Friday, February 12, 2016

The Spirit Of Lorin And Denna

Today's subject is spirit.

TigerBlog speaks today about two women - one he's never met, another he'll never forget.

It was seven years ago today that Lorin Maurer died, one of those who tragically was taken in a plane crash outside of Buffalo. She was a few weeks past her 30th birthday.

Lorin worked with Princeton's Athletic Friends groups. As each year passes, fewer and fewer people here in the Department of Athletics remain who worked with Lorin.

TigerBlog would like to make sure that those who didn't know her learn something about her. And, in the process, he hopes that those who did know her will take a minute to remember her.

Lorin had a great spirit for life. She smiled and laughed easily and regularly. She was easy to work with, and she was happy to help anyone with any project or task that came up.

On the day she died, Lorin was at work in Jadwin Gym. She and TigerBlog were in the same meeting.

As TB remembers it, Lorin mentioned a few times during the day that she'd have to cut out early, that she was off to a wedding in Buffalo. TB thinks she left a few minutes before the meeting ended, and TigerBlog had just gotten back to his office.

In all the years that the Office of Athletics Communications was up on the balcony of Jadwin, TigerBlog's door was almost always open. That day was no exception.

Some people would walk by and say hi. Others would walk by and not look in.

Lorin would always, always, always stop in the doorway. If she had nothing to say, she'd just smile and then keep going.

She did the same thing that day, seven years ago. She stopped, didn't say a word, smiled and went off on her way, as it turned out, to a tragic destiny.

TigerBlog went about his business that night, completely unaware of what had happened with Lorin's plane. It wasn't until he woke up the next morning that he was hit with the news.

Now, seven years later, he can still remember the feeling. It was the single most stunning moment of his life.

Lorin Maurer, so full of life, so young, was gone. TigerBlog could barely process it all. It seemed so unreal, unbelievable, unfathomable.

He stared at the computer and the television, not willing to accept that this was possible. Sadly, tragically, it was.

Princeton had basketball at home that night. The game was swarmed by reporters asking about Lorin, asking to film in her office (which had been on D level), asking people who knew her what she was like.

It was a blur then. Today, every detail is seared into TB's mind.

When TigerBlog thinks back to Lorin, he thinks first of her spirit. She may have been robbed of so many years of her life, but her spirit still lives on in those who knew her.

Certainly TigerBlog will never forget her.

TB knew Lorin Maurer. He's never met Denna Laing.

He doesn't need to know that she's a woman of extraordinary spirit as well.

By now you know Denna's story. A former women's hockey player at Princeton, Laing suffered a terrible spinal cord injury on New Year's Eve while playing for the Boston Pride of the women's professional league at the Women's Winter Classic in Foxboro.

Laing has been moved from the hospital to a rehab center, and by all accounts she has been making incredible progress.

Laing has been active on social media, sharing videos of her progress and inspirational messages for those who have become her followers. The hashtag #14Strong refers to her uniform number with the Tigers (she wears No. 24 for the Pride), and it has become something of a social media phenomenon to see teams form the No. 14 and send it to her.

It started with the St. Lawrence women's hockey team, to whom Laing had no actual connection to other than having played against the Saints. It spread quickly, eventually being picked up by teams in other sports and by several Princeton teams.

The women's hockey team, which has already won the Ivy League title, plays at home this weekend as it chases home ice in the ECAC playoffs. The Tigers host Clarkson tonight at 7 and then St. Lawrence tomorrow at 3, and the game tomorrow is part of "Denna Laing Day."

Among the events at the women's game tomorrow will be the sale of "14Strong" hats, a bake sale and a chuck-a-puck contest. Donations for the Denna Laing Fund will be accepted as well.

Through all of this, Laing's attitude has been incredible. TigerBlog has not seen any picture of her where she wasn't smiling. Anything she has said has been amazingly positive and talks about how she'd never change a thing.

In the most recent video TB saw of her, Laing was moving her arms easily, freely. It was really great to see.

Like Lorin Maurer's, Denna Laing's spirit leaps out at you. Like TB said, he's never met her, never talked to her. But he is inspired by her.

And for Lorin?

If you never met her, she was someone special, a real shining light for Princeton's Department of Athletics.

If you have met her, you know exactly what TigerBlog means.


Terry Maurer said...

Thank you TB for the heartfelt remembrance of Lorin. Lorin's spirit will live within the hearts of everyone who knew her.

Kim Meszaros said...

Thanks TB - we'll never forget Lorin or her smile.

Christine Alfieri said...

Great article remembering Lorin. I had the pleasure of living with her in college and her smile will never be forgotten

Chris Ayres said...

Her spirit can't be captured in words, but you do a pretty darn good job TB. Miss you Lauren. You were special.

Kathleen Molnar said...

Thank you TB!!! You remember her purely. That brought me to tears.

Kathleen Molnar said...

Thank you TB!!! You remember her purely. That brought me to tears.