Friday, July 31, 2015

Almost August

TigerBlog loves a good thunderstorm.

He's not ready to say that one that blew through yesterday afternoon was all that good. It had two big claps of thunder and about 30 seconds of rain.

You call that a thunderstorm?

It certainly looked like it was going to be bad. As TB looked out his window, he could see the sky above Princeton Stadium turn darker and darker. Then there was a flash. He figured it was about to start.

Then, just like that, it was over. There was a kid running sprints on Weaver track who never even paused his workout. About 10 minutes later, the heavens opened for real. For about 45 more seconds. Then it stopped again.

And the kid was still on the track, still doing his workout. Now that's dedication.

The skies started to brighten, but the rain came back anyway. There might have been one more clap of thunder. That's about it.

This was hardly one of those middle-of-the-night t-storms, the kind where the lightning lights up the night sky through the window shades and gets you to cringe as you wait for the accompanying thunder. Now that's a thunderstorm.

It's been a fairly dry few weeks around here, even in the heart of thunderstorm season. TigerBlog has lived his entire life in about a 50-mile radius of where his desk is, so he's used to the humid July's and August's around here, with the frequent summer thunderstorms.

TigerBlog started to wonder which U.S. cities had the most thunderstorms, or which region of the country. He would not have gotten the correct answer.

Any guesses? TB will give you a few paragraphs.

TigerBlog remembers one of the first summers he spent in Jadwin Gym, when it seemed like there was a thunderstorm every afternoon. They got to be so commonplace that each member of the staff of the Office of Athletic Communications started writing on the board a predicted time for that day's storm.

It was incredibly humid yesterday.  Like, "walk outside and start sweating and your clothes stick to you" humid.

This is how the weather is in Central Jersey this time of year. Always is.

Ah, but it is not the stormiest part of the country. TigerBlog would have guessed the Southeast, and he would have been right. The nine cities with the most thunderstorms per year are all in the Southeast.

Actually, the 10th - Kansas City - is in a state that is in the Southeast Conference. At least TB thinks Missouri is in the SEC.

And the top city for thunderstorms? It's Tampa, of all places, with 82 days of thunderstorms per year.

Today is the last day of July. Tomorrow begins the rather odd month of August.

If you thought it was humid this week, wait until August.

TigerBlog loves the summer and the warm weather, but it starts to get a little old in August. There will be way more hot, sticky, humid days than not. The NFL preseason will drag along. So will baseball.

And yet, before August ends, Princeton Athletics will have started up again. Granted, there are only two events in August, and both are in women's soccer - the opener at home against Howard Aug. 28 and then a game at Fordham two days later.

That first game is four weeks from today.

This is about the time each year when time really starts to fly. It'll seem like a blink of an eye and August will have zoomed along, and it'll be back to the business of actual athletic events.

This year, of course, is Year 1 for Sean Driscoll as Princeton's head women's soccer coach. His team figures to be led by junior Tyler Lussi, the 2014 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

Lussi has 28 career goals, and if she matches last year's total of 18, that would leave her with 46, or one off the Princeton career record, held by Esmeralda Negron. No Princeton soccer player, male or female, has ever scored more than Esmeralda here.

Lussi is actually tied for fifth already, with Lauren Lazo, after just two seasons. Ahead of her at Negron, Linda DeBoer (41), Emily Behncke (39) and Jen Hoy (36).

Lussi's chase of the school record is one of the storylines for the fall of 2015. And 2016, for that matter.

There will be plenty of others.

And they'll be starting soon. Four weeks from today, actually.

So enjoy another summer Friday and another summer weekend.

There aren't that many left. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Question No. 3

Blake Borders has been to 29 states.

That's not a bad number. It's more than half obviously. There are plenty of people who never see that many.

How old is Blake, by the way? How long did it take him to get to that many states?

He's not quite a year old.

Little Blake's parents, Amy and Andrew, are somewhat adventurous in their vacations. They like to see the country. And they like to do it from a car.

TigerBlog called Andrew, his colleague in the Office of Athletic Communications, twice in the last two weeks to ask him a work-related question and then happened to ask him what state he was in at that moment. The first time it was New Mexico. The second time it was Minnesota.

Somewhere in between, Andrew stopped off in Las Vegas to do a pair of videos with Princeton alums T.J. Bray (basketball) and Matt Bowman (baseball). The family also flew to Alaska, which was the only state Andrew had not previously been in, and attended a Seattle Mariners game.

So Andrew has now been to all 50 states. He might be the only person TB knows who has done so. MotherBlog made it to 49 before she passed away, having never been to North Dakota.

As for Blake, he had very little say in his summer vacation, but he was a trooper nonetheless. And hey, that's quite an ambitious undertaking for two parents, to drive that far with an 11-month-old.

Andrew sent TB a picture of Blake from Mt. Rushmore, which is in South Dakota. TigerBlog has never been there, but he thinks it would be a cool place to go.

So there's Blake, silhouetted against George Washington. Now that's a great picture.

TigerBlog isn't sure where the whole "who belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of (insert whatever subject is being discussed today)" trend began, but it seems to be a big thing these days. Who belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of greatest Yankees? Or greatest actors. Or whatever.

