Friday, June 23, 2017

Bowling And Walking

TigerBlog can tell you the exact last time he went bowling.

It was back in the three-month period between when his friend Corey had his driver's license and TigerBlog did not. In other words, it's been a long time.

Corey drove, in the big old brown Olds 88 he used to have. His house was exactly four miles from TB's (he knows this because he used to ride his bike over there, even though he had to cross Route 9 at the end), and his driveway looked like it had valet parking service, with all the cars that were parked there most times.

Anyway, they went bowling, at Howell Lanes. TigerBlog had to drive the big 88 back, even though he only had his permit. You can figure out why. Yeah. You're smart. Corey and TB? They remain close friends to this day and will forever.

Why mention bowling today? TigerBlog would like to say it's because he was watching an old Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, the one where Foghorn says about the little chicken that "the boy's about as sharp as a bowling ball." But hey, TB hasn't watched cartoons like that in, well, not this week at least.

And then there was the time recently when someone in the athletic department mentioned bowling, and Kim Meszaros, the assistant to Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, cringed at the thought of TB's renting shoes and, egads, putting his fingers into the holes on the bowling ball that someone else might just have used without dousing it with hand sanitizer first. That was funny.

Actually, it has nothing to do with either of those. Nope, it has to do a little bit with how bad TigerBlog's eyes are getting.

TigerBlog's two favorite Division I athletic conferences are, obviously, the Ivy League and the Northeast Conference. The Ivy League has Princeton. The Northeast Conference has TigerBlog Jr.

Yesterday afternoon, TigerBlog saw a tweet about how the NEC had released its institutional team academic awards.

Basically, the league recognizes the school whose athletes have the highest average GPA and then the team from each sport in the league that has the highest GPA. For the record, Sacred Heart, TBJ's school, won both the men's lacrosse award and the overall institutional award, while 24 men's lacrosse players - including TBJ - won the individual academic award for having at least a 3.3 GPA.

In fact, it was quite a year for Sacred Heart men's lacrosse. The team had a seven-win improvement from 2016 and made the conference tournament, and the Pioneers also won the academic award while also maintaining a strong commitment to service. There's a lot to like in that program.

The overall Sacred Heart athletic GPA was 3.381, which is the all-time NEC record for a school over the course of an entire school year. It's quite a tribute to Bobby Valentine, the SHU athletic director, and the entire athletic department.

Oh, and bowling?

When TB first looked at the list, he thought that LIU Brooklyn's women's bowling team had the best overall GPA, and an incredibly high one at that, at 3.864 for the team. In fact, it's just TB's eyes that are failing him. When he looked closer, he found out that it was really 3.664, which is still extraordinary.

It's not the best in the league, though. The team with the highest overall GPA is Robert Morris women's basketball at 3.724. That's unbelievably high.

The Ivy League doesn't have such an award, though maybe it would be something the league would consider at some point. The league does do Academic All-Ivy League, which honors five male athletes and five female athletes per school per season for excellence academically and athletically. Doing the math, that brings you to 15 men and 15 women per year per school.

The spring 2017 group was announced yesterday. You can read about them HERE.

The list includes two of the greatest all-around combined athletes/students Princeton has ever known, really. One is Julia Ratcliffe, the three-time first-team All-America hammer thrower. The other is Olivia Hompe, the all-time leading scorer in Princeton lacrosse history.

All 10 athletes in the spring group, and all the athletes across the league each season who win this honor, have done incredibly impressive things on their campuses.

And while TB is talking about incredibly impressive things that people have done, how about Derek DiGregorio?

TigerBlog has written about Derek a lot through the years. He's the middle son of Steve and Nadia DeGregorio, the one who has been battling Ataxia Telangiectasia for years. It's a disease that has left him in a wheelchair for the last few years, but there he was the other day, graduating from Princeton High School and walking across the stage (with the help of an exoskeleton) to get his diploma.

Out of the chair. Walking across the stage.

You can read the story about Derek HERE.

Here are a few quotes from his parents (his father, Digger, was a longtime Princeton football assistant coach):

"He is the toughest individual I know," Steve said. "True grit is what he has, compassion and perseverance, that's what he has, that's Derek."

"We don't have the word 'no' in our vocabulary," said Nadia DeGregorio, Derek's mother.

Yeah, they're pretty tough individuals themselves.

Congratulations to Derek. It would have been easy, so easy, for him to give up at any number of points. And, it would have been easier still to not walk across that stage.

Then again, these people never do what's easy. The DeGregorios - the parents, their other two sons Zack and Aaron (who also graduated from PHS this week) and their close circle of friends - deal every day with issues that most people couldn't fathom or handle for a few hours.

They deserve to celebrate a little. For Derek, and for themselves. There aren't too many high school diplomas that mean more anywhere this month than in their house.

Again, congrats to Derek and his family.

They are the most courageous people TigerBlog has ever met.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

District 12

TigerBlog ran into a question yesterday he's asked a lot this time of year, one he's mentioned plenty of times before. 

Do you have to work in the summer? The answer, again, is yes.

It actually got TigerBlog thinking back, what is it now, nearly 35 years, back to his first summer in the newspaper business. He covered high school sports back then, so what would he do in the summer?

The answer, he found out, was simple. District 12 Little League.

At first, TigerBlog couldn't believe that the two major - at the time, they were definitely major - newspapers in Trenton would devote that much effort and space to covering Little League baseball and softball. Over the years, TB came to embrace it as a staple of Mercer County summers.

It was weird for him that first year, when he first got tossed into covering the District 12 tournament. Chambersburg, a section of Trenton, was the winner, knocking off Hopewell in a dramatic final. Hopewell's best player, by the way, was Mark Gola, who is today the Director of Athletic Communications at the College of New Jersey.

