Conversations by Candelight: A Last Minute Interview Gone Right

Every week, senior lacrosse player Sam Mathai exercises his vernacular, targeting anything and anyone on campus.

I sincerely believe that the allure of my column, at this point at least, is not the journalistic necessity of who I interview or what I write. Operating under that assumption, until someone informs me otherwise, I usually interview my friends and acquaintances, or sometimes nobody at all. At first glance, this seems like lazy journalism by a kid who is at the end of his college career and not interested in making new friends—and there may be some truth in that.

There is also the fact that I was going to ask my coaches for some hot takes this week, but both replied much too late to be interviewed. One actually replied to me late Tuesday night and I, foolishly thinking he wanted to talk, began some casual banter. After three texts, he said, “Okay, can I go to bed now?” Nothing says healthy player-coach relationship like being guilt-tripped because I am robbing them of sleep.

But hear me out: why not interview your friends? For me, I know I can say whatever I want, and I know that my friend/interviewee will reply with something genuine. Friendship produces answers that will probably need to be censored by my editor, and, in all honesty, that is what I’m looking for. It’s more fun for me to write, and I think it’s more entertaining for my audience. It’s a win-win-win. The third win is that someone random didn’t have their day interrupted by me for a column they don’t read.

With that being said, I interviewed Hunter Heninger this week because he is one of my favorite people to ever exist, including Macho Man Randy Savage and Jesus. It is worth mentioning we’ve never had a normal conversation. The conversation I had with him this week was weird because it was so normal.

Every day, I gear up right next to Heninger, as we both are on the lacrosse team and our lockers are next to each other.  The kid never fails to put a smile on my face. He has an indestructible, quiet optimism. He’s like a happier, better looking funnier Joseph Gordon-Levitt who sat in the locker room next to me during lacrosse season. If that doesn’t make you want to join the men’s lacrosse team, nothing will.

He’s also the least ‘lax bro’-ish person I know, including those who don’t even play. If you looked at him and talked to him, you would never know the kid is an absolute mongoose on the field—which I think is an apt comparison, but I don’t know enough about mongooses to be sure. I asked him for some hot takes, because I thought his perspective would be a unique one, and I thought he would make me laugh.

We ended up having a really wholesome back and forth that just reinforced the fact that Heninger is, in fact, super dope. To transcribe that here, though, would be this column’s version of a Nicholas Sparks novel. We talked about our new offensive coach, who he described as a ‘fired-up gorilla.’ To some people, that might be an insult, but I honestly think this particular coach would be into it. We talked about our favorite sideline chirps, like “this kid has skinny legs!” which usually is shouted by someone with legs that would not qualify as particularly girthy. Or the classic: “This kid is at an increased risk of developing heart disease because of his unhealthy lifestyle.” You know, normal, simple stuff like that.

We talked well into the night, and though I didn’t have a Pulitzer Prize-worthy interview, I did have a great talk with a good friend of mine. I would like to say that means more than a Pulitzer, but you and I, and everyone else knows that’s not true.

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