Friday, June 8, 2018

Picnic Time

TigerBlog's bicycle originally cost him $80.

It's hardly high-tech. At the same time, it's pretty durable.

The last time he rode it, though, he thought it might be on its last legs. It was definitely beaten up, with only a few of the gears workable, and the ones that did made a lot of noise when the pedals turned.

He considered getting a new bike, a much nicer one, but he took his old one with him to a local bike shop, uncertain of whether he wanted to fix the old one or get a new one. Then the guy at the shop told him he'd fix the old one good as new - for $75.

For some reason, this fascinates TigerBlog. He spent $75 to fix a bicycle that originally cost $80. Was that a smart thing to do?

The $75 is way less than it would cost for a good new bike. On the other hand, would you spend nearly 100 percent of what you originally spent on something to fix it? 

TigerBlog was out riding yesterday afternoon. It was a great afternoon for it.

This came a few hours after TigerBlog had a pretty good lunch as well.

And dessert was even better.

By the way, if there are any two words that TigerBlog still struggles with all these years after elementary school, it's "dessert" and "desert." Even now he had to check to make sure he had the right one, the one that got Courtney Banghart to speak so poetically, not the one where there were two murdered couriers that got the ball rolling in "Casablanca."

No. Dessert.

Lunch? That was a mix of basically everything, from hot dogs to steak, with pizza, salads and a bunch of other stuff. And a lot of it.

Oh, TB should tell you the occasion. It was the Department of Athletics end-of-year picnic. This one was held at the Lenz Tennis Center.

As for dessert, TB was standing behind Banghart, the women's basketball coach, when the guy from Thomas Sweet dropped off the big barrels of ice cream and set up the sundae bar.

"There is love," Banghart said, "and then there's love."

In fairness, she's right.

The academic year at Princeton ended with graduation this week. The athletic year ends today and tomorrow, when the final two Princeton athletes compete at the NCAA track and field championships in Oregon.

You know what else yesterday was? It was exactly 100 days until the football opener, which is Sept. 15 at Butler. The home opener is one week later, against Monmouth.

The first athletic event of next year is, well, it's so far away that TB hasn't even looked it up yet. He assumes it's a women's soccer game in late August, or perhaps field hockey. Or women's volleyball.

For yesterday, though, all of that was far, far away in the future.

There were some new faces at the picnic, and a few who are leaving. There are others who have left already, including Becca Dorst, who was the interim women's water polo coach this past spring. Becca is leaving to go back into nursing, TB believes.

In her one season as interim head coach, by the way, Becca was the CWPA Coach of the Year.

There's always turnover from one year to the next. It's the nature of the beast.

There aren't too many times when the entire department gets together like it did yesterday at the picnic. Usually everyone is focused on their tasks, in their areas.

There are offices across the campus, with some in Jadwin or the pool, some in Dillon, some in Baker Rink, others in other places. TigerBlog isn't sure of any other departments that are as spread out as that.

At the same time, the entire department falls under the heading of "Princeton Athletics." And there's something a little different - and uniting - when you're representing the same department against opponents from other schools. TB has always found that to be a defining part of what it means to work in college athletics, that together you have a much greater pride in the organization when you're wearing its name and colors in competition.

TB also thinks it's why there's so much camaraderie within the department, because there is that sense that everyone is on one team.

And that's why it's always nice to get together like yesterday. It was fun and relaxing, a chance to step away from the constant challenges that also define college athletics. It certainly doesn't stop in the summer.

But for one afternoon at least, it slowed down and allowed everyone to get together, eat, and hang out.

It was really nice.

Even before the guy from Thomas Sweet showed up.

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