The Baltimore Sun recently had a series on the Mt. Rushmores of all the local men's lacrosse programs, for instance.

And, of course, Tom Brady belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of greatest cheaters.

TigerBlog has already answered the first two of five questions he was asked in a comment a few weeks ago. If you forgot, the comment was this:
Now that the academic year is over, just a word to encourage more of your feature stories which include your personal memories or historical compilations. Here are some unsolicited ideas: Greatest games or events you've witnessed, with and without regard to historical context
Happiest moments you've experienced due to Princeton sports
Weirdest fluke plays
Most improbable comebacks
Most inspiring student-athletes

The answer to Question No. 1 is HERE. The answer to Question No. 2 is HERE.

Question No. 3?

TigerBlog has been thinking about the fluke plays he's seen here - plays he will describe as having an outcome that was completely unexpected when the play began, as opposed to predesigned trick plays.

There are a few that don't make the list but stand out anyway.

Like David Klatsky of Penn, who tried to throw an alley-oop from the other side of midcourt in the 2003 Princeton-Penn game at Jadwin. Instead, his pass overshot everyone - and swished through the net for a three-pointer.

Or the sprint football win over Navy in overtime in 1998. The game was tied at 14-14 at the end of regulation, and Princeton scored and kicked its extra point to go up 21-14 in the OT. Navy then scored  - on one play, TB thinks - and then kicked an extra point to try to tie it. Instead, the kick went straight up and came straight down, falling well short of the goal posts. Final, 21-20 Princeton.

Or the flukiest play in a game that itself was fluky, the 1997 Princeton-Harvard football game at Harvard. How fluky? It was 5-5 at the end of the third quarter. It was also 12-8 Princeton when Harvard tried a 21-yard field goal that would have been wide had it not been deflected by Princeton's David Ferrara, whose tip of the ball actually made it change direction and end up between the uprights. TigerBlog was at Harvard Stadium that day and still can't believe it. The Crimson added another late field goal and won 14-12.

And with that, he offers his Mt. Rushmore of fluky Princeton plays. TigerBlog will give the No. 1 play on the list last; it should be obvious.

* Esmeralda Negron converts a flubbed goal kick - Back in the 2004 season, Princeton's women's soccer team went 19-3 and reached the NCAA Final Four. The last game of the regular season was at old Lourie-Love Field against Penn, on a night when Esmeralda Negron set the program record for career goals - bettering the record for both women and men in the process. Negron scored three goals that night, all in the first half, of an easy 4-1 Tiger win. On one of those goals, the Penn goalkeeper tried to drive a goal kick down the field, except she miss-hit it, sending it to Negron at the top of the box with nobody else anywhere near here and leaving her one-on-one with the helpless keeper. Goal, Princeton.

* Jon Hess starts to break the game open against Maryland in the 1998 NCAA men's lacrosse final - Princeton had won the 1996 and 1997 NCAA championships and reached the 1998 final for a rematch of the previous year, which had been a 19-7 Princeton win to complete a perfect 1997. This time, though, Maryland hung tight with Princeton, and it was 3-3 at halftime. TigerBlog remembers a certain uneasy feeling at halftime, as he did not want to see the Jon Hess-Jessie Hubbard-Chris Massey era of Tiger lacrosse end with a loss. Seamus Grooms scored to make it 4-3 Princeton early in the third quarter, and Maryland then got a stop on the next possession. In attempting to clear, though, Maryland threw the ball away, and it rolled right in front of the goal, with no goalie anywhere near it. The only person around was Hess, who picked it up and scored. He probably could have counted to 10 or so before he shot it. That goal made it 5-3. The lead was 8-4 at the end of the third, and the final was 15-5 Princeton.

* Ed Persia's buzzer-beater at Monmouth - Princeton played at Monmouth in the fourth game of the 2002-03 season. The game was tied at 57-57 when a held ball gave Princeton possession under its own basket with 0.7 seconds to go. As in 94 feet away, less than a second to get there. With overtime a complete certainty, Ed Persia - a former all-state high school quarterback - took the inbounds pass a few feet inside the court in front of the Monmouth bench, turned and flung the ball in the direction of the other basket. TigerBlog was on the radio that night in West Long Branch, and he can still see the ball as it left Persia's hand. It was in a perfectly straight line, more of a line drive than anything with arc to it, and it banked in at the other end, giving Princeton a 60-57 win. TigerBlog estimated the shot at about 80 feet, and he gave Persia 10 chances in practice the next day to try to do it again - and Persia never came close.

And the No. 1 flukiest play TB has seen at Princeton? 

