Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Achieve, Serve, Lead

TigerBlog saw it coming.

The event that brought basically all of Princeton's 1,000 or so varsity athletes to Jadwin Gym last night was just ending, and that meant that the dinner portion of the evening was about to begin. The athletes were about to instructed as to which teams should get in line first, and TigerBlog could see from his vantage point 50 yards or so away that no announcement would be necessary.

Instead, it was a massive stampede to the buffet lines.

That's okay. They're college athletes. Princeton athletes. They're supposed to move quickly.

And they did.

They'd sat in the lower north stands of Jadwin for the last 45 minutes or so, listening to the inspirational words of a group of speakers that included Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux, Princeton Varsity Club chairman Frank Sowinski and even University president Christopher Eisgruber.

The occasion was the PVC's welcome barbecue. It's an event that at one point was just for freshmen. Then it was freshmen and sophomores. It might have been freshmen and seniors at one point.

Now it was for everyone.

This was the first time that the BBQ was for all of the athletes, which could make it the first time in all of the time that TigerBlog has been around Princeton Athletics - nearly 30 years worth - that he's seen that many of the athletes in the same place at the same time.

Other than freshman athlete orientation or the senior banquet, it's rare for an entire class to be together, let alone four classes. And yet there they were, on a Monday night in Jadwin.

As they filed in, most wore the gray "Princeton Varsity Club" t-shirts that were given out in the lobby. It made it next to impossible to tell one team from another, other than the men's lacrosse players whom TB knows, and the hockey players, who all wore their Princeton hockey shirts.

TB couldn't help but realize that there are a lot of Princeton athletes, most of whom he doesn't know. Hey, if you've ever been in Jadwin, picture the stands on the side opposite the benches completely packed. That's how it looked.

Mixed in with the short speeches were a series of videos that have been produced by the Department of Athletics' video creator John Bullis. The videos are under the "Achieve, Serve, Lead" theme, with small videos devoted to each area of the department's motto.

The first video was the "Achieve" video, which featured highlights from the 2014-15 athletic year. The "Serve" video features Princeton's athletes as they embark on various projects in the community, with several athletes who talk about what participation in those projects means to them.

The last one shown last night was the "Lead" video, which features five Princeton captains from last year and this year as they talk about what they've learned about leadership from their time at Princeton.

Bullis did a really good job on the videos. He's the first person who was hired by the Department of Athletics specifically to produce original video content and work directly with live streaming of games. The second, by the way, is Cody Chruschiel, who started last week after coming to Princeton from UMass.

Anyway, Bullis is an artist. He's a funny one. TigerBlog can't figure out if he's more like a big kid or a big dog, but there's something very endearing about him. How can someone who moonwalked into TigerBlog's office yesterday not be endearing? Oh, and he does a great job.

His videos are what the Department of Athletics had in mind when it first abandoned producing media guides. These videos are designed to take people inside Princeton Athletics, to show what the experience of the athletes is.

These videos will be coming to goprincetontigers.com one at a time, beginning today and lasting throughout the fall. Hopefully you'll see what TB means.

In the meantime, the stampede to the buffet lines last night came and went. Shortly after that, the 1,000 athletes began to file out of Jadwin.

TigerBlog stood back and watched the scene. He saw teammates dancing to the music, others walking out arm in arm, still others limping out on crutches.

Princeton's athletic success through the years is easy to document.

This was a different side of it though, one that was harder to quantify. This was Princeton Athletics away from the field, away from competitive nature that is inherent in what they do. This was a bunch of friends relaxing on a Monday night at a BBQ.

As TigerBlog watched, he thought about the future. About reunions to come, for decades and decades, when these same groups of people will gather for future meals, future BBQs.

It made TigerBlog smile. And reminded him of what his job is really all about.

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