Thursday, May 5, 2016

Seven To Go

TigerBlog had to walk over to Class of 1952 Stadium yesterday to get something out of the press box.

An encoder, actually. It's the one that Princeton used to upload its lacrosse productions to ESPN3.

The encoders get sent all over the country, from school to school, depending on who needs one for their own ESPN3 productions. Then they send it on to the next school.

When TigerBlog went to put the packing label on, he had to rip off the previous one. This encoder came to Princeton from Yale. Underneath that was the one before it. That was North Carolina State.

It's too bad there weren't any other labels on the box. It would have been interesting to see the entire itinerary. There was certainly enough packing tape on the box.

When TigerBlog got on the Jadwin elevator to begin his walk over to ’52 yesterday, he had to wait until about 10 members of the men's basketball team got off the elevator.

When TigerBlog go on, he saw that the maximum weight for that elevator is 4,000 pounds, so the basketball guys were fine in that respect. On the other hand, the ceiling is sort of low in there.

As TB walked to the lacrosse field, he ran into Carrie Moore, who is the new assistant coach for the women's basketball team. Carrie isn't new to Princeton, though - she was director of operations here for two seasons, 2008-09 and 2009-10. The well-liked director of operations, by the way.

That 2009-10 season was the first that Princeton reached the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have been back every year but one since, including this past season,. when they received an unprecedented  at-large bid to the field.

During that time, Moore was an assistant coach at Creighton, where the team made it to five postseasons, including the NCAA tournament twice. Moore was also the nation's leading scorer as a player at Western Michigan, where she scored 2,218 career points.

Meghin Williams also joined the women's staff, as the new director of operations. Williams played at Nebraska, helping the team to two Sweet 16s, and then coached there as well.

The rebuilt basketball staff is a little more than six months away from its opener. The 2015-16 year still has some big events in the more immediate future.

One of the events that was supposed to be this weekend has been pushed back until next weekend. That would be the Ivy League baseball championship series.

Princeton had already locked up the Gehrig Division title and the host role in the ILCS. The problem was that the Rolfe Division was still going on until Tuesday, when Harvard and Dartmouth played a rain-delayed doubleheader. When it was over, Dartmouth and Harvard had split, leaving Dartmouth and Yale tied.

As a result of that, those two will play a one-game playoff this weekend, with the winner to come to Princeton next weekend.

The Ivy League softball championship will be this weekend, though. Harvard wrapped up the North Division by splitting with Dartmouth Tuesday, losing the first game and then taking the winner-take-all second game.

As a result, the Crimson will host Princeton Saturday for two and then Sunday for one if necessary. Winner of the best-of-three heads to the NCAA tournament.

There are 33 Ivy League sports, of which 26 have already crowned the 2015-16 championship. Three of the remaining seven will be awarded this weekend.

Obviously one is the softball championship. The other two for this weekend will be celebrated in Princeton.

The Ivy League Heptagonal outdoor track and field championships take place Saturday and Sunday at Weaver Track and Field Stadium. If you've never been to a Heps, it's well worth the visit.

There is non-stop action for two days, with major swings in momentum. The Harvard women are a heavy favorite; the men's race figures to be between Princeton and Cornell, especially if history means anything.

No other team has won a men's outdoor Heps title other than Princeton or Cornell since 2003. Cornell won eight straight; Princeton has won four of the last five, including last year's, by a dramatic 3.5 points - over Cornell.

After this weekend, there will be four Ivy titles, all to be decided next weekend.

There will be the baseball playoff. And there will be the men's heavyweight, men's lightweight and women's open rowing championships.

And that'll be the end of the Ivy League championships for another academic year.

Princeton currently has 11 Ivy titles for the academic year.

It's always nice to have the chance to add more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

To Cleveland, In The Fourth Round

So TigerBlog has set as his goal to get to 5,000 entries here.

That would take him well into his 60s. It's not a bad goal. If he gets to 5,000, then the next day you'll be able to find him on a beach or fishing or watching Bugs Bunny all day or something like that. Oh, and walking his dog.

TigerBlog does not currently have a dog, but he will when he retires. He'll be one of those nice old guys who is always out walking his dog.