* Rob Toresco's pitch to Jeff Terrell - Princeton and Penn were in overtime in the 2006 game on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. The second overtime, to be exact, tied at 24-24. Facing 4th-and-goal from the 1, Princeton went for it, and gave the ball to Rob Toresco, who lunged at the goal line, lunged again, and again - and wasn't going to get there. So what did he do? He pitched it back to his quarterback, Jeff Terrell, who happened to be trailing the play. Terrell sprinted around the right side into the end zone for the touchdown. Every Penn player and coach thought that Toresco was stopped, but no whistle had sounded. "The refs are going to be more leniant on the goal line," Toresco said afterwards. "I was still driving my legs when I heard Jeff. When you play football long enough, you learn that you just have to make the play." "Playing in the backyard pays off," Terrell added. Of course, that game was far from over. Princeton kicked the extra point, but Penn scored on the first play of its possession. The Quakers, who had a nightmarish kicking game all season, had a bad snap on the conversion, leaving the holder to try to run it in. Had he made it to the end zone, it would have been two points and a Penn win, and he came really, really close, before Pat McGrath tackled him inside the 2. Final, Princeton 31, Penn 30.

So that's TB's list.

Is he missing anything?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Let's All Agree Nobody Likes Tom Brady

TigerBlog starts out today with a pair of updates.

First, when he mentioned the Princetonians who won gold medals in the recently completed Pan Am Games yesterday, he didn't realize that Ashley Higginson had won the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Higginson graduated from Princeton in 2011.

Higginson won the steeplechase in Toronto in 9:48.12, which also happened to be a Pan Am Games record as well.

So that's one update.

The other is to Ryan Yurko, who was the ringleader of last Friday's beach trip, chronicled Monday by TB. Yurko pointed out to TB yesterday that he should have been called a "smart" volleyball player.

He said he made a lot of "smart" plays, that he had a "smart" approach to the game. So, if you're looking for a "smart" volleyball player, Yurko is your man. If you're looking for a good one from the Princeton group on the beach, then maybe try Carolyn Cooper.

And that's the two updates.

TB apologizes to Higginson. Yurko? All in good fun.

Anyway, TigerBlog was shocked to see that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the four-game suspension of New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady.

TB's first thought was of what Jason Garrett's reaction was, as his Dallas Cowboys play the Patriots in the last of those four games. Had the suspension been reduced, then Brady would have played against Dallas.

And he still might. There's a long way to go, as Brady has vowed to challenge the ruling in the courts. Who knows how it will play out.

Still, it's hard to read anything any of this and come away thinking that Brady is the least bit honorable. First, he's been the cornerstone of an organization with a reputation for cheating, so he really doesn't get much of the benefit of the doubt from anyone who isn't a Pats fan.

Second, he's easy to dislike. He's smug. He's married to the world's top supermodel. He makes more money than basically anyone on Earth could ever dream of and yet she makes more than he does. It doesn't make him likeable. He's certainly no Peyton Manning.

Then there's this story in particular.

TigerBlog can't even begin to imagine how many times Brady has cheated in a game. It certainly wasn't just with the AFC championship game.

And as TB read about the details yesterday, there was the revelation that Brady had destroyed his cell phone so that the NFL couldn't access it. And that if he is to be suspended, he is insisting that it's for not cooperating with the investigation, not with breaking the rules.

To TigerBlog, all of Brady's accomplishments are called into question. It's up there with being a steroid cheat, only maybe even worse, because he can't hide behind the "everyone was doing it" defense.

TB was rooting hard against the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, but they won. Oh well. At least the Giants beat them twice, including to spoil that perfect season. So there is that.

NFL teams are starting their training camps this week. Garrett and the Cowboys are in Oxnard, Calif., for theirs, something sure to shatter the relatively lighthearted serenity of Conte's two weeks ago, when Garrett was there for the "Night of Coaches."

The first exhibition game is a week from Sunday, when the Vikings and Steelers play in the Hall of Fame Game. The regular season opens Sept. 10, when the Patriots - with or without Brady - host the Steelers.

That game, by the way, is six weeks from tomorrow. Is that nuts or what?

The best game of Week 1, by the way, is the Sunday night game between Garrett's team and TB's favorite team, the Giants. It's going to be hard for TB to root against Garrett, but he'll find a way.

That game is Sunday, Sept. 13. Princeton's football season opens six days later, at Lafayette.

Princeton will play 10 games this season, six of which will be televised. The Tigers and Columbia will play on Friday, Oct. 2, on NBC Sports Network. Five other games - Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Penn and Dartmouth - will be on the American Sports Network.

Those games make up five of the 17 that are part of the Ivy League's television deals for this fall.

TigerBlog can remember when there were no Ivy games on TV. He can remember when the Ivy League had a deal with, of all outlets, PBS. There have been games on ESPN. On networks that don't exist anymore.

The subject of television is a fascinating one in Ivy League athletics.

Coaches, for instance, love having games on TV, the better to reach out to recruits, who can both watch them and envision themselves ultimately as part of them.

On the other hand, TigerBlog has had a million conversations about the impact televising games had on attendance. Why come to the game if it's on TV?

That's an issue for all of the sports world these days. The more events like NFL games cost and the better the TV quality gets, why go? Exhibit A in that discussion is TB's favorite annual event - the NCAA men's lacrosse championships.

Then there's the whole digital network piece. If the Ivy League is going to have a digital network, how does that matchup with putting games on TV? How does moving game times and even days affect attendance? And for that matter, how does having games on TV impact the in-game experience for fans?

Anyway, those are just the questions.

TigerBlog has his thoughts on all of them. He can get into those another day.

For today, let's just all agree that nobody likes Tom Brady.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

That's Golden

TigerBlog, as you might recall, was rooting hard for Jill Ellis as the head coach of the U.S. women's team at the recently completed Women's World Cup.

You might have heard that the Americans won.

He's also rooting for Kim Simons, the 1994 Princeton grad and former field hockey and lacrosse great who captained the Tigers to the 1994 NCAA title. She is currently coaching the American U19 women's team at the World Championships in Scotland.

TB is liking the U.S. team's chances, what with two shutouts in its first four games and relatively easy wins over Canada and Australia. The Americans play England today in their final round-robin game.

So that's two teams from the U.S. that TigerBlog wants to see do well.

What about the U.S. men's national soccer team? That's a more complicated story.

Yes, TB tends to root for America. This one, though, isn't so simple.

TigerBlog thinks that Bob Bradley got a raw deal when he was let go as U.S. head coach. And his replacement, Jurgen Klinsmann, didn't do as well as Bradley did in the World Cup a year ago and now has seen the U.S. finish fourth in the Gold Cup this month - with losses to Jamaica and Panama.

Now the U.S. will have a game against Mexico to see who advances to the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017. That game will be played in October.

Does TB want to see the Americans win? And then qualify for the World Cup?

Well, obviously he does. But still, the whole Bob Bradley piece bothers him, even if Bradley's son Michael - nephew of Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley - remains the U.S. team's best player.

When push comes to shove, if it's down to the last few minutes of a game with qualification on the line for the next World Cup, yeah, TB will want the U.S. to get in. Probably. He is still bitter.

Meanwhile, in other international competition, TigerBlog definitely was rooting for Canadians against the U.S. recently. Where?

The Pan Am Games, which recently ended in Toronto.

TigerBlog remembers the Pan Am Games as being a bigger deal when he was a kid. When he checked it out, he saw that the first Pan Am Games were held in 1937 in Dallas and that nobody really cared.

At least that's what it says on Wikipedia.

Princeton was well-represented in Toronto the last two weeks, and there was a lot of gold to be won there. Mostly by Americans.

The U.S. field hockey team won the gold medal, with Princeton's Julia and Katie Reinprecht on the team and Kathleen Sharkey sidelined by injury. The 2-1 win over Argentina in the championship game included a Reinprecht (Julia) to Reinprecht (Katie) goal for the Americans.

The victory gives the United States more than just the medals. It also means an automatic berth into the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio. The Reinprechts were both starters on the U.S. team in 2012 at the London Olympics as well.

Katharine Holmes and Anna Van Brummen each won gold in women's fencing. In fact, Holmes won two golds, with the individual epee championship and then the team championship, where she joined Van Brummen and Penn State alum Katarzyna Trzopek for gold as well.

And then there's Ashleigh Johnson, the women's water polo goalie.

Johnson also left Canada with a gold medal, after she led the U.S. team to a 13-4 win over Canada in the final. Johnson made 12 saves in the game.

Instead of heading home, though, she continued her busy summer with a short trip over to Russia, where she is now playing for the U.S. team at the World Championships, which began Sunday.

It's been a busy summer for Johnson, who also found herself featured in an article that you can read HERE.

And then there was another winning performance in Toronto.

Martin Barakso (rising captain of the Tiger heavyweights) joined Michael Evans ’13 (former captain) in the M8+ to win gold for Team Canada.

So take that America.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Day At The Beach

TigerBlog sat on the beach, Point Pleasant Beach, to be exact.

It was Friday, midday. His chair was under a fake palm tree, in a patch of shade on an otherwise sun-drenched beach, on a beach day that can only be described as "perfect."

TigerBlog had been on this beach many times before. His parents had moved him not far from this beach when he was just two, and he'd live there until he left for Penn, shortly after his 18th birthday.

His earliest memories of the beach include bad sunburns, as this was before anyone figured out that the idea was to block the sun, not to expose yourself as much as possible to it. His earliest memory of this particular beach was when he was there shortly after a hurricane, and the surf wasn't too far from the boardwalk.

He's spent more days and hours on the beaches of the Jersey Shore - from Belmar and Avon by the Sea and Manasquan and Point Pleasant south to Avalon, Stone Harbor, Ocean City and Cape May - than he can remember. Interestingly, he's never been to Wildwood and has been to Long Beach Island only once.

He's been to the boardwalks, first as a kid, then as a teenager (especially in Seaside, much of which was wiped out by Sandy), ultimately as a parent. He's walked for miles and miles along the water's edges.

And yet, for all of that time, he'd never seen anyone on the beach in a bathing suit and socks. Until Friday, when he saw Ryan Yurko in a bathing suit, a Superman tank top and black socks.

