Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hall Of Famers

If you starting heading west from the Palestra and Franklin Field, you will walk up a few stairs and then pass the Engineering school on your right. When you get across 34th Street, you'll walk up a few more stairs, and then you'll be entering the heart of the Penn campus on what is called "Locust Walk."

The Fine Arts building will be on your left, and it's a building most Penn students never go into in their four years, or at least that was TigerBlog's experience. That, of course, is a shame, since it's about as cool a building as there is on the campus.

Continuing west, you'll pass College Hall, with the big Ben Franklin statue in front of it and the big library whose name TB can't remember (with the big button sculpture in front). Eventually, you'll reach a row of fraternity houses, the Wharton School, the place where the bookstore used to be and then over the bridge over 38th Street and into the heart of Superblock, where the three 24-story high-rise dorms are.

Or, at least that's how the tour used to go, back in the days when TB went to school there. Penn is smack in the middle of West Philadelphia, but the way Locust Walk, without any cars permitted, cuts through the heart of the campus, it's easy to forget that you're in a city.

Locust Walk is flooded with people all day and night. Anyone who lives in the high-rises has to walk east to get to classrooms, the library, athletic facilities and any number of other spots. People who live in the Quad or in Hill House intersect with Locust Walk to get where they're going, and during peak class hours, basically anyone who goes to Penn is on Locust Walk.

TigerBlog walked a lot of miles up and down Locust Walk, and it's almost certain that he walked past Patty Kennedy on many of those occasions. Of course, he didn't know who she was at the time, but he can guess she was carrying a bag with her field hockey or lacrosse stick in it, hurrying off to yet another practice.

It seems odd to type the name "Patty Kennedy," since TB has never heard anyone call her "Patty." No, to everyone, she is simply "PK," and she is something of an institution here at Princeton.

As near as TigerBlog can figure it, there are three Penn alums who work for the Princeton Department of Athletics. PK is one. TigerBlog is one. Men's track and field coach Fred Samara is one.

Of those three, two are now members of the Penn Athletic Hall of Fame (or least will be when the current class if inducted on May 8). TigerBlog probably won't be inducted anytime soon, though he did have a standout intramural career in flag football, floor hockey and basketball.

Samara was part of the second Penn athletics Hall of Fame class, which was selected in 1998. PK will be part of the newest one.

PK was a field hockey/lacrosse standout, All-Ivy and honorable mention All-America in both, and she also won the Fathers' Award as the top female athlete of her Penn class. She played internationally with the U.S. in women's lacrosse on many occasions, and she has gone on to be a law school graduate, a lecturer at Princeton and a longtime assistant coach with the women's lacrosse team.

Her husband is Jim Barlow, the men's soccer coach. They have a one-eyed dog named Petey, and you should never say the word "pupparoni" - the name of a dog treat - around Petey unless you want to see the beagle go nuts.

PK teaches a class called "Human Rights In the Age of Terror" as a freshman seminar. In her role as an instructor here at Princeton, she has taught any number of freshman athletes, helping them in their transition to college life and college athletics.

Princeton fans can rattle off the names of most head coaches, but there is an army of lower-profile assistant coaches without whom Princeton's athletic success wouldn't exist. TB has never known a head coach here who failed to acknowledge how valuable the assistants are.

PK is well-known and universally liked and respected in the department. She was a member of the women's lacrosse staff during their dominating NCAA championship runs in 2002 and 2003, and she returned to the program last year after taking four years off.

The motto of the athletic department is "Education Through Athletics," and Director of Athletics Gary Walters often speaks about the integration of athletics into the educational mission of the University. Few people here encompass that as much as PK.

Speaking of PK, it was a big weekend for her team and her boss, women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer. Princeton defeated Georgetown 15-14 in four OTs Sunday afternoon in D.C., and the win was the 300th for Sailer, making her just the second women's Division I coach ever to reach that milestone.

Princeton women's lacrosse dates to 1973, and the program had an all-time record of 62-79 before Sailer took over in 1987.

Since then, she has gone 300-104, winning three NCAA championships and nine Ivy League championships along the way. She was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame last year.

Last week, TigerBlog asked the question of whether or not Alicia Aemisegger is the greatest woman athlete in Princeton history. Today he asks the question of whether or not Chris Sailer is the greatest women's coach in Princeton history.

Like last week, TB does not answer the question, and there have certainly been some great female coaches past (Betty Constable, Cindy Cohen, Beth Bozman, Louise Gengler) and present (Julie Shackford, Gail Ramsay, Lori Dauphiny, Susan Teeter, Kristen Holmes-Winn), who have won big over an extended period of time (as always TB apologizes if he left someone out in his haste). And while a case can be made for almost of the ones listed as being the best Princeton has ever had, any such discussion has to include Sailer either at the top or near the top.

Sailer, of course, is one of the head coaches who has always credited her assistants for the program's success. In her case that has often meant giving PK her due, something Sailer has always done.

One Hall-of-Famer to another.

No comments: