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Stern Singles Presents: Katie Starsia

What’s that? The politics and sports guy is writing Stern Singles? Yeah, it’s weird, and if you all think romance isn’t my strong suit, my wife would probably agree. But some people are such obvious catches that they make this job easy, and Katie Starsia fits that bill.

Katie is smart, funny, as literate in politics as she is in reality TV, and an all-around sports industry badass whose TikTok culture savvy doesn’t prevent her from geeking out with the comic book nerds. Did I mention she was a Division-I athlete in undergrad and she does custom baking as a side hustle? Seriously, what the hell are you waiting for? Katie is an implausible compendium of awesome things. You single Sternies out there should be so lucky.

Don’t believe me? Just listen to her classmates:

She’s hilarious, one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, has a great sneaker game, and takes no sh*t from anyone. 

It’s true, the only cookie tougher than Katie is the one you’d have to perfect to compete with her baking prowess.

I thought she was gonna be really scary at first because she’s intense, but the intensity is what makes her so great. She laughs intensely, loves intensely, and is intensely loyal and generous.

Intensity? At Stern?

Katie is truly “someone who can do both.” She is kind, smart, fun, and the most supportive, loyal human! She’s always looking out for her people and always up for a cocktail, baked good, workout, or study session. 10/10 would date/marry her.

More praise for Katie’s baked goods!

She’s a great person and loves her Bravo TV as much as the next woman.

I don’t know what the series of words in the second half of that sentence means in that order, but it sounds good.

Katie is the friend you want in your corner, she’s always there to listen and to build her friends up. Her drive and determination to succeed are infectious, and her baked goods are second to none.

We cannot emphasize Katie’s baking enough.

Anyways, I could blather on, but if you’re somehow unconvinced, we should go straight to the source.

At orientation they make a big deal about how 10% of Sternies find their life partner here, so my first question is, what made you decide to sign up for such an expensive dating service? Did you know Bumble is free?

(Laughs) That’s a great question. So, I’m at Stern because I have worked in sports media forever. I feel like it was my blood-right in that my family has worked in sports media or just in media forever. I definitely wanted to be able to expand my base of knowledge of other areas I could be interested in or that my skill set could apply to, but mostly it was that I was a college athlete and I never got the “college experience.” But Covid happened so it’s basically like it’s not happening. You’re never going to have real college. It was just another chance to get to know people, get to be involved and network, etc. So sure, I signed up for a six-figure dating service when I could have been using Bumble, but… whatever. Now I get to meet cool people.

What are you looking for in a partner?

If you had asked me at 22 what I was looking for versus now at almost 31 — or 30-repeat as I’ve been calling it — honestly, somebody who is just a really good person. I know that’s a lame, generic answer, but you date your fair share of people and you realize some people aren’t good and you’re going after secondary qualities that are great to have in people, but the primary quality needs to be that this person is genuinely a good, nice person. One of the biggest things for me, being Italian, is are you a family-oriented person? Do you get along with your family? Will you get along with my family? And my family I consider my friend base as well, so those are probably two of the biggest things. And definitely, be motivated, driven. Being athletic is a nice thing because that’s a very big part of my life, but also being adventurous. Do you like to travel? Do you like to be spontaneous and try new restaurants? Do you like to try new breweries? I like that area of spontaneity to pair with being a good, family-oriented person. Basically, my dream man is Seth Cohen from The OC.

You recently finished a binge watch of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, so, if you had your choice, which Avenger would you date and why?

Oh god. … Iron-Man. Actually, well, Iron-Man is my immediate answer because I just love his sarcastic, intelligent leadership qualities, but as we watch the series, we learn that Ant-Man is quite an instrumental figure in the MCU, who I think gets overlooked. They would not have even gotten to where they were in End Game if it weren’t for Ant-Man. He plays a critical role in Civil War being able to balance both sides, being on “Cap’s Team”. As he later says, “Those in the know call him ‘Cap.’” (scoffs) Alright, Scott. But he is the reason why End Game even has a plot. His truck is how they’re able to [REDACTED: SPOILERS]. So, I think some sort of mesh between the quirkiness and silliness of Ant-Man in that he’s an underdog and we love him, and he came out of nowhere and kind of fell into this, where Iron-Man is that leader, maybe not the brawn, but he is the brains of the operation. I feel like some kind of mesh between the two of them. I don’t know if that becomes Starlord, but I feel like he ruins Infinity War, and that pisses me off. So, no Chris Pratt.