In fairness, were it not for Yurko, TigerBlog would not have been at the beach at all on Friday. Yurko, Princeton's Assistant Director of Athletics for Finance and Administration, is the one who organized the trip, which saw TB, Yurko and five other colleagues - softball coach Lisa Van Ackeren, Assistant Manager of Ticket and Business Operations Brendan Van Ackeren, assistant softball coach Christie Novatin, Director of Track Operations Mike Henderson and Assistant Director of the Princeton Varsity Club Carolyn Cooper - head to Point Pleasant for the day.

The premise was to play volleyball and hang out for the day. TigerBlog bailed on the volleyball and was all-in on the hanging out.

What it really was about was bonding with co-workers.

The teams for volleyball were Yurko, Lisa Van Ackeren and Novatin against Cooper, Henderson and Brendan. Cooper was a four-time letterwinner in volleyball at Notre Dame, and TB's sense is that had she played as hard as she could, her team would have shut out the other team. As it turned out, both sides claimed victory, and TB was hardly paying enough attention to say which team was right.

Oh, and Yurko and the socks?

The sand was really, really hot. And he brought socks to wear to protect his feet from how hot the sand was.

There was logic to it, even if the sight of a nearly 30-year-old man wearing a bathing suit, Superman tank and socks on a public beach was a little odd.

But hey, TigerBlog doesn't want to say anything bad about Yurko. After all, it was his idea, this whole beach day.

Yurko and Henderson joined TB for pizza at Joey Tomatoes on the boardwalk. There's no pizza like boardwalk pizza.

There was also a corporate outing going on near where the Princeton people had set up. TigerBlog watched them interact, and it didn't seem the same as how it is with the people from Princeton Athletics.

It was much more, well, corporate, right down to the water balloon toss.

When you work in college athletics, you are more than just an employee in a staff directory. You're a representative of the department, part of a team. You wear the same clothes that the coaches and athletes do. You say "we" when you talk about wins and losses.

About an hour before the volleyball game began, TigerBlog pointed out to Yurko that he's been around Princeton Athletics longer than the other six combined. Yurko then asked TB what keeps him going year after year.

TigerBlog then looked out beyond the outdoor area at Jenkinson's Inlet, out across the sand that covered a beach way longer than TB remembered it from that time after the hurricane and then at the ocean before he answered.

What keeps TB going, and everyone else, is the idea of being part of a team that can work so hard to help such remarkable student-athletes have the best possible experience, all while checking their egos at the door. And that that same team can do things like head to the beach on a July day to play some volleyball.

TigerBlog loves the beach. He especially loves the Jersey Shore.

He's had some great times there in his life. This past Friday?

It was a lot of what makes the Shore great. It's close. It's a relaxing. It has its own personality. It has great pizza.

This past Friday was also a lot of what makes working at Princeton Athletics great. It's being part of a team, a great, dedicated, hard-working team, one filled with great teammates.

A handful of those teammates took the day off Friday for a day at the beach.

It couldn't have been a much better day.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Summer Friday

So it's a Friday in the summer.

Either you're off today or you can't wait to get on with your summer weekend, so TigerBlog will get right to the point today.

Or points. He has a few subjects. This won't take long, and then you can go enjoy your weekend.

First, there's Chloe Jones.

You have no idea who she is. That's okay.

Chloe is a member of the U.S. women's U-19 national lacrosse team. She scored a goal yesterday as the Americans opened the world championships with a 15-9 win over Canada in Scotland.

By the way, TigerBlog didn't realize it until he started reading about the current tournament that the first women's lacrosse game was played in Scotland, back in the 1800s.

Chloe is the youngest player on the U.S. team, at least in terms of class year. She's a rising junior in high school.

Two years ago, Chloe was Miss TigerBlog's teammate with Lower Bucks Lacrosse. She and MTB also played on the same middle school field hockey team.

When TB watched Chloe play as a youth player, it was obvious she was a special player. She was fast and strong and saw the whole field and made everyone better, and TB figured that if anyone from LBL was going to be a big-time player, it would be Chloe.

The fact that she turned out to be the only 2017 high school grad on the U19 team reaffirms for TB that he's a good judge of talent. He's going to have that tested when the kids that TigerBlog played lacrosse with on either the youth, high school or club level in his class - all 28 of them - play in college starting this year. TB has a sense of who will do well and who won't, and he's eager to see if he's right.

The U.S. team has won four women's U19 world lacrosse titles. The team that is now 1-0 in the competition is coached by Kim Simons Tortolani, who is one of the best players in Princeton women's lacrosse history. And she wasn't too bad at field hockey either.

Between the two she earned seven All-Ivy League selections, and she was team captain for both. She was a three-time All-America in lacrosse, and she was the captain of the 1994 NCAA championship team.

She's also married to Justin Tortolani, who is now a doctor in Baltimore. Justin, like his wife, also captained Princeton to an NCAA championship, his in 1992. He graduated as Princeton's career leader in goals with 120, a record that has now been passed by four players (Jesse Hubbard, Chris Massey, Mike MacDonald, Sean Hartofilis).

TigerBlog wonders how many captains of NCAA championship teams are married to someone who also captained an NCAA championship team.

Anyway, because of Kim Simons and Chloe Jones, TigerBlog is all in on the U.S. team at the U19 championships.

