Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yo Vince

Vincent DiCarlo Jr. - Vinnie to pretty much everyone; Yo Vince to Pete Carril - did not work in the Princeton Department of Athletics for very long.

It was less than one full year, actually. And it was a long time ago. He was an intern, back in the 1995-96 athletic year.

TB is pretty sure it was a year.

Back then, the Office of Athletic Communications had three interns. They'd start in September, in time for the athletic year, and then, if everyone agreed, they'd come back for a second year, which started June 1 and ran to the following May 31.

It was a big pain, actually, to find people, train people, get people up and running - and then have to turn them loose, no matter what, after their second year. The internships became full-time positions at one point about 15 years ago, something that has resulted in great continuity for the OAC.
There were some people who left after a year because they got other jobs. TigerBlog is pretty sure Vinnie was a, well, one-and-done.

So why is it that he's made such a lasting impression on TigerBlog?

Well, he's one of those guys that's just hard to forget. He's a big kid, always smiling, always up, always with a laugh. And he did a lifetime's worth of endearing things in his short time here.

For instance, Vinnie went with the Princeton Athletics contingent to the 1996 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Indianapolis. Everyone on the trip came back with the never-ending memory of the Tigers' win over UCLA. Vinnie did that one better - he came back with those memories and a sign that read "This is not a public entrance to the RCA Dome." 

And then there were the times that he and Carril played lunchtime basketball in Jadwin. Vinnie, whose motto was was shoot-first and defend-never, once had this conversation with the Hall-of-Fame coach:
Vinnie: "Coach, you don't understand basketball."
Carril (gives him a dirty look)
Vinnie: "If I score 30 and the guy I'm guarding scores 28, and all five guys do that, we win by 10."

Ah, Vinnie.

He left the athletic communications field long ago, but the field never really leaves you.

Vinnie checked in this week, emailing TigerBlog about his son Justin, who is currently trying to ride his final year of Little League baseball as far as he can. The DiCarlos live in Connecticut, in a small town of 10,000 called Canton, but the 12-year-old all-stars recently won their district tournament for the first time in 29 years.

Vinnie sent TB an article from a local outlet about the team's success. He also mentioned that when they'd won, he jumped back into sports information mode, arranging interviews on the field and emailing in box scores. Perhaps this explains why Justin ended up with three pictures in the story?

TigerBlog was so proud.

Up next for Canton is a three-team sectional and then, if the team can keep it going, the four-team Connecticut state tournament. Eventually they'll be running into teams from towns with 10 times or more players to choose from, but hey, that never bothered Hickory High School.

Justin is the No. 2 pitcher on the team. He also plays third and is one of the better hitters on the team.

The No. 1 pitcher looks like he could make the jump from Little League to college, or at least he looks that way in the picture in the article Vinnie sent. Vinnie said that that kid's father is 6-8 and former college basketball player at Quinnipiac.

TigerBlog and Vinnie were talking yesterday about the similarities in being the parent of the goalie and the pitcher. There's a comparable level of stress with those positions, knowing that the natural tendency is to put so much of the outcome of the game on the ones charged most with preventing the other team from scoring.

As TB has said many times before, it seems like everyone is thinking "if you'd done a better job of raising your kid, he would have made that save." It's probably the same with the pitcher.

So what advice does he give his son to deal with those stresses? Vinnie said this:
 "I've really worked with him on 'approach, attitude, effort … not results' … can always control the first three … can't control the results, and stats can be misleading … I told him, this is from someone who kept stats for a living."

That's great.

The youth sports road can be expensive, stressful, filled with arguments with on-field officials, complaints about a kid who has to be overage, yelling parents, overbearing parents and every other horror story you read about.

TigerBlog has encountered some of this as he's watched his own kids and all of this back when he wrote about youth and high school sports when he was just starting out in the business.

For all of that, though, there's also a beauty to them. TigerBlog has seen way more of that side than he has the bad side.

They can also be the source of such great bonding experiences between parents and kids. They can create memories that will last forever, really. TigerBlog knows all about this.

So good luck to Justin DiCarlo and his Canton teammates. As TB said to another kid - one named Vinnie - hopefully they roll all the way to Williamsport.

By the way, it's always great to hear from him.

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