For now, the closest thing TB has to a dog is Miss TigerBlog's cat Jingles. She thinks cats are way more intelligent than dogs. TigerBlog just thinks dogs are more fun, though it might be hard to top the reaction Jingles has when the home phone rings.

The phone is still mounted on the wall - how old-fashioned? - and when it rings, Jingles sprints over to it, no matter where he is. And then he stares up at it. And then he reaches for it. And then he meows.

Take TB's word for it. It's hysterical.

What else will be up for TB in 2028?

Grandchildren? Hmm. If it takes him 12 more years to get to 5,000, then that would make TigerBlog Jr. 31 and Miss TigerBlog 28. It's possible.

TigerBlog never met his paternal grandfather, who died when FatherBlog was 17. He did know his other three grandparents.

On his father's side, there was Bella. On his mother's side, there was Judy and Joe. Bella lived in Brooklyn, off Ocean Parkway, until the day she died, at the age of 94, with one of her sisters on the sixth floor while two other sisters lived on the second floor.

 Judy and Joe, who lived into their mid-80s each, lived in Queens. Judy and Joe ran a driving school on Lefferts Blvd., in the Kew Gardens section of Queens.

If you stacked both of TigerBlog's grandmother's on top of each other, they'd barely be taller than Seth DeValve. If you threw Joe in there, they definitely wouldn't have achieved DeValve's weight.

DeValve is listed at 6-4, 245 pounds. He was a wide receiver at Princeton, and he'll be a tight end in the NFL.

DeValve was drafted over the weekend by the Cleveland Browns, who took him in the fourth round. DeValve figured he'd get an NFL shot and probably hoped he'd be a late round draft pick, but going in the fourth round was beyond anything that could have been anticipated.

In fact, it makes DeValve the highest Princeton football drafted in the modern era.

It also makes him the third Princeton player in the last four years to be selected, along with Mike Catapano and Caraun Reid. Those three account for half of the total NFL selections from the Ivy League in that time.

TigerBlog liked all of the Princeton football coaches, out on the road recruiting, tweeting that they were off looking for the next NFL draft choice for the program. That's an effective use of social media.

If you're looking for a good story about DeValve, click HERE. This one is pretty good, with its Princeton-Harvard angle.

TigerBlog doesn't really know DeValve. He's announced his name over the Powers Field at Princeton Stadium PA system a bunch of times.

He did see DeValve at the Jason Garrett-John Thompson-Pete Carril event at Conte's last summer. He had no idea it was DeValve. When he first saw him, TB thought he was looking at Rob Gronkowski.

Seriously.

DeValve certainly looks like an NFL tight end. Now he'll get his chance to play one on television, as it were.

His Princeton career was hampered by injuries, but there were times when he was completely healthy when he looked like a monster. Even with the injuries, he still caught 122 passes at Princeton, for 1,336 yards and seven touchdowns.

In just two games as a junior, he caught 19 passes - nine against San Diego and 10 against Brown. That pace would have added up to 95 receptions for the season - which would have been the best season in Princeton history (the current record is 88, by Kevin Guthrie, in 1983).

The Browns have not exactly had the best history of late, but there is a great fan base in Cleveland. And, after putting up with the Johnny Manziel circus the last few years, the team is ready to turn the page.

DeValve, as a fourth-round pick, is walking into a really good situation.

And where is the first game of the 2016 season for the Browns? How about at Philadelphia, which isn't all that far from Princeton.

He's an easy player to root for, especially since he's a former Princeton Tiger. The third Princeton Tiger in four years to be picked in the NFL draft, and the highest player selected since the AFL-NFL merger.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2001, A Blog Odyssey

If yesterday was Blog 2K, then does that make today "2001, A Blog Odyssey?"

And that's enough about that. Time to get started on the next 1,000.

Actually, before he does, TigerBlog would like to say that the whole thing about 2,000 entries made him think of John Nolan, a Syracuse grad who briefly did some broadcasting for Princeton and is now the radio voice of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the single-A team of the San Diego Padres. John and TigerBlog had several conversations about the national obsession with round numbers.

And with that, it's time for 2,001.

TigerBlog wants to start with the ACC men's lacrosse championship game, a topic he briefly mentioned yesterday.

In case you missed it, Syracuse and Duke were playing outside of Atlanta Sunday in a pretty good game, being broadcast on ESPNU. With seven minutes to go and Syracuse ahead 9-8, though, the game had to be halted because of a thunderstorm.

