October 25, 2007

10 Questions: Ray Sawada

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Before the men’s hockey team kicks off its 2007-08 season this Saturday against Rochester Institute of Technology, senior co-captain Ray Sawada went blow-for-blow with Sun Assistant Sports Editor Lance Williams.
1. You have a very unusual name, Ramond Masao Sawada. Where does a name like that come from?
Well I’m half Japanese and half Italian so Masao is actually my Japanese grandfather’s name and Sawada is obviously my father’s name, who is also Japanese.
That’s crazy.
Yeah it’s a good combination.
Great combination, the name flows off the tongue. I couldn’t resist with this one, does everybody love Raymond?
You know, I think it takes time to get to know me, but I think that everybody does.
There you go, how many people actually call you Raymond?
I think only my mother.
That was my guess.
But also my ex-girlfriends if they don’t like something I’m doing.
Ah, when you’re in trouble? Same thing with all women, when you hear that full name, Raymond, you’re f—–.
Yeah, pretty much.
2. I heard that you love Star Wars. Actually, the way it was described to me was “you are ‘obsessed’ with Star Wars.” Why is that?
I can’t even remember the first time watching Star Wars, but ever since I was little, I remember dressing up as Luke Skywalker …
Watching those three movies over and over again …
The things I get people to admit in these interviews, unbelievable. Why Luke Skywalker and not Han Solo?
Well I have a twin brother and he was usually Han Solo.
So you had a little tandem Star Wars thing going on.
Interesting. Do you still do that with your brother?
No, not anymore.
Because Halloween is coming up, I mean, if there were ever a time to keep the tradition alive, it’s now. Any chance Luke Skywalker is going to make an appearance?
I’m not sure if Luke Skywalker is going to make an appearance this Halloween. Me and a couple of the boys on the team were thinking of doing some of the guys from 300.
See I have all these questions lined up man, and you’re stealing my thunder when you talk about 300. We’ll get to that one later. But back to Skywalker, when was the last time you actually dressed up as Luke Skywalker?
Probably on Sunday, just for a quick second.
[Hysterical laughing] I hope that’s a joke.
No, actually, the last time was in fifth grade or something like that.
Ok good … are you sure about that?
Well, it was a long time ago …
Yeah here comes the confession: are you sure it wasn’t in high school or something?
No absolutely not.
Did you ever wait in line to see a Star Wars movie at some point in your life?
No, I haven’t.
But isn’t that the staple of the Star Wars geek?
Well, I wouldn’t consider myself a Star Wars geek, I love the movies but —
You wouldn’t go that far? Fair enough. How many times would you estimate you have seen the original?
Oh my God.
Just throw a number out there.
I would say over 100.
Wow, and you don’t think that qualifies you as a geek?
Well to other people maybe, but to me it doesn’t.
But you do also realize that this is going out to thousands of readers who are free to make their own opinions about the captain of the hockey team?
I don’t know if you read the 10 Questions I did with [junior] Nathan Ford a couple of weeks ago, but he said that he loves SpongeBob SquarePants and that it was his favorite TV show. True story. Do you think you should start a club or at least a Facebook group with him about star athletes who love ridiculous things in pop culture?
Yeah, maybe I should talk to him about that.
Nice. I really want to see that happen.
3. As a star hockey player who has been here for four years now, the girls love you. But I have been told that you are too afraid to ask any of them out. Is this true?
Yeah, I would say that is somewhat true. I am pretty shy at first when it comes to new girls, but I think once I get to know people, I am a lot more outgoing. I would also like to thank the particular teammate for telling you that information.
Who will remain anonymous I might add. I always protect my sources.
I think it was [senior co-captain] Topher Scott.
I have no idea what you’re talking about. So you are just a little shy and bashful boy inside? Playing the innocent card until you pounce?
Pretty much.
Do you have any pick-up lines?
I have no pick-up lines whatsoever.
Zero pick-up lines?
That’s how strong my game is; I have no pick-up lines.
Case closed.
Case closed.
4. What’s your favorite Lynah Rink cheer?
I would say the cheer they do when we come into the third period is my favorite. I’m not even sure what it is called.
Do you remember the words?
No, I don’t.
You don’t even remember the words? OK, let me take this one step further: do you know the words to any Lynah cheer?
… This is bad isn’t it?
It could be bad. It has the potential to be bad.
I know the alma mater! Does that matter?
I don’t know man, let the Lynah Faithful decide.
Actually, I do remember one cheer. The one that goes, “Heyyy Bobby, I want to knowwww when you’re going to kill someone.” That one.
Too late now.
No you can just slip that right in there. That one is probably my favorite.
You’re off to a rocky start here my friend. So after four years of playing at Cornell, you remember one cheer? I mean they yell these things at every f—— hockey game, like four times a game.
