Matt O’Connor: Biggest Man on Campus

With football season finally in full swing, TSL took the time to sit down with Matt O’Connor PO ’15, outside linebacker for Pomona-Pitzer, to talk football, school, and spirit animals in preparation for the rest of the season.

TSL: How and when did you start playing football?

Matt O’Connor: I started playing football when I was six years old. My dad said I should do something active because I sort of just sat around all day and ate food. Ever since then it’s been one of my passions.

TSL: What are your other passions?

MO: Football, theater, music, school [laughs], other people … I’m somewhat of a social butterfly. 

TSL: What position do you play and how did you come to play it?

MO: I play outside linebacker. Actually, my junior year of high school I played nose guard on the defensive line and at the end of every game you just feel ruined. I moved to d[efensive] end my senior year, and I played D-end my freshman year of college. Then I realized I’m probably a little too small for that. I finally found my home at outside linebacker last year. It’s the best position ever. If anyone tells you another position is better, it’s not. The party’s outside.

TSL: What’s your favorite thing about being on a team?

MO: My favorite thing about being on a team is the brotherhood. The bond I have with my teammates—it’s a sense of family you can’t get anywhere else. A lot of times, relationships you form in football will last the rest of your life. That applied to me in high school and that definitely applies to me now in college. The guys on the team are the people I eat lunch with, the people I go to parties with—I do everything with these guys, they’re just my family.

TSL: Is there anything you don’t like about football?

MO: No one likes to get up early. We get up to lift at 7 a.m. No one likes that. There should be a law against things happening before 12 p.m.—nothing productive ever happens before 12 p.m.

TSL: What has been your most memorable game?

MO: That’s hard …

TSL: On the Pomona-Pitzer team?

MO: Oh good, that narrows it down … because I’ve only had one win. It was last year’s game against CMS [Claremont-Mudd-Scripps]. We broke what I believe was a 19-game losing streak. It felt like there was about 50 million pounds taken off my shoulders that day. My first win in two years was a relief. 

TSL: What are you studying at Pomona?

MO: I’m a double major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and Theater.

TSL: What are some things you do not like to do?

MO: I don’t like to sit around and do nothing. I don’t even like sleep. If I could take a pill that would make me not sleep I absolutely would do it. I don’t like being not active. I know I have to sleep, and I am tired a lot. But if I could remove sleep from my schedule and have 24 full hours in a day, I could fill it up with things to do. I also don’t like eating vegetables very much. And I don’t like people who don’t like puppies.

TSL: If you could play one football game with any object but a football, what would that one object be?

MO: Probably a Nordic axe.

TSL:  Specifically Nordic?

MO: Yes, it has to be Nordic.

TSL: Why did you choose a Nordic axe?

MO: Why wouldn’t I choose a Nordic axe?

TSL: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever eaten?

MO: I had shark once. It tasted like really tough chicken. You feel just “greater than” when you’re eating a shark. Top of the food chain. Hashtag-greater-than.

TSL: Do you have any advice for other student athletes?

MO: Get things done as soon as they’re assigned in school, because if you get behind you will drown in work. Parties are cool but they will always be around. Your future—you only get one. So take advantage of it instead of doing stupid things.

TSL: Who is your spirit football player?

MO: Part of me wants to say someone who plays my position, like Clay Matthews from the Green Bay Packers. But the other part of me wants to pick a quarterback … also from the Packers, obviously, Aaron Rodgers because at heart I am a quarterback. I played QB in middle school, in eighth grade. I really am about that pretty-boy life. I know the requirements to play QB are to have great looks and an ego the size of the universe, so I think I qualify.

TSL: What’s your spirit animal?

MO: I’m choosing between a unicorn and a honey badger. I don’t know which. Vicious versus mythical. Maybe a unibadger. Or a honeycorn.

TSL: Finally, what teams do you root for?

MO: Obviously the Packers. I also like University of Wisconsin Badgers, hence the honey badger spirit animal. And then other sports. I’m sort of all over the country. I like the Denver Nuggets for basketball, and my dad is from Boston, so I’m a Red Sox fan in baseball.

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