Actually, it turned out to be something somewhat biblical. It included a lightning strike on the scoreboard at Fifth Third Bank Stadium and enough rain to completely flood the grass field.

By the way, Fifth Third Bank came about when the Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank merged in the early 1900s.

Anyway, with the grass field underwater, the game, after three hours, was moved to an adjacent turf field. There was no TV, no videostream - only a Periscope production from the iPhone of Duke athletic communications contact Meredith Rieder, with some commentary from ESPN's Paul Carcaterra. Considering the elements, it was quick thinking and strong execution, to at least get the end of the game out to the public in some format.

After that long delay, Syracuse scored five more goals, and won 14-8, by the way.

The whole situation made TigerBlog wonder what would have happened had this been a major college football championship game. What if there was an outdoor stadium and a game that became unplayable due to weather with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter? Then what?

Clearly television would be a major factor. TB doubts that having the end of, say, Florida State-Clemson (are they in the same league now?) sent out to the world via Periscope would be acceptable.

And would you move the end of a football game like that to an adjacent practice field? Push it back a day? Call it at some point?

It certainly would be interesting to see how it played out.

Anyway, that was the Duke-Syracuse game.

The random weather that seems to stretch from, say, October to June around here these days has been at it again. There's nothing quite like getting into the car in early May and turning on the heat, right?

In the last week, the temperature has been above 80 and below 40. That's a pretty neat trick. And it's been a tad rainy as well.

As a result, the baseball and softball schedules were adjusted for Princeton last weekend, and it worked out perfectly for both teams.

Princeton won the division title in both sports this weekend, as the baseball team won three of four against Cornell and the softball team swept four from Cornell. And with that, they look ahead to the Ivy League championship series in both.

Where and when? That's another story.

Princeton will definitely host either Dartmouth or Yale in the baseball championship series. That might be this weekend or next weekend, depending on what happens today, when Dartmouth plays Harvard twice.

Yale has finished its league season at 11-9. Dartmouth is 10-8, meaning that a Big Green sweep today gives Dartmouth the championship, a Harvard sweep gives Yale the championship and a split leaves Dartmouth and Yale tied.

If there is a sweep one way or another, then the ILCS will be at Princeton this weekend. If there is a split, then there would be a Rolfe Division playoff this weekend and the ILCS at Princeton next weekend.

As for the softball team, the Tigers will definitely be on the road this weekend in the ILCS. Whether it will be at Harvard or Dartmouth depends on today's doubleheader in Cambridge between those two.

Unlike baseball, there can be no tie. If Harvard wins one game, then the Crimson will win the division and host the ILCS. If Dartmouth sweeps, then Dartmouth will.

It's been a remarkable turnaround in one year.

The softball team finished 2.5 games out of the division title, in second place a year ago, at 10-9. Princeton is now 14-6 in the Ivy League.

The baseball turnaround is even more amazing. Princeton finished 12 games out of first in the division a year ago, when the Tigers were 4-16 in the Ivy League and 7-32 overall.

This year, Princeton went 13-7 in the league, an improvement of nine games. And overall? Princeton is 22-18, which means the Tigers have won more than three times as many games as a year ago.

TigerBlog doesn't really care which baseball team Princeton hosts in the ILCS, but he'd like to see it be this weekend. Keep the momentum going and all.

And that's it for today. One more entry done, on the way to TigerBlog's official goal - 5,000.

Let's see. That's 2,999 to go. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Blog 2K

Back in August of 2008, Yariv Amir - then a member of the Office of Athletic Communications and now high in the athletic hierarchy at Colgate - took it upon himself to create a Princeton Athletics blog.

He created an account, calling it "goprincetontigers.blogspot.com." And then he said "now what?"

Sure, Princeton Athletics now had a blog. The OAC also had no idea what to do with it. At first, it seemed like a good place for smaller announcements, and so on Aug. 28, 2008, this was the first entry:

The new Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium hosted its first event on Thursday as members of the media were introduced to the new home of Princeton soccer. Head coaches Jim Barlow and Julie Shackford and members of both teams met reporters from area newspaper and television outlets. Look for articles in the upcoming issues of the Princeton Packet and Town Topics and on WZBN News. 

