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Crying Villanova Piccolo Player explains what happens when you become a meme

If you don't know who Roxanne Chalifoux -- "Crying Piccolo Fan" -- you either don't love college basketball, or your house is located under a rock. We've all seen the viral video of Chalifoux crying rivers of Wildcat tears while courageously playing the hell out of her damn piccolo. It is a piccolo by the way.

But not only did we want to know who she was, we really, really wanted to know how it felt when the Internet selects you as its prey and then parades you around like a fancy hat for 24 hours or more. So, 22-year-old Chalifoux agreed to a round of "21 questions" with SB Nation about her time with Jimmy Fallon, what it's like to cry on national television, becoming a meme, Taylor Swift and if her tear-filled instrument is for sale.


SB Nation: So first off, take me through the entire moment that's kind of changed your life for the last week. Villanova is down the whole game and the final buzzer sounds and a camera shows you. What happened exactly?

Roxanne Chalifoux: Well, I did see myself on the Jumbotron and was sort of embarrassed that everyone saw my crying. But that sort of took off so there wasn't much I could do about it at that point. I just decided that I was going to take it in stride and make the most of it.  I've honestly found the situation pretty funny overall! The team lost and I'm a senior in band, so I knew my pep band days playing for the team were officially over. That was a really emotional moment for me, and the camera just happened to catch it.

SB Nation: Was your family there at all? Because it's one thing if the people at the game were laughing, you don't know them. But it's another thing if you look up and you're family is there. Did your bandmates say anything either?

Chalifoux: My dad actually was in attendance. So that was a little embarrassing for sure. My bandmates were crying with me, lots of people were crying! It was just a coincidence the camera went to me. But they've all been so kind and supportive. I'm very lucky to call them some of my best friends.

SB Nation: So, what's it like turning into an Internet meme and being the Internet's favorite thing for 24 hours? When did you find out? How did you take it?

Chalifoux: It's all pretty weird. I found out several hours after the game since my phone had died. When it had charged, there was so much happening. At first I was really overwhelmed, but I got a lot of support from people at Villanova and all over the country. I decided it was best to make the most out of it and laugh with everyone else. I find most of it pretty funny anyway!

SB Nation: Did Jay Wright give you one of his fancy suits to make you feel better? If not, what's been your favorite meme so far? And have you been able to laugh after the fact?

Chalifoux: No, but that's OK! I wouldn't pull them off nearly as well. My favorite meme is definitely the Whiplash one. I think that one's just hysterical. I have been able to laugh. I've really appreciated people's creativity and I've just laughed along with everyone else.

SB Nation: Like specifically, when, if someone does get turned into a meme, do you actually realize? What did your phone look like for 24-48 hours after the game? Could you even go on Facebook or Twitter without seeing pictures of yourself or jokes or people talking about you? What did it actually feel like to be in that moment. It's not something that happens everyday you know? The Internet gods have to choose you.

Chalifoux: It's hard not to notice the memes because they do get tweeted at me or I stumble upon them somewhere. I think I find out pretty soon since people are usually fast to get me to see them. My phone was constantly buzzing and lighting up. I kind of stayed off Twitter since there were so many people tweeting at me and I was so overwhelmed.  Facebook wasn't as bad, but it still would catch me off guard seeing myself all over people's feeds. It didn't feel real. It was just crazy to me. I didn't feel like I did anything that attention-worthy. I had an emotional moment, but lots of people do after close games. I was sad the team lost and that I had attended my last basketball game. I was just shocked people found it to be buzz-worthy.

SB Nation: Did you find that people were being snotty or anything? Some sites were making fun of the joke and everything but what's funny to others might not be funny to you. Though, you seem like a good sport.

Chalifoux: People made comments like, "Why is this news?" "Why is this viral?" "Who cares?" But it didn't bother me. As I've said, I agree with them! I was just doing my job as a band member. No matter what, when it's time to play for the team, we play for the team. It would have been weird to me to stand there crying instead of playing, so I did both. I do understand why it's funny, though. Overall, I am trying to be a good sport. There hasn't been much that has bothered me about it, and I'm definitely making the most out of it.

SB Nation: Speaking of that, how did you maintain simultaneously crying and playing the hell out of that piccolo? Are there any tips you have for the young children of America playing piccolos in their homes? Could you play the piccolo and do something else at the same time too? Like bowl?

Chalifoux: It actually wasn't hard. I mean, it wasn't my best performance, but I could still play! I guess my tip to any other piccolo players would just be to practice and join a band -- and, hey, maybe if you cry you'll become a meme too! Not sure if I could bowl and play, but who knows!

SB Nation: Alright so settle a debate for us: there's been a lot of people calling you flute fan and a lot calling you piccolo fan? Which is more appropriate (besides Roxanne, of course, this will now be your official stage name)? And what's better flute or piccolo?

Chalifoux: It is a piccolo, so piccolo is more appropriate. I never thought that would be a debate, but I thought it was hilarious that it became a big deal! Also, I think the piccolo is better.  It's so small but it's really loud!

