This week, the ‘Prince’ sat down with sophomore Brad Wachtell of the No. 15 men’s water polo team. Coming out of this weekend’s Princeton Invite undefeated, Wachtell chatted about team dynamics, the water polo brotherhood and his hidden talent for singing.
Q: Where are you from, and what is it like there?
A: I’m from LA. It’s always perfect. LA is the best.
Q: How did you start playing water polo?
A: I started in sixth grade because I was swimming with my brother, and swimming is very boring. I saw the water polo players practicing on the other side of the pool, so I gave it a try. I’ve been playing ever since.
Q: What is the most common misconception about water polo?
A: There are no horses. I’m kidding. Most people don’t understand any part of it, so you have to start from the beginning. Especially on the East Coast.
Q: Do you have any pre-competition rituals?
A: I personally don’t, but our team normally has our team meeting, then we go back to the locker room, play some good, funny music and all get psyched up before we head out.
A: Q: Do you have any specific pump-up songs?
A: Some people are not going to like to hear this one but “Hey, What’s Going On” is definitely making a comeback this year.
Q: Most embarrassing song on your iPod?
A: I have no idea. Every one of them is embarrassing.
Q: Any good stories about your coach?
A: Last year when we were playing at Navy’s pool, twice he almost fell into the pool. Once I had to save him. He was trying to walk over the corner, and he would slip a little bit. One time I had to actually hold him up as he kept going.
Q: Was he grateful?
A: Nah, he just kept yelling at whoever he was yelling at. Apparently in the past he has fallen in before, so at least we saved him from that.
Q: Best part about being an athlete at Princeton?
A: The close-knit group you get when you come in as a freshman. We’re a really close team, and we stay close on the offseason. Our nickname for ourselves is H2Omega because we’re like our own fraternity.
Q: Worst part about being an athlete at Princeton?
A: Practice. In the morning, especially.
Q: How do you make yourself get in the pool in the morning?
A: The coaches say we’re in by this time, and then everyone stands around, they get mad, start yelling and we all normally jump in or they push us in. There’s always a couple of stragglers at the end.
Q: Have you ever tried to use sunscreen to be more slippery in the pool?
A: It never happens on the East Coast, because it’s all indoors. When we go out west and we play, especially for us because we’re all pale in comparison to all the California guys who are always in the sun, we always put on so much sunscreen, and they always complain because we’re so slippery. So I guess it does work, but it’s not the goal; it just happens.
Q: If you were going to do a different sport, what would it be?
A: Swimming, because I’m terrible at anything on land.
Q: Quirkiest teammate?
A: I would definitely say [sophomore goalie] Alex Gow. He always has a great comeback. Every comeback he makes is just great. He always has something to say, which at certain times you don’t like and certain times you do, but I normally think he’s hilarious.
Q: Any other particular dynamics or characters on the team?
A: [Junior attacker] Drew Hoffenberg and [junior center] Kayj [Shannon] are always together. They like to cuddle in the corner of the quad they’re in. And Kunu [senior utility Tyler Amina] is really good at scaring the freshman. Very good scary persona. He’s a really nice guy, but good at being scary.
Q: What’s your greatest talent outside of water polo?
A: I’m unbelievable at singing, probably the best on the team, much better than [freshman utility] Lachie [Kermode].
Q: Is there anything we should be talking about? You’re not secretly an incredible tap-dancer or something?
A: You can write that too. Singing and tap-dancing. You got me.