Night after night for a few weeks that summer, TigerBlog would go to a different Little League field in Mercer County, where enormous crowds would gather to see the games. Back then, TigerBlog was making $15 per story, and he was getting a lot of drama on those summer nights for his $15.

It was a rare year when Nottingham didn't win. When Chambersburg finally did win the championship, there was a huge headline on the front page of the sports section. The late, great and immortal (he's in the baseball Hall of Fame writers' wing) Bus Saidt walked into the newsroom, saw the size of the type and said this: "What happened? The war end?"

TigerBlog remembers it like it was yesterday.

One of TB's favorite Princeton Office of Athletic Communications stories ever was more than 10 years after TB's first District 12 tournament. This time it was David Rosenfeld, TB's former OAC colleague, who was astonished by the coverage. In this case, David asked the immortal question: What's huh-TER-buh?

Huh, TigerBlog wondered? Then he saw the paper. It had "HTRBA" in a headline. As it turns out, huh-TER-buh was "H-T-R-B-A," or the Hamilton Township Recreational Baseball Association, of something like that. It had a team in the tournament.

Yeah, David didn't quite get the whole District 12 coverage either.

It's been years since TigerBlog has seen coverage of the District 12 tournament. He only covered it once, the year Chambersburg beat Hopewell. All these years later, it stands out as much as almost anything he covered at the newspaper.

Speaking of Bus (his real name was Harold; TB isn't sure why he was called Bus), he was as old-time a newspaper sportswriter as you could ever hope to find. Bus would cover a Major League Baseball game every night during every season, driving either to Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium or Veterans Stadium, depending on which team was home.

He'd actually reinvented himself as a sportswriter, after a previous career as an accountant for the state of New Jersey, coupled with his time as a broadcaster. TigerBlog believes that he was the runner-up to Harry Kalas as the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies a long time ago, largely based on his work as the radio play-by-play voice of none other than your own Princeton Tigers.

When TB met Bus, he was already a Trenton legend. Bus, that is, not TB. He was very encouraging to young TB when he was first starting out in the business.

What would Bus think of the world of sports media these days? He'd hate it, TB supposes. Getting his point across in 140 characters? That would not have been for Bus.

Yeah, it's a new world.

Speaking of 140 characters, the best tweet of the week was by far by TB's colleague Craig Sachson, who retweeted a tweet that mentioned that Spencer Weisz had been added to the 76ers predraft workouts. Craig's tweet was "Trust. The. Process."

Now that's tremendous.

TigerBlog isn't expecting Weisz - the 2017 Ivy League Player of the Year and Roper Trophy winner - to be chosen in the draft tonight. Or Steven Cook, who worked out with the Knicks. But who knows that happens and why. It would be great if one or both of them heard his name called.

When Craig showed TB a video of Weisz at Sixers practice, he was wearing the Sixers gear they'd given him. It reminded TB of when TB wrote a story about Ross Tucker, who was then a Princeton offensive lineman.

Ross figured he'd have a shot at getting into an NFL camp after graduation and then move onto whatever career he was going to have. His question was this: When they cut him, would he get to keep the helmet?

Instead, he ended up playing for seven season in the NFL, with six teams. He probably ended up with a few helmets.

And, as one of the most active members of the football media, he ended up with a lot of Twitter followers. Like, 170,000 of them.

That's 170,000 more than Bus ever had. He would have hated Twitter.

He was one of the greats, Bus was.

TigerBlog can't really explain to you why he started thinking back to the District 12 tournament, but that's what got him to thinking about Bus, which is good.

Bus Saidt passed away in 1989. Odds are good that you never heard of him.

To TigerBlog, he represents a world long gone for him - one of the very best parts of that world, for that matter. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jukebox Heroes

TigerBlog found himself in an art deco diner in, of all random places, Richmond last weekend.

He had the Philadelphia omelette, which was tremendous. It was a like a cheesesteak omelette. He could go for one right now, actually.

He debated between the omelette and one of those breakfast specials that included eggs, two meats, potatoes and pancakes. He bets that would have been great too.

Miss TigerBlog was there with him. She had a different omelette.

After they ordered, MTB pointed to the object near the window and asked simply "what's that?" This is what she pointed at:
That, TigerBlog told his nearly 17-year-old daughter, is called a "jukebox." Then he added: "it's like an old-fashioned iPod."

TB had to explain to her that way, way, way back when, these were at every table in every diner - at least every good diner. You'd put a coin in the slot and pick a song, or a few songs, and they would play at your table. After all, there had to be something to do at a restaurant while everyone waited for the smart phone to be invented. 

This particular jukebox didn't accept money. Instead, you pushed the buttons for the song you wanted and then it went into the queue for the entire restaurant, playing softly over the speakers.

TigerBlog counted up, and if he's correct, the jukebox had 310 songs, pretty much all of which would have been on the diner jukebox when TB was in high school. MTB randomly pressed "L3," which turned out to be "Mrs. Robinson," by Simon and Garfunkel. She selected on purpose "Dancing Queen," by ABBA.

The purpose of the trip, of course, was summer lacrosse. What else do people do in their summers?

While at that particular tournament, TigerBlog saw a few people with Princeton connections. For instance, he was walking across a parking lot when he instantly recognized one of the greatest female athletes in school history - Theresa Sherry.

There aren't many athletes out there who scored goals in two NCAA tournaments in two different sports, but Theresa Sherry did - in lacrosse and soccer (Matt Striebel did the same, by the way, for the men). Sherry played in eight NCAA tournaments in her four years at Princeton, and the two teams she played for went a combined 119-25-6 during that time.

She was a three-time first-team All-America in lacrosse, and she - along with men's players Andy Moe, Kevin Lowe, Jesse Hubbard and B.J. Prager - can say that she scored the game-winning goal in overtime in an NCAA championship game (in her case 2003).