SB Nation: How would you rank yourself vs. other memes? Are you top-10 all time or even top-10 this year?

Chalifoux:I have no idea. I think there are better memes out there, personally, but maybe it's because I'm the meme and I still can't believe this entire thing happened.

TRT: Let's talk about your visit to the Tonight Show and Jimmy Fallon. Was he as lovable on TV as we think he is off the screen? Does he smell like lemon juice and happiness?

Chalifoux: He was absolutely incredible. He is as kind and friendly off-camera as he is on camera. The Roots were just as wonderful -- they were so easy going and helpful. It was amazing they took the time to learn "V for Villanova [Fight Song]" for me. The whole experience is easily one of my best memories ever.

SB Nation: That seemed pretty cool. What was higher on the "holy crap this is really happening" meter, meeting Jimmy Fallon and the Roots and then playing with them, or getting Taylor Swift tickets?

Chalifoux: Well both were obviously fantastic. I had such a wonderful experience on the show, and it was an additional, incredible bonus that I got Taylor Swift tickets!

SB Nation: Favorite T-Swift song of all time? Mine is "22" by the way.

Chalifoux: That's a hard one. I'd say either "Clean" or "Stay Beautiful."

SB Nation: Have you perfected them on the piccolo?

Chalifoux: I wish!

SB Nation: How'd you even start playing the piccolo? Was it like you were watching Dragon Ball Z and then you wanted an instrument that compared to one of the characters? Or was it something totally regular?

Chalifoux: I started playing flute when I was 11. It was basically my dream since I was young because my mom and aunt played it and I wanted to be just like them. I switched to piccolo in high school when I joined Peters Township (PA) Marching Band.

SB Nation: How tough is it to learn for someone who wants to pick up an instrument? How much training do you need? Can I just buy one from Wal-Mart for like $15 and it be the exact same thing as yours?

Chalifoux: Any instrument requires practice! It can be tough to learn how to read music and even how the instrument works. It's also a process -- every time you play, you keep improving! I'm not sure if a piccolo that's $15 even exists, personally. It's better to go to a local music store and hear what experts say! Used instruments are often a great way to get good quality for a good price.

SB Nation: Is yours for sale? How much do you think the piccolo of "crying piccolo fan" would be worth these days?

Chalifoux: I could never sell mine! I've had it for nearly six years. I don't think it's worth any more than the face value -- especially since there are probably tear stains.

SB Nation: So what's next for you? You've already cried on national television. Do you think that makes more or less people want to immediately hire you after college?

Chalifoux: I'm actually attending optometry school in the fall, so hopefully they wouldn't revoke my admission.

SB Nation: Are there any other dream opportunities that you want to do while the world is still talking about "crying piccolo fan?" You've been on Fallon, got Taylor Swift tickets and been on radio stations and websites alike. Do you have plans to play piccolo for Swift at the concert? What if she called you on stage?

Chalifoux: I don't have any dream opportunities, really. I've just been taking this whole thing one day at a time. No, I don't have plans to play at Taylor Swift's concert, and I don't think she would call me on stage. But I'd probably faint.

SB Nation: Leading up to this final game for you, describe your senior year. Another thing many people don't understand, besides being a meme of course, is playing in a college band and traveling with the team. In this case, you were with one of the better basketball programs in the country. What was that experience like? Do you think that's what made it so easy to cry when you realized it was all over?

Chalifoux: My senior year has been really great so far! My class load isn't too bad since I don't have many more credits left to graduate, so I've been able to have a lot of fun this year! The best part of that is being able to go to the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament since I didn't have lab conflicts or too much work. We only travel with the team during these tournaments; during the regular season, we only play at home games, which included playing at the Pavilion, Wells Fargo Center, the Palestra and PPL Center. Regardless, playing at the home games is such a fantastic experience. Going to the postseason events is also such a treat!  It's mind blowing to play in Madison Square Garden and see the Cats play there. My first NCAA Tournament this year was phenomenal, too -- it was really cool to be back in my home city.  It definitely made it easier to cry knowing that all the tournament fun was over, and I was sad for the team and having my last performance.

SB Nation: I've been to a bunch of Villanova games in the past two years and the band is always rocking. What's your favorite song to play during those games? Please tell me it's "Sweet Caroline."

Chalifoux: Thanks! We like to have fun and be crazy at the games. My favorite song to play is definitely "Little Bitty Pretty One." It's also my favorite to conduct since I'm the drum major during the football season.

SB Nation: Lastly, now that your experience has come and past a little bit, what advice do you have for anyone who becomes a meme in the near future?

Chalifoux: My advice would be to just take it in stride. The attention will pass, so it's okay to enjoy the ride while it lasts!  I'm a pretty shy person, but I've tried being open about my experiences. For some reason the video and pictures resonated with people, and I've gotten a lot of amazing support. And always be yourself!

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