Well, we do try to concentrate out there.
OK, I’ll give you that. But you’re not always playing sometimes you’re on the bench and what not. You don’t pick up on any of them?
When the fans heckle the opposing goalie, we can definitely pick up on that from the bench.
Yeah you’ve got to love that. And then there is the new thing where everyone pokes the goalie on Facebook, so he has like 2,000 pokes before he plays us.
Yeah, that has to be really annoying.
5. Now, I want a truthful answer for this one. How many inches taller are you than Topher Scott?
How many inches? I think we can even go into feet on this one.
OK, then how many feet taller?
I think I am a full foot taller than Topher Scott.
I believe that. For the record, because I don’t believe this bulls—- on the Cornell athletic website. How tall is he?
I would say he is barely scratching 5-3.
The thing is I believe you. By the way the athletic site says he is 5-6. And when I see him skating around the rink on those little skates, I think there is no way he is 5-6. I just can’t see it. You’re like his dad out there.
But he is pretty damn good for a 5-3 kid, isn’t he?
Oh, he’s unbelievable for 5-3.
Have you ever seen someone that good who is that short?
I’ve never played with anybody that small who can do what he does on the ice. I’ll always remember the first day that he showed up and I thought, “You have got to be kidding me, there is no way this kid plays Division I hockey.”
That’s amazing. And now you guys are boys, right?
Yeah definitely.
The funny thing with him is he never backs down on the ice. Everyone tries to muscle him around but he is always in the middle of the scuffle.
Yeah, he’s not afraid of anybody out there. They could be 6-5 but he will give them a shove and not care whether they come after him at all.
It’s good that he has guys like you on the team when that goes down. Do you feel you have any more responsibilities as co-captains. What do you see your role as now?
Well I think we’ve really grown into the role of team captains. Especially after four years, we’ve seen different captains like Matt Moulson [’06] and Byron Bitz [’07] — really great guys. We have also changed a bit in that we have to be more vocal. But I think me and Tophs really demonstrate our leadership on the ice.
What did you call him?
Yeah, Topher, Tophs.
I got you. T-O-P-H-S, right?
That’s cute, you have pet names for each other. What does he call you?
They call me bones for some reason.
Where did that come from?
From our assistant coach Brent Brekke, he just called me “Ray Bones” one day, and it was shortened to Bones.
For no reason?
No reason at all.
That’s weird.
Yeah, it is weird.
Maybe he just thought you were a badass and went for Bones. Well I’ll tell you this right now, I’d rather be called Bones than Tophs.
[Laughing] Yeah definitely.
6. You were drafted in the second round of the NHL draft out of high school by the Dallas Stars. Why didn’t you go to the NHL?
I actually wanted to get an education. I wanted to make sure that I have something — if hockey doesn’t work out — to fall back on later in life. And I know I’m not going to be playing hockey my entire life, so there has got to be something else I really want to do.
Good man. Have you ever had any regrets about that decision?
Not at all. I love Cornell: love the people here, love the life and obviously love the hockey here. I think it is going to be one of the best four years of my life.
Nice, very good answers. How crazy is it to be a senior now?
It is so odd. I can’t believe that four years have already passed by and that this is the last year for everything.
This is it.
I kind of want to go back to freshman year.
I hear you.
I’m surprised you didn’t get my other nickname.
Oh, you want to share another one with all of us?
You should have done your homework.
I think this interview has already shown that I did my homework on you bro, but please, if you want to share another nickname, by all means.
Ray Ray.
And where did that come from? Possibly because your name is Raymond?
Yeah I think so. It was shortened to Ray and then someone just wanted to make it Ray Ray.
I think it was Tophs who made that up, wasn’t it? Ray Ray and Tophs — lovers forever.
[Laughing] No I think someone else actually made that up, but it has stuck with me pretty much the entire time here.
7. Let’s get to something actually hockey-related. This weekend is the first game of the 2007-08 season and, as always, I like to ask for predictions, so what is your prediction for this season?
I am predicting an ECAC [Hockey League] championship, an Ivy League championship as well, going to Regionals and then winning a National championship.
Winning a National championship! That’s what I am talking about man. You heard it here first everyone, straight from the captain! See, usually I ask that question and people are like “You know we’re going to do our best and blah, blah, blah.” But you had the balls to say that you are winning it all. I like that ambition. This might even be a 10 Questions first!
I think anything other than an ECAC championship and going to Regionals would be a disappointment. If we didn’t do that we would not achieve what I think we should achieve this year.
So, what is different about this year’s team from last year’s team — when you had kind of a down season — for you to say that?
Well I just think we have great team chemistry. We are 26 brothers out there who all have tremendous work ethic. And I’m not sure if you watched the games over the weekend but we had over 90 hits each game. So we’re going to be very physical each game and pretty much make the other team not want to be there.