Theresa at one time was the head women's lacrosse coach at the University of California. Now she's coaching on the club level. She's also one of the nicer people you'll ever meet in your life, so it was really nice to see her.

TB also saw Penn State head coach Missy Doherty, a former assistant to Chris Sailer here at Princeton. Doherty has taken the Nittany Lions to the Final Four each of the last two years.

The conversation with Missy included, of course, the recent hiring of Jeff Kampersal as Penn State's women's hockey coach, a few years after Guy Gadowsky became the men's head coach.

A few hours later, TB saw Doherty as she pushed a baby stroller. No, this wasn't her own third child. This was the first child of Brianne Tierney and Dylan Sheridan, a really, really little baby. Dylan is a former assistant men's lacrosse coach at Princeton and the head coach at Cleveland State.

Brianne is the head coach at Kent State, which will be starting a team in 2019. She's also the daughter of former Princeton head coach Bill Tierney. TB had seen her a few minutes earlier, when Brianne told her that Missy was pushing the baby somewhere while she watched games.

As TB watched MTB play, he met a group of parents from a team from just outside of Washington, D.C. As he usually is at these tournaments, TB happened to be wearing something that said "Princeton," in this case, his new, really comfortable "Princeton Lacrosse" shirt. This is not to be confused with his other 50 Princeton lacrosse shirts.

Anyway, as usually happens, the parents asked if he was a Princeton coach. He explained what he does, which is followed, as usual, by a request to help get their kids into Princeton.

One of the parents then asked him if he knew who Tyler Lussi was, and he said that of course he did. It turns out that they're close friends of the Lussi's.

TigerBlog has been in this situation a lot. It's a small world, apparently, this world of club sports.

TB pointed out that Tyler Lussi graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Princeton soccer history, for men or women. In fact, she scored 53 goals, the most by an Ivy League player in the last 35 years.

That's an incredible stat. The most in 35 years? Actually, that would give her the most goals since TigerBlog last saw a jukebox, he supposes.

Lussi is one of the bigger graduation losses any Princeton team will have heading into 2017-18. She's a lot like Olivia Hompe, the all-time leading scorer in Princeton lacrosse history - men's or women's.

It's the nature of college sports. You get four years - sometimes five - and that's it. The program moves on, hoping to find the one who comes along to break your record.

Of course, it makes you appreciate when you have the Tyler Lussi's who come through there in your uniform. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jury Duty

TigerBlog spent much of yesterday in Louisiana. His mind did, anyway.

His body was on jury duty. Or, as he likes to call it, "sit in a room with total strangers for a few hours as nobody's number is called."

TigerBlog was called for jury duty one other time in his life, back when he still with the newspaper. On that occasion, he sat around the courthouse for eight hours and had his number called right at 4 for a civil case, only to have one of the lawyers immediately dismiss him.

This time, TB was originally supposed to go in late April, but he got a postponement until mid-June because of lacrosse season. And off he went yesterday morning, ready to fill his role in the justice system. Better than being a defendant, right?

Before he ever reached the courthouse, he realized he'd forgotten the book he wanted to read. It's called "Documents That Changed The Way We Live," by Joe Janes, the official brother-in-law of TigerBlog. He'll report back on it another time.

Fortunately, he had two John McPhee books in his trunk. And so he re-read the first section of "The Control of Nature," which is about the attempts in Louisiana to keep the Atchafalaya River from overwhelming the Mississippi River 300 miles north of New Orleans.

Mr. McPhee had given the book to TigerBlog a little more than a year ago, when TB had gotten back from Lafayette and the NCAA baseball regional there. As part of the drive from New Orleans to Lafayette, TB had been on the team bus when it drove over a 23-mile bridge over the Atchafalaya Basin. When TB mentioned it to Mr. McPhee, he gave the book to TigerBlog - complete with an inscription that read "To the Blazin' Cajun."

Anyway, TB had the book with him when he checked in at 8:30. After a brief orientation for the approximately 100 potential jurors, the woman who was in charge said that she'd be back around 10 with an update on when they'd be needed, though possibly sooner, if something came up.

From that point, TB wouldn't see that woman for awhile. In the meantime, he and his fellow jurors were allowed to spread out a bit - into the hallway, upstairs to a cafe, in the back to a "quiet room." In the main room, a television played daytime TV, including "The Price Is Right." At one point, a man walked in from outside and asked TB if he'd missed anything. TB informed him that the lady on "The Price Is Right" almost won a car but messed it up at the end. He said "no, I meant with the jury stuff."

When TB had gotten his postponement back in April, he called in to the number of his summons and spoke to a woman who very nicely rescheduled him. During the time that TB was in the main room yesterday, that same woman - presumably - was patiently listening to caller after caller tell her why they shouldn't have to be on jury duty without every losing her temper, or mind.

For the most part, TB read his book. When he opened it, the first thing he saw was the inscription. His first thought was that "Cajun" would be a great name for a French bulldog.

The book kept him occupied, though he couldn't find the right spot to read. The hallway was the best air conditioned, but it was also the highest traffic area. There were also people who wanted to chat.

So TB kept reading. He got most of the way through the part about the Mississippi and Atchafalaya, which he'd read before. At no point did the woman come back to call any numbers. None. Eventually, a few hours before the scheduled end time, she let the whole group go, saying no juries would be needed that day in that courthouse.

Maybe it's because for one day, there was no strife?

Anyway, that was TB's second jury duty experience. For this one, he was paid $9, plus $.17 per mile, which brought his total amount to around $16. He elected the option of donating it to one of the three charities offered, in his case, the Wounded Warrior project.