It's grown a bit since then.

This was a pretty good weekend in Princeton Athletics.

The women's lacrosse team won an Ivy League title for the third straight year. The baseball and softball teams both won divisional championships, and the baseball team will host the Ivy League championship series this weekend.

Seth DeValve was drafted in Round 4 by the Cleveland Browns, making him the third Princeton player in the last four years to be drafted.

There were other stories at Princeton. And even some others elsewhere that would make great topics for today.

Like what? How about the Duke-Syracuse ACC men's lacrosse championship game in Georgia? There were seven minutes left in a 9-8 game when the heavens opened, and even a lightning strike on the scoreboard that left the stadium without power. Eventually, after almost three hours, the game was resumed - on a side field. There was no TV, nothing. Syracuse won 14-8.

Can you imagine if that had been a major conference football championship game?

Anyway, all of that is for another time. Today is a little more, uh, self-absorbed.

Why? Because this is TigerBlog No. 2,000.

TigerBlog has come a long way since that beginning. It was clear fairly quickly that the blog wasn't the right place for those announcements, which belonged on the main web page.

And in-game blogging, which was done for football and basketball, was ineffective as well. First of all, there were live stats for those who just wanted to follow along. Second, that kind of blogging only works if you get really colorful. And last, it wasn't equitable. Why do in-game blogging for football and basketball but nothing else?

So that went by the wayside too. TigerBlog, seemingly, was about to as well.

It's hard to figure out exactly when this blog became what it is now, but it was definitely early in 2009. What it is now. You know. A place to be a little less formal, tell some stories, comment on basically anything and everything. Be entertaining.

When TigerBlog decided to go down that path, he's not 100% sure he knew what he was getting himself into. For starters, he didn't want to add anything to the workload off everyone else in his office, so he figured he'd have to do most of the writing.

Then he realized that he had to do it every day if it was going to be successful and grow readership. Every day. Every single day.

And so, since he's started, he hasn't missed one. Not for vacations. Not for illnesses. Not from being out of the country. Not for surgery. Not for any reason.

Every work day, every year, year after year.

It's actually easier than you'd think. There's no shortage of subjects out there.

Of course, the concept of TigerBlog stretches what is standard fare for something that comes out of a college athletic communications office. Let's face it. The most recent entry before this one talks about how great Bugs Bunny is.

But that's the best part.

Yes, Gary Walters or Mollie Marcoux could have shut it down, and TigerBlog appreciates that they haven't. From its small beginning, when nobody read it, numbers have gone way up. And continue to go up.

The most read entry TigerBlog has ever written was the one a few weeks ago about Peter Farrell, the retiring women's track and field coach. That was one of TB's favorites.
When TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, he would have said there was no chance that he would ever write like this, essentially in the first person. Harvey Yavener, one of his earliest mentors, also said the news was the news. Covering the news wasn't news.

But TigerBlog has come a long way in his thinking. Maybe it came from reading so much of John McPhee's first person accounts.

Of anything that TigerBlog has done in his nearly 30 years of covering Princeton Athletics, the blog is his favorite, other than the opportunity to get to know so many great athletes and coaches.

TigerBlog loves the challenge of the blog, to come up with something fresh each day. He loves the chance to be creative every day. He loves to tell the stories of his life in Princeton Athletics, and the people he's gotten to know through it all. And what he's learned from them.

Hopefully there are a lot more years, a lot more stories, a lot more entries left in him. One day his writing streak will end, though he hopes it's not for a few thousand more. 

Anyway, that's enough self-absorption for one day. Forgive TB though.

It's not every day you turn 2,000.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blake, Bugs And A Busy Weekend

Yesterday was Take Your Kids To Work Day.

TigerBlog is pretty sure this began as Take Your Daughter To Work Day, as an effort to introduce girls to jobs that might previously have been though of as male-only. Since then, it has expanded to include boys and girls.

Princeton Athletics, under the direction of Kim Meszaros, has always had a nice program for the kids of department staff. Yesterday was no different.

Blake Borders was here yesterday. He's the son of Andrew Borders, TigerBlog's colleague in the Office of Athletic Communications.

Blake isn't quite two yet, so he's a little young for the activities that Kim puts together. Blake did like the pizza and chocolate chip cookies.

