Enigma is the word that comes to mind when we sat down to talk to Danny Smith ‘16. His typical five-class course load per semester as a computer science and math double major paired with his profound respect for Kanye West’s intellectual genius puzzled us endlessly. However, one thing’s for sure: Danny’s boldness is inspiring. So here is Danny, the easy-going sophomore, dedicated pitcher on the baseball team, and, surprisingly enough, nude model with perfect Greek proportions.
Tell us a little about how you got to Williams. Did you visit beforehand?
Yeah, so I came up for my recruiting trip late October of my senior year and at the time I was dating a girl from Pittsburgh, [Penn.] She was a tennis player and looking at a lot of schools. So I got up here and stayed with Phil McGovern ’15 and Dylan Griswold ’15. Phil’s nickname at the time was “Aggressive Phil.” We went to Wood and met up with Rebecca Curran ’15 and a bunch of the tennis freshmen who had tennis pre-frosh with them. Naturally, Phil and them all started to scheme to get the both of us together. One thing led to another and Dylan just abandoned the two of us in a bedroom upstairs in Wood. Nothing happened up in the bedroom and I will stick by that. But lost in translation was the fact that Phil was going around downstairs in the Wood party goin’ “Danny’s upstairs with a girl! This kid’s a f*****g beast!” Like goin’ nuts, the baseball players were goin’ out of their minds. But like nothing was actually happening at this point. When I woke up the next morning everyone was so congratulatory. They were like, “You’re a beast,” and I was like, “I don’t know what I did. What are you guys talking about?” The story just kind of snowballed from there to the point where everyone thought I had hooked up with this tennis pre-frosh. So then, this is where the story gets interesting. So then I come home, and the girl I was with from Pittsburgh decides to take a recruiting trip to Williams a week later. She comes up and she stays with … Rebecca Curran! And the first thing she says was “Did you meet a baseball player last week from Pittsburgh?” Rebecca Curran goes, “Yeah … he hooked up with my pre-frosh.” Then she goes, “Well, that’s my boyfriend.” Immediately tears [up] and it really ruined the rest of her trip and everything actually.
Can you tell us a little about how you became such a Quiet Room rat?
Rat? No, I don’t like the word rat. I became the king of the Quiet Room. I will even accept the title of duke, but not rat.
Who else would you put on the royal court of the quiet room?
Let’s see. Dylan and Kirby, but they only have been doing it for this year. So Dylan, Kirby [Neuner ’15], you [Alex Marshall ’15], you [Molly Bodurtha ’17] aren’t there yet, Kelsey Leonard [’15], Sam Hine [’15], Drake [Hicks ’15] crushes it, and one of Dylan’s frosh, Sarah. The Quiet Room is really something. When you look out the window when the leaves are changing and it is seven o’clock and the sun is setting and you just look out and are like, “Holy s**t.” I like that intimacy so much more than the rigidness of Schow or the imprisonment of Sawyer.
We also hear you had a pretty funny experience in the Rogers Room. Can you tell us a bit about that?
We – me, Luke Pierce [’15], Steve Marino [’14] and Phil McGovern – were studying for finals in the Rogers Room at the top of Hopkins. We had just gotten some Sushi Thai takeout, really not doing a whole lot of work, just BS-ing, eating and arguing about God and faith and religion and everything. I leaned back in my chair, and threw up air quotes and said, you know this whole “God” thing. And I take a bite of my Sushi Thai, go back to talking and then start choking right then. Everyone around the table is doing something different. Luke Pierce is looking on in horror. Steve gets up out of his chair and says [mimicking a high pitched, woman’s voice] “Oh my god, somebody give him the Heimlich. Oh my god. Oh my god. He is dying! Somebody give him the Heimlich.” Phil McGovern, very coolly, just strolls on over, grabs me by the chest and starts giving me the Heimlich. Eventually, it comes out. And the room goes silent for a minute. Then I think it was Luke Pierce who said, “Does anybody else find it ironic that he just said, ‘this whole ‘God’ thing?’”
Rumor has it that you really love Kanye. What do you like about him? His music? His personality?
Yes! Big Kanye Fan. He and I are on the same wavelength. Kanye’s music is, I think, really great and I think people want to make him look like an idiot all the time, but he is actually really an intellectual. He knows what he is talking about. He is a smart person and does a lot with his music.
But wait, you are also a nude model on campus? When and why did you decide to apply to be a nude model?
I actually didn’t. There was this senior last year, I can’t remember if she was a TA or an artist or something. But I was in the gym. And she like kept checking me out, like apparently artists look at and experience the human body differently. But she kept looking at me, this is very early in last semester and I thought it was so strange. When I was leaving, she held her thumb up like this [gestures thumbs up] and starts sizing me up. I was just uncomfortable with it so I went up to her to ask what’s up? She was like, “You have perfect Greek proportions.” So I said, “Thank you.” She was like, “Actually it is kind of an insult. It means you have a kind of big head. Basically, your head is like 1/7th the size of your body. That is what all the Greek statues’ proportions are.” She just stated, “It means you could be a really good nude model. Just think about it.” So it was my freshman fall, I wanted to try something new. The first experience was very strange indeed. I went to the first one, which was probably two or three weeks into the semester of freshmen fall. I got there and for the first 20 minutes the professor says what he wants from them today. Then he points to me and says you are on. And so I walk in, and I did not know anybody there. My first thought was to scope out the room and make sure nobody I knew was in there. I didn’t know anyone, no friends there, and became a little more comfortable. So I take off all my clothes and get on to the stage. And then the door opens to the right and I turn, and I’ll never forget this, one of the baseball freshmen walks in and yells at the professor, “Sorry I’m late!” before he just turns to me and goes, “Oh. Hey, Danny.”
Has your friendship recovered?
[Laughs.] Yeah I would say it has at this point. But even though I get ripped on a fair amount by my teammates, it is a lot of fun. There is a tremendous amount of respect between artists and models. This is hard especially at Williams, because there are so few people. So I can walk around in a day and see six, seven, eight, ten people I have been in front of. But there is a lot of respect.
I’ve heard you are like a dad or big brother to your first-year teammates on the baseball team.
I wouldn’t say dad. I would say brother. I really like the freshmen. They are all wonderful kids. It was just fun being around a new group of guys. The sophomore class in general is not the most tight group on the team. But I wanted the freshmen to have a closer class, and their class is really tight. I went through a lot freshman year, and I felt like I had a lot of advice to give to them. All I really wanted to do with that was give them a good year.
To nominate someone for One in 2000, email Molly Bodurtha at mib1 or Zoe Harvan at zeh1 briefly explaining why you think he or she should be featured.