Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome Back

Back when we were little blogs, TigerBlog and BrotherBlog used to go away to sleepaway camp each summer. It was six years of eight glorious weeks in the Catskills, and TB looks back fondly on his experience there.

One of the memories that TB has is of BrotherBlog's birthday, which just happens to be today. Back in the camp days, BB's birthday always came during the last week, and TigerBlog long ago began to associate BB's birthday with the looming end of summer.

Fast forwarding about 20 years, TigerBlog, during his newspaper life, used to attend the annual athletics welcome back luncheon at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey; as an aside, TB isn't sure what people who went to the school when it was TSC say to people who ask where they went to college) around this time of year, an event that TigerBlog likewise knew meant that summer was winding down. Then-TSC president Harold Eickhoff, who was always nice to TB, used to make the same joke at every one of the luncheons: "I predict," Dr. Eickhoff would say, "that all Trenton State teams will go undefeated this year."

These days, there is a different sign that summer is winding down: The parking lot at Jadwin Gym starts to get crowded. And so it has been the last two days, despite oppressively hot temperatures and high humidity, that TB can be sure that summer is nearing its end.

The extra cars, of course, belong to Princeton fall athletes, who have arrived back on campus to reunite, do conditioning tests and then start practicing. The first athletic contests take place two weeks from today, when the women's volleyball team and men's and women's soccer teams all play to start a nine-events-in-three-days kickoff to the athletic year.

The first football game is four weeks from tomorrow, against the Citadel at Princeton Stadium.

TB is always fascinated by the first events of the year. They're like the little town in New Hampshire that votes at midnight in Presidential elections, where one candidate grabs an early 25-18 lead in the national returns.

By the time the year is over, Princeton teams will have played nearly 600 varsity contests across 38 sports with 1,000 athletes. Of the 38 teams, 33 will compete for an Ivy League championship, all against a league filled with rivals who attempt to knock Princeton from the top spot it has occupied in the unofficial all-sports standings for each of the last 23 years.

A year ago at this time, who knew that these would be the biggest storylines of the year:
1) Princeton says goodbye to legendary coaches like Bill Tierney, Glenn Nelson and Curtis Jordan
2) men's lightweight rowing and women's squash win national championships while men's squash finishes as runner-up and women's cross country finishes fifth out of 350 teams
3) Princeton wins 11 Ivy titles
4) the men's squash team loses the national title in a six-hour epic final against Trinity

What will this year's headlines be? Who knows? Which teams will have great years and which will suffer disappointments? What athlete will be the 2009-10 version of women's soccer player Sarah Peteraf, who emerged from three seasons as a complementary player to become the dominant player on an Ivy champion?

There are so many storylines that will be written in 2009-10, some on the field and some off, as athletic departments continue to evolve in uncertain times. Just as we're two weeks away from the start of the athletic events, we're also two weeks away from the launch of, which will be the home of Princeton Athletics' new video initiatives. What impact will that have on our athletes, coaches and fans?

The last intercollegiate athletic event of last academic year was the NCAA track and field championships, which concluded on June 15. Somehow, most of entire summer has sped by, and here it is more than two months later, with a new year about to begin.

Oh, and happy birthday BrotherBlog. And, uh, you can consider this your present.

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