Maddie Sachson was there too. She's seven or eight or so. Yesterday was right in her wheelhouse.

Her dad Craig is another OAC colleague. Maddie played squash and ran track and went swimming and ate and did a whole bunch of things that left Craig almost completed sweated through his shirt.

As for Blake, he mostly hung out with his dad, and Warren Croxton, Andrew's office mate. At one point yesterday, TigerBlog poked his head in to see how Blake was, and he saw that Blake was watching some contemporary cartoon on a computer. TigerBlog didn't know what it was, though he knows his kids never saw it when they were younger.

Put on Bugs Bunny, TigerBlog suggested. So Andrew did.

And clearly Blake liked it. Bugs was having some fun with Elmer Fudd. What's not to like? Blake laughed. So did TigerBlog.

If nothing else came out of Take Your Kid To Work Day, Blake met Bugs Bunny. Imagine how hard Blake would have laughed if he'd been watching "Bugs and Thugs" or "Racketeer Rabbit," Bugs' two best performances.

TigerBlog could watch Bugs all day long. You know what he can't watch?

The NFL draft. He doesn't understand the fascination with it. For every 20 players selected, the average fan has not heard of 19 or more. Plus, the odds of finding a good player in the first round is about the same as finding one in the fourth round.

TigerBlog's only interest is whether or not Seth DeValve is drafted. Like the overwhelming majority of the American sporting pubic, TigerBlog is more interested in Ivy League baseball and softball this weekend than he is the NFL draft.

The threat of rain Sunday in Princeton has changed the schedule. Princeton is now at Cornell today in both baseball and softball and home in both tomorrow.

The baseball team enters the weekend one game up on Penn in the Gehrig Division. The Quakers have four with Columbia.

As TB has said earlier this week, it's still possible for all eight Ivy baseball teams to finish 10-10, but that is unlikely. TB isn't sure what the tiebreakers there would be, but it would be fascinating.

Because everyone can get to 10-10, nobody is eliminated yet. That could change today, when one win by Princeton and Penn would eliminate Cornell and Columbia. In fact, one Princeton win means there could no longer be a four- or even three-way tie in the Gehrig Division.

Clearly, every game matters this weekend. Princeton wins the division outright by sweeping, something no other team can say. So that's a start.

On the softball side, Princeton is three games up on Penn, giving the softball team a lot more margin for error than the baseball team. On the other hand, nothing is in the bank yet.

The softball team will win the South Division title with any combination of wins or Penn losses that adds up to two. Unlike the baseball team, though, the softball team cannot host the Ivy League Championship Series, which will be played at either Dartmouth or Harvard.

The baseball playoff could be at the Gehrig or Rolfe Division winner. Obviously the baseball picture is quite muddled.

The women's lacrosse tournament can be at Princeton, Penn or Cornell, depending on this weekend.

Simply put, a Penn win over Cornell and Penn hosts. A Princeton win over Brown means the Tigers get a share of the Ivy title, but the Tigers cannot win the championship outright. The winner of Cornell-Penn is assured at least a share of the championship. A Princeton win over Brown and a Cornell win over Penn means Princeton hosts. A Cornell win and Princeton loss means Cornell hosts.

Okay, maybe it wasn't so simple.

The women's water polo team is at the CWPA tournament at Harvard this weekend, chasing the league's bid to the NCAA tournament. The Penn Relays continue today and tomorrow. There's a lot of home rowing this weekend.

Oh, and there's also the 79th meeting between Princeton and Cornell in men's lacrosse. TigerBlog's contention is that Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse ranks third all-time in Ivy League rivalries, behind Princeton-Penn men's basketball and Harvard-Yale football.

That game is tomorrow at noon. You can see it on ESPNU.

It makes for better television than the NFL draft, but maybe not as good as Bugs Bunny.

And that's your weekend in Princeton Athletics. It's a busy one, with some big outcomes on the line.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Stopwatch

Jim Barlow has been the men's soccer coach at Princeton for 20 years?

Wait. Wait. This isn't more nostalgia, though that has been a theme this week. This is more history than nostalgia.

The whole point about Barlow and 20 years is that he was presented with a stopwatch by a former teammate of his, Tim Foley. It had an inscription on the back that indicated it was given to Al Nies in 1925.

