Friday, February 6, 2009

Anyone Here Remember John Mack?

The picture is almost 10 years old now. It shows a track runner, ripped like no other, heading into the turn during a 400-meter run. He obviously has a huge lead already.

The picture is of John Mack, 10-time Heptagonal track champion and winner of the 2000 Roper Trophy as Princeton's top male senior athlete

Now, a decade later, he is an Associate Athletic Director at Northwestern University. His picture, though, still hangs in TigerBlog HQ.

For a few days last week, the picture wasn't in its usual spot on the wall. Instead, it sat on a desk, in fuller view of anyone who came in the door. Almost everyone who came in and saw it asked the same question: "Who is that guy?"

It's quite striking that TigerBlog should be in the minority of those who work here in the Department of Athletics who remember John Mack as an athlete. TigerBlog was further struck by what it says about college athletic departments in general.

Here at Princeton, there are many, many more new faces than there are veterans. It's the nature of the business. Most of the staff positions or assistant coaching positions are more for those starting out on their career journeys. They work here for a year, two years, three years - and then move on.

It speaks to the issues of institutional memory. Princeton is officially dedicating the game court in Jadwin Gym "Carril Court" in honor of the hall-of-fame basketball coach. TigerBlog has been struck that almost no one working on the event was here when Carril was.

Princeton is fortunate that it has as many people who have been here for as long as they have, even though that number isn't huge. These are people who have done a great deal for the University and the department through the years, largely behind the scenes. People like Karen Malec in event operations. Stephanie Sutton in the ticket office. Jeff Graydon in facilities. Nancy Donigan in awards. Carol Weston in support.

Phyllis Chase, the travel coordinator, is another. Each year Phyllis brings her camera to the holiday party and makes a collage of pictures, which she then hangs in her office. If you go back just a few years, you're immediately struck by how many of the people in the collage are no longer working here.

TigerBlog, one of the veterans, takes seriously the role of keeping the Princeton athletic legends alive, and not just externally. Those who are newer here need to know about those who came before them.

Even John Mack.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, but apparently the Tiger Blog doesn't remember that Princeton has over 30 varsity sports. Look at the number of postings down the right hand margin, and you will be hard pressed to find anything about some of the top programs, who apparently simply don't rate with the Blog Meister. Oh, basketball and football are in double figures, but many of the other sports only rate one or two entries, if that.
It's one thing to be ignored by the Media, but it is something else to be ignored by the Media Relations people who are supposed to be promoting all the programs.