Doug Wolter: The 'unusual' question produces unusual answers
“The most unusual thing that people don’t know about me is I can ride a unicycle."
“What is the most unusual thing about you that most people don’t know?”
That is a question I have asked of an athletic personality nearly every week since May of 2017 when Globe photographer Tim Middagh and I began compiling “Drill” features for this newspaper.
“The Drill” started as a way to wed text and video into a single composition suitable for both print and web site that uniquely tells the story of an intriguing sports personality from the Globe coverage area. From 2017 until now, we’ve done 172 Drill pieces, and we’re still going strong.
I always tell my subjects that the “unusual thing” question is my favorite. “Everyone knows you play football, basketball, volleyball (or whatever),” I say to them, “but we want to know something different about you.”
For some, it’s a difficult question to provide an answer for, on the spot. But many interviewees come up with amazing, surprising, and humorous answers.
So today, we give you this post-Christmas gift: My Top 12 favorite responses to my favorite Drill question (I was going to go with 10, but I couldn’t whittle it down from 12).
Here they are, starting with 12 and going all the way to No. 1:
TWELVE: “The most unusual thing that people don’t know about me is I can ride a unicycle. I got a unicycle for Christmas one year, and I just tried it and I just kept working at it, and I just learned by myself. And I play piano. I usually go to nursing homes here and there and play for them, and I did some piano in church.” (Maci Farmer, Jackson County Central volleyball and basketball, 9/14/21)
ELEVEN: “I like to look into, like, the stock market and see how it moves. And you can make a lot of money just by knowing when to pull out and when to go in. Because I’ve seen a lot of people make hundreds of thousands in, like, a month. It’s outrageous. I’ve been studying the stock market so, hopefully, after high school I can at least have some experience in something I actually enjoy.” (Jonathan Banegas, Worthington Trojans soccer, 9-7-22)
TEN: “When I was a kid, I played more baseball with my mom than I did with my dad (WHS baseball coach Stacy Sauerbrei). He was coaching, so my mom was always the one that I would go play catch with, or go hit with.” (Triston Sauerbrei, Worthington Trojans baseball, 7-14-21)
NINE: “I love playing with puzzles and Rubik’s Cube. I can solve a Rubik’s Cube, my best time is like 26 seconds. I kind of got (my friends) interested in Rubik’s Cube, so they all had their Rubik’s Cube with them, too. And they all gave ‘em to me; I had about 10 of them lined up in front of me. And I just went through them all and solved them one by one. And it took probably about 10 minutes, but it was in a restaurant and we got video of it in time-lapse and everything.” (Alec Langerud, Worthington Trojans tennis, cross country and hockey, 7-7-21)
EIGHT: “The most unusual thing about me is that I love peanut butter on my burgers. I think we were talking about it at church one day -- just burgers, because we were having a grill-out or something. And then someone mentioned putting peanut butter on your burgers. And then I tried it, and it was soooooooo good.” (Alayna Wingate, Sibley-Ocheyedan softball, 6-29-22)
SEVEN: “When I was younger, I used to name everything ‘Bob.’ Everything was named Bob. I told Roger (Geertsema, an assistant with the gym team) that story, and now when he cheers for me he cheers for Bob. And if you hear Roger in the stands yelling. ‘Bob!’ he’s cheering for me.” (Mekyla Nystrom, Worthington Trojans gymnastics, 1-5-21)
SIX: “I’ve actually seen all 597 episodes of ‘Survivor.’ And I’ve spent a lot of time watching the show. Hopefully, I’ll get to go on it one day.” (Isaiah Noble, Worthington Trojans boys soccer, 10-13-21)
FIVE: “The most unusual thing about me that most people don’t know is probably that I like to organize things when I’m bored. So sometimes I’ll just be sitting at home and get bored and organize the fridge or our pantry, or something. I organize my room, I organize and reorganize my clothes a lot. My parents like it. I like to be organized because it makes it easier on them. And then they have less cleaning to do.” (Bailey Newman, Worthington Trojans track and field, 6-9-21)
FOUR: “Something unique about me, I play softball and I actually hate the feel of dirt. Dirt is really not my favorite thing because it gets in my hair, it makes me feel dirty -- especially after doubleheaders. Sometimes when I dive, I’ll scratch myself and get it in my cuffs. It’s such a hassle that, I guess, I have to deal with it for a few more years.” (Billi Connell, Luverne Cardinals softball player who will play college softball at the University of Minnesota, 6-1-22)
THREE: “I hate wearing socks. I don’t wear socks when I skate, or in tennis shoes, or any shoes -- ever. I hate it. In my skates when I wear socks I feel like my feet are suffocated. And, like, it just carries on to my tennis shoes. And you DO NOT want to smell my skates. It is so bad. … I don’t even have socks in my drawers, in my room. If I ever need socks, I go to my sister’s room and borrow them.” (Kamryn Van Batavia, Luverne Cardinals hockey, 3-24-21)
TWO: “Something that most people won’t know about me is that I’m terrified of fish. I love going swimming in lakes, going boating -- but I will freak out if I’m swimming and a fish hits my foot. I can deal with snakes, I can deal with spiders, but fish, I can’t do that. They’re just weird creatures. I don’t know. You know, we go swimming in the lakes all the time and if I feel their tail up against my foot, I’m outta there.” (Austin Olson, Jackson golfer, 9-14-22)
AND NUMBER ONE: “Something that people probably don’t know about me is, as you can see, I have a gap between my teeth, and I can spit water through it. I can actually spit it pretty far. Sometimes in class we’ll be, like, messing around, and (someone will say), ‘Sidney, how far can you spit it?’ It’s pretty fun.” (Sidney Fick, Hills-Beaver Creek volleyball, basketball and track, 2-20-19)