The fact that the U.S. men's national soccer team ended its relationship with Bob Bradley has left TigerBlog lukewarm on the Americans since then, though he does root for former Princeton soccer ball boy Michael Bradley, who has grown up to be the best player the U.S. has. TB was shocked when the U.S. lost to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals the other night.

Should America lose to Jamaica in any team sport?

Speaking of international competition, TigerBlog was happy to see Katharine Holmes of the women's fencing team win the individual epee title at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Holmes and Princeton teammate Anna Van Brummen will compete today in the team epee competition.

TigerBlog saw the two in the Princeton Varsity Club weight room a few weeks ago as they prepared for the event. In fact, they were there the day that TB's colleague Andrew Borders put a story on about how they had qualified for the Pan Am Games.

TB recognized them from the picture, the one that's up there now in fact. He introduced himself and wished them luck.

This is one of the things about Princeton Athletics that is really appealing. There are 38 teams with 1,000 athletes, and they all have incredibly different backgrounds and stories. They also have vastly different goals.

TB loves meeting athletes from as many different sports as he can. That's why the people who work here do so, to try to help each athlete have the best possible experience. Meeting the athletes is a reaffirmation of that.

So good luck to the fencers today. And to the U.S. women as they move along at the U19s.

And for you?

Thanks for sticking with TB this far.

Now go have a great summer weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Missed It

Back in 1998 season, the Princeton men's lacrosse team defeated Harvard 15-7 up in Cambridge.

TigerBlog was there. He remembers Harvard as being the second-best team in the Ivy League at the time, and the Tigers and Crimson were the only teams unbeaten in the league prior to the game. Actually, it was the third straight year that Princeton and Harvard met as Ivy unbeatens, and Princeton won all three games fairly easily.

TigerBlog went back yesterday afternoon to reread what he wrote about the game, and he most decidedly did not remember that John Harrington scored two goals until he saw it in his recap. Harrington was a defenseman, and having two goals in one game is pretty extraordinary for a defenseman.

TB does remember that David Morrow did it in the 1992 NCAA semifinal win over North Carolina. He doesn't even have to look that one up.

Why mention this game of all games from that 1998 season? After all, Princeton would go on to win the NCAA championship, its fifth of six and third straight. No school has matched that accomplishment since.

Well, TigerBlog forgot one small detail from his postgame story.

The win was Bill Tierney's 116th at Princeton, which set the program record for coaching victories. Ferris Thomsen had won 115 from 1951-70.

It never dawned on TB that Tierney was getting close to the record or that he should check on it. In fact, it wasn't until a few years later that TB actually noticed that he'd missed it.

Things like 1,000 points or 1,000 yards are hard to miss. Other records? They can slip through the cracks.

TigerBlog keeps a running total of men's lacrosse records, so he could see how Mike MacDonald made his move to the top of the single-season scoring list all season. Other records are far less obvious, like how Kip Orban broke the record for goals by a middie.

Then there's the weird stuff that is harder to research. MacDonald had a game of seven goals and another of six assists. How many others in the program's history had ever done that before? Turns it nobody else ever had.

The Phillies lost 1-0 the other night to the Rays in the Major League debut of Aaron Nola. The only run of the night came on a home run by Rays' pitcher Nathan Karns.

TigerBlog heard yesterday morning that the last time a Major League game ended 1-0 and the only run was scored on a home run by the pitcher was in 1962.

How in the world are things like that so easily researched? What is the database, a huge compilation of every possible scenario in the world? TigerBlog understands that it's a little more sophisticated than going down to E level storage in Jadwin and hoping to find the information there somewhere.

But still, how is all of this stuff so easily available?

Here's another thing TB almost missed - last Nov. 22 was the 150th anniversary of Princeton Athletics. The first event was Nov. 22, 1864, a baseball game against Williams.

TB isn't sure why he was even looking in the baseball record book in the first place, but that's where he noticed the first game. Then he added it up about 50 times to make sure he had it right.

TB sometimes wonders how many records get overlooked. Maybe not records, but achievements, statistical anomalies that have never happened before. Like the last time a game ended 1-0 with a home run from the pitcher.

He thought of all this because he missed something else. Tuesday - two days ago - was the exact midway point of what is essentially summer break around here.

The 2014-15 athletic year ended with the NCAA track and field championships on June 10. The first event of 2015-16 is on Aug. 28.

Doing the math, the midway part was Tuesday.

What does this tell us? Well, it's still July. It's still awhile before any athletes come back for fall practices.

It's still summer.

Yes, TB said the same thing yesterday about the coming of football season. But hey, the rest of it will be here in a blink.

That women's soccer game that starts the 2015-16 season is five weeks from tomorrow. Yikes.

Enjoy the rest of the summer while you can. But don't panic. There's still plenty of it left.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kickoff Is Coming

FatherBlog is throwing himself an 80th birthday party come November.

As he is planning it himself and as he wrote the guest list out on a yellow legal notepad, it's not a surprise party. Plus, you don't need to be throwing surprise parties for 80 year olds.

On the other hand, such a party in November would really have been a surprise, in that his birthday is actually in September.

