Monday, June 4, 2018



That was it. Effingham, Illinois.

TigerBlog would have gotten it eventually. Effingham, which is a little more than three hours south of Chicago, is the hometown of Kyle Wente. He's a a 2003 Princeton grad, a three-time All-Ivy League basketball player.

TigerBlog hadn't seen Wente in years, but he recognized him immediately when he walked into Jadwin Gym Friday. Wente was back for his 15th Reunion, and he was part of the large crowd of former players who were playing a pickup game.

It's an annual event.

As TB spoke with Wente, he found out that he's now living in Denver, the president of a company out there. TB remembered Wente was from Illinois, and he was trying to remember the hometown when Wente said it was Effingham.

Ah, yes. TigerBlog would have gotten it. And if he didn't, John Thompson III would have told him.

TB texted Thompson, who had been Wente's coach. Together they won a pair of Ivy titles, including the 2001 championship after Thompson had taken over as head coach in September and then had to deal with the loss of something like four projected starters. Wente went from someone who would be hoping to get into the rotation to someone who seemingly never came off the court.

Thompson immediately responded with the correct answer, Effingham. He also threw in Wente's high school, St. Anthony.

It was great to see Wente again. It was also great to see Steve Goodrich, part of the great team of 1998. Goodrich, who was there for his 20th, is the last Princeton player to play in the NBA.

When TB walked in, Goodrich and Wente were standing together. They were talking like old buddies, though it took TB a second to remember that Goodrich had graduated two years before Wente arrived. 

Goodrich is also another one that TB hadn't seen in a long time. As was the case with Wente, TigerBlog saw basically every game Goodrich played at Princeton. Actually, TigerBlog missed just two games that Goodrich played, both of which were in his freshman season of 1994-95.

Goodrich and Wente will always be among TigerBlog's favorite Princeton athletes. So will several of the others who were in the gym at that time. 

TigerBlog supposes that's the whole point of Reunions. It's to see the people who will always be a big part of your Princeton experience, whatever that experience was, back on the campus where all those memories were made. So what if Goodrich lives in California and Wente in Colorado - and Chris Doyal, a 1997 men's basketball grad, lives in London.

They come back, and they're who they were when they first met. Together again. And seeing them there took TB right back to all those games, all those times he'd seen them play.

Thompson was there for his 30th. He said that when he was a student, he used to work at Reunions and thought the people at their 30th were old.

If they were old, where does that leave the lone member of the Class of 1937? That would be Joe Schein, the man who led the P-Rade. He's 103 years old, by the way. If you're in the Class of 1937, then this was your 81st Reunion.

TigerBlog loves the P-Rade, even though this one got cut short by some wild rain. The sight of Schein, as he walked down Elm Drive, was extraordinary.

TigerBlog saw quite a few people he knew at Reunions. It would take a lot to get him to dance at the tents until 2 in the morning, but there are parts of Reunions he loves. Like the basketball pickup games.

And the lacrosse/field hockey reception. He stops by that each year for the two hours or so prior to the P-Rade.

TB isn't quite sure why he's better at remembering the class years of the athletes he knew in the 1990s or so rather than the ones from the last few years. He saw Chris White, for instance, and couldn't believe it was five years already since he'd graduated.

The whole Reunions feel is special. For three days the whole campus is just a sea of random orange and black garments, with alums of all eras, and their families, and often their little kids, also in orange and black, tagging along.

And then there was one alum, another basketball player, dressed in red. It was Brian Earl, Class of 1999. He was back for the basketball pickup game.

These days, Brian is the head coach at Cornell. This past winter he took the Big Red to the Ivy League tournament.

When he came into Jadwin Friday, he was immediately surrounded by former teammates. He had a bottle of wine - Ithaca wine - for his former teammate, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson.

No matter what color shirt he was wearing, Brian still belonged in Jadwin. There was no one there who felt otherwise.

Like TB said, it doesn't matter where they live or what they do or how far away they go, both literally and figuratively.

Brian Earl will always be one of them, a Princetonian.

Especially during those three days each year.

It was good to see him too.

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