Ten Questions Columnist Reena Gilani caught up with senior Joe Stanzione to discuss everything from L.A.R.P.ing to wig-wearing scooter gangs.
1. How did you get involved with wrestling?
The story’s probably similar for a lot of wrestlers. When I was younger, about four or five years old, I got a flyer in elementary school for wrestling. I decided to try out for it and I fell in love with it ever since, which is kind of pleasing for my mom. All three of her brothers wrestled so she was excited for it. I actually started to wrestle at the same high school that my uncles did before I went to my actual high school.
Did your uncles go on to wrestle beyond the high school level?
No, I’m actually the first to go to college in my family.
Oh, that’s awesome; congratulations. So what has wrestling taught you?
That’s a tough question because it has taught me probably everything — socially to emotionally to all aspects of life. It has taught me how to interact with people correctly, how to be a genuine person and [how] to function in this world. It’s such an emotional battle, and that’s why it teaches you so much and you learn so much from it. It’s one of the factors that has brought me to some great people and that brought me to Cornell so I’d say getting that flyer marks one of the best days of my life, because I wouldn’t be on the path that I’m on now [if I hadn’t].
Being a captain of such a great program is definitely impressive.
As Coach Koll said in The Sun recently, I’m the first non-starter captain. I’ve been behind an All-American every single year here and yet I’m a captain and it’s been a great experience. Sometimes it hurts not to be one of the starters but it’s such a moving experience to be able to lead a group of kids who have the utmost respect for you despite the fact that I’m not the ‘main guy.’ That’s one of my most prized accomplishments so far. I appreciate that the coaches and my teammates can recognize the hard work and dedication I put in.
2. Have you ever not known what happened as a result of one of your wrestling matches?
When I was a freshman in high school, I went out for a match and the kid that I was facing was supposed to be pretty decent. I went out and shook hands with the kids and the next thing I remember is walking off of the mat. To this day, I still don’t remember the entire match.
You just blacked out during the match?
I’m not sure what happened. I just walked off the mat and I remember seeing one of my teammates including one named Kurt. They were all clapping and I looked at him and asked what happened, and he kind of chuckled and thought I was being cocky, but I was being serious. I really had no idea what happened, and I didn’t even know if I had won or lost. I went to the sidelines and my dad came over to me and I asked him “Did I win?” and he said, “What are you talking about?” Not for an instant did I know what happened, but apparently I tech falled the kid, which means I won by 15 points and they stopped the match. I got checked for concussions and all of that but nothing; there still is no explanation for what happened.
3. Would you say your dad has been supportive of your wrestling career?
My dad has probably been the most inspirational person in my life — him and my mom. He has brought me to every tournament across the country from when I was little to until he let me go in high school. He’s a character up until this day.
Has he ever tazed anyone?
To my knowledge, no, but I wouldn’t put it past him. He has definitely threatened to taze someone on the team.
What’s the story there?
I’m not going to go into detail, but if [junior] Stryker Lane wants to tell you the answer to that, he can.
What’s the basis for your dad’s interest in L.A.R.P.ing?
My dad has some exquisite attire. He seems to dress a little radically, but I love him for it. It causes some good laughs and I think the team enjoys his character. He doesn’t hold anything back, especially when he’s cheering for matches. I’d say that the reference to L.A.R.P.ing is that he always walks around with a cane and, for a while, he had a cane that actually had a sword inside of it. He seems to be pretty fascinated with weapons, especially in the past 10 years.
Is L.A.R.P. something that you would ever be interested in?
No. It’s not actually L.A.R.P. that he does, but it just appears that way. I’m guessing it’s a wizard reference.
4. So you are from Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania?
Then why will you be buried in the Hamlet of Varna here in Ithaca?
So the Hamlet of Varna is on the outskirts of town, in between Ithaca and Dryden. That is where I lived my pre-freshman year. Some of the kids on the wrestling team take the year off before coming here and go to TC3, and that’s what I did. We lived in this old raggedy house that, to this day, still has guys living in it, but it seems ready to fall down. My dad [worked] in construction, and I’ve been around it my entire life and I’m pretty handy. I used to pay my rent by doing some remodeling on the house, so everyone always said that I would be in debt to the landlord for the rest of my life. He would always have me come back and re-fix things. That hasn’t died down; I still fix things in the wrestling house here today.
Can you tell me about the pilgrimage that you and some of the guys on the team take to Dingmans Ferry each summer?
So it started when I invited the guys to my house over the summer and it was around Fourth of July time, which we didn’t realize at first, but we just played off of that. I live in a very rural town, in case you can’t tell from the name. We live right on the Delaware River, so we get music and raft on the river for the day and then go back to my house and light off fireworks and all that stuff. It has become a tradition every year, and it’s something my dad now lives for and talks about year-round. He loves having the team down there, and they love it too. I’m graduating this year so hopefully we can do one last time and maybe we can keep the tradition going.
5. What is The Gauntlet, and can you tell me about your recent induction into it?
The Gauntlet is this secret society that I belong to. It has an unnamed amount of members, but there’s a few of the wrestlers in the Gauntlet and I was just recently inducted into it. It’s pretty fun and I really enjoy it. I’m trying to talk about it without going into too much detail. It’s a very distinguished group.
What kind of qualifications do they look for in their members?
I don’t know what they would generalize a member as being. Fun, I guess.
What about another group that you belong to, The Sons of Liberty?
The Sons of Liberty is something that everyone on campus should be familiar with. We have an army of scooters and anyone who passes our house will see that we have about 20 scooters. We call ourselves the Sons of Liberty after the Sons of Anarchy because we are basically a gang of scooters.
What are some of the things you guys do?
Nothing in particular; we ride around. We ride to our annual recruiting banquet in Stewart Park. We all ride together, somewhat like a motorcycle gang.
Do you ever have any costumes for specific days of the week?
We have a tradition every spring with some of the members of the Gauntlet to have powdered wig Wednesdays. We’ve been found in Collegetown dressed up purely in colonial attire, including wigs with powder. We were almost kicked out of Rulloff’s because of the powdering of the wigs. The Superfan as he’s called — he’s in Rulloff’
s and CTB a lot — was very fond of us and he called us the Sons of Liberty, which is where the name originated.
6. What was the worst weight cutting experience in your wrestling career?
I’d say when I was making 133 pounds at the beginning of last year. It was a significant weight cut and it was hindering my performance greatly so I eventually decided to move up to 141. It was one of the more miserable times of my life, maybe a month, but it was one of those experiences in wrestling that do make you grow and make you have more appreciation for the smaller things in life. It was tough; I was doing it for my team as well as for myself.
Would you do it again if you had to?
For Cornell wrestling? Without a doubt. I wouldn’t like it one bit, and I wouldn’t be happy with the way I was performing, but if it came down to it and my team needed it I would hands down do it.
Are there any other challenging experiences you’ve had as a wrestler that stick out?
Last year I went to an open tournament with some of the guys on the team and I had made weight, wrestled the day and won the tournament. Cornell was competing in national duals the next day and I had been asked to weigh in for that the next day as well. Making weight is normally a weeklong process, give or take, so I had to come back that night and get my weight down and wake up and work out again if I had to. I ended up being the only one who wanted to drive and it was snowing like crazy out so everyone was passed out in the car and I was allowed no stimulants like coffee to keep me up because I had to make weight the next day and water is the strictest thing I could drink. The tournament had ended up finishing late and we got back at about 1 a.m. Weigh ins were at 7 a.m. and I ended up working out in the Friedman Center by myself until like 3:30 a.m., got on weight, slept for a few hours and woke up and made weight. I was so out of it that for the first match I got warmed up and ready to go and I ended up not wrestling and for the second I was so zoned out and tired that I didn’t even warm up for the match. The entire match of 141 happened and I realized I would not have been ready to compete if I had tried.
7. Have you ever had any incidents when you were playing soccer in the wrestling center?
This was over this past summer. We have little goals set up in the wrestling center and like to play soccer some days when we want a lighter workout, but it gets very aggressive because as wrestlers we have some of the most competitive people I have ever met, [senior] Kyle Dake being one of them. It was getting heated and it was towards the end of the game, the ball rolled into the weight room, which is attached to the wrestling room. I ran in there and ducked under a bar to pick up the ball and didn’t see a second bar and just smacked my head right into the second bar. The bar went flying across the weight room and I was hurt but I just picked up the ball and ran into the wrestling room and just a curtain of blood started to come down my face.
Was it really serious?
I had to get stitches and if I cut my hair there’s a scar that goes right across, it’s not the prettiest thing. It’s a pretty funny story and probably one of my dumber moments.
8. Can you describe your relationship with Chris Fodi?
I’m wondering how to phrase my answer for this…
Some people say you’re just seasonal friends
, some say you’ve never met, and I hear you consider him to be your other half.
I’d say all of those things are true. Chris Fodi and I have definitely not met.
Who exactly is he?
He is my alter ego, I guess. My evil half, if you will. Let’s just say he’s been known to wreak havoc around the Townhouse area. It’s a rare occasion that he comes out, but he does come out. In my personal opinion, he’s pretty rude so I don’t like him too much. He’s pretty aggressive.
9. Are you a big user of Twitter?
I refuse to use Twitter.
So it’s not true that you post selfies to your Twitter account?
It may be true that [sophomore] Bricker Dixon posts selfies of me to Twitter but it’s been an ongoing challenge to try and get me on Twitter and I utterly refuse. That’s not to say I don’t use social media, I use Facebook a lot.
Do you use Tinder?
I do not use Tinder but I recently found out what it actually is and there are a couple of kids on the team that use it including [freshman] Logan David. He is definitely on Tinder, so find him.
10. Finally, straight from one of your teammates: you have to love one, punch one, and marry one between the women’s hockey team, the softball team and the field hockey team. What are your choices?
I can’t punch one. We’re really close to all three teams. We love women’s hockey, we like to say they’re basically us in female form. They’re a lot of fun and we get along really well. Same thing with field hockey and softball too, so I don’t think I could choose to punch one. To protect the feelings of all teams I won’t give my answer and just say the wrestlers really like all three teams.
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Original Author: Reena Gilani