At Princeton, there’s more to an athlete than a varsity letter. Club lacrosse’s senior midfielder Ryan Cody, coming off a brief fall season, looks toward the spring for his final slate of games as a Tiger. The player-coach sat down with The Daily Princetonian to discuss his strengths, his limitations and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.
The Daily Princetonian: Where are you from and what’s the best part about being from there?
Ryan Cody: I’m from Manassas, Va., where the Civil War was fought and lost. And the best part about being from there is that people think I’m Southern, so I get another dimension to my personality, even though I’m hardly stereotypically “Southern.” So I’m able to play both sides of the card. When I’m home, I’m a Northerner. At school, I’m a Southerner.
DP: Have you noticed any particular differences between people on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line?
RC: Southerners, we’re a kinder people. We’re less aggressive. We are afraid of crossing streets that have … we don’t really trust the little guy that appears and tells you to walk.
DP: What are you concentrating in?
RC: Psychology, with a certificate in neuroscience.
DP: How does that make you feel?
RC: Pretty good. I constantly have to justify my major to people when I apply for jobs. “I’m a psychology major. But wait—!”
DP: Can you identify the pinnacle of your athletic prowess?
RC: I was the greatest eighth grade athlete, I think, in the country. Physically, I was as you see me now. I was a defensive end, outside linebacker, running back, kick returner, punt returner, part-time punter, as well as a lacrosse superstar. I was also on the soccer team and the basketball team.
DP: Four sports. How did you do that?
RC: I was unstoppable. Oh, in terms of timing. Well, I played soccer and lacrosse at the same time.
DP: Can you recall a moment in your athletic career when you experienced adversity?
RC: In high school, I shattered my ankle and got spiral fracture in my tibia. That’s why I had to quit football and take two years off of lacrosse. I started running track, and I’m still not allowed to play full-contact sports. Also, once, a trainer was stretching me out. During the stretching process, they said, “Are you serious? It’s unsafe for you to be playing sports with your level of flexibility.”
DP: If you could be salt, pepper or oregano, which would you be and why?
RC: I’m going to go with salt, because it’s an excellent preservative.
DP: Do you think that your Native American heritage has contributed to your excellent lacrosse playing abilities?
RC: Yes. I got started a little late, later than most.
DP: When did you start playing?
RC: U-13, so I must have been 11 or 12. I switched from hockey to lacrosse, being pretty poor at hockey. And I was pretty mediocre at lacrosse. But I became the greatest middle school athlete in the history of the world.
DP: What do you bring to the men’s club lacrosse team on the field?
RC: I have a pretty fast five-yard dash. Kind of like a power forward. My NBA model is Kevin Seraphin of the Washington Wizards. Pretty poor form on the shot, but if I get in close I can do some damage.
DP: Some would call your back foot, on-the-run sidearm shot unstoppable. How did you cultivate this technique?
RC: Years of practice. Bad habits, which I reinforced by shooting 100 incorrect shots per day for a full spring.
DP: How would you describe your role off the field?
RC: We have a pretty small senior class, so I try to be involved as much as possible and get to know the younger guys but also maintain a level of seriousness.
DP: Could you talk about your transition from player to player-coach?
RC: As I’ve gone toward the latter, it started to take a lot more time. Freshman year, I was social chair, and we didn’t do much so that didn’t require much effort. When you’re just going to practice and not worrying about it... it adds an extra layer of stress when you’re running practices, because we’re a pretty casual team, so it’s difficult to maintain a consistent level of authority.
DP: How would you respond to claims that you rival Jackie Moon [Will Ferrell's character in “Semi-Pro”] for greatest player-coach-owner of all time?
RC: I think I’m probably better. My team’s going to be around next season. But I would trade some of our players for washing machines. I would be on the receiving end of that deal if it meant we could reliably wash our jerseys.
DP: Who on the Princeton men’s club lacrosse team has the best style?
RC: Me. On the field, definitely me.
DP: The grossest style?
RC: (Junior midfielder) Edgar (von Ottenritter). I almost gave him best style, but it’s just too gangly.
DP: What has been the proudest moment of your athletic career?
RC: We won regionals in high school. But I wasn’t that proud, because I didn’t play that year. I’d say getting in a fight in my first club lacrosse game my freshman year. It was against La Salle [University]. I was thrown into the other team’s bench, and one of our seniors hooked me under the arms while I was swinging. No penalty, however. My helmet had so much tilt in that game. I wanted to be cool because, you know, I was the cool freshman. But I couldn’t see anything, so I had to lean back every time I wanted to catch it. Tilt is sweet, though.
DP: If you could bring three things on a deserted island, what would they be?
RC: I’d go with a tool set, like a Lowe’s home improvement benefit package kind of thing. That way I could build a shelter. Oh! I’d bring a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant. And a hot tub. That would be the best party ever!
DP: Could you describe your Madden game?
RC: I am a traditionalist. Ground and pound. Rush the ball 30 times and pass six, if you can. Just ground them then pound them. Some call it unsportsmanlike, but I just have great clock management skills. My favorite Madden running back is probably Jamaal Charles. Second favorite, Dri Archer of the Steelers. He's the fastest player in the game.
DP: Who’s your favorite quarterback in the NFL?
RC: Colt McCoy. He’s kind of undersized. Can’t throw the ball very far. But he’s a gamer.
DP: And your favorite NFL team?
RC: The Washington… The team in Washington.
DP: If you could play a club sport at Princeton other than lacrosse, what would it be?
RC: I could go with sailing, because I love the thrill of the open ocean. The wind at my back. And then I could get to my island.
DP: Could you explain your inability to peel bananas?
RC: I can eat bananas. I just can't peel them. I’ve never been able to figure it out without getting the end all messed up. In high school, there was a kid who did it for me on the lacrosse team. It’s kind of embarrassing. I still need somebody to do it for me. Our lacrosse coach thought it was pretty messed up. “You’re going to an Ivy League school and you can’t peel a banana?” Now my margin of error is so great that I’ll totally mess up one in three. I’m not signing up for that.
DP: What if your island only had banana trees?
RC: Then I’d be pretty screwed. But there’d be the Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, so it’d probably be fine.
DP: Lacrosse is termed the “fastest sport on two feet.” Could you describe your speed over short, medium and long distances?
RC: Short distance, best in the biz. Put me at Tom Brady speed for medium distances. For long distances, I’m probably about at a competitive speedwalker’s level.
DP: What role has The Lord of the Rings franchise played in your life?
RC: Foundational. They’re the three greatest movies of all-time — the only three DVDs I own. But it’s significant for me as something my dad and my brothers would come together for and watch.
DP: What superpower do you wish you had?
RC: I would like to be able to fly. That’d be pretty cool. I don’t really like walking. And I could finally dunk a basketball.
DP: If on one hand, each of your four fingers and your thumb were taps, which hard drinks would they dispense?
RC: Well, there’s my favorite beer. It’s called Soul Shine. Starr Hill Brewery from Charlottesville, Va. Second, Bud Light. I like that it’s drinkable. And it’s the official beer sponsor of the NFL. Some rum. Third, dark spiced rum. Or spiced dark rum. Premium spiced dark rum. Fourth, a Strawberita. Fifth one… some bourbon.