Monday, March 2, 2015

More Titles For Fred And Rob

After a weekend that included as good a lacrosse game as he has ever seen, not to mention two more wins for the unbeaten women's basketball team and an incredible opening night performance by the baseball team, TigerBlog begins with two men who have been winning championships at Princeton since before he arrived there.

Wait, before those two guys, there were other things this weekend that stood out, most notably two women's squash players who reached the semifinals of the individual national championships, one of whom, 11th-seeded Nicole Bunyan, defeated third-seeded Danielle Letourneau of Cornell 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 17-19, 12-10 in an epic quarterfinal.

Still, TigerBlog starts with men's track and field coach Fred Samara and men's swimming and diving coach Rob Orr.

There are only five coaches who predate TigerBlog at Princeton. Fred and Rob are two of them. The others are Susan Teeter (women's swimming and diving), Peter Farrell (women's track and field/cross country) and Chris Sailer (women's lacrosse).

This past weekend, Fred and Rob each added another championship to his respective mantel. Fred led the Tigers to the Ivy League Heptagonal indoor championship, while Rob added another Ivy title of his own. Both championships were blowouts.

Want to guess how many them have between them?

Let's start with this: Between them, they have coached for 74 years at Princeton.

They're very different people, Fred and Rob. If you want TigerBlog to give you one word to describe Fred, it's "strong." He's strong physically - anyone who has seen his workout regimens through the years can attest to that.

Remember, this is a man who competed alongside Bruce Jenner at the 1976 Olympic Games in the decathlon, finishing fifth despite a hamstring injury a few weeks before that kept him from being 100%. Now it's nearly 40 years later, and he looks like he is in the exact same shape he was back then.

He's also strong mentally. He tolerates no BS. He's direct, to the point, even when it means having a difficult conversation about something. TigerBlog has been on the receiving end of a handful of those - not many, but more than one - in his time at Princeton, and he came away with a respect for Fred's ability to be direct and, well, strong in his opinions.

As a result of all of this, Fred runs a strong program, one filled with athletes who reflect his mental toughness, and physical demeanor. Programs like that are ready to go when the times get the toughest.

He's tough, Fred, but he's fair. And he's funny. He can laugh at himself when the moment calls for it, and he has a very subtle sense of humor. He is a great foil for Farrell, in a Butch and Sundance sort of way, minus the bank robbery and such.

As for Rob Orr, if TigerBlog had to pick one word to describe him, it would be, well, TB isn't quite so sure. He asked his OAC colleague Craig Sachson, who knows Orr way better than TB does, to pick out a word, and Sachson came back with "beloved."

As in, beloved by his guys.

TigerBlog knows that Rob is a laid-back guy, one who follows "how are you" with some sort of funny quip as his response. He's a bit eccentric, but not really. He appears like he's not really fazed by anything going on around him and that all of this is one big joke.

Sachson said this about Orr, with whom he's worked for more than a decade: "He doesn't want to be interviewed, but he'll usually throw balls at the people I am interviewing." That's about right.

At the same time, he's definitely serious, especially when it comes to what goes on in his pool.

In that respect, he's a competitive man. TigerBlog has heard speak about issues that are important to him and his program, and, like Fred, he's very direct and strong. It's no wonder his swimmers love him. Like Fred he always has their backs. Like Fred, he's set the standard very high for them.

The final margin of victory for the track and field team was 63 points, which as TB understands is a lot. The final margin for the swimming and diving team was 232.5 points, which similarly is a lot.

These were dominant performances by teams coached by men who has lost nothing off their fastballs in all those years. Each year continues to be its own challenge for them, and year after year they meet that challenge.

In case you were wondering, that's 22 straight years of finishing first or second at the indoor Heps for Fred Samara. The last time Rob Orr didn't finish first or second in the Ivy League? How about never in his 36 seasons.

Oh, and how many championships? That's 18 indoor Heps titles and 36 Heps titles overall for Fred, and that's 22 Ivy titles for Rob.

That's a record of success that is really hard to fathom, for both men.

And so on this busy, successful weekend at Princeton, they're the two who stood out.

This isn't the first time.


Anonymous said...

That would be "fazed"

Nassau83 said...

Fred and Rob are two of the all-time greats. In terms of long-serving coaches, don't forget Greg Gunn - Princeton's Diving Coach, who arrived in either 1986 or 1987 (his bio is incorrect). The margin of victory for a few of the Men's Ivy championships and quite a few of the women's were due to the divers significantly outscoring their opponents. Rob Orr and Susan Teeter are exceptional swim coaches and each has been well-served by some very fine assistants, but Greg does not get the credit that he deserves.