Of course, my favorite characters are Groot and Korg. I don’t know why. They aren’t even primary characters. They’re just there to push the plot along, but I love them and I think they’re the best.

They’re fun, but I don’t think a conversation with Groot would be terribly enlightening.

Until you know his language. He’s just misunderstood.

Fair enough! So, if someone wants to impress you on a first date, what kind of date should they plan?

Definitely one I’m not prepared for, but in the best way. I love surprises. I love just going along for the ride, but things to keep in mind, guardrails for me are anything Italian-related, so going to pizza or some Italian spot — great. I love activities. Mini-golf, going for a walk, a bike ride, going to see a movie, we love activities. Or show me a spot I’ve never been to, but I feel like that’s kind of the point of a first date: going to cool, interesting places that someone has never been.

What kind of date should they definitely not plan?

I don’t need something super flashy and expensive. That’s great and all, but if I’m meeting you for the first time, I want to be in a place that’s super comfortable. I don’t have to be super dressed up. You don’t have to be super dressed up. You feel comfortable and in your spot. If I feel like you’re just trying to be super flashy and do the most, that’s a little off-putting to me. At the end of the day you want to vibe and get to know someone beyond the superficiality of a first date.

So, I haven’t seen you in person in a year, but… you’re pretty tall, right?

I am. I’m 5’11”

How tall would you want your partner to be? Or does that not matter to you?

I would say a little taller than me. I like to wear heels. Everytime I came to class last year I was in a heel. I love my sneakers, but I think I need someone a little taller than me. Maybe, like, 6’1”.

Do you have any deal breakers?

Smoking. I don’t like cigarettes. At all. No cigarettes.

Which has the pandemic changed more: Your dating life or your graduate school experience?

My dating life. My graduate school experience was like three weeks in person, so I really didn’t get enough of the NYU “juj.” My dating life. 100%. 

What would you say has been your favorite part of the Stern experience so far?

The people. Our block in particular [Ed. note: #Spring2020BlueBlock4Lyfe], sorry, I’m so partial, but I feel like I’ve made some lifelong friends. I feel like we went through this together. We’re experiencing this and we figured it out as we went along. We have the best Slack. You kind of find your niche and there’s a support system, there’s camaraderie, and also there are mutual shared interests. My blockmates are part of the reason I started watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe and provided hand-holding while I was doing so. I really appreciate that.

Your 30th birthday last year was the night of a midterm exam during a public health crisis when you couldn’t leave your home. Best birthday you’ve ever had or best birthday anyone has ever had?

It was not the birthday I had planned, but I was very fortunate that I was able to celebrate with my family. The fact that there were no restaurants open to order from, we weren’t even sure how we were going to do dinner. My family did such a good job of decorating the kitchen with balloons and flowers. I came downstairs from the midterm and it was like I was in a restaurant. That’s how they had set it up. I was supposed to go to my favorite restaurant on the face of the Earth, Frank.

Tell us about your day job with Overtime. What are your career goals once you graduate?

I’m a Director of Brand Partnerships, so that means I am responsible for a list of 50-ish clients and my job is to generate revenue for Overtime by finding strategic partnerships with those brands. An example of this could be that ESPN+ is one of my advertisers. They’re trying to advertise a new page within the streaming service, so they’d come to us on how to promote it. We’d leverage either opportunities within the Overtime portfolio or we’d come up with something custom and help bring it to life together. It’s essentially branded-content advertising. It’s really fun. In the future, one of the areas I’d very much consider is being on the brand side rather than the publishing side. Stern’s marketing program has done a great job of making me excited about that possibility.

You were a high school all-American soccer player and went on to play for the University of Virginia. What was that like? Was your life just soccer 24/7 until you were 22?

100%. I played other sports, but soccer was always No. 1. You’re pretty well-rounded playing other sports, but ‘How do you make your soccer game better?’ was what you wanted to do. In college, it is a job. If you’re a college athlete, it is literally your job. A pushing factor for me in going back to grad school was to have that student life. I met some of my best friends in the world to this day [at Virginia] and there was some flexibility to do some other things, but, really, your job is being a soccer player. I knew I was never going to be Alex Morgan, so the opportunity existed to play overseas after college, but that didn’t really interest me. I just wanted to start my career. Looking back I want to kick my 22-year-old self.