What did he miss at Princeton? There were two new stories on this particular June Monday on goprincetontigers.com.

One was about Dan Mavraides, the former men's basketball player who is competing this week at the FIBA 3-on-3 World Championships in France. Mavraides was a 1,000-point scorer at Princeton before graduating in 2011, after helping Princeton to the Ivy title and NCAA tournament. He reached the 1,000-point mark despite scoring only 11 points as a freshman.

TigerBlog saw last week that 3-on-3 basketball has been added to the 2020 Olympic Games. So have a bunch of other sports. And some existing sports will have some new wrinkles, like swimming and track with co-ed relays.

You can read all about Mavraides HERE.

The other story was about recent men's soccer graduate Steffen Seitz, who earned a bunch of amazing honors with his diploma. You can read about him HERE.

Among those honors, Seitz won a writing prize. From the story:
On graduation day, Seitz was also honored as the recipient of the 2017 Gregory T. Pope '80 Prize for science writing. The Pope Prize is awarded annually to a graduating senior for outstanding articles or papers on scientific topics written for a broad audience. A committee consisting of The Council for Science and Technology members and science writers selected his winning essay "The Wine Menu From Hell: The Schmidt Insect Sting Pain Index."

The title alone was award-winning, right?

Anyway, it was a quiet day. At Princeton, and in the jury room.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Remembering A Voice From The Past

TigerBlog hopes you had a good weekend.

He hopes, if you're a dad, you had a great Fathers' Day.

Today, though, he offers nothing in the way of humor. Nothing lighthearted about Princeton Athletics.

Today is about sadness, as he thinks back about Wendy Herm, who passed away last week. Wendy was 40 years old at the time of her death.

You have to be a pretty devoted Princeton fan to remember Wendy the athlete. She was a softball player, a good one, a two-time All-Ivy League selection, including one first-team honor, before she graduated in 1999.

Princeton won the Ivy League title and an NCAA regional in 1996, advancing to the Women's College World Series. If you go to the records section of the softball page, you'll see Wendy Herm's name on a few of the lists. At-bats in a career. Doubles. Extra-base hits.

TigerBlog's connection to Wendy Herm came through the fact that she worked for him, and his current Office of Athletic Communications colleague Craig Sachson, back when she was a student, along with her softball teammate Katie Bay.

There have been three people who have been the primary public address announcer for Princeton football since the stadium opened in 1998. TigerBlog is the current one. Before him, it was John McAdams, who might have been the only full-time PA announcer of all time. You remember him more as the long-time, legendary voice of the Palestra and Big Five basketball.

Before John, it was Wendy Herm.

As he writes that, TigerBlog realizes that both of his predecessors passed away, much too young. John was 64 when he died, back in 2005.

As TB said, Wendy was just 40.

She spent the last five years of her life battling a brain tumor, fighting it hard to the end. A few days before her passing, the softball team tweeted a message to her from Reunions:

It was touching. It was a sign of the love her teammates had for her and the enduring bond that is formed here among athletes and teams.

TigerBlog can't remember when he first heard Wendy Herm do the PA at a sporting event. When he did, he was impressed enough to offer her the women's basketball job, even when she was an undergrad. That was followed by men's basketball and football.

Even now, nearly 20 years later, there aren't a lot of women who do the public address for college football and men's basketball. Back then, Wendy was even more a rarity.

She was the PA announcer for the 1997 Princeton-Yale game held in Giants Stadium. At the time, she was the first woman to do PA at that stadium - which no longer exists - for a football game. She also was the PA announcer on opening day at Princeton Stadium in 1998, when the stadium was completely sold out.

Wendy's presence behind the mic brought in a lot of media coverage. She handled it very well. You can believe TigerBlog when he says it's not easy to pretend there isn't a camera crew in your face while you're announcing.

It also brought in some condescending letters and emails from some alums, who questioned why we'd have a "girl" do the PA for us.

TigerBlog wouldn't have put her in that situation if he hadn't had total faith in her. And she never let him - or anyone listening - down.

TB would have loved to have her back as the permanent PA announcer, but she went her own way after graduation. Through the years, TigerBlog lost touch with her, and it's possible that he saw her or heard from her maybe three times in the last 15 years.

Still, he always thought highly of her. He always respected how she handled the challenge of being a woman - an undergraduate woman at that - in a high profile role here. He always liked her.

He was saddened when he heard the news that she had gotten sick. He was sadder still when he heard that she had passed away last week.

There are memorials for her this week, including one that sounds more like a party than a funeral.

Still, there's no way to sugarcoat it all. She was bright. She was funny. She was engaging. She was a lot of good things.

And now she's gone. At just the age of 40.

TigerBlog sends his sympathies to her family and friends. He thanks the softball team for its support for her.

One of TB's memories of watching Wendy as a player would be the chant that the team would do when she was at bat. Chanting was a big thing in softball, way more so than today.

When Wendy was up, this is what her teammates cheer:

"Get a hit for me. Get a hit for me. C'mon Hermie, c'mon Hermie, get a hit for me."

TB has no idea why he remembers that. He just does.

It was from a time when Wendy was a young athlete, strong, independent, confident, funny, mature.

It's the Wendy Herm TB will always remember.

In the meantime, he'll just be sad that she's gone. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

Cam Porter, Cara Morey And Some Other Stuff

TigerBlog stumbled on a "Gilmore Girls" quiz the other day.

Not surprisingly, he did very, very well. The only questions he got wrong were about the new roles that Jess and Paris play on other shows that TB hasn't watched,and what song was playing in the background when Dean and Rory first broke up.

TigerBlog got a few of them too right.

For instance, TigerBlog's answer to "where did Rory first meet Logan" was "by the coffee cart outside her dorm when she was with Marty and then in the archway by her dorm when Logan and his friends were looking for a different young woman they thought lived in Rory's room."

