of upcoming interviews. But I think I want to go into consulting.
What would you consult on? Financial situations?
Right. For instance, if a company is in trouble or if it wants to move to a smaller office, then they would ask you for your advice. And based on your past experience you would tell them what you think is best for them.
And just coming out of college you have lots of experience to help them with.
[Laughs] No, I mean, I would look at what has been the result when other companies have done the same thing.
That always seemed paradoxical to me — you are having money troubles, so you are going to pay even more money to another company just to get their advice.
Some companies are ridiculous in how much they charge their clients. I think it is a posh thing, having a consulting firm help your company.
My dad retired a few years ago after having worked at J.P. Morgan Chase for over thirty years, and at the time, he thought he would still want to work. So, he started his own consulting firm and incorporated himself. He’s spent all of his time since then doing nothing. If he doesn’t make money soon, I think he’ll get audited by the IRS. Plus, whenever people ask him about how his company is doing, I always have to hear him say, “We’re right on target … (Wait for the person to ask what that target is)… zero, but that’s what my projected earnings have been.” I think I’ve heard him say that to at least over 25 people.
Maybe I could work for him?
It would be like Kramer, who had his own intern.

7. Being an AEM major, you must have taken the speech class [COMM 201]. Did you give your how-to speech on volleyball?
No, my teammates and I decided that it was too cliché and easy to do that. So I did mine on learning the digits of Pi.
How do you teach a number? Isn’t it just a number, and you say, “Learn it?”
You break it up into fragments to learn it. In middle school, our math was really easy, and the number was up on the wall, so I would memorize it.
Can you still say it? Give me the first 10 numbers.
[Without hesitation] 3.141592653589793
That just drove the point home. I’m sold.
I said the first 50 digits at the beginning of my speech. It was my attention grabber.

8. What is your reaction to people who don’t play sports complaining about not having enough time or being under incredible pressure?
[Rolls her eyes] I just don’t understand it. I’m sure many people are members of clubs that take up a lot of their time, but don’t come complaining to me. What actually bugs me more are the students who will say, “Thank God there aren’t any athletes in this class.”
I hate that negative perception, and I also hate it when I see athletes reinforce that view. We are a small close-knit team, so I don’t think any members of our team are like that. We take pride in our involvement with Cornell.
I also think that sports imparts onto you certain qualities that other students don’t have exposure to. In many non-athletic situations, you can tell an athlete from a non-athlete purely by how they handle themselves.
I actually think I have learned more about leadership and other skills that some of my classes preach from being on a sports’ team than in those classes.
I remember last year, my teammate, [senior] John Glynn and I were trying to think of an idea that would get us rich quick, and we (or I should say I) came up with the idea for a website that helps only athletes get connected for jobs. It would be sort of a database for companies to look at if they were interested in hiring athletes.

They have that. It was started by these two Harvard guys.

9. It says on your Facebook profile that you like Grey’s Anatomy.
It’s one of my teammates’ and my favorite things to watch. It is just an hour of mindless fun. Although the season finale was a bit of a bummer.
I know. First, you have Burke who takes up and leaves which has left an even bigger emotional vacuum in Cristina’s life. I mean, she finally has the independence that she so desperately wanted, but now she realizes that she truly did love him. Then, George didn’t pass his intern exams. But worst of all, Alex turned down Ava. They were perfect for each other. That one really hit me hard because I lived vicariously through those two — and not just for that hour.
I was upset by Derek getting turned down by Meredith.
I hate Meredith. She represents all that is wrong with someone.
I agree. A little too self-absorbed. Are you going to watch the spin-off?
Of course I’m going to watch it. But I don’t have too high hopes.

10. I’m not going to even ask who the hottest men’s team on campus is because that is a given. But —
And who’s that?
The lacrosse team of course.
That’s a little confident.
Don’t girls like confidence? Which I never understood because it seems to me like a girl would like a confident guy because she doesn’t have it.
I think it is because when a guy is confident, he knows he has something to offer the girl. I just think that girls like a guy who is hunched over.
I’ve had a doctor tell me that if I don’t work on my posture, I could develop a hump when I’m older. I guess I am the exact opposite of what you are looking for because whenever I talk to a girl, all I can think of are all the things that I don’t have, that I can’t offer her. So, my question is: Who is the best looking guy on our team?
I would have to go with my homeboy [senior] Danny Nathan.
WHAT!?!!?! [I push down on the arms of my chair so hard that the left arm breaks. I am not making this up. Her saying Danny Nathan caused me to break my chair.]
He’s adorable.

I don’t want to end this article without explaining the circumstances surrounding her final answer. First, she was trying to evade the question, like she didn’t want to answer it, so I think she came up with the answer that was the easiest — her friend from home. Second, it would have been quite awkward of her to have answered me because I was there. Never in my four years (and still going strong) have I ever doubted that I am better looking than Danny Nathan.