April 21, 2010

10 Questions With Chris Tait

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For this week’s edition of 10 Questions, Sun columnist Katie Schubauer meets track athlete Chris Tait. They discuss everything from flirting with a mannequin to building your own ping-pong table.

1. So, Chris, to start us off, what event do you do in track?

I run long sprints. I do the 200[m] and 400[m] but I also do the 4×100[m] Relay. Pretty much wherever the coach needs me.

Have you been running track since you were young?

Yeah. I’ve always run my whole life. But I joined a club outside of school freshmen year of high school and then I ran all throughout high school and got recruited to Cornell, so…

Not too shabby. So one of your friends on the team thinks that you actually have a secret desire to be a high jumper. Is that true?

(Laughing) A little bit. We do this thing on the team where if we don’t have a meet on the weekend we just kind of stay and fool around after practice and we had a high-jump competition once. It was my first time doing high jump ever…and it was kind of fun and I also won out of the four of us who did it.

So wait, you beat actual high jumpers in their own event?

(Laughing) No. None of us who did it were actually high jumpers. It was just a little break from our regular events.  2. The track team is different than a lot of other Cornell teams because it’s so big. Do you know everyone on the team?

I could recognize everyone if I saw them around for the most part. I would know if they are on the team but I definitely do not know everyone’s name. This is because the sprinters, hurdlers, and jumpers all work out together and then the distance and mid-distance kind of have their own group and their own coach. So we don’t interact as much, but when we travel and do team stuff, we all get to know each other.

So does the women’s team travel with the men’s?


That must be fun (wink-wink)…

(Laughing) Yeah, it is.

Do you have a favorite track memory?

My favorite track memory would probably be last year. Heps is like the Ivy League Championships for Track. It’s called Heptagonal Games. Running on the 4×100 [m Relay] was a pretty crazy experience because up until the week before Heps, I wasn’t even supposed to be running on that team. But because of various circumstances, I just got put on the team and it was just all really fast. And since it’s a relay, there are baton changes and everything so it was just really exciting.

Were you nervous?

I was incredibly nervous.

Do you usually get nervous before your races?

Yeah, but especially at Heps because it’s all about team score and everything and it really is such a risky event because you could drop the baton and get your whole team disqualified or something like that. So I just felt a lot of pressure, but it was definitely a great experience.

And how did you do in that race?

We came in second. We lost to Penn. But we won Heps for the seventh straight year, tying an Ivy League record and we’re going for number 8 in a few weeks. So it made it that much more special to be on that team.

That’s awesome. Is Penn our main rival in Track?

Princeton is actually our main rival.   3. I hear you’re trying to set up a ping-pong table in your apartment?

Yeah. Every time we go to the dining hall, we see people playing ping-pong in the lounge and stuff and I always get so excited because I’m a master at ping-pong and nobody believes me. I always ask tell my roommates “Let’s chip in and get a ping pong table” but they want to get a pool table instead. But I tell them the pool table is so much more expensive. A ping-pong table is more practical, more fun, and you can fold it up. So I was like, maybe I’ll just make one. So I put up a little net in the middle of our kitchen table.

Wait, so you’re actually going to make one from scratch?

I mean, I might raise some funds this summer. Get some supplies. See how it goes.   4. Ok so what is the whole deal with your “tough exterior”?

Oh man. (Laughing) Alright, so Julian [Remouns], one of my roommates, is friends with this girl who graduated last year—I’m not going to mention her name—and she was supposed to be my mentor when I first came to college. But something happened where we didn’t end up communicating or whatever and it just kind of fell through. But then Julian invited her to dinner once with us last year. And I was like, “Oh hey! You were supposed to be my mentor”—not being bitter about it or anything. And she was like, “Oh yeah. We did really fun things.” And I was thinking, “Well that’s really cool. I wasn’t part of your fun mentor group,” but I didn’t say anything to her about it or anything. And then all throughout the dinner we were just talking, having a nice conversation and then all of a sudden she breaks out saying, “Why do you think you’re so cool?”

Out of nowhere?

Yeah. And I was like (in my head), “Number one, I don’t really know you so you can’t just come at me like that.” And then I asked her, “What do you mean?”  And she said, “Well you just have this tough exterior.” And then Julian and my other buddy just love saying it. From that day on, they just started saying, “Chris, you don’t have to have such a tough exterior.”

Well I guess you’ve always been a pretty tough guy because apparently you pushed your fifth grade teacher.