The correct answer was "college."

There were also quizzes about some other shows. Like "The Sopranos." TigerBlog did well there too, including knowing that Christopher's father was "Dicky Moltisanti."P

Why write about this today? Why not? History has shown TB that today and the next few Fridays will be the least read TigerBlogs of the year.

What? You have something better to do on your summer Fridays?

In fact, TB could probably just insert the lyrics from "Thunder Road" or something right here, and almost nobody would notice.

He always wonders that about senior theses. Are professors really reading every word? Maybe someone should try the "Thunder Road" trick and see what comes of it. What's the worst thing that could happen?

Anyway, for those of you who are reading this, and before you embark on your weekend, TB has a few Friday thoughts:

* Calendar update

The first athletic event of the 2017-18 academic year is 10 weeks from today. Wow. 2017-18?

TigerBlog thought it would be more than that. Nope. It's 10 weeks from today to Aug. 25, when the women's soccer team hosts Monmouth.

TigerBlog's prediction is that he'll go the game, and the first person he'll see when he gets there is former Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters. He's not sure why he thinks that.

In some ways, those 10 weeks don't seem like a very long time. The summer always seems to fly by.

On the other hand, things around here definitely slow down a bit. Obviously there are no intercollegiate athletic events in the summer.

This will be the ninth summer since TigerBlog has been writing every day here. When he first got to the summer of 2009, he wasn't sure exactly how he was going to come up with something five days a week. As he's said before, he figured he'd slow down to three days a week, or rerun some of the earlier ones from the year, or, when in doubt, just tell funny Pete Carril stories.

You know. Like this one:

TigerBlog was walking with Carril to a pre-tournament luncheon for a tournament at Fresno State. Carril had his cigar in his hand, and the tournament rep told him he couldn't smoke inside the building. What did Pete do? He put the cigar down on the underside of the stair railing outside the building, went to the luncheon, came back outside and got his cigar back.

Yeah, TB could make a summer out of writing things like that.

* Cam-puters
Cameron Porter is one of the best men's soccer players Princeton has seen. He led Division I in goals scored, points per game and goals per game in 2014, when he was the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year.

He began his Major League Soccer career with the Montreal Impact, and he scored a huge goal for the team in stoppage time in the CONCACAF Champions League. Then, two weeks later, he had a devastating knee injury.

Now he's back in MLS, with Sporting Kansas City. There's more to him than just that, though.

Porter was recently featured in a story on the world's most tech-savvy athletes. The list includes him - and some others you might have heard of, like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Joe Montana and Paul Rabil (he's a lacrosse player).

You can read the story HERE.

Or read another story about Porter HERE. This one is about the same basic subject, though it's from mlssoccer.com.

This is impressive stuff. Porter is representing exactly what Princeton Athletics wants to be - a place where students can pursue their education and athletic pursuits without having to compromise either for the other. Princeton pushes its athletes to do just that, and maybe the best part about Princeton Athletics is that it won't make excuses for either.

The result is that people like Cam Porter thrive here and then go to do amazing things when they leave. Read the stories. You'll know exactly what TB means.

* In other Princeton news ...

Oh oh, come take my hand
We're riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it's late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road
Well, I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car's out back if you're ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door's open but the ride ain't free
And I know you're lonely for words that I ain't spoken
But tonight we'll be free, all the promises will be broken

* Speaking of soccer

Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium will be the home of eight soccer games in September - plus the one in August. That's a busy stretch.

The men are home three times that month, while the women play five home games in September, all in a 16-day stretch.

* Head coach Cara Morey

When Jeff Kampersal left to become the head women's hockey coach at Penn State, it seemed likely that Cara Morey would take over the head coaching job here at Princeton. That became formal with the announcement last week.

Morey spent six years on Kampersal's staff, most recently as the associate head coach. She has helped lead Princeton through two very strong seasons the last two years, with an NCAA tournament at-large bid and Ivy title in 2016 and a trip to the ECAC semifinals and 20 wins this past season.

You can read the entire story about Cara Morey right HERE.

* Happy Fathers' Day

If you're still reading, TigerBlog wants to wish a Happy Fathers' Day to all of the Princeton dads out there. 

Fatherhood is certainly fascinating. TigerBlog can attest to that first hand. It jumps at you from Day 1, forcing you to learn things about yourself that you never imagined and pushing you in ways that you would never be able to see coming.
TB looks at people who are about to become fathers for the first time and chuckles. They have no idea what they're in for, after all.
TigerBlog has been at this father thing for awhile now, and even now he's still not sure what to expect next, or what challenge is coming down the road. Still, he thinks he speaks for pretty much all fathers when he says he wouldn't trade any of it.
As he said, Happy Fathers' Day to all of you dads. TB assumes you'll be waited on all day by your kids, right? 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Thank You And Farewell To Anne And G



TigerBlog had a meeting with Patrick McCarthy yesterday morning.

You remember Patrick. He's the oldest child of Tom McCarthy - Boog, as he's known - the former Princeton football and men's basketball play-by-play man who now does the Philadelphia Phillies, the NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL, among other things.

Patrick did some radio for Princeton last year, on football and men's basketball broadcasts. He's spending his summer working with the Reading Fightin' Phils, and the conversation yesterday was about possibly having Patrick back to do more announcing.

That part lasted about five minutes. The rest of the time was just hanging out, with Patrick and with Cody Chrusciel, one of the Office of Athletic Communications video stars.

At one point, TigerBlog wanted to show Patrick two pictures he has on his computer, both of a very young TigerBlog Jr. with Patrick's dad. He found one them easily - it was TBJ and Boog at the scorer's table at Jadwin Gym, both wearing headsets, as Boog did what was then "The Tom McCarthy Show" on ESPN radio. It's a classic.

