Friday, March 28, 2014

Cheering For Kimmie

From TigerBlog's seat in the Jadwin balcony, Kim Meszaros was a small blur standing next to a larger blur, who just happened to be Princeton University president Chris Eisgruber.

The occasion was the University's annual employee recognition luncheon, the one where staff members are recognized for service for 10, 15, 20, 25 years and so on. And the one where the most deserving are given the President's Achievement Award.

The language for the award reads like this: The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University.

And so there was Kim Mesazaros at lunchtime yesterday, a blur at such a great distance, from the balcony down to the main floor and then all the way across the cavernous interior of Jadwin, which had been set up with tables behind the main court on the track and then ultimately with a stage just in front of the far end.

A blur, holding a large framed certificate, one that presumably mentioned that she was one of the 2014 Princeton University President's Achievement Award winners.

TigerBlog joined a group of about 40 athletic department staff members who had come to cheer on Kim in her moment in the spotlight. When her name was announced, the entire group cheered, loudly enough that many of the people in the audience turned to see who was making all the noise, loudly enough that the person who was videotaping turned the camera to the nearly empty balcony and flashed the athletic department contingent on the screens.

If you're a Princeton Athletics fan, the name Kim Meszaros is probably not familiar. Nor are the reasons why she was being honored.

Kim Meszaros has been in the athletic department for 18 years, the last 14 of which have been spent as the assistant to the Director of Athletics. Hers is the chair closest to the office of Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters, down in Room 1.

Before President Eisgruber presented the awards to the recipients, there was a short video tribute to each of them, courtesy of a co-worker. And so there came Gary on the big screen, talking about Kim, calling her the MVP of the athletic department.

Kim's job description and what she does for the department probably don't match up. She is the assistant to the AD, which means that she is involved in basically everything that happens. She is also the primary contact between the athletic department and human resources, which means she takes the lead in all searches, of which there are a lot every year.

Mostly, she's the babysitter for the athletic department, the one who makes sure everything is going smoothly, that everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing, that nothing is falling through the cracks. In a world where everyone is focused on specific tasks and responsibilities, Kim is the one making sure all the pieces are fitting together.

She seems to know everything about everyone, like any good babysitter would. She knows what makes TB tick, and TB assumes she's figured everyone else out as well.

She does this was an ever-present smile and a laugh that doesn't quite make it all the way down the hall from her office to TigerBlog's but does come close. She is self-deprecating without overdoing it, funny, friendly, affable.

She is dedicated and loyal. She is a multitasker of the highest order, and she is as likely to send an important email at 2:30 am as 2:30 pm.

She is the one that everyone goes to with every problem, and she is the one who solves them all. She's also the one who plans the parties, remembers the birthdays and does all the little things that make the department more than just a collection of people.

For those reasons and so many others, there she was yesterday, finally get her due as a recipient of such a big award. The president spoke of her glowingly, and why wouldn't he?

And there was the large contingent from the athletic department, cheering her on. It's a very spread-out group, with offices in Jadwin, Dillon, the rink, the boathouse. And they came from all of those places to cheer on Kim.

That's what athletic department people do. It's the nature of the business.

They cheer. For their teams. For the athletes. For the uniform, for the colors of orange and black. 

For each other. Usually that means the ones who are the most visible publicly, the ones whose names are most familiar to those who follow the Tigers.

On this day, they were there to cheer for one of their own.

Kim Meszaros was in the spotlight yesterday. Like so many others who are more comfortable cheering than being cheered for, she was probably a bit uncomfortable. And also appreciative.

Kim spent last week in France with the women's soccer team. She came back to be honored by the University president with a huge award.

It's been a pretty good week for her.

She deserves it.

Congratulations, Kim Meszaros. The athletic department is in good hands with its babysitter.

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