For the first tag team On Tap of 2014, the Daily Princetonian sat down with men’s track teammates and juniors Nana Owusu-Nyantekyi and Dan McCord. Nana hails from London, England and competes in the triple jump. Dan comes from North Bablyon, N.Y. and competes in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints. This past weekend, he ran the second leg in the 4x400m relay which placed first in the Ivy League championship. Additionally, Dan walked on to the Ivy League Champion football team this past fall and played wide receiver. Read on for their views on association vs. gridiron football along with their most embarrassing athletic moments.
Q: What’s the best part about being from your respective hometowns?
Dan McCord: Long Island? Everyone just thinks I’m rich. So people assume they can just mooch off of me without feeling bad about me. So I have to just try to tell them that Long Island isn’t just “Gossip Girl” and the Hamptons. It’s a lot longer than “Long Island,” I guess.
Nana Owusu-Nyantekyi: I kind of crush all of the stereotypes. I don’t like tea. Never ever drink that stuff. But everyone here thinks that all British people must love tea. The thing I like the most is that British people are very quirky. They’re quite weird. But in a good way, once you get to know them. That’s actually another great thing. I can get away with saying whatever I want. Someone will look at me weird, and I’ll be like, “I’m not from here, I’m foreign.”
Q: What’s the weirdest foreign quirk about this guy, Dan?
DM: If I’m to spare him — I’ve known this guy for a long time — he’ll say words, and I still don’t understand. Like, “chunder.” He’s like, “I apologize for chundering.” This was after he throws up on my bed. I’m like, “What part was chundering? Was it when you didn’t get up when I said that you were about to throw up?” That’s just one of the words. There’s a vocab of things I don’t understand.
Q: Nana, you’ve lived in America for some time. What’s the weirdest thing we do?
NON: Keeping on slang, half the time I don’t understand what Americans are saying. He thinks I’m bad with my lingo. But he’ll come up with some weird stuff. Some Long Island stuff. For example, whenever I say something weird, he’ll say “Give him the neck.” What does that even mean? And they all come —(at this point Dan slaps Nana on the back of the neck) — and slap me on the neck.
Q: Gridiron football or association football?
DM: Association football meaning soccer?
NON: No, meaning football.
DM: I’ll give you the common thing. We don’t just cry on the cry on the ground every time we get tapped on the back of the leg. I’ve seen some bad football injuries, don’t get me wrong. But I watch the game, and they pass forward, pass back, pass forward, pass back. You can look away and look back, and nothing’s really happened. Next thing you know somebody’s on the ground. That just doesn’t happen in American — I mean the real football.
NON: You done? All right. Firstly I want to dispute the name. My football is played with what?
DM: Your foot.
NON: And what do we use? You use a ball. So it’s simple. Foot. Ball. But then American football you play with your hands. And that thing is shaped more like an egg than a ball. And the only time you can say it’s “football” is when you especially call this one dude — the only dude on the team — who’s allowed to kick the ball. You bring him on. He stays on for like five seconds. And then he’s tired and has to sit on the bench for another hour. That’s a waste game.
Q: What’s your most embarrassing sports-related memory?
NON: This is ages ago, when I was a little kid. I think it was the 100m, back when I was fast. The gun goes off. I’m running. And at the time I had those string shorts on, where you had to tie a knot. I guess I’d forgotten to do it. So 20 meters in, the thing just comes off. Next thing I know my shorts are around my ankles, and I’m smack on the ground, face first. After that, I was spandex-only. No more shorts.
DM: It hasn’t happened to me, but it’s the only thing I can think of because I think it has to happen to everyone. It was high school nationals my sophomore year. We run the relay. We didn’t get all-American, but we’re all celebrating, wondering where the last guy was. He comes back and he’s already changed. He said he had to go to the bathroom. We find out on the bus that he had too much whole wheat pasta and it went right through him mid-race. The only reason it’s embarrassing is because I think my time’s going to come one day.
Q: What’s the proudest moment of your careers so far?
NON: It’s tough, because with track, if you win individually, that could be one of your great moments. If you win with a team, that’s another big thing. And when you hit a PR.
DM: Maybe we could share this one. But at last year’s spring Heps, winning that Ivy League Championship was my proudest moment because my whole freshman year we had triple crowned. In the indoor when we lost for the first time, it showed that we don’t just win these every time. So to come back and win it right here at Princeton, when we were jumping around and celebrating on our home field, that was my proudest moment.
Q: Who’s the quirkiest kid on the track team?
NON: I train with [senior] Damon [McLean], the other triple jumper. He’s kind of a loose cannon. You just don’t know what you’re gonna get. Someone described him perfectly as the quietest and loudest person on the team at the same time.
DM: I have to live with Damon, so I see all the ins and outs of that.
Q: Give me some weird pre-meet superstitions.
NON: I’m probably pretty weird with my superstitions. My weirdest one is, before every meet, I watch probably ten minutes worth of Dragon Ball Z before I jump. I’ll watch all the transformation from Super Saiyan 1 all the way to 4. Don’t judge me for it, but it’s one of the things I have to do.
DM: The only one I have — my dad passed this down — is that he won’t let me talk to women before races. I didn’t think that it was a big deal. One time I broke the rule, I ran badly. Ever since then, I’ve tried to keep that the rule.
Q: We like to publish a tweet of the day on our page. Who’s got the best Twitter game on the team?
NON: It would be me, but I don’t have a Twitter.
DM: Yeah this guy won’t get a Twitter. I’m really committed to it. I actually take my time to have people proofread my stuff. But Damon, again. I don’t know why I thought about this. Anything he thinks about, he’ll throw it out there.
Q: Do both of you play FIFA?
NON: I play. He’s learning. Master and apprentice.
DM: All right. I can’t lie. He really does beat me a lot. But after every game, I’ll be like, “Teach me how to shoot.”
NON: This guy can dribble through my whole team, get it to the goal, and literally just pass it to the keeper. He’s got a little bit of work to do.
Q: If you could play a sport at Princeton other than running track or football for you, Dan, what would it be?
DM: Lacrosse. I’m a Long Island boy by trade. Tom Schreiber was right around the corner from me at St. Anthony’s. He’s more than a legend. I’ve actually had people come up to me at home and ask me for a Tom Schreiber autograph. But lacrosse, they’ve got some mean flow. I’m working on mine. Trying to get some cheese back there.
NON: I did not see that coming. It’d have to be football. The real football. Not American football. I always joke that they recruited me for the wrong sport. But my football, that like my FIFA has gone down since I’ve come to America.
Q: Dan, according to GoPrincetonTigers.com, you enjoy camping. Could you talk a little bit about your best and worst camping experiences?
DM: Whether people believe it or not, I’m actually an Eagle Scout. I do have the card to prove it. My worst experience camping would be when I basically had second degree frostbite on both my feet. That wasn’t too good.
Q: Which one of you is the better person?
DM: We’re the same person.
NON: He’s just an American version.
DM: We actually did convince someone last reunions that we were twins and that our mother sent him over to Eton and left me here to see which one of us would turn out better. And they believed us. That covers the whole accent thing.
NON: But I’ll give it to Danny boy. He looks after me in my times of need. He’ll look after me when I chunder everywhere. I would not clean up your chunder man.