Following in the footsteps of Troy Nickerson ’10 and Kyle Dake ’13 before him, NCAA All-American wrestler Steve Bosak ’12 sat down for a 10 Questions interview with columnist Alex Kuczynski-Brown ’12 — in a Starbucks that was way too crowded for it being 1:30 in the afternoon on a Monday. They discussed Steve’s summer job, the time he almost got arrested on West Campus for breaking and entering, ringing the clock tower every day at noon (hypothetically), why he hates date auctions — and his plan to save the Wegmans pasta bar.
1. How is it that you came to wrestle for Cornell?
Well, Coach Koll recruited me and he’s actually from my hometown, State College, Pa. Originally, I verballed to Brown, and he told me that if I didn’t at least come on a visit he was going to drive down to State College and throw me in the back of his truck and drag me here, just to make sure that I wasn’t making any mistakes. You know I laughed it off and I said okay I would come on a visit, and ever since I came here I didn’t want to leave.
You’re from State College, so I can understand you not necessarily growing up with any professional sports team allegiance, but what is it that made you decide to become a diehard Pittsburgh fan seemingly overnight?
[laughing] Yeah, I tend to be a bandwagon fan. I just never really had the opportunity to get into a sports team. I just decided one night that I was going to become a Penguins and a Steelers fan. I only know a few guys on the Penguins’ team, but I bought a sweatshirt, I bought some tee shirts, and I’m going to make a point to go to a game after the [wrestling] season’s over.
Well, if I may say so, I think you made the wrong choice, because I’m from Philadelphia — and it’s the far superior sports city. But anyway, your friends claim you only know one player on the Penguins.
I know Crosby and Malkin, and that’s about it. But I’m going to step up my game and eventually become a bigger fan.
2. How did you and your girlfriend Katie [Watts ’12] first become acquainted before meeting at Cornell?
So before my freshman year I came up here during the summer in order to train and get some good lifts in, and my roommate Oney Snyder ’12 and I decided to add a bunch of the incoming freshman class girls on Facebook. Katie happened to be one of those girls, and I would use the classic line of “Wow, Cornell-bound ... that’s impressive” every time, and I think a bunch of the girls started to catch on because they saw that I was writing on multiple girls’ walls. So I don’t know what part of that seemed like a good idea, but at the time I hadn’t seen a girl in two months, so it was only logical. [laughing]
On that note, why were you so obsessed with snagging New Jersey girls?
I don’t really know why at the time. I mean my girlfriend’s from New Jersey so something obviously appealed to me. I think it’s because of their attitude and their charisma. I don’t know, I just like it.
Apparently you had a technique for how you were going to attract them?
[laughing] Yeah, so I refer to these days as “Freshman Bosak.” My freshman year I decided to get my ears pierced, and then wear this Dr. Dre hat backwards. I thought that if I dressed like I was from New Jersey, I was going to be able to reel in New Jersey girls. [laughing] And it was all fun and games until I walked into practice one day with those earrings in and my Dr. Dre hat on ... and I’d never seen Coach Koll more angry with me in my entire life. To him, I was this innocent freshman boy coming in dressed as somewhat of a thug. He was pretty angry with me.
So as I can see now, you don’t even have the holes anymore?
No, I’m pretty sure if I had left them in any longer he would have ripped them out, so I quickly removed them and never put them back in.
Why do you hate date auctions so much?
[laughing] Okay, so my girlfriend Katie — she always gets auctioned off in date auctions and she always wants me to bid on her, and she tends to go pretty high because she knows a lot of people. So after our first date — this was really early on in our relationship — Katie was auctioned off for a SAAC [Student-Athlete Advisory Council] event, and there were jokes that were explained in her bio [that] resulted in people wanting to bid really high on her. I thought it would be cute if I bid on her, and it turned out that I got into a bidding war with this one guy ... it led up, it kept getting higher and higher. Eventually he bid $100 and, regretfully, I bid $101 and he immediately spiked it up to $125, and I bailed. But I mean, he won the battle with his wallet, but I won the war with my charming personality.
Did you ever call him out on that after the fact?
We’ve joked about it, and we’re friends — it’s all fun and games.
A couple weeks ago there was actually a Senior Class Campaign date auction — I was there, and I know Katie was being auctioned off and they said something in her bio about her dating you ... but you weren’t there?
I refused to go because I knew what was going to happen again. This was the third date auction she’s been in, and the last one I almost got reeled into paying $65. I just feel like it’s unnecessary for me to go, because why would I pay for a date with my girlfriend who I’ve already won over?
3. Where was it that you worked this past summer?
I worked for a subset of Student Agencies called Big Red Shipping & Storage. It was fun, I worked with Adam Cherubini ’13 and Alex Rawitz ’13, and I did well.
What’s this I hear about you, Cam and Alex being arrested on West Campus while working?
Yeah, so we had one late night where we had to work until 2 a.m., and we had to do a move-in in someone’s apartment before they got there. We had the keys and everything, we went in and dropped our items off in the room. Well, we didn’t realize somebody else was living in the house at the time, so they thought someone was breaking and entering in the house, and they called the cops. And we were walking off after we dropped off everyone’s items, we had the cops right there next to our truck. So we explained it to them, but we were all good and everything. Everything was fine, and we met the guy who was terrified at the time.
Who or what is the “A-Team”?
So Alex Rawitz and I were considered the “A-Team.” We tend to have the best tips in the typical appointment, and I guess it was because we were just able to charm people and be friendly, and I guess [those customers] just liked to tip better.
Does this have something to do with you going “alpha male” while on appointments?
I was actually never the alpha male. What would happen is, Alex would occasionally decide to go alpha male on me, where he’d try to boss me around in order to impress the girl. And I was fine with it because I had a girlfriend, and occasionally he got some numbers, so it worked out.
