Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To Go To Togo

TigerBlog's first work-study job in college was in the psychology department basement at 37th and Walnut Street.

Back before there were copy machines that collated and stapled, TB would spread out sheets of paper all over this big room with books lining the walls and eventually staple them together. His co-worker at the time was Fran McCaffery, now the head men's basketball coach at Iowa.

After working there for two years, TB essentially moved over to the General Counsel's office, though that didn't last long, as his newspaper career began roughly at the same time. About the only thing TB remembers from that experience was having a big crush on a co-worker there, only to see her marry an eye doctor.

Here at Princeton athletic communications, good student-workers have been hard to find and keep. Part of the problem is that there aren't many Princeton undergrads who are looking to get into athletic communications after graduating, so they aren't looking for the kind of experience that they could get here.

There was a time in the late ’90s when the OAC had an army of women's basketball players who worked here, and the glory days of student workers here also included Grant Wahl, who now writes for Sports Illustrated, and Nate Ewell, whose resume includes college sports information work and a long run with the Washington Capitals' communications office before he left recently to work at College Hockey Inc.

Recently, the OAC has had almost no success recruiting student workers for the office, though there are several who work at games.

Finding a good student worker is hard, and there is a big investment of time in training them once they are hired. Still, when there is a student who can, say, update bios on the webpage or do any of those kinds of tasks, it's a huge help for the OAC staff.

Our most recent student worker who could do those types of things was a woman named Liz Stevens, who graduated last spring. Liz is currently working on her master's at Albany, and she is headed into the Peace Corps shortly.

TB wrote her a letter of recommendation for the Peace Corps last spring. Eventually, she was accepted to the program, and it wasn't until recently that she found out her destination.

Yesterday, out of nowhere, Liz wandered in to say hi to the OAC group. She also said that, beginning in June, she'd be spending two years and three months in Togo.

Like everyone else in the office, TigerBlog knew Togo was in Africa but could never have found it on the map. A quick search later, and there was Togo, a narrow country in the western part of the continent that borders Ghana to its west, Benin to its east, Burkina Faso to its north and the Atlantic Ocean to its south.

Liz was genuinely excited about the coming adventure, which will include large stretches without electricity or indoor plumbing.

Hey, in the nation's service and the service of all nations, right?

Liz was a high jumper for the women's track and field team, before injuries essentially ended her career. At one point, though, she was a point scorer in the event at the Heptagonal championships.

If TigerBlog is counting correctly, then 16 of Princeton's 38 varsity teams will be competing this weekend.

Among the events are ECAC women's hockey playoffs, huge hockey and basketball regular season games, the opening of men's and women's lacrosse season and the men's squash national championships.

The big three this weekend, though, are the men's and women's track and field indoor Heptagonal championships and the women's Ivy League swimming and diving championships.

The Heps events will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Armory in New York City, which is around 169th Street on the West Side.

The women's swimming and diving championships will be held at DeNunzio Pool tomorrow through Saturday.

Princeton is the defending champion for all three events, which were won on the same weekend a year ago.

In women's track and field, Princeton, Columbia and Cornell combined have the best marks in 13 of the 17 events. Those three teams finished 1-2-3 a year ago.

On the men's side, Princeton returns six athletes who won at Heps a year ago: Austin Hollimon (400m), Russell Dinkins (500m), Peter Callahan (800m), Trevor Van Acker (mile), David Slovenski (pole vault) and Craig Pearce (weight throw).

As for the swimming and diving, Princeton won last year, but by a very narrow margin over Harvard and Yale. Those three figure to compete for the top spot again this year.

TB has always been fascinated by how differently Ivy League championships are won across sports. In some cases, it's a grind over months, like in hockey, basketball or football.

In others, it's a one-weekend - or one day - sprint, such as in track and field, cross country, rowing, fencing, swimming and diving.

Some are round-robin. Some are double round robin. Some are split into divisions. Some are championship meets.

A team can win an Ivy title in cross country in about 20 minutes; in hockey the season runs from October through this weekend.

Of course, they all result in having a designation of "Ivy League champion," which will always be special to the team that wins, no matter how many times they've done so in the past.

This weekend will see three more teams earn that distinction. Well, mathematically at least, it's possible that one team could clinch at least a share of the men's basketball championship this weekend, but it's highly unlikely.

So let's say three Ivy titles are up for grabs, beginning tomorrow night at here at the pool.

Good luck to all, with hopefully a little more luck going to the Tigers.

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