The inscription mentions the "championship team" of 1925, which begs the question of which championship?

Going back to 1925, there was no Ivy League or NCAA tournament. In fact, the Ivy League predated the NCAA tournament in men's soccer by four years, as 1959 was the first year of the national championship event and 1955-56 was the first year of Ivy competition.

Was there a national champion voted on prior to that? TigerBlog can't find a record of it, though he'd guess one exists.

The NCAA record book doesn't list a champion prior to the start of the tournament. It only lists final polls back to 1971.

As for Princeton's record book, game-by-game results don't exist prior to 1938. Only coaching records do.

About the only reference TigerBlog could find was the Princeton Companion, sort of a Princeton encyclopedia. This is what it said about Princeton soccer:

The Intercollegiate Association Football League was formed in 1905 by Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Haverford, and Penn, and joined by Yale in 1908 and by Princeton in 1911. Princeton competed in this league until 1926, in the larger Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association until 1932, in the Middle Atlantic League until 1955, and after 1955 in the Ivy League. 

It also had something funny to say, in the way writing was done at the time:
Princeton's best season in the early years came in 1916 when it tied for first place but lost the postseason playoff to Penn, 3 to 2, on a snow-covered field a week before Christmas. Center forward Arthur Preyer '19, who had learned to play soccer in Holland, scored both of Princeton's goals. Two of Penn's three goals were scored by its inside right, an All-American whose name was William Nassau. ``Just how we let this man get away from us,'' the Alumni Weekly commented, ``is a matter worthy of consideration.'' 

And finally this on Al Nies:
Al Nies, the first full-time coach, who served from 1919 to 1934, saw Princeton soccer through one of its most successful eras. Five of Nies's sixteen teams were league champions: 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926 (tied), and 1927; and five finished second: 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, and 1932 (tied).

Al Nies was the third soccer coach in school history, after J. Duncan Spaeth coached the Tigers to a 2-4 record in 1909 and then someone known simply as "Holden" coached the team in 1915 and 1916. There is no record of Princeton's having played in between in the athletic record book, though the Companion suggests Princeton had a team in 1911.

As for Al, his record was 76-38-19 at Princeton as the men's soccer coach.

TigerBlog recognized the name Al Nies from the men's lacrosse record book. Nies was the first coach Princeton ever had in men's lacrosse, and his numbers with the lacrosse team were remarkably similar.

Nies coached 133 games with the soccer program to get that 76-38-19 record. He coached 120 games with the men's lacrosse team from 1921 (when the program was restarted after a nearly 30-year absence) until 1935.

His record? 74-39-7. Two fewer wins. One more loss.

Anyway, that's a little history lesson.

As for the present, if that stopwatch that Barlow was given works, then perhaps he could take it to Philadelphia today for Day 1 of the three-day Penn Relays.

The Penn Relays are older than soccer at Princeton, dating to 1895. They began as a series of relay races between Penn and Princeton, by the way.

The 2016 event will feature more than 15,000 athletes, from high schoolers to international competitors. And of course collegians.

Princeton will be there. If you want the complete list of Princeton's entries, you can go HERE.

If you want to see the races themselves, you can go to Franklin Field. Attendance the next three days will far surpass the numbers who go there to watch Penn football.

This will be the last Penn Relays for Princeton women's head coach Peter Farrell, who is retiring after 39 years this season. TigerBlog has spent enough time talking to Farrell to know that he loves the Penn Relays.

There's another big track meet next weekend. That would be the Ivy League Heptagonal championships. That's serious business, with Ivy League titles on the line for men and women.

The Penn Relays? They're serious too, but in a different way.

The official name is the Penn Relays Carnival, and that's exactly what it is.

A three-day carnival.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bound For Rio

TigerBlog got an email yesterday that said "you are becoming nostalgic."

He won't say who it was from. He'll give you a slight hint, though, and see if you can figure it out for yourself.

Ready? Here it is: He was the Ford Family Director of Athletics before the current one.

When TigerBlog went back to the last two days, he did notice that he had been stuck in the 1980s a bit so far this week. Ah, the 1980s. Those were the days.

Anyway, he's going back a little bit today, though not quite as far. He's actually not sure just how far back he's talking about, though it wasn't anymore than seven or eight years ago.