4. Can you talk about the whole debacle involving the CTB mug that Katie got you as a present?
So for our one-year anniversary present, Katie bought me this coffee mug that gets me unlimited coffee for a year. I loved that mug — maybe more than Katie. No, just kidding. But I loved that mug. And I thought I lost it one day, and it just struck me. I immediately woke up and started searching at 1 a.m. for my mug where I thought I might have lost it. I thought it might have fallen off the roof of my car when I left Ithaca Bakery. So I searched for about an hour, gave up, and then went back to sleep. The very next morning I basically went to CTB, crying, and explained that I lost my mug. And they were very friendly, very nice and understanding and they gave me a new one. Well about a day later I actually found my original mug, so now I have two.
So for insurance purposes — in case you ever do actually leave it on the roof of your car.
Yeah, I refuse to let anybody else use the other mug because I love CTB, and they trusted me. So I decided that no one else can use the other mug. And in case I ever lose my mug in the future, I have it.
5. Earlier this year you beat Robert Hamlin, who was ranked No. 1 at the time in your weight class. He had beaten you three times last year, you beat him at home in front of a large Cornell crowd, obviously a very emotional moment. Can you just describe your reaction? Because I understand it was very uncharacteristic for you.
So normally when I win matches, I try not to get too emotional. I get my hand raised and I walk off the mat. But this was a big win for me, and I don’t know what happened, I just blacked out out there. I haven’t watched the film, but supposedly I kissed the crowd and I got down on one knee and Tebowed. But like I said, I don’t remember it, so in my mind it never happened.
6. Apparently you love Wegmans — I mean, we all do — but is it seriously true that the pasta bar is closing soon?!
One of the workers gave me the inside scoop the last time I was there, when I was explaining how much I love the pasta bar. And they said that’s too bad, because it’s probably going to be shut down soon. I think I almost cried that night. I’m emotionally attached to that pasta bar — I go all the time. You can make healthy pasta meals out of it, and I want to actually start a campaign in order to save the pasta bar at Wegmans. So if anyone out there is reading this, make sure you go to Wegmans and fill out a complaint card saying that you want to keep the pasta bar.
We’ll get this story out there, because I love the pasta bar too.
It’s one of the greatest parts of Wegmans.
Did they say why they would close it?
They said that it was less efficient than the other stations. It takes a lot longer to make a bowl of pasta, whereas they can roll a burrito in less time, or make a sub in less time.
7. Can you talk about the time that Cam threw out all of your clothes?
I’ve never been more angry with my roommate, Cam Simaz ’12. He occasionally goes on cleaning sprees where he just cleans everything in the house, and I guess he thought that my bag of clothes was garbage and he threw out all my singlets, my workout gear — all my clothes that I use for wrestling. And when I asked him about it, he acted like he didn’t know at all, and then I explained that this garbage bag with all my clothes was in the living room, and he immediately knew and apologized. But everything is fine now, just for a day or two I was upset with him.
Did you ever get him back for that?
No, I didn’t get back — I should though. No, he was very apologetic, so it is what it is.
8. What’s this about your all-organic diet that lasted all of about two days?
I don’t think that pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics are particularly good for people, so I decided I was going to try an all-organic diet. But after leaving Wegmans I realized that “organic” is just another word for “twice as expensive,” so I quickly got off of that.
You’re a nutritional sciences major, correct?
No, I switched.
They really need to update those CornellBigRed.com profiles.
Yeah, they do.
But anyway, apparently you watched a documentary about organic foods, and that got you started on this kick?
My mom eats organically and she told me to start watching some documentaries on organic food, and I watched a documentary called Food Matters — it’s very interesting, I liked it a lot — and I also watched another documentary called Food, Inc.. It kind of got me on the boat to start eating healthier and more organically.
9. One of your teammates wanted me to ask you “What is it like spending long days in the clock tower, making sure the bell tolls every half hour?” ... Does this mean you have a job in the clock tower?
[laughing] So this is a joke referencing my back. I have a hunchback — it’s called my “power hump” — and they often joke with me about it all the time, and it’s all fun and games. I mean, I know my back is hunched; I have bad posture, and it comes out mostly when I wrestle and wear a singlet. I guess if there was going to be someone to ring the bell tower every day at 12 o’clock, that would be me.
So it doesn’t interfere with your wresting?
No, I mean I make time. Time management is the key.
Apparently you are in a secret underground society known as the Gauntlet. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, so my freshman year Warner Phipps ’12, Oney Synder and I decided to make up a secret society that did not have really much going for it. It basically is just a club that requires us to wear tee shirts around when we lift that say “the Gauntlet” with a fist coming through it. I mean, it’s pretty prestigious.
Do you have to be a wrestler to be included?
Yup, one of the credentials is being a wrestler and someone who likes to have fun and hang out.
Do you have a tapping process?
The tapping process does not take place. Basically, if they hang out with us a lot and spend a lot of time, we “tap” new members. Recently we tapped Stryker Lane ’13 ... he’s our newest member.
So it’s not so much “secret” as it is exclusive?
It’s not a secret who’s in the Gauntlet, it’s a secret about what we do.
10. Which green cold-blooded Muppet character do you identify most with? And have you found your Miss Piggy yet?
Okay, so I occasionally sound nasally and my teammates gave me the nickname “Kermit the Frog.” It kind of stuck and guys joke around with me, call me it quite a bit. And I’m hesitant to answer this but I’m going to go against my better judgment and say yes, I have found my Miss Piggy.
Alex Kuczynski-Brown can be reached at email@example.com. Join the campaign to save the Wegmans pasta bar!