The other one was at a Lafayette football game. Again, they're both wearing headsets, and Boog is towering over him, in the broadcast booth in Easton.

That one TB couldn't find. He found others. Lots of others. He seems to have a lot of pictures that were taken on a beach, interesting enough. Some really great ones too.

One of those is of TBJ and Miss TigerBlog, maybe a year or two later, standing on the beach. They're both holding lacrosse sticks, one a plastic one and the other an old wooden one.

They've come a long way since then in the sport, and they've had a lot of support from a lot of people along the way.

Two of the ones who've done more than they probably realize are now leaving Princeton's Department of Athletics.

Anne Murray came here more than a decade ago from Pittsburgh to play on the women's lacrosse team. She has stayed after graduation as an assistant coach, and last week she announced that she was leaving to pursue the next phase of her career.

TigerBlog can't remember one time since he met Anne where he'd say she was in a bad mood. She's always upbeat, always smiling, always bringing energy to the situation. Even when she wasn't happy about something, she would give one of those "are you serious?" type of smiles.

Somewhere along the line, Anne coached MTB at one of Princeton's summer camps. She stayed invested in her progress along the way, even stringing sticks for her. She was always asking how she was doing.

For a kid like MTB, having someone like Anne was invaluable in her development as a player. Just hearing that Anne had asked about her made her play harder.

As for TigerBlog Jr., well, he owes a lot to Gary Mosley. And he's not the only one.

Mosley - "G," as countless Princeton athletes and coaches have known him during his time as assistant equipment manager - is also leaving Princeton. He's entitled. After all, it's only been 41 years with the athletic department for him.

As far as TBJ is concerned, Mosley outfitted him from Day 1 of his lacrosse career and helped him with anything and everything, all the way through to, well, the present. TigerBlog has no idea the number of times G cut one of TBJ's sticks to the right length or attached and reattached his throat protector to his helmets.

And, just like Anne, he was always asking how TBJ was doing.

As far as Princeton's athletes are concerned? Well, TigerBlog will say it this way: Gary Mosley has been a no-nonsense guy around some young people who desperately needed that kind of influence.

G worked with a lot of different teams at Princeton, including men's soccer and track and field. TigerBlog can tell you he was a bedrock of the men's lacrosse program.

In fact, Bill Tierney had this to say about him: "G was a constant for me, just knowing how much the players and I could count on him. It was just a given that if I needed anything at all, he would be there."

Gary Mosley was more than just the equipment manager for the men's lacrosse team. He was part of their accountability to the program and the school. During his decades here, he was not the kind of person you wanted to let down. You did not want to have him have to tell you why and how you let him down.

He was famous for his brief, but, uh, to the point, halftime addresses to the team, before the coaches came into the locker room. He was a presence on the sideline during games.

Tierney was right when he said he could count of him. That's just what his nature has been all these years.

There was a going-away event for Gary the other day. He was asked to say a few words, and he did at the end. They were, as TigerBlog could have guessed, very brief.

All he basically said was that he tried to do a good job and he tried to help the athletes with whom he worked. It was all about them, he said.

It's how he operated for all those years. Need him? He's there. Need someone to have your back? He's your man. Need someone to push you away from bad habits? You want him for that too.

When TigerBlog found out that G was retiring, he had sent him a short note of congrats and, of course, to thank him for everything he'd done for TBJ. This was the response he got:
If I had any hand in helping your son out it was a pleasure. It's great to see how he developed in this game we both love. Thanks again.

That was perfect. Not too many words. Right to the point. No nonsense. Encouragement. Honesty.And a touch of emotion.

That's Gary Mosley in a nutshell.

He'll be missed. So will Anne Murray.

They gave a lot to this department. TigerBlog wishes them the best.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Best Ever

So the academic year has ended, and the Class of 2017 has scattered.

Princeton's campus is quiet, or at least quieter, for the summer.

TigerBlog is frequently asked whether he has to work in the summer. The answer is yes. There is always something to do.

In fact, come August, when the events start up again - August 25 is the first athletic event, a women's soccer game at home against Monmouth - TigerBlog will again be amazed by how another summer has flown by and how many things there were to get done along the way.

And that he came up with something to write about every day. 

Of course, it's a tad too early to be looking ahead to the coming fall season.

When TigerBlog thinks back to the 2016-17 athletic year, he's going to think of the 11 Ivy League championship teams. He'll think of the field hockey run to the Final Four. He'll think of the different teams that were impacted by freshmen who made an immediate impact on Princeton Athletics  - especially Michael Sowers with men's lacrosse (not to mention the extraordinary seasons of seniors Gavin McBride and Zach Currier) and Matthew Kolodzik with wrestling.

He'll think about the extraordinary accomplishment of the men's basketball team, which was asked to do something no other team in Ivy League history ever had to do - go 16-0 to get to the NCAA tournament.

And the football team, the Ivy League champ with the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense. And the ridiculous year of John Lovett, who put up a season (like Currier) that will never be matched. Remember his numbers: 20 rushing touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns, 26 receptions. Who will ever do that again?

TB will remember the men's hockey team's ECAC opening round series against Colgate, which Princeton won two games to one. He'll especially remember Game 2 of that series, when Princeton, after losing Game 1, avoided elimination by tying it with one second left and then winning it in OT.

It's one of the best games TB has ever seen. And then Game 3, which was another epic day from this past year, when Princeton gave up the first goal and then came back to win the game and series 2-1.

He'll also keep in mind the women's lacrosse team, especially its NCAA win over Cornell, its third straight over the Big Red, this time accomplishing it as torrential rain fell in a surreal way as the winning goal was scored. 

There were other big moments from the past year as well. There always are. It's one of the best parts of being at Princeton.

More than anything else, though, TigerBlog will remember 2016-17 as the year of the most loaded von Kienbusch Award ever.

As you know, Princeton had 10 finalists for the top female senior athlete. All 10 are among the most elite - or are the most elite - athletes ever to play their sport at Princeton.

It began to become obvious to TB and his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues a few years ago that this year was going to be unique. Each year, the OAC group talks about future Roper Trophy and von Kienbusch fields (who says athletic communications people aren't super cool?), and it was obvious that 2017 had some big potential.

First, there were the original members of the Class of 2017. Then there were three who took off to train for the Olympics who would come back as members of the Class of 2017.

The result was what you saw at the banquet before Reunions. That would be the best von Kienbusch field ever.

TigerBlog has always thought that the three greatest male athletes in Princeton history are Hobey Baker, Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley. He'd go in this order, by the way: Bradley, Baker, Kazmaier.

As for the women, it's been a bit more uncertain.

He's mentioned Caroline Lind, the two-time Olympic gold medal winning rower. He's mentioned Rachael Becker, from field hockey and lacrosse. Maybe Niveen Rasheed from basketball can be in the conversation. There are certainly others. TigerBlog does not mean to slight anyone.

If you wanted to make a top 25 - hey, maybe that's a summer project? - the Class of 2017 would be well represented.

If you wanted to make a top 1?

Well, TigerBlog would have to go with Ashleigh Johnson.

And yes, maybe she's getting extra credit for her gold medal at the Olympics and the two times she was named the top player in the world at her sport. Or maybe it's just about the eye test.

If you've ever seen Johnson play - at Princeton or in the Olympics or anywhere - you probably could sum her up in one word: "wow."

As in "wow, how can she tread water like that and then explode to get a ball that's rocketing to the top corner of the goal?"

When you're in athletic communications, you don't always want to deal in superlatives. For starters, you don't want to overlook anyone. As TB says, he never means to slight anyone.

In Johnson's case, though, it's a little different. She is so extraordinary that, as TB wrote, her win in this incredible von Kienbusch field surprised no one.

So it's TB's opinion, and not an official Princeton position, that she is the greatest female athlete Princeton has ever seen.

And when you see the greatest, it's okay to point it out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chewing The Cud

As TigerBlog sat roasting in the sun while watching lacrosse this past weekend - an annual rite of summer that he'll get back to in a second - it dawned on him that his two kids rarely play on what would be considered a "nice" day.

It's either freezing or boiling. This weekend? Boiling.

This is Summer No. 10 for TigerBlog of club lacrosse. It's really hard to explain to someone whose kids do not play summer lacrosse, or some other sport, what exactly it's like to devote weekend after weekend, tournament after tournament, summer after summer to a club team like this.

The schedule this past weekend for Miss TigerBlog, for instance, was three games Saturday - at 3, 5 and 7 - and then one more at 1:30 Sunday. That means play a game, sit an hour, play again, sit again, play again.

And this schedule was kind. This coming weekend's tournament has a game at 6 p.m. Friday, at 3 and 7 Saturday and at 8 a.m. Sunday. That's a lot of waiting around.

This, of course, is going on while much of the world is doing non-athletic-related things, like, oh, going to the beach.

And is it free?

TigerBlog's friend Todd has two sons, Matthew and William. Matthew played with TigerBlog Jr. starting in fourth grade and ultimately every summer from the end of sixth grade through the end of 11th. William is two years younger than MTB, so he has a few years left.

TB and Todd were talking the other day about how much money they've invested into this through the years. The exact amount? A lot.

On the other hand, the positives of all of this have so far outweighed the negatives that TB's only complaint is that he's going to miss it when it's over. TBJ's summer team, made up of kids spread out across the Philadelphia area, became very close, as did the parents. MTB's team has pushed her to become a much better player and a much more assertive person (and who doesn't want their nearly 17-year-old daughter to be even more assertive?).

Among TigerBlog's best memories ever are the times that he has spent with his kids at their summer lacrosse tournaments. And not just at the games. Driving. In hotels. Talking lacrosse, yes, but also about anything and everything. Like life. Music. TV. The difference between now and when TB was a kid. TigerBlog's rules for staying out of trouble if you're a teenager.

Even cows.

MTB's tournament this weekend was out in Pennsylvania farm country. As the two got closer to the field, they had this conversation:

TB: That's a lot of cows.
MTB: What are they doing?
TB: Chewing their cud, it apepars.
MTB: What's cud?
TB: No idea.

As it turns out, cud is food that hasn't been fully digested and therefore is dispelled by the digestive system of the cow in order to be chewed again. In other words, it's vomit.

So, yeah. Yuck. But hey, even that turned out to be funny.

That was Saturday. The cows were still there Sunday, seemingly unbothered by the heat and their diet.

Speaking of Sunday, there was a story on nj.com that was right in TigerBlog's wheelhouse. Actually, it was in Harvey Yavener's wheelhouse, though Yav hasn't written anything in awhile.

As an aside, TigerBlog's reaction is still to call stories that appear on nj.com as having been in the "Ledger," as in the Star-Ledger, which used to be on the biggest newspapers in the country.

Anyway the project began last week, when Ryan Dunleavy from nj.com emailed TigerBlog asking him to recommend teams that could be considered in his list of the top Division I teams in New Jersey from the 2016-17 academic year.

The first thing TB thought of was "Yav would have done something like this in a heartbeat." If you don't know who Yav is, he was a sportswriter who probably wrote more about Princeton than anyone other sportswriter ever did. It was from Yav that TigerBlog learned an important lesson - judge all sports, and the athletes who compete in them, equally based on the parameters of each sport, rather than the sport's overall popularity.

It's what led Yav to cover anything and everything, and especially women's sports. Really, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was wildly unconventional thinking, especially for a veteran male sportswriter.

The piece in nj.com didn't rank the teams in order. It just listed them by school. You can see it HERE.

There are 31 teams who were included in the story, representing New Jersey's eight Division I colleges. Here's the ranking by number of teams included:

Princeton - 13 (really, 14, since men's indoor and outdoor track and field were counted as one)
Monmouth - 5
Rider - 4
Rutgers - 3
Seton Hall/St. Peter's - 2
FDU/NJIT - 1

If you don't feel like doing the math, that's 42 percent for Princeton.

It got TB to thinking about which Princeton team he would have ranked as the No. 1 for the year. Honestly, it's hard to pick.

Women's lacrosse? Ivy tri-champ but then powered to the Ivy tournament title and then to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Men's basketball? The first 16-0 team in league history.

Field hockey? Made it to the Final Four, though didn't win the league.

Women's fencing? No. 2 nationally, plus an individual champ.

Football? Led the Ivy League in offense and defense while winning the championship.

Others? A case can be made.

In other words, it was another really good year for Princeton Athletics.

So chew on that for awhile. It's better than cud, right?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Goodbye, Jeff

TigerBlog walked down the Jadwin stairs Friday, down to the basement he and his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues call home.

Oh, and Brian Fitzwater, the IT guy for the athletic department. When the OAC relocated downstairs in late 2015, the was space for eight people, and there are seven OACers.

Fitz, as he is known, was thrown into the package. If you ever wanted to share your office space with one random person, the IT guy is a perfect choice.

The printer isn't working? "Hey, Fitz." Got some weird error message on your computer? "Hey, Fitz." Something goofy with your phone? "Hey, Fitz."

It's like sharing office space with the help desk.

Then there's Fitz himself. He's about as laid back as it gets, which is great considering what he has to deal with all the time. TigerBlog isn't the greatest technology mind of all time, but he does like to at least try to solve the problem (usually by turning something off and back on) before he reaches out for help.

Still, there are times he has to reach out for help. Each time, Fitz has fixed it in about 10 seconds. That's his job. People come to him with problems they can't identify or correct, and they seem incredibly daunting to them. On top of that, people are so reliant on their computers, phones, tablets and everything else that they come to Fitz with a total sense of desperation.

And he calmly fixes what ever the problem is and then sends them on their way. Never once, in all that time, has TB ever heard him yell "it's so simple. Fix it yourself."

Plus, he's an IT guy. By nature that makes him a little different. For instance, he had a really bad nose bleed last week. What did he do? He took a picture of it. Then he said to TB "hey, want to see something cool?"

Anyway, as TB came around the corner after getting to the bottom of the stairs Friday, he heard a familiar voice outside the locked office space.

It was Jeff Kampersal, who was on the phone with Fitz.

Kampersal, as you probably know, is the new women's hockey coach at Penn State. This comes, extraordinarily enough, after 21 years as the head coach at Princeton.

During his time at Princeton, Kampersal had a record of 327-261-58. Most recently, he led Princeton to the 2016 Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament and then the ECAC semifinals this year.

TigerBlog and Kampersal go back to before Kampersal coached the women's team here. TB first met him back in 1992, when Kampersal was a senior for the Princeton men's team.

Kurt Kehl and Mark Panus, TigerBlog's predecessors in the OAC, asked him if he'd write two feature stories about a men's hockey players. One was Andre Faust, who would go on to become, TB believes, the first Princeton player ever to score an NHL goal.

The other was Kampersal.

When TigerBlog first started out in the newspaper business, he was paid $15 per story, plus 22 cents per mile. TigerBlog kept his first check, which was for $15, rather than cashing it, figuring it would have sentimental value down the road. It might have - if he had any idea where he put it.

Instead of keeping the check, he should have bought stock in a new company called "Apple." If he had invested $15 then, it would have returned $337,824,443 by now. Or something like that.

Anyway, you know what Kehl and Panus paid him for those stories? Lunch.

TigerBlog knew little to nothing about hockey and Princeton hockey back then. He can't imagine what he wrote in those two features. They probably weren't very good. Not even worth $15.

But he always remembered the first impression Kampersal made on him from that small time they spent together back then. He could tell Kampersal was a good guy.

Nothing that's happened in the last 21 years has changed that impression for TigerBlog. Year after year, Kampersal represented Princeton with class and dignity, with on-ice success and players who routinely won awards for academic success and service.

Like all of the best coaches at Princeton, Kampersal made himself a big part of the departmental culture.

There was a party last week for Kampersal before he left Princeton. It was easy to tell he was uncomfortable being rewarded and celebrated for his time here. He's a humble guy.

And an easy guy to root for. Oh, and speaking of "guy," the storyline for his hiring is pretty simple.

This is from a story in the Daily Collegian, the Penn State student paper:
Penn State won big the last time it hired a former Princeton hockey coach.
The Nittany Lions dipped into the Tigers’ pipeline again with the hiring of Jeff Kampersal, hoping to recreate the success that Guy Gadowsky brought from Princeton.

Kampersal will be heading to the same school that took another Princeton hockey coach, Guy Gadowsky, who took the Princeton men to two NCAA tournaments and then took Penn State there this year. Kampersal and Gadowsky are close, which makes for a good reunion.

Penn State has put a lot of money into its hockey programs, and its hockey arena. It's a new challenge for Kampersal, one that comes after 21 years of loyalty and hard work here at his alma mater.

TigerBlog wishes him the best.

When he said goodbye to him the other day, it dawned on him that he was talking to the same good guy he'd met all those years ago.

Best of luck, Jeff Kampersal.

You definitely made Hobey proud during your time here.