Monday, February 20, 2017

Good Luck To You, Dave Leach

It was around 3:30 or so Friday afternoon when TigerBlog's office phone rang.

For every time TB's office phone rings these days, it probably rang 100 times 10 years ago and 1,000 times 20 years ago. The dynamics of why tell a large part of the story of the evolution of communications, so TB will just leave you with the obvious basics - cell phones, texting, greater availability of online information, etc.

Anyway, at this particular time, it was Kim Meszaros, the assistant to Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux. There was to be an impromptu meeting in Mollie's office.

What could it be, TB wondered as he came up the stairs. Maybe Mollie wanted to see him so that she could double his salary? Hey, he could hope.

When TB walked into Mollie's office, he saw an interesting cross-section of his colleagues. There was Greg Paczkowski from facilities, Allison Rich of compliance, Dave Leach from campus recreation, Kim and Mollie. What did these people have in common?

Eventually, that group was joined by others. What was the occasion?

Well, as it turns out, it was a very unexpected one. Dave Leach was the center of the meeting, called so that Dave could tell his colleagues that he was leaving Princeton.

If you're a Princeton varsity sports fan, you probably don't know who Dave Leach is. If you're almost anyone who works on the campus, then you do.

Dave Leach seems to know everyone. And everyone seems to know him. Better than that, everyone seems to like him.

Dave is a hard guy not to like. He's personable, always upbeat, always with a smile and a handshake and a few minutes to say hi and see how you're doing. And more than that, he seems to be genuinely interested in the answer.

His title at Princeton is Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Campus Recreation. In is position, Dave interacts with people from basically every corner and constituency of the Princeton campus.

The programs that are run out of Campus Rec are massive, and they bring together thousands of people in Dillon Gym. There are club sports, intramural sports, physical education classes, workouts rooms, exercise classes, games, contests and everything else under the sun. It seems like Dillon is jammed with people from before the sun comes up until late into the night.

It has to be a logistical nightmare to keep it all coordinated.

Maybe TigerBlog's favorite thing about Dave Leach is the way he never, ever takes credit for anything. He always talks about his "team," the people with whom he works in Campus Rec. He gives them all the credit, never even considering taking any for himself.

Of course, there are great people who work with Dave in Dillon Gym. The Campus Rec crew is very proud of the work that they do and the programs they put together, and they're constantly working to create new opportunities for the campus community.

It's easy to tell that they love Dave Leach as much he loves them. It had to be an emotional moment for him to break the news to them. Certainly it wasn't easy for Dave to tell everyone in Jadwin Friday afternoon.

So where is Dave going? Well, uh, yeah - he's going to Penn to take over the Campus Rec program there. Dave has always been a Philly guy at heart, and he's stepping onto a campus that has more undergraduate students, a larger campus-wide staff and a huge number of graduate students, including a med school and law school.

It's a great challenge for him, and he's the right person for the task. Seems like a fair trade too - Princeton got TigerBlog from Penn, and now Dave Leach is going from Princeton to Penn.

In the meeting Friday, Dave pointed out that TigerBlog always says the same thing when someone leaves Princeton, that TB always says that from then on, that person is "dead to him." It's a joke, of course.

The truth is that it's never an easy decision for someone to move on from Princeton. Dave is right - he has a great team in Dillon Gym. And he's been a big part of the overall athletic administration, not to mention a huge fan of Princeton's varsity teams.

The Princeton Department of Athletics is a great place to work. It's a small group, and it's one that works hard together and pulls for each other in every way. Dave has been one of the main faces of that effort for the last decade or so.
 There aren't too many people TB has ever met in his life nicer than Dave Leach. TB was a bit stunned to hear he was leaving, though he understands it and is happy for him.

He wishes him the best. And TB thinks he can speak for all of Princeton, not just those in athletics, when he says good luck Dave. You'll certainly be missed.

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