I am excited. I kind of feel that as well after that 8-0 slaughter against the University of Ottawa. What about the talent level of this year compared to last?
We have a lot of talent this year. For instance we have [freshman forward] Riley Nash who was a first rounder to the Edmonton Oilers, and he obviously can put up a lot of points. Tyler Roeszler is another freshman who put up a lot of points in junior hockey last year. And we have a lot of guys coming back, especially on defense like [junior] Jared Seminoff and [senior] Doug Krantz. Then we obviously have Topher and hopefully myself who should contribute again.
What do you hope to personally accomplish this year?
I do have personal goals but I don’t really think they matter unless we achieve some goals like a team championship. I’m looking to always improve.
Would you rather light someone up, and I mean just devastate them where you get that “ohhhh” from the crowd, or score a game-winning goal?
That’s a tough question.
Because I love to hit people in games. … You know what? If we’re winning, I’ll take the lighting someone up, but if we’re losing, I’ll take the goal.
You are just on fire right now. Talk about rallying from a shaky start. Do you like getting in fights on the ice? How many fights have you even had? I don’t see you as a big fighter.
You’re not allowed in college and in junior ‘A’ I didn’t have many fights. But in junior ‘B’ I had quite a few.
You went to town? Did you generally come out on the upside, what happened?
I don’t think I’ve ever lost a fight. There were probably some neutral fights, but I also got the upper hand in some.
Have you ever pulled the jersey over someone’s head?
Actually my first fight ever I jerseyed a guy.
Yeah, it felt pretty good. I couldn’t stop shaking for about an hour after that.
I just had so much adrenaline going through my body.
8. You are from Canada, eh?
Richmond, British Columbia to be exact. What’s the biggest difference between living in Canada and living in the U.S.?
I think it would be the food. Actually I would say the food on the Cornell campus because I think it’s absolutely terrible. In Collegetown as well.
Really? What the hell is in Canada?
Well, just like higher quality of food.
What are you talking about?
Well I’m thinking of sushi right now, actually, as one example.
OK, so you’re saying Canada has better sushi? Fine, I guess that makes sense. You have Eskimos ice fishing up there.
Yeah, we’ve got the whole igloo thing going on.
I feel like America has superior food to everyone in the world, no?
Superior fat food, maybe.
Yeah, I guess I set myself up for that one. Do they not have fast food chains up there?
They do have a lot of fast food chains there. But, even with that, the McDonalds French fries just taste a lot better up there for some reason. [Laughing] I don’t know what it is.
Don’t mess with America my, friend.
I know, I won’t.
Let’s get off of Canada, it’s just too easy to make fun of it.
9. Back to movies, I have a direct quote from a teammate once again. It says that “his life revolves around the movie 300.” What are your thoughts on that?
I’m not sure if my whole life revolves around it.
That’s what he said.
[Laughing] But after watching that movie I feel like there are a lot of things I can take from it, especially applied to sports and hockey. I just think it is a great movie.
I thought it was f—— amazing. I have no problem with you loving 300. But after you saw this movie, my anonymous source said that you were running around saying “This is Sparta!” all over the place. Were you scaring Engineers or what?
Basically, anytime I had the feeling to say “This is Sparta,” I would shout it as loud as I could.
[Laughing] In public, to your teammates? To your mom?
No, definitely not to my mom. But usually my teammates and just in general public.
How would you say it exactly?
You want me to shout it?
Yeah, of course.
[Incredibly loud] “This is Sparta!” [Laughing]
That convinced me, I understand. I wish the readers could have heard the intensity of your voice there.
Yeah, I was wondering how they were going to do that.
I think I’ll put in a little bracket to make sure they get the message.
But I don’t think you got the full effect of it.
Well I am now bleeding from the ears and people are staring into the room. I think I got it.
Are you going to be a jacked up Spartan for Halloween?
I think if I can get the right materials to put together the costume, I will. But I don’t want to embarrass them by not living up to the expectations of looking like a Spartan.
If you do pull it off, you have to yell “This is Sparta!” at all times.
Oh definitely.
You’ve got to be a little toasty, although I don’t know if that’s allowed by Coach Shafer.
What’s toasty?
A little bit drunk, or krunked as they call it in the streets.
I might have one or two.
10. Believe it or not, we’ve reached our ending here, and the last question is always the same: what is the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
Because I’m tall, I like taller girls, so I’m going to go with women’s volleyball.
Are you dating someone on the team?
No, I am not dating anybody right now.
Are you positive?
Pretty positive.
Pretty positive? What does that mean.
I’m pretty positive I don’t have a girlfriend of any kind.
The long legs and the tights do it for you, huh?