TigerBlog is also reticent to point out to people who are the subject of parties that he will see them Saturday or that he's looking forward to the big night or anything like that, for fear that he didn't realize it was actually a surprise party. He wouldn't want to ruin it or anything. You know, like Uncle Junior did with Carmela's dad on "The Sopranos."

As for FatherBlog, he sent out "save-the-date" announcements awhile back for his party. When TigerBlog first saw it, his immediate thought was "but isn't FB's birthday two months earlier?"

The question then becomes, what do you do on his actual birthday if there's a big party two months later? Does TB have to get his father two gifts?

Plus, what do you get an 80-year-old? What could he possibly want?

TigerBlog thinks of 80 as being sort of old, though he doesn't really think of his father as being old, per se. Why is that?

Maybe it's because FatherBlog has never retired. Or maybe he retired and his hobby is working.

FB has three interests - working, traveling and eating. He does all three regularly. He heads into New York City every morning from his home across the Hudson River. He is heading for Brazil Friday. He eats whatever he wants, whenever, wherever.

Actually, it's not a bad way to be at 80.

If he did retire, he'd probably be so bored that he'd find another job. It's not like he's going to play golf or go fishing or hang out on the porch of his beach house, which he doesn't have, because he's
not quite a beach guy. Nobody wears a suit and tie on the beach.

As for FB's actual birthday, TB is pretty sure he'll have something planned for the actual day. Hey, it's a Saturday and everything.

As it turns out, it's also the home opener for Princeton football.

Princeton announced its football schedule the other day. The Tigers will play a rather familiar group of 10 opponents, with seven Ivy games and Patriot League foes Lehigh, Lafayette and Colgate.

The season starts with a game at Lafayette on Sept. 19, followed by the home game against Lehigh, which is also the first of three straight home games.

Then it's a Friday night game against Columbia in the Ivy opener for both. And of course, more eyes will be on Columbia this fall, because Al Bagnoli has taken over as the Lions' coach after his long and successful tenure at Penn.

Then its home against Colgate. Perhaps Princeton will have Yariv Amir bobbleheads that night, for TB's former colleague, who left here to work as Associate AD for External Relations at Colgate.

After the three Patriot games in four weeks to open the season, then it's six Ivy games in six weeks - at Brown, at Harvard, home with Cornell, at Penn, home with Yale, at Dartmouth.

Princeton's schedule every year from 2000-04 featured Lehigh, Lafayette and Colgate as its three non-league games. Only twice since then, in 2006 and 2010, has Princeton played the three in the same season.

Since 2005, Princeton has played non-league games against Bucknell, San Diego, Hampton, The Citadel, Davidson and Georgetown.

It's not easy to schedule non-league football opponents. It's different in football than in any other sport - the risk of physical injury from total mismatches is greater in football. It's not just the possibility of losing by a big score; it's also about not wanting to lose half your starters too.

When TigerBlog used to cover high school football with a guy named Bruce Johnson, he used to call it "the Bang Factor." As in, you get all your guys banged up.

This Friday - as in two days from now - will mark five weeks until the first fall event, a women's soccer game against Howard.

Football in the Ivy League starts later than the other fall sports. Opening kickoff is actually eight weeks from Saturday.

It'll be a different look this year for the Tigers, with Connor Michelsen, Quinn Epperly and Mike Zeuli, among many others, having graduated. TB supposes that the quarterback situation will be the most interesting part of the new season.

He hasn't given it that much thought yet. There's still plenty of time.

Pro teams haven't yet reported for training camp. And it's been 100 degrees every day this week.

But kickoff is coming.

It'll be here before you know it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Caldwell Field House

TigerBlog had just finished his workout routine and was back in Caldwell Field House, ready to take a shower.

If you've ever been in Caldwell, there's a door to the left, as you walk into the main part of the men's locker room, that leads into a coaches' area. That's where TB's locker is.

There's also a shower room in that area, and that's where TB has been showering for years now.

Yesterday he put his towel on the hook and went to turn on the water, only to learn that there were no shower heads on the showers anymore. There is the big shower room in Caldwell, so that's where TB had to go.

The walls of Caldwell used to be lined with old football pictures. Most of them were celebration shots within the field house itself, after big wins. All of the pictures were black and white.

Some had players with cigars in postgame victory. Most of the pictures featured players whose uniforms were covered in mud and grass stains, things that you don't seen much anyway, what with most everyone on synthetic grass.

TigerBlog thought of those pictures yesterday when he was in the locker room, which is odd, since he's in the locker room basically every day. Why all of this popped into his mind yesterday of all days he has no idea.

Still, it's all very fascinating.

Charles W. Caldwell Jr. was a 1925 Princeton grad and a member of the famous 1922 "Team of Destiny," the one whose motto was "A Team That Won't Be Beaten Can't Be Beaten." He then coached at Williams College before coming back to coach his alma mater, which he did from 1945 through 1957, when he passed away. As an undergraduate, he also was a baseball pitcher, and TigerBlog is pretty sure that he pitched at some point for the Yankees.