(Laughing) Oh my god. (More laughing) Yeah, ok so I went to private school in fifth grade and I wasn’t really happy about the decision to change schools, so I was really rebellious and all “I-don’t-want-to-be-at-a-private-school.” So anyway, it was a rainy day and when it was rainy, you weren’t supposed to step on the grass; you were just supposed to stay on the pavement. But it was during recess and the pavement was so crowded so everyone was just concentrated on the pavement and I was trying to go around to get to another area of the schoolyard. So I stepped on the grass and the teacher was like, “You’re not allowed to step on the grass because it’s a rainy day.” And I was like, “You’re not allowed to step on the grass!” And I kind of pushed her. I don’t know what I was going through but it was a tough time for me (laughing).   5. So is it all just a façade—this whole tough exterior? Because your friends tell me you cried in the Will Smith movie “Seven Pounds”.

Ok that is not true. I saw Seven Pounds at home with my friends from home so I don’t know where they are getting these facts from. I mean, it was a sad movie. I’m not going to lie. It touched my heart, but I don’t shed tears for movies.



All right, but do you have a Lion King bed-set at home?

I don’t have a Lion King bed-set. I may or may not have a lion king night lamp that I’ve had since I was seven years old, but you know what? I’m proud of it. It adds a little ambiance to my room. You know, I have to stay in touch with my childhood.   6. Ok so speaking of your home, you’re from Toronto. Are you one of those Canadians with way too much Canadian pride? Because there seems to be a lot of those on campus.

Ok well I only recently found my Canadian pride since coming to Cornell just because everyone loves to bash on me for being Canadian, half-serious and half-joking. But Americans have way more pride for their country than Canadians do. It just seems like Canadians at Cornell do because…well…

Because you Canadians are a minority at Cornell. Is that what you’re trying to say?

Yeah, basically. We gotta stick together.   7. Now apparently you have a pretty extensive shoe collection?

Yeah. (Holds up his shoe to reveal a shiny pair of Nikes).

Nike Dunks. Nice.

Yeah. I’m kind of a shoe-fanatic. I don’t really know where it came from. Maybe my brothers kind of passed it on to me. But at school I have maybe 25 pairs of shoes.

25 pairs of shoes?!

Yeah. (Laughing). And then maybe 10-15 more pairs at home. Every shade. Every color. You know.   8. You don’t really seem very shy. How come you only talked to your friend Cody the first couple weeks of freshmen year?

So this is the story that’s going around: So Cody is also from Canada and I kind of knew him because we used to run track against each other. So when I found out he was going to Cornell we started talking to each other the end of senior year and stuff like that. So he was kind of the only person I knew coming into Cornell. And then freshmen year, I was definitely really shy. I’m shy until I get to know people usually…so I didn’t really talk to a lot of people on the team, especially because I wasn’t sure of how the whole hierarchy of the team works like with the seniors and stuff. I mean its totally cool now but I didn’t know that at the time. So Cody was like my right-hand man, my only friend, and we didn’t have cell phones—

You didn’t have cell phones?

Well I had one back home but it took me a while to get one here. So Cody and me would use our dorm phones to call each other. I feel like we were the only ones who ever used those in the history of Cornell. Most people just put them under their beds when they get here.

I don’t even have one.

Yeah, exactly. So the story going around is that I didn’t talk at all first semester and that when someone addressed me, I would talk to Cody and he would talk for me even though that’s CLEARLY not true. But that’s the story that’s going around so I’ll go with it.

Well now I hear you’re Mr. Popular and you LOVE texting.

(Laughing). Yeah. I think that’s something that’s been put on me since being in the U.S. Back home, I would call people up if I wanted to talk…even if I was in school. But Americans are just all about texting. I’m just taking it to the next level. I’m just trying to stay connected, you know?  9. All right, any ladies in your life?

(Laughing). Umm…you know….

Playin’ the field?

Kind of. I’m sort of talking to someone right now.

Is it “Stacy the Mannequin?”

(Laughing) Stacy and me aren’t talking actually right now. We went through some things freshmen year and we didn’t talk at all sophomore year. So I’m kind of mad at her. She’s been talking to some other mannequins, so that’s not cool. You know, I’ve seen her around at the mall lately and its kind of awkward.

Do you want to explain the history of that story? (I’m sure readers might be a little confused without some background).

Well, freshman year, hit up Pyramid Mall real quick, stopped in PacSun, and I saw Stacy, this beautiful mannequin. She was wearing like a little colorful tank top, some bright summer colors just like I like. And it was just love at first sight. So, we took a couple pictures, and everything was going cool until she started talking to this other dude behind my back. Lo and behold, things went sour and you know….

Well maybe it was hard for her because she couldn’t get in touch with you easily since you didn’t have a cell phone.

That could’ve been it, but there are other ways to make it work. I just feel like she didn’t put in the effort.   10.Which team at Cornell do you like to hang out with the most?

I’m going to go ahead and say track.

What a good answer. Do you have a lot of friends on the women’s track team?

Yeah. We’re with them so much. We practice at the same time. We travel together. So we’re really close with them.

Are there a lot of—

Relationships? Yeah. There’s a lot of “Track-cest”, as we like to call it.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer