In a previous On Tap, water polo sophomore Bradley Wachtell said of sophomore classmate and goalie Alex Gow that his penchant for comebacks made him the quirkiest player on the team. When asked what this meant, Gow said that it meant that he’s a man with a lot to say. Starting in 18 and playing in 22 games this past season, the California native compiled a 14-5 record with 225 saves recorded. Read on for his perspectives on Wes Anderson, trash talk and Super Smash Bros — the Nintendo 64 classic was being played at the time this interview was recorded.
Q: Where are you from, and what do you miss about being there right now?
Alex Gow: I’m from Portola Valley, California. West Coasters and East Coasters have a very fundamentally different view on how life works. I miss that other perspective the most. Also, there’s beautiful and abundant nature there. You can’t understand how chill Californians are.
Q: What’s your favorite —
AG: (interrupting) Color? Blue.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
AG: I’m going to have to go with “Moonrise Kingdom.” For personal reasons. I love to rewatch the beginning.
Q: What do you most like about Wes Anderson’s directing style?
AG: His films are really sexy. He’s got some sick beats mixed in with dope actors. But actually, his films feel like very real movies. They’re not purely for entertainment. They really make you think.
Q: What are the three best choices you’ve made this week?
AG: I’m sorry, but you probably shouldn’t put any of them in the ‘Prince.’
Q: What social role does the water polo team play in the greater Princeton athletic community?
AG: I would say we’re a pretty respected group of people. I’d like to think we’re a bunch of really fun dudes who people enjoy hanging out with.
Q: Socially and athletically, what roles do you play on the team?
AG: I’m actually the team social chair. But on the athletic side I’m the goalie. Beyond being just the goalie, that means I have a large leadership role on the team because I’m in charge of running the defense.
Q: Which player on the team has the best trash-talk?
AG: There’s a couple for that. [Junior] Drew Hoffenberg likes to talk a big game because of his Napoleon complex. But I’d say [senior] Adam Lebowitz has the best trash talk, because whenever I’m starting to feel good about myself, Lebo can say one line and crush me. I’m terrified of Lebo, because he’s a really nice, friendly guy who has trash-talk that will just destroy me. He’s a 5’10” 160lb swimmer and scrub, but he’s the scariest guy on the team.
Q: What’s the most notable pre-game ritual you guys have?
AG: (understanding this to be question about team social practice) Pregame ritual? And you’re going to publish this in the paper?
Q: No, I mean before a game.
AG: Oh I see. I like to get really silly. If nervous before a game, I’ll ask teammate Kayj Shannon to tell me a funny joke. Also, I’ll never dive normally into the pool before a game. I’ll do a penguin dive, which is when you flop in with your arms at your side. Or a belly-flop. Or just, like, go ham in the air and see what happens. [Sophomore] Jamie Kuprenas takes warm showers.
Q: What’s the most common misconception you have to overcome when describing your sport to someone?
AG: That the horses aren’t swimming. Actually, I love that joke. I wish people would tell it more often. You play water polo? Don’t the horses drown?!
Q: Give me some funny-sounding nuggets of California water polo lingo.
AG: I’m from NorCal so I say “hella” a lot. Also, chill. Do you guys not say chill? This one’s kind of nasty, but if you take a shot, and hit the goalie in the back of the head, then the ball goes in the goal, it’s called a JFK. Because JFK got shot in the head.
Q: What are some differences between NorCal and SoCal?
AG: People from SoCal prefix all their freeways with “the.” So it’s the 405, the 5, the 101. But I still refer to SoCal freeways with the “the.” But it would not sound right to say the 280. Also, we always brag we give them water. That’s our thing.
Q: What’s your favorite Princeton varsity sport to watch outside the pool?
AG: I watched a lot of lacrosse last year. California does not have a lot of lacrosse and it is an upbeat, exciting sport to watch. Princeton is always nationally ranked too, which makes the season fun to follow.
Q: If you could be the best in the world at one sport, what would it be?
AG: I would say soccer. One, it’s high-paying. Two, it’s international so everyone would know me. And three, I think it’s a beautiful sport to watch, because everyone on the field looks like they’re dancing. They’re so good with their feet. And I’m raw at FIFA 12.
Q: Can you describe for me your Smash game?
AG: It’s classy. It’s classy and honorable. But it’s also getting pretty raw. If I’m playing stock, I’ll throw out Fox, because he’s fast as hell. And if I’m playing time, I’m going to be playing Ness. That dude just racks up the kills. Put that in the paper. Ness is wet.
Q: If you had to be one Smash character, who would it be?
AG: Well, Ness has telekinetic powers, so it’s hard to say no to that.
Q: If each of your fingers was a soft-drink dispenser, what drinks would you choose?
AG: What’s the best orange drink? Sunkist is number one for me. Then Sprite. Can I put a Shirley Temple on there? Yeah, Shirley Temple. Then Dr. Pepper. Oh, and A&W Root Beer. But that’s not in order.
Q: What’s the best class you’ve taken at Princeton so far?
AG: I’d say GEO 109: Environmental Decision-Making with Professor Gregory van Der Vink. The professor was really interesting and all the work was really down to earth and necessary. And I’m very interested in environmentalism.
Q: If you could be from one of the four nations in Avatar, which would you be?
AG: I’d be an airbender. Air’s always around me and it’d be very useful for everyday things. I could take the oxygen out of your lungs, LeBlanc. (Roommate Mike LeBlanc was playing precision Smash with Kirby at the time.)
Q: That’s pretty heavy.
AG: Don’t mess with me, LeBlanc.
Q: What’s a special talent you wish you had?
AG: I really wish I could grow facial hair. Then I could have a thick mustache. It’s really a dream of mine and a life-goal. But I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen.
Q: Do you have any musical talents?
AG: I have no musical talents except for the xylophone. I can bump my head and play the xylophone for days.