Q: What is your role on the water polo team at Princeton?
A: I’m a goalie, one of four. I walked on, so I’m the third-string goalie. It’s nice because I don’t have to do too much.
Q: What are some of your athletic accomplishments?
A: I went to Lawrenceville, and every year we had this Garden State Tournament. I got the MVP award one year because they’d given it to the best player on the team the last three years in a row and didn’t want to give it to him again. I’d go to Christmas parties, and my dad would say, “Here’s the best player in the state,” and everyone would be in awe, and I’d just be like, “Not really.”
Q: If you didn’t play water polo, what sport would you play?
A: I used to row. That was always pretty depressing, so I stopped. Probably basketball.
Q: One of your teammates said a lot of people actually know you as Todd. How’d you get the name Todd?
A: Before I walked on, there was a goalie shortage, so they used a sort of fake goalie that had holes in the corners to shoot at. They used it so long that they named it Todd. Once I showed up, they just started calling me Todd.
Q: If you could change one aspect of the game of water polo, what would it be?
A: I would make it less physical. One time the coach put me on the field against Dartmouth, and some guy tried to rip my suit off. I freaked out and just gave him the ball. Coach took me out again.
Q: What was your “welcome-to-college” moment?
A: Falling down the muddy hill in Cloister’s backyard during frosh week.
Q: Why Princeton?
A: A lot of family went here, so it has always been on the radar. Honestly, I like the community here, too. Princeton has a good sense of community here and among alumni.
Q: This interview runs the day after the election. Who do you predict will win?
A: Probably Obama. I’m hoping for Romney, though.
Q: A different teammate told me to ask you about the Byrne family. Is there anything interesting you can tell me about them? Is it true your grandfather [Brendan Byrne ’49] was the governor of New Jersey?
A: He was. He went here; he was the governor. I guess the interesting thing about that is that we share a name, since I’m Brendan Byrne III, and, living in New Jersey, a lot of people know his name. When people see the name, they know I’m related, so there are some interesting perks that go along with that. When I was going to get my driver’s license, I think the only reason they let me pass was because they knew my grandfather, and they let me cut the really long line, which was nice.
Q: He also said you recently visited Morocco. How was that?
A: I spent two months there doing intro to Arabic. I got out just in time. That was definitely an experience. During Ramadan, everyone was fasting, and there was no food around. A few days before, it was like prepping for a storm. Twenty American kids went to a store and cleared the shelves of all the food.
Q: What’s your favorite TV show, movie or book?
A: I don’t watch TV much, but “Rudy” has always resonated with me.
Q: What’s the dirtiest play you’ve ever seen in water polo?
A: Sometimes the dirtiest plays are the ones you don’t see. Sophomore [attacker] Drew Hoffenberg is notorious for roughing people up under the water. It’s always funny sitting on the bench and just kind of watching peoples’ facial expressions when you know what he’s up to. A few times people just scream, and the refs are so confused.
Q: Suppose you had to choose between playing in a swimming pool at 50 degrees Farenheit or a pool at 110 degrees. Which would you choose?
A: Since I don’t really do much, 110.
Q: Do you have any unusual fears?
A: Tidal waves, which is kind of ironic for a water polo player.
Q: What has been your favorite class at Princeton so far?
A: [AST 201:] Mapping the Universe. The subject itself isn’t that interesting, but the professor sometimes goes on tangents. Two weeks ago, he spent half an hour talking about this website he made that ranks college teams.
Q: What’s the funniest story you know about your coach [Luis Nicolao]?
A: I think with Louie, it’s the little things. He’s a very opinionated guy, and once you get him talking, he’s hard to stop. So halfway through practice, I’ll get him talking and step out of the pool. He’s a big Romney guy, so I’ll start talking about Romney, and everybody knows what I’m up to. And before long, 20 minutes have passed, and nobody’s doing anything. He’ll suddenly realize what’s going on and yell at me.
Q: Who is the quirkiest member of your team?
A: Sophomore [center] Matt Weber. Kid always smiles. I don’t think even he knows what he’s smiling about.
Q: Who is the member of your team most likely to sucker punch you under the water during practice?
A: Junior [utility] Tyler Amina.
Q: What is your favorite type of music? What has been your jam recently?
A: Junior [attacker] Matt Pugliese and I started coming up with really annoying songs while we were sitting on the bench, and so oddly enough I’ve been listening to that. I whistle “Low Rider” in the locker room a lot. Apart from that, I like a lot of ’80s music.
Q: Are you involved in any other groups on campus?
A: I tried out for Shere Khan last fall and didn’t make it. I think my singing career has gone downhill since then. But no, water polo is really all I have time for.
Q: What’s the best thing about being an athlete at Princeton?
A: Definitely the team. Especially as an underclassman. Coming in as a freshman, you automatically have a group of guys who watch your back.
Q: What’s the worst thing about being an athlete at Princeton?
A: Definitely morning practice. Also, when people think you’re dumb in precept. I made a point of going to all my first precepts this year decked out in athletic gear, and then when I said something intelligent my preceptor looked really surprised.
Q: If you could visit any part of the planet without worrying about cost or taking time off from school, where would you go?
A: I’d go back to India. I went to India three summers ago. It’s so different. Trying to cross the street is like Frogger. You’ve got elephants coming at you, regular cars, rickshaws and swarms of people. It’s crazy.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not playing water polo?
A: Super Smash Bros., old-school Nintendo 64. I don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted on that thing.
Q: Who’s your character?
A: I’m a Captain Falcon guy.
Q: Is the Falcon Punch your go-to move?
Q: How do you execute the Falcon Punch?
A: You gotta jump, and while you’re jumping you start to punch. Nobody pays attention to you while you’re flying through the air.
Q: What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
A: People who know me know that I have no shame, so I wouldn’t say it’s embarrassing. There’s a lot of Lady Gaga. I dig it.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
A: My version of warm-up is to take a nice warm shower. It also makes getting into the pool a lot worse. Apart from that, no.