You were a defender, so if I was a striker on a counter and you were the last defender back, how badly would you embarrass me?

I would entertain it for a sec, and then I would hope that I would just poke the ball away and be like, ‘Moving on.’

You now run marathons. What gave you the itch to start doing those?

I was running on the treadmill in the gym one day and the New York City Marathon was on. I was so moved by it for some reason that I was kind of moved to tears, and I thought ‘I want to do that.’ I didn’t get as into running marathons the way I am now right away. I had to step away from it for a year and realize that I really wanted to do it. Hopefully this year, Covid-pending, I’ll be going for number four of the Abbot World Six in London. It’s fun now. I just enjoy the athletic battle of it. It’s very much a mental thing and I kind of have a motivation from hearing everyone that ever told me no. It’s something I’m pretty good at even though I’m not really built like a runner. I probably shouldn’t be good at it. But I do it constantly to prove to myself mentally what I can overcome, and if I can overcome this, I can overcome so much more.

But the reason I started was because I cried watching it.

How many marathons have you run so far, and which was your favorite?

I’ve run six. My favorite is New York. Your friends are there, your family is there, it’s your city. Anyone who has run it can tell you it’s electric. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s one of the harder marathons I’ve ever run because of the bridges and there’s a lot of elevation changes.

You’ve used your marathons as an opportunity to raise money for charity. Which causes have you supported in the past?

Team for Kids is the No. 1 charity I’ve always run for. It’s New York-based, it’s very much rooted in New York Road Runners, and it helps children develop healthy habits from an early age using athletics, mostly running. I love that. The one I’m presently running for is Back on My Feet, another New York-based charity, but it’s rooted in the idea in funding the homeless community in building a life back from scratch. Just because you’ve hit this point in your life doesn’t mean it’s necessarily over. How can we help you? How can we motivate you to help you get your life back? They offer housing opportunities and interview coaching and job opportunities and the ability to be part of a team for running. I thought it was pretty great.

You share a lot of TikToks with classmates. How would someone like me make a cool TikTok feed?

I am not a TikTok creator. I’m a TikTok viewer. I have an account strictly to swipe away. I’m not sure if that’s a good quality or a bad quality. If you were to start one, lean into something you know. You love movies and TV shows. You’re very savvy in that area, so maybe it’s like honest reviews.

I feel like anyone who has spoken to me knows there’s nothing I could say in only 15 seconds. Alright, let’s talk about the most important thing: Baking. How did Sweets by Starsia start?

My uncle is a chef, my family is just full of amazing cooks due to our Italian heritage. I was lucky in that regard. But nobody was really a big dessert maker. It was mostly Duncan Hines cakes. No offense to Duncan Hines, we love Duncan Hines — old reliable — but I started realizing there was a whole area of a cookbook that wasn’t being leveraged. I just wanted to contribute and I knew I wasn’t going to be contributing against grandma’s sunday sauce, and I knew I wasn’t going to be contributing against meatballs and chicken and all those fun things Italian people make, but I could with desserts. So one of my friend’s mothers got me a Martha Stewart cupcake book and I just baked through the cookbook and that’s how it started. The cake thing happened because I’d go ‘I’m not going to pay $250 for a custom cake.’ I thought I could figure it out, and I did.

From your Instagram feed it looks like there aren’t a lot of repeats. Do you have any particular favorites you like to make regularly or is the fun being inventive and trying new recipes?

The cakes are always very bespoke to whomever is asking for it. Taking that out of the equation from a pure baked goods standpoint, people ask for the cake balls all the time. That’s my No. 1 request: “Can you make funfetti cake balls or some variation of cake ball.” I’ve also been told I make just really good chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, but the cake balls are No. 1.

Lastly, knock on wood, the end of this pandemic might be here by summer. What’s the first thing you’re going to do once you’re fully vaccinated?

Go to a bar where there is a live band and dance. I’m not joking. I want to be in a public area with a band and dance and sing and be with my friends. That’s all I want in this world.

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