September 21, 2011

Ten Questions with Xandra Hompe

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For this edition of 10 Questions, Sun Columnist Katie Schubauer sits down with junior soccer and hockey forward Xandra Hompe. They discuss her awkward moments, fear of flying objects and obsession with CTB.

1. Xandra, you are a junior on both the women’s soccer and hockey teams. What have soccer and hockey meant to you over the course of your college career?

Growing up, I always dreamed of playing two sports in college and when I was being recruited and had to decide, I couldn’t really imagine giving one up. I really wanted to play soccer and hockey, and Cornell gave me the opportunity to do that. Playing both sports has really defined my experience here, and I think it’s really great because soccer and hockey are really unique. They are completely different experiences, but again, I couldn’t imagine doing one and not the other. I have really learned a lot playing both of them.

Coming into school, my soccer teammates were the first girls I met at college, and right off the bat I met some of my best friends that hopefully I will talk to for the rest of my life. It has been great getting to know such great people. Having such good friends on the team makes it so much more worthwhile and fun.

How has your experience on the hockey team been?

It’s a totally different scene. Almost everyone on the team is from Canada and you have to learn to adapt to their different phrases and terminology like “tuque,” “eh” and “washroom.” I got adjusted to that. It’s been such a great experience with hockey because about half the girls on the team are on some form of the Canadian National Team at this point. Stepping on the ice with them every morning is always a challenge and it makes me want to play the best that I can, and I think I have. It’s such an honor to play with such talented and determined athletes who will one day play in the Olympics.

2. Can you describe your experience as a freshman on the soccer team?

During freshman year, I didn’t really have it together in general, in terms of basic life skills as well as organization. Playing Division I soccer right off the bat is a big commitment — it was my first year in college and that was a lot for me to handle. I was always scrambling to be ready in time. My roommate and I were always sprinting to catch the TCAT and then we would miss it and end up just sprinting to practice. I’d always be in the wrong uniform, and that didn’t exactly get me off to the best start with the coach and the team, but I think I’ve turned it around since then … hopefully.

Why are you no longer allowed to stand in the wall during free kicks?

One day in practice, we were practicing free kicks and I was in the wall and someone took a shot. I don’t know — I don’t really like when things fly at my face, which is pathetic considering you have to block shots in hockey and soccer all the time. But it’s kind of a fear of mine that I am trying to overcome. Anyway, one of the girls took a shot and everyone else said it wasn’t near me whatsoever but I thought it was coming straight for my head so I managed to somehow do a backwards dive out of the way. It had everyone laughing, even our coach, and she told me I would never be put in the wall for a real game again.

3. Explain your relationship with hockey strength and conditioning coach Tom Howley.

Coach Howley and I have had a pretty funny relationship over the last three years. I came in a little bit late when I joined the hockey team because of soccer, so I got to know him and he came up with all these nicknames for me. He started calling me Sandra Bullock just because of the similarity between her name and mine. I didn’t really know him very well, but I kind of just went along with it. And then, soon enough, he came up with the nickname “Groundhog” because of the movie Groundhog Day. Since I had never seen the movie, he explained to me that they wake up every day and it’s the same day and they have to relearn everything. And he says that’s what I look like every time I enter the weight room — like I have never been there before and I have no idea what I’m doing. He also calls me “The Three-Year Freshman.” Usually he kids around with people, but with me, he asked in a very serious tone, “Are you excited to start your third freshman year?” He thinks I’ll act like a freshman all four years of college.

4. Have you ever had any awkward moments at Cornell?

Yeah, I’ve definitely had a few of those (laughing). One of my friends on the hockey team last year, Hayleigh Hughes, said that she’d never had social anxiety until she met me. Whenever I am in a place like Trillium or the weight room, I find a way to make every possible situation awkward, or I tell everyone it’s awkward when it’s really not, but then it becomes awkward because I said that.

Do any experiences stand out in particular?

I guess freshman year, when I was intimidated by any older athlete. We were stretching one time in the weight room during a drift lift and there were a bunch of different athletes from different teams there. I remember a lot the men’s lacrosse team in the grade above me was there and they used to like to tease me about one of the guys on the team that I was really good friends with. We were stretching and it was dead silent, and a bunch of the guys started yelling things like “Tortilla Chip! Potato Chip! Chocolate Chip! Does anyone want some chips?” I remember being completely horrified. That was probably one of the most awkward experiences I can remember. But there are a lot.

Is it true you have a thing for shorter guys?

I wouldn’t exactly say I “have a thing for shorter guys.” My roommate from freshman year, [junior soccer player] Meg Crowell, likes to say that. But I guess you could just say I don’t discriminate. I’m open to whatever.

