September 28, 2011

Ten Questions with Will Hartigan

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For this edition of 10 Questions, Sun Columnist Katie Schubauer sits down with senior men’s squash player Will Hartigan. They discuss his rap career, badass nature and romantic adventures.

1. Will, you are a senior on the Cornell Squash team. What has squash meant to you over the course of your college career?Coming into Cornell, I had known a bunch of the guys on the team since I was really little. [Senior teammates] Alex Dominick and Dave Hilton were some of my best friends since I was twelve years old, so I knew that squash was going to be a huge part of my life my whole time here. We have practice every day and we have practice with the girls as well, so squash is just my best group of friends here and some of the closest friends I’ve ever had in my life. It keeps me in shape every day, too, which is awesome. And the coaches are two of my best friends as well.You tried out for the golf team this year. Did you make it?I did.Did you have any intention of joining the team or was it just “a great way to get a bunch of free rounds in”?(Laughing) No, I actually really wanted to play golf. Golf is probably my favorite sport.Besides squash or does squash come second?Squash is a very close second. Golf is just so enjoyable. I love going out and playing golf. If it was at all possible to play both, I totally would have but there was just too much conflict with squash. But I really like the guys on the golf team, too, and the course here is awesome. It was a bummer that I couldn’t play, but I was happy that I went low in the tryouts.Who on the squash team do you have wax your back before matches?I generally get a freshman to do it, just as a power thing. Pledging never ends. We’ve got some real good candidates for the back waxing this year, particularly a kid named “Oggie.” We call him “Oggie” — his real name is Ryan Todd — and he will probably be doing most of the back waxing before my matches. This is a heads up for him. He will see this.Who is your role model?I would probably have to say [former teammate] Chris Sachvie. He is my big brother in my frat, one of my best friends ever and just an all-around great guy. And Shooter McGavin.From Happy Gilmore?Yeah, I’ve always been obsessed with Happy Gilmore. It came out right when I was about ten. It has the whole golf thing, and I played hockey at that time, too. And Adam Sandler went to my rival high school. Everyone from New Hampshire has an arguably fictional story about meeting Adam Sandler. When I got to Cornell, we just started quoting Happy Gilmore at every possible chance, especially on the golf course. And I have come to appreciate Shooter McGavin lately. I always hated him as the villain when I was younger, but now I realize that he’s a potential role model and a great American. 2. Do you have any nicknames?I do. It started with “Blackout Billy” — you can probably figure out why I got that name. But it transformed into just Bill, or Billy. I was never called Bill or Billy my whole life until I got to Cornell, but that is what everyone calls me now. And then “Ironman,” too.How did you get that nickname?I got that nickname because I had a surgery a couple springs ago in which I got bars put into my chest. So I had three metal bars in my chest, and they were each an inch thick of just sheer titanium. And, I don’t know, Coach started calling me “Ironman,” and then it just caught on.Do you think that intimidates your opponents at all?Oh, no doubt. I mean, sometimes when they were in my chest, I even felt like I could have gotten shot in the bar and just muscled right through it. It might have even ricocheted off. 3. Who is your favorite artist?I’d probably have to say Jackson Pollack.Why?Jackson Pollack is my favorite artist because it just looks like he’s making a huge, huge mess. We’ve translated the term “Jackson Pollack” into meaning some other things, which will go undisclosed and remain a secret for the squash team. But anyone who can figure it out should come talk to me and see if they really know what it means.I hear you had two apartments your junior year and one of them was decorated very uniquely with your own artwork. Can you give us some insight into this?It just had a lot of Jackson Pollack artwork all over the place.Speaking of housing, how is your sophomore year roommate doing?(Laughing) I don’t know. I lived in an apartment building on Dryden and I had a 96-year-old roommate, I think? She wasn’t my roommate exactly, but she lived across the hall from me. I actually haven’t seen her lately, which makes me very worried. I should probably go check up on her. But there were a number of nights where I got woken up in the middle of the night to go assist her with pretty basic human functions. I couldn’t say now, but it’s generally not what you want to be woken up to. 4. I understand that one of your favorite pastimes is rapping. Is it true that you had the name B.o.B. before the now famous rapper?Definitely. And it stands for “Blackout Billy,” of course. He copied me on that — there is no question about it. If you actually go back and listen to some of my raps on SoundCloud or Facebook, it’s pretty clear that he was borrowing some of my material as well. I mean, there are lines that are directly from some of my early work in his songs.What is your favorite line from one of your own rap songs?Probably, “Ma, where’d you put my Snuggie? Teach me how to dougie (teach me, teach me) how to dougie.”Tell us about your idea for your own Cornell Squash music video.We always have music blasting at practice and people are dancing around the squash courts. And it’s one of the few sports where the girls and the guys practice together every single day. Then we go swimming together almost nightly; we’re always hanging out with each other and we all drive mopeds to and from practice. It’s really a gangster lifestyle. So I thought that with some great music in the background, a montage of our daily lives would be a great thing to do.If you were putting together a boy band, who would be in it?It would probably be the whole crew of the Delaware house: [junior squash players] Nick Sachvie, Arjun Gupta, Owen Butler, Casey Fox (He’s an honorary member of the squash team. I grew up with him in Concord, N.H. He lives in the same neighborhood as me), Alex Domenick and Dave Hilton. Nick would probably have to be the lead. He is a closet incredible dancer and he just has a lot of moxy and flare.What is your favorite song to sing in the shower?Probably “Four Non-blondes, What’s up?” It’s a classic. Anything mid-90s is alright by me. 5. What is your favorite football team?The Miami Dolphins. I’m an all-New England Sports fan, except for the Dolphins. I’m from New Hampshire and my dad never liked the Patriots because he’s a huge Bill Parcells fan. He didn’t like the way Bill Parcells was treated there. And Dan Marino has the same birthday as me, September 15, and I had a huge man crush on him when I was like eight years old. I had a plastic locker of his in my bedroom. I still do actually. And then obviously, Ace Ventura — the whole Dolphins thing in that was huge for me. I’m a big movie guy — mid-90s comedies.What is your favorite place to eat in Collegetown?Definitely Hai Hong. I go to Hai Hong almost nightly. I took last year off and the first time I walked in there this year, they gave me a big hug. That place is actually really funny. If you walk in, they’ll be super nice to you, but then, when you give them your order, they just start screaming at each other in Chinese. But I got a big hug from them when I came back and they still remembered my order. They know me by name. They call me Billy.Have you ever cooked a meal for yourself at Cornell?I’ve made peanut butter and jellies and grilled cheese. And on very special occasions, I’ll stick my finger in a hamburger and stick cheese in there and then it’s kind of like a Juicy Lucy. But that’s it.In your opinion, what is the best kept secret at Cornell?Actually, this year, there is a mystery woman on the tennis team. She’s a freshman. I think she’s from Europe and when she walks through the squash courts, practice just stops on the guys’ side. She is incredible and I almost don’t even want to find out who she is, because the intrigue is just overwhelming. But she is something else. 6. Would you consider yourself a badass?Yeah, I’d say I’m a badass.Could you give us an example of some of your badass nature?Just my general impulsiveness and, at times, my lack of awareness about consequences, getting me into sticky situations. But I’ve been working on that lately. I’d say I’m a reformed badass and now I’m a good boy.What about the time you muscled through some on-court sickness? That sounds pretty badass to me.Yes. We were playing Harvard and we always have incredibly intense matches against Harvard. They had all the people from their social clubs (or whatever they’re called there) come out and they were all hammered at our match. So there were hundreds of kids watching. I was playing a freshman and I hate losing to freshmen, so I went in super pumped up. I won the first game, 11-0, won the second, lost the third, and then the kid was up 10-8 in the fourth. And the crowd was going crazy — they were all heckling me — and I felt puke coming up. But if you puke on-court, you lose the match. So I tucked my shirt into my spandex and puked into my shirt and then proceeded to annihilate him in the next four points and win the match and I threw up a big fist pump into the crowd. It was one of the biggest power things ever.On a softer side, I hear you are a recent fan of yoga.Yes.How much would you say you sweat during a typical yoga session?Definitely more than anyone else. I’ve been going with Alex and Dave a little bit and we’re usually the only guys in there. We’re usually about “more dudes, less chicks” —that’s a general motto we like to live by, just a bunch of cool dudes hanging out. But the yoga place is just full of a ton of really healthy, fit, athletic girls. They all think they sweat a ton, but then we walk in and within minutes, there are puddles on our mats. A couple of times, the yoga instructor has stopped the whole practice and brought attention to how much we are sweating and made us put towels down. It’s outrageous, but we love the attention. 7. Is it true you have an affinity for talking to strangers and making them feel uncomfortable?Yeah, I don’t know, I’d probably consider myself a very friendly person and I’ve found that the most disarming thing ever is when someone has a very stern look on their face, or someone is trying to mean mug you or someone is just throwing up the biggest smile they can muster and a big “hello” and wave. But sometimes if I am driving in the car with all the guys on the way home from practice and there is a random person standing right next to something like CTB, we’ll roll down the window and ask them where CTB is just to watch them flounder and squirm. I do that with freshmen on North Campus, too, especially during the girls’ sorority rush season. It’s prime. There are just huge hoards of girls walking around and they are already so flustered. It’s kind of mean but someone needs to welcome them to college. And the boys squash team does that.I hear you befriended a man named Slim in the Bahamas. How was that relationship formed?Well, Slim offered a number services but one of them was this 1970s Lincoln stretch limousine. I forget how I encountered him, but we would let us use his limousine. He would drive us around for very cheap, like 20 dollars for a whole night or something. So we were getting carted around our whole spring break in that limousine. But one night, I got jumped at Atlantis Casino and got the absolute worst beat down of my life. It was really, really scary. I went up 800 dollars that night just riding red in roulette and I was walking a girl home and a bunch of kids started chirping at me and I felt like I shouldn’t back down, so I chirped at them back. And I approached them and got too close and they just started punching me in the face and I got knocked out. When I woke up, my shirt was ripped, I had a black eye and I believe I was weeping (a little bit, possibly) and the girl ran away. Slim picked me up that night and took me to a local fried chicken joint and dance hall and it was just a really close friendship after that. 8. You are known for being quite the romantic, would you agree?I would agree.Tell us about your Squormal proposal.Well, first of all, Squormal stands for Squash Formal. And [former women’s squash player] Liza Stokes and I had a very heated romance for our entire time here at Cornell. It was basically just a series of heated romantic encounters at night (random nights). She is one of my favorite girls in the whole world — one of the best girls I have ever met. So her senior year (my junior year), I wanted to do something special and invite her to Squormal. I had one of her teachers on a PowerPoint slide just pepper a little love note/invitation into the PowerPoint. It said, “Lize, baby, I love you. Would you please attend Squormal with me?” I had flowers delivered, too. And she said yes.Do you have any pickup lines that seem to work the best with the ladies?Yeah, my go-to is, “I lost my number, can I have yours?” It’s quick, it’s easy.Is it true you pass romantic notes to girls in class?I do. My go-to note would have to be, “Do you like anyone in class as more than a friend? Circle Yes, No or Maybe.” The girls seem to love the attention and it’s a great way for me to occupy my time in class.Do you sometimes omit the “No” option?Yeah, sometimes I don’t give them that option if I’m really serious about it. I’ll just say, “Yes” or “Maybe” and, you know, “Maybe” keeps the doors open.Do you like anyone more than a friend?Aside from the mystery woman on the tennis team, I would say, without romance or anything, that [junior women’s squash player] Lexi Glassman and I share a number of common interests, particularly our love for TLC. She loves getting hot and sweaty and dancing at Pixel. I’ll say that I like her as more than a friend with no labels on it. 9. I hear you used to frequently visit the Ramada Inn near the mall. What exactly did you do there and with whom?Well, it started when the freshmen during my sophomore year stayed there during intersession. Cornell used to put the freshmen up there. We went over at night — my roommate [former teammate] McKay Claghorn and I — and just swam and splashed around in the hot tub and ate Big Macs and stuff and played Marco Polo. And we started doing it nightly that year. McKay and I would actually go over three or four times a week alone. And we’d get Big Mac meals and have them float in the little box in the hot tub. Then, a couple times, we got the whole girls team and the whole guys team to go over there and play Marco Polo and just recreationally swim. One time, actually, we went over there the night before a match against Williams, and we were playing Marco Polo in the pool (a bunch of the girls and guys) and the Williams team walked in, so we played Marco Polo with the Williams squash team before we beat them the next day. We smoked them in Marco Polo, too.10. Which other Cornell team do you like to hang out with the most?No question, the girl’s squash team. They are actually the group of girls that I like hanging out with the most in the whole world. They are all really solid girls. I know all of them like sisters. And the boys and girls squash teams are actually very incestuous. We’re like one big happy incest family. I’ve known a lot of those girls since I was really little, too, and the freshmen this year are already part of the crew. We hang out together every day at practice and it’s just like one big family.Give us the Top-5 reasons to date a squash player.1) Rock Hard bodies; 2) We are strong guys; 3) The softest hands of all; 4) We can really stroke it; 5) We have a legitimate chance to be the highest ranked team at Cornell this year!Is there anything else you would like to get out to readers?Just one general service announcement: If there is anyone at Cornell who parties too much or is struggling with personal problems like that, totally reach out to me. We’ve got a great crew of kids here that are starting a support group and if you are in trouble, don’t be afraid to reach out. You can email me at

Original Author: Katie Schubauer