Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scramble Words And Field Hockey Talk

TigerBlog was in one room, and in the next room were two high school boys - TigerBlog Jr. and his friend Matthew - and one middle school girl - Miss TigerBlog.

From his spot about 15 feet away, TB heard not a sound coming from the other room.

When he ducked his head in, he saw all three on smartphones, playing Scramble With Friends.

It's a rather addicting game, one with four rows of four letters, seemingly set up randomly, and the game is to drag your finger across the letter to form as many words as possible. There are three rounds of two minutes in each game, and the point values go up with double letters and a double word letter in Round 2 and then triple letters and a triple word letter in Round 3.

TigerBlog usually plays with two different opponents.

The first is Stephanie Sutton, the Princeton athletics ticket manager.  TB and Stephanie are about 50-50 on who wins.

The other is someone whom TB originally connected with randomly and has now played several hundred times, though he has no idea who his opponent is. He has no idea if it's a male or female, adult or child, American or foreign - none of it. For that matter, TB isn't sure if it's a human being or computer that has been matched to basic scores that TB puts up, since these games are around 50-50 as well.

The game allows the opportunity to converse, but TB prefers the mystery of it.

As for TBJ, MTB and Matthew, obviously MTB was the one winning, so much so that the two boys bailed and went outside.

As any parent with middle school to high school kids knows, there's a delicate balance between allowing them the freedom to use electronics and the worry that 1) they're overdoing it and 2) they're going to get in trouble via electronic freedom. And you don't want to see the bill, and see how many texts these kids are sending and receiving.

Of course, the argument is that kids need phones now to use in case of trouble or to allow parents to know where they are. TB was in his 30s before he ever got a cell phone, and he managed to navigate his teenage years even without such devices.

In the case of TBJ, MTB and Matthew (not techincally TB's responsibility, but around enough), they are active enough and outside enough so that they are not constantly on their phones/computers/iPods/etc.

MTB is currently trying out for middle school field hockey, with a week-long audition for 45 girls for the 20 spots on the team. Unfortunately, more than half won't make it, and given that they're 7th and 8th graders, TB hopes they don't give up on playing that sport or any other.

MTB also plays with the club program in Princeton, the one run by Princeton coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

Whereas there is soccer for little girls as young as 3 or 4, there aren't nearly as many field hockey clubs around. In the case of the one in Princeton, the girls get to play on Bedford Field, which offers them a chance to play on perfect turf.

As for the main tenant of Bedford Field, the Princeton women are currently ranked second nationally in the poll that came out yesterday.

 Actually, the Tigers are tied for second, with Syracuse, 23 points behind No. 1 North Carolina.

The poll features five teams that received No. 1 votes, including 18 of the 43 for the Tigers. For the second straight week, Princeton has the most No. 1 votes.

This week's schedule sees Princeton at home Saturday against Dartmouth in its Ivy League opener and then unranked Delaware Sunday.

The rest of the schedule includes Syracuse, No. 4 Maryland, No. 5 UConn and No. 9 Virginia, among others. And then there's the NCAA tournament looming in November.

Princeton has twice advanced to the NCAA final, and the Tigers have won 17 of 18 Ivy League titles. With the return of the four national team members, this could be Princeton's best chance at going the distance.

Still, as the poll with five teams who received first-place votes suggests, there are plenty of schools out there who are thinking big.

In the meantime, Bedford Field is a place to be this fall, to see how good this team can be.

Bring the kids. Admission is free.

And tell them to turn off their cell phones during the game.

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