Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Back Where They Started

Shortly after TigerBlog turned 50, he played squash with his colleague Craig Sachson. This was nothing new back then. TB and Craig played pretty much every day for years.

If you add up all of the matches, Craig probably won close to 55 percent of the time. When TB won shortly after that birthday, though, it dawned on him that here he was in his 50s, beating Craig, who was still in his 30s.

TB has had only one year that really troubled him. That was when he was 49. It didn't bother him when he was 30, or 40. For some reason, only 49 gave him issues. As it turned out, turning 50 was fun, actually.

TB's colleague Kim Meszaros, the assistant to Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, turned 50 yesterday. TigerBlog wished her a happy birthday, and Kim responded by sending him a text of something she put on her Facebook page (TB does not have a Facebook page of his own).

The text included 50 things that Kim had wanted to do in the year before she turned 50. It was a bucket-list type thing, only for before she turned 50. She'll have to come up with a new list for before she turns 60, and 70, and 80, and so on.

She put check marks next to all the things that she did on that list. Some are small. Some are big.

Learn to use a mitre saw? Check. Hike some of the Appalachian Trail? Check. Drive a truck? Check. Play laser tag? Check.

Run the Philadelphia Art Museum steps? Yo, check.

It's a great list.

Kim came to Princeton in 1995, working first in the football office. She's long since been a staple in the outer office of Room 1, first when Gary Walters was the Ford Family AD and now in the four years since Mollie has taken over.

TB has heard both AD's say how the entire place would have fallen apart many times over without Kim around.

She is in many ways the glue of the athletic department. There are very few things that happen around here that don't make it across her desk, and she seems to handle stress with a little sarcasm and some laughs, which is pretty much the way TB does.

She is also appreciated outside of the athletic department, as her status as one of the University's Presidential Award winners would indicate.

TigerBlog asked Kim to write a guest entry about her experiences here, and she one day might do it. Just not today.

While Kim works on that, TigerBlog will change subjects - to Princeton women's soccer and the NCAA selection show.

Princeton has put together one of the best seasons in program history, which is saying something, considering the history of the program. The Tigers are 14-2-0, and they won the outright Ivy title by going 6-1-0 in the league. They got the 1-0 win Saturday at Penn that they needed to close out the league championship.

Selection shows are interesting dynamics. The teams involved don't know where they'll be placed, and so as the brackets are released, it's a constant game of "is that us?"

Or, if you're a bubble team, "if that's us."
Princeton's RPI has been in the single digits basically all season, so it wasn't like the automatic bid was a necessity to get into the tournament. Still, Princeton had that in its pocket and knew it was a matter of opponent and seed as the show started.

The drama was all related to which part of the bracket would say "Princeton."

TB figured the Tigers for a three-seed in one of the brackets, but he knew there was a chance for a four. And that's how it turned out.

Princeton slid through the first three regions. TB thought he'd see the Tigers matched in the bracket against UCLA when the Bruins were named a No. 2 seed, but instead that became Virginia.

All that was left then was the No. 4 spot in that region, and that was the one Princeton earned.

The opening round will be Friday, at 7 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, and sorry, but there will be admission charged.

And the opponent?

It's Monmouth.

Perhaps you remember Monmouth from every entry TB had on Fridays in the summer, when he'd say that there were only a certain number of weeks left until the first athletic event of the year, the women's soccer game against Monmouth. Princeton won that one 3-0, back on Aug. 25.

In case you haven't been paying attention since, Monmouth dropped to 0-2-1 after three games. Since then, Monmouth is 15-1-1, including 6-0-0 in the last six.

The winner of Princeton-Monmouth gets the winner of North Carolina State (one of the four teams in the field Princeton has beaten)-Arkansas. Up next would linger North Carolina.

Oh, and the highlight of the show was when the announcer said that there was a matchup that would excite fans of American football: Clemson-Alabama. That was funny.

TigerBlog has never been to an SEC or ACC football game. Or any conference that is currently in the Power 5 group.

He'd like to one day. It's not a big deal if he doesn't.

It's not like it's on his bucket list or anything.

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