STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Chris Mezger

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Each week, we shift the student-athlete emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and I have a conversation with a Trojan scholar athlete.
Name: Chris Mezger

Sport: Baseball

Class: Senior

Major: Linguistics (Minors in History and Classics)

GPA: 3.80

Jordan Moore (JM): You are 6'10".  Give me some crazy stat about your height like how tall were you in 6th grade or the first time you dunked?

Chris Mezger (CM): Haha, OK, I was 6'0" in 6th grade and dunked for the first time on March 20, 2003, when I was in 8th grade (not like I was counting or anything). Also, I grew 18 inches during a four-year growth spurt from age 10 to 14.

JM: Does your height affect your personality?  You always have to stand out, not easy to hide at that size.

CM: Absolutely. My grandmother was full of wise sayings about how you'll never have to seek attention when you're tall, but you'll never be able to avoid it either. I get stared at everywhere I go, especially in small spaces like airplanes, but I'm completely accustomed to it and rarely notice. I think that explains why I'm a fairly quiet person: I never have to try and get attentionrandy-johnson.jpg because it always comes to me first.

JM: On the mound, do you model yourself after other tall pitchers like Trojan alum Randy Johnson?

CM: I always idolized Johnson (I've carried the nicknames Little Unit or Big Unit several times), but in truth we share very little as pitchers beyond height.  He threw left-handed, side-arm, wildly, and 100+ MPH, whereas I throw right-handed, more over the top, in control, and 90 MPH. So I can't really say I model myself off him since I had no say in being tall.

JM: You list Roger Federer as your favorite athlete.  He speaks five languages fluently.  As a Linguistics major, how many different languages can you do your Roger-Federer.jpgpost-game interviews in?

CM: Haha, well if I was writing out answers to questions, I could use three, maybe four. English and French for sure, Latin on paper, and I'm working on Aramaic. I could probably fake Spanish or Italian if I had to...

JM: What is the most beautiful language in your expert opinion? 

CM: I still have about 6,996 languages to learn, but of the ones I've ever heard spoken, I like French the most, even though it's so hard to speak.

JM: Your specialty is the history of languages.  I'm not even sure I know what that means.  Give me a cool example of something that would fascinate me about linguistic history...

CM: Linguistic history is very comparable to biological history: those languages most able to change to become more utile are those most likely to survive. English, for example, though hard to learn for a foreigner, is so dominant partly because it is so adaptive: English has more diverse loan words than almost any other language because it has facilitated, rather than absorbed, all the languages it has run into. Essentially, it has evolved (and is still evolving) to adapt to its environment.

JM: You are applying for the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships to do postgraduate work in theQueen_Elizabeth.jpg UK.  England and the U.S. are two countries divided by a common language.  That's my only linguistics joke.  How did we butcher their "proper" English so badly?

CM: Well, you could ask them instead why they haven't developed our good honest English yet.  It's a matter of perspective. Somebody told me that an English accent when they settled in the New World was similar to an American accent today, so maybe "proper" English is what we now speak anyway.

JM: You are desperate to go to Europe.  What's the one country that you want to visit most?

CM: Easily the hardest question yet...I really can't decide among the UK, France and Italy. The UK. No wait, France. I'll let you know, hopefully pretty soon!

JM: Is the baseball team excited to play for Frank Cruz this season?

CM: Extremely. With the history he's got, coaching at USC as an assistant and at LMU as head coach, with success following him everywhere, we're all tremendously pumped to play for him. Practice hasn't even started yet, and there's already a great vibe in the locker room, guys are raring to get after it. (Was that enough sports cliches for one answer?)

JM: Is this core group ready to return the program to greatness?

CM: That is our overarching goal for this season, especially the six of us who have been around for four years without a winning season. We intend to be the group that puts SC baseball back into prominence, and the first step is to make a regional this year.  You never know what can happen when everyone buys in.


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