Thursday, February 25, 2016

An Unsung Five

TigerBlog wants to start today by mentioning five people, unsung people at that.

He's hesitant to do this, because Princeton Athletics is mostly a collection of unsung people. They do what they do every day to help Princeton have the best possible athletic program, one that is, for TigerBlog's money, a model of what college athletics can be, with its on-field success and commitment to education and service.

So to everyone else, TB apologizes. He knows how important what you all do is to Princeton, and to the athletes, who are the beneficiaries of all of that effort, even if they have no way of ever knowing it, for the most part.

Okay, so is TB clear on that?

The first person he wants to mention is Milena Flores, the assistant women's basketball coach.

As TigerBlog said the other day, Courtney Banghart has put up extraordinary, unprecedented numbers as the head coach of the Tigers. Her record in her last 98 Ivy League games is 92-6, for instance.

There's one common denominator for all of the time Banghart has been here, and that's Flores. They started out here together, went 7-23 in their first year together and have been part of five Ivy titles in the last six years together.

Banghart is an extraordinary coach, an all-time great at both Princeton and in the Ivy League. But she hasn't done it all herself. Flores has been by her side the entire time, building a program together and, for the last six years-plus years, pushing it beyond anything any Ivy women's basketball program has ever dreamed of accomplishing.

The next person is Karen Malec.

Karen is the person whose job it is to make sure all of Princeton's home events run smoothly. TigerBlog chronicles the number of these events, and you can go to the all-sports schedule to see just how daunting a task it all is.

The toughest times of year are the crossover seasons, when postseason for one season runs into early season for the next. That's basically where we are now.

This weekend? There's home men's basketball against Columbia tomorrow at 6 and Cornell Saturday at 6 - with huge Ivy League championship implications. There's the home ECAC women's hockey playoffs against St. Lawrence tomorrow, Saturday and maybe Sunday. There's home men's volleyball. Home men's hockey. Home women's lacrosse. Home fencing.

And looming next weekend is the EIWA championships, which will share Jadwin with women's basketball, among other things. And last weekend? Factor in all the Alumni Day necessities in Jadwin to go along with the athletic events.

And it all falls to Karen. Next time you're at a Princeton event and you see officials and visiting teams with locker rooms and all the things that make an event actually happen, think of Karen for a minute.

The next person is Bill Bromberg, who isn't an athletic department employee but who also has a big effect on Princeton events.

Bromberg is the PA announcer for Princeton lacrosse and basketball, men's and women's. He's coming up on 20 years or so of doing this, and he's been incredibly reliable during that time.

He's so reliable that TB is willing to overlook the whole "by rule" thing he does with the first called timeout of the second half of a basketball game.

Anyway, the crossover season impacts Bill too. This past Saturday, Bill's day began with women's lacrosse at noon at Sherrerd Field, followed by the men's game at 3. Then he had to hustle over to Jadwin for men's basketball.

It's not his first triple-header. It is a long day. And as a long-time radio and PA man himself, TigerBlog can tell you that it wears on your voice after awhile.

So, yeah, Bromberg earned his "by rule" lines for Saturday.

Last but not least, TigerBlog wants to recognize two of his colleagues, Cody Chruschiel and John Bullis. Those two are the video people here in the department, and they have had quite a busy few days of late.

They ran into some staggering technical issues last weekend for streaming, and they basically had to reinvent everything Princeton has been doing on the fly. Since then, they've been working like nuts to correct the original problem and ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Rather than get flustered and lose their composure, Cody and John simply went step-by-step to solve the problems. Had they gotten heated in the moment, they never would have figured out what to do.

The Department of Athletics is made up of people who think that way. Fix the problem.

There's always something that comes up around here. One of TB's favorite parts of being here all these years has been the "figure it out" mentality.

So those are five people that don't always get the credit they deserve. They're not the only five, and TB is really hesitant to single anyone out because he doesn't want to offend anyone.

But these five? They've earned it.

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