5. I hear you have racked up a lot of fines on the hockey team. Is that true?

Yeah. When I joined the hockey team, I was completely new to everything. The other freshmen had already been there and learned their way around, but I came in late because of soccer, and I didn’t really know my way around and was very awkward and kept to myself and sat in the corner of the room, so I didn’t really interact with anyone. Anyway, we have a fine system where you get fined for things from messiness to not having your equipment properly set up in your stall all the way to PDA fines — which, unfortunately, I managed to acquire quite a few of. I thought the whole fine system was actually a joke. I didn’t realize you actually had to pay money, so my fines ending up doubling and I had to pay a lot my first couple of weeks.

6. Who is your favorite pair of twins?

I guess I just have a thing for twins. My friend [junior field hockey player] Molly Casey is a twin, and so is my friend Katie Cummiskey. They are great, but I guess I take a particular liking to identical twins … especially athletic ones who wear matching backwards hats.

7. Please explain your last experience at your favorite Ithaca restaurant.

My last experience was on my 21st birthday this summer at Joe’s, which is my favorite place to eat. It was a lot of fun. I went with a couple of my friends. I was just really excited to be there and it was my birthday, and at one point during the dinner, I managed to do what my friends termed “a triple back flip” over a chair and ended up causing quite a scene and providing a lot of entertainment for the families that were there that night, since it’s a nice family restaurant. Unfortunately, I think I have been banned from that restaurant, which is upsetting considering it’s my favorite place to go, but we’ll see.

Speaking of restaurants, I hear you are also a huge CTB fan.

I am.

Is it true you tried to apply there?

Yes. I end up going to CTB a lot — I think I am on a first name basis with a lot of the employees there, so I get excited to go in there and see them. After a night out in Collegetown, I decided I wanted to get a job there, so I filled out a few different applications (to increase my chances). I don’t think I ever turned them in, but I came up with some pretty good answers to some of the questions. I guess that would be a dream job of mine someday.

I hear another one of your dream jobs is to be an employee of the Cornell Athletic Department?

Over the past year or so, as my relationship has really developed with Coach Howley, I’ve come to want to work at the Friedman Center. I think I want to do that more because I know he will never let me work there. I developed a habit of being late to drift lifts last year and when you are late, your name gets put up on the board and it doesn’t get erased until you do some sort of cleaning duty after. That’s when I discovered that I had no knowledge of any sort of cleaning. Coach Howley was completely appalled and told me that if I ever wanted a job from him, he wouldn’y give it to me. He told me I would never be a good employee.

8.  Describe your taste in shoes.

I have this theory that I’ve recently realized is not true. But I tend to think that you can wear shoes that are two sizes above or below your actual shoe size. If I really want a pair of shoes (I’m an 8 1/2) and let’s say they are a size 7, I’ll just buy them anyway and figure “these will work.” Freshman year I ended up buying a pair of Heelies and pink Timberlands because I though they were cool. I really wanted them but they only had each in a smaller size but I ended up doing that. I also have these purple rain boots that I always wear around that everyone makes fun of me for. They are actually two sizes too small and absolutely kill my feet to wear, but I still wear them around because I like them that much.

Did you ever wear those Heelies on campus?

For a little period of time during the winter of freshman year, I would wear them around to the dining halls because I thought it was fun to roll over from the townhouses to RPC or all the way to Appel — until I realized I was really, really bad at wearing them and it was highly likely that I would fall. At that point, I figured I should stop wearing them so I didn’t get injured, because I don’t think the hockey coach would’ve accepted that as a legitimate injury.

9. Is it true you and some of your roommates tried to start a business freshmen year?

Yeah. Freshman year, Renee Tornatore, Kristina Jackson, Meg and I were all on the soccer team and we spent a lot of time together. One day we decided we wanted to make some money so we figured we’d start a haircutting business even though none of us had any expertise in haircutting. But we figured, “how hard could it be to cut a guy’s hair?” So we started that. We hosted the business in our townhouse and it was always a mess. We bought a haircutting kit and everything. We had some customers and it was going alright until one day we had this kid come in who wanted something special done like some fade or something. And we were all looking at each other like, “does anyone have any idea how to do this?” None of us did but we just went along with it anyway. We ended up completely screwing it up, but when I saw the kid two weeks later, it looked fine. I thought maybe it was just me and it actually looked fine. So I asked him how he liked the haircut, thinking I could maybe pull it off like we did something great. But he said, “well I actually had to go get it fixed by a professional place but thanks.” So after that we stopped. Unfortunately we had to shut it down.

10. Which other Cornell team do you like to hang out with the most?

That’s a hard question because I like to hang out with a bunch of teams. I guess I would have to say I am infamous for always being at ATO afterhours, so that would be my favorite place to hang out. I think it’s just because that is where everyone congregates, so you get to see a bunch of different people and there are always a lot of my friends there and it’s always a ton of fun.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer