Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Congrats Chessie, And The Class of 2017

So is this a good record for a coach: 1,042-137?

What if 20 NCAA championships (and nine more runner-up finishes) go along with that record? That's good, right?

That would be the career record for Sharon Pfluger, the head coach of field hockey and women's lacrosse at the College of New Jersey. Pfluger is one of two female coaches featured in the NCAA's Hall of Champions Legends of the Game at its Indianapolis headquarters. The other? Pat Summit.

Pfluger, whose most recent TCNJ team fell in the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse final to Gettysburg 6-5, reminds TigerBlog of Bill Tierney, another Hall-of-Fame coach whose own resume has seven NCAA lacrosse titles on it, six at Princeton and one at Denver.

Pfluger and Tierney both see each season as its own opportunity and challenge, no matter how many previous successes they've had. They don't live on their past accomplishments. Neither has lost any fire through the years. Both let their players play and are the kinds of coaches players love to play for. They are organized and completely in control, but they are not authoritarians. Their on-field intensity contrasts with their soft-spoken way off the field.

Actually, now that he thinks about it, TigerBlog met Tierney and Pfluger within a few months of each other, back in the 1989-90 range. They were winning then, and they haven't stopped since.

When TigerBlog saw Chessie Jackson had gotten the head women's basketball coaching job at TCNJ, his advice to her was to figure out what Sharon has been doing all these years and do that. It's good advice.

Jackson will be leaving Princeton, where she has been on Courtney Banghart's staff the last two years. Interestingly, the picture on the TCNJ website in the story announcing Jackson's hiring shows her at a Princeton game from two years ago, and she is pictured with Meg Griffith, another former assistant to Banghart who also became a head coach, a year ago at Columbia.

Jackson has all the attributes to be a successful head coach. She is smart (a Williams grad), and she is competitive. She knows what it takes to be successful on the Division I and Division III levels.

She learned from Banghart and Milena Flores at Princeton, which is a pretty good internship. She'll also be a really strong addition to the overall athletic department culture.

She will definitely be the kind of coach that players will want to play for. TigerBlog is a big fan of hers, and he wishes her the best in her first head coaching job.

Congratulations are the order of the day. And happy anniversary.

The anniversary wishes go out to, among others, Princeton University itself.

Today marks the 270th time that Princeton has had a Commencement ceremony; does that mean that this was the 269th Reunions? Must have been a fairly short P-Rade back then.

Actually, TigerBlog was wondering when Reunions started, so he checked out the Princeton Companion. Apparently, they started shortly after the Civil War before becoming a more recognizable event - along with the P-Rade - in the 1890s.

Meanwhile, though, it is the 270th Commencement Day today. TigerBlog remembers the celebrations around the University's 250th anniversary, and he'll stop by for the 300th in another 30 years.

When you're here every day, you don't really consider how far back the University actually dates. When you think in terms of 270 Commencements, it leaves you awed at the number of people who have come through here in that time, and what they've done when they've left here.

It's impressive. And it's not something too many other schools can come close to matching.

As for the congratulations, TB sends out his congrats to everyone who is earning a diploma at Princeton today. It's the culmination of four years of really hard work - and presumably a weekend of a lot of fun.

Just as Chessie is heading down a new road after "studying" at Princeton, so too is everyone who is getting a diploma today.

Princeton is not an easy school, obviously. It challenges its students from Day 1 all the way through to today, graduation. It hasn't been too long since the grads in caps and gowns today were finishing their senior thesis, and then experiencing the thrill of handing it in.

There are roughly 200 Princeton athletes who are graduating today too. Actually, they're technically former Princeton athletes.

They've made their way through to the finish line while balancing the demands of being a high-level Division I athlete with the Princeton academic requirements. This adds another dimension to the accomplishment.

All of the values that Princeton Athletics stands for really manifest themselves in the years ahead for the graduates. All of the lessons they learned. All of the things that athletics has taught them. All of the ways they've had to push themselves to achieve their successes, and all of the times they've had to pick themselves up when it didn't go their way. All the times they've had to sacrifice their own individual wants for the good of the team. All of the times they wanted to take the easy way out but then pushed ahead anyway.

These are all going to stay with them forever. A co-curricular education.

All of that is for the future though. Today is about the moment.

It's Graduation Day. Congratulations to the graduates, especially the athletes.

You're entitled to feel pretty good about yourself right now. You've accomplished something very, very special.

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