Caldwell is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He coached Princeton to its longest winning streak ever, a 24-game run from 1949 through 1952, and among the players he coached was Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner.

The field house that bears his name opened in 1963. It was built a short walk from Palmer Stadium, the football stadium at the time.

TigerBlog has spent more than his share of time in Caldwell. He's seen football players live in the field house itself during preseason practice. He's gone to any number of postgame press conferences there, in football, basketball and lacrosse. He laughed out loud at the words of wisdom that came out of the mouth of longtime equipment manager Hank Towns.

And, of course, he's had his locker there for years.

For some reason, yesterday was the first time he ever really considered a few things about the building that his office window has faced for more than 20 years.

First, there's the history of the place. How many athletes have called its lockerrooms home, for both men and women? How many great celebrations have taken place there? How many silent nights have been spent there as teams quietly showered and left after tough losses?

The answer to all of those questions is "a lot."

Then there was the other thought that TB had yesterday.

If Caldwell Field House was built in 1963 and Palmer Stadium was built in 1914, where did the football team dress for all those years?

Palmer Stadium did not have showers. That, TB assumes, is why the need for Caldwell existed in the first place.

When Caldwell was built, Jadwin Gym didn't exist. It wouldn't for another six years. What was there in the meantime? A big open space?

Anyway, TigerBlog assumed that the Armory building, which used to sit where the chemistry building is now, had showers and locker rooms.

To be sure, he asked John McPhee, whose father was the Princeton team physician and who literally grew up around Princeton football. As it turned out, TigerBlog was wrong.

According to Mr. McPhee, the football team had locker rooms in the University Field House. This created more questions than answers, as TB isn't sure where that was. If it was the University Gymnasium, then it was destroyed by fire in 1944.

Anyway, TB replied to Mr. McPhee with his questions. He'll let you know the answers.

In the meantime, the Caldwell Field House is more than just the building between Jadwin and the football stadium and track. It's more than just a place to get showered and dressed after working out.

It's a huge part of the history of Princeton Athletics.

So, too, is its namesake.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Working Vacations

TigerBlog saw something that he's not sure he's ever seen on a Sunday before.

It was a mail truck, delivering mail.

TB isn't sure what was going on. It was Sunday in the late morning, and there was a mail truck in front of him.

The truck kept stopping at each mailbox at the end of each driveway. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Everyone has been in this situation before. The truck is just far enough out into the middle of road that you're not really sure if you should pass it or not.

So yeah, that's what TB's first thought was. Then he remembered it was Sunday.

Did they start delivering mail on Sundays?

The mailroom in Jadwin Gym has spent the last 45 years in the same spot, TB presumes. He can vouch for the last 26 years at least.

It's been on the balcony, in the room all the way on the end closest to the Director of Athletics' office, as opposed to the football office side. In other words, it's been next to TigerBlog's office.

TigerBlog can't count the number of times through the years that someone has wandered down the hall, head down, reading something on a piece of paper or eventually on a phone and walked into TB's office instead of the mail room. Then they look up, mutter something and then walk into the door next door.

The best of those ever was when Louise Gengler, the longtime women's tennis coach, walked into TB's office and said "what did I want to talk to you about? Oh wait. I'm going to the mail room. That's right."

If you know Louise, then you get it.

The mail room has been relocated to B level, across from the sprint football office. The copy machine is down there as well.

The room that used to be the mail room is now an office, where Mike Henderson, the track and field operations director, and Chessie Jackson of the women's basketball staff sit.

Henderson used to sit in the Office of Athletic Communications. The OAC consists of three offices that are connected on the inside, unlike the rest of the offices on the Jadwin balcony.

Now that Henderson was moved to the old mail room, Andrew Borders has moved back upstairs from the OAC satellite location, hidden off of C level.

Borders shares his office with Kristy McNeil. In the next office, Craig Sachson shares the space with Ben Badua. TigerBlog is in the next office, alone.

That actually was the operative word last week. Alone. The other four were all on vacation, and TB had the OAC all to himself.

Ah, but just because they were on vacation doesn't mean that their workload stopped. And it doesn't mean that they put things on hold.


All four of them were posting stories during vacation. TigerBlog lost count of how many stories they put, partly because Andrew was updating the Hans Brase/Spencer Weisz story of international basketball pretty much a few times a day.

Andrew actually went above on beyond. His travels took him to Las Vegas, where he did a video with T.J. Bray, who was playing in the NBA summer league there.

Oh and while he was there? He also did a video with Matt Bowman of the baseball team, who is now playing for the Mets' Triple-A team in Las Vegas.

All four of them updated the website. And sent out a bunch of tweets. All while on vacation.

Why? Two reasons.

First, it's the nature of the business. The news goes on all year round, even when people happen to be on vacation. And these days, college athletics is its own 24-hour news cycle.

More than that, though, it's the nature of the people who work here.

They understand that they are on call, as it were. And they don't let a little thing like vacation get in the way of that.

Hey, TigerBlog always blogs on his vacations.

And his OAC colleagues are just as reliable.

Nobody told Andrew he had to do those videos. It's just how he is.

It's just how they all are.