The place was Triumph, the restaurant/brewery on Nassau Street. TigerBlog was having lunch with Princeton's ESPN contact, a young woman named Meghan O'Leary.

Princeton's ESPN contract is unique. TigerBlog isn't sure of too many other schools that have their own deal with the Worldwide Leader.

It's been 11 years since the deal began, and the current deal extends through 2019. It brings Princeton seven events per year on an ESPN television platform. This year's seventh event is Saturday's men's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Through the years, TigerBlog has dealt with maybe 15 or so different contacts at ESPN, with whom he's worked to figure out which events will be televised, with a lot of give-and-take between both sides. It's a great relationship, and it has worked out well for Princeton, especially with ESPN's willingness to broadcast sports beyond football and basketball.

Anyway, Meghan was one of the first of those contacts.

As Meghan sat at Triumph, she told TB about her longer term goals, beyond ESPN. She had been a volleyball and softball player at Virginia as an undergraduate, but since graduating she had taken up a new sport.

Rowing.

Her goal was to reach the 2016 Olympics, she told TB that day. As they ate, a man walked up to their table, noticed the "Princeton Athletics" shirt TB was wearing and said he had never been in town before but he loved Princeton. Then he asked TB what he did, and TB explained it. And when he asked Meghan if she worked for Princeton Athletics, TigerBlog said "no, but she's going to be in the Olympics in 2016."

Guess what? She is.

Meghan, who has gone on to have a strong career in international rowing, qualified for the Rio games this past weekend in Florida, when she and her rowing partner, Ellen Tomek, won the double sculls at the Olympic Trials.

Meghan said that was her goal all those years ago, and she made it happen. That's extraordinary.

Next up is the push to win a medal. The doubles event isn't easy, but hey, she's there and ready to compete.

Princeton will have its share of Olympians, again.

If you remember, the 2012 Summer Olympics were great for Princeton, who sent 15 athletes and two alternates to London and saw them win seven medals. Of U.S. colleges, Princeton ranked ninth. Had Princeton been a country, it would have finished 31st of 204.

Princeton has had at least one representative at every Summer Olympics since 1896, except for the 1960 Games in Rome.

The Tigers will definitely be represented by at least eight Olympians in Rio.

So far, those who have earned a spot in the Olympics are:

* Ashleigh Johnson in women's water polo. The U.S. is overwhelming favored to win a medal and is the favorite for gold.

* Katie Reinprecht, Julie Reinprecht and Kat Sharkey in field hockey. The two Reinprechts were starters in the Games four years ago.

* Kat Holmes in fencing.

* Gevvie Stone and Kate Bertko also qualified Sunday in Florida in rowing.

* Diana Matheson in soccer for Canada. Matheson scored the goal four years ago that gave France the bronze medal.

There are still others who will be trying to get there, especially in rowing.

Princeton also has 17 track and field athletes, if he is correct, who will be at the Olympic Trials this coming July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore. Among that group will be Donn Cabral, who reached the steeplechase finals in 2012.

And there are swimmers too.

In the end, Princeton may approach the 15 who were there four years ago.

The 2016 Rio Olympics begin Aug. 5 and run through Aug. 21.

TigerBlog will be rooting for Princeton. And for Princeton's former ESPN contact.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

That's The Spirit

TigerBlog had a meeting yesterday afternoon.

The subject? The Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet, which is actually one month from today.

Yes, another academic year is flying by.

When TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, he started out each September with the idea that he'd do one more academic year and then, when it was over, go get a "real" job. MotherBlog used to say all the time when TB was little that he'd never be able to make a career working in sports, that someday he'd have to get a "real" job.

Ah, how wrong she was.

TigerBlog has seen a lot of people leave what he does to get "real" jobs. That's up to them. TigerBlog isn't quite sure when he stopped thinking in terms of "one more academic year." It was a long time ago.

He long ago figured out that what he does is a "real" job. In fact, he's finishing up his 33rd academic year in the sportswriting/communications/athletic administration business.

There was a time when the new academic year didn't really start until then-Trenton State College president Harold Eickoff would announce at the preseason media/booster luncheon his prediction, which was always the same. "I predict," he would say, "that every Trenton State team will go undefeated all year."

These days, the banquet is one of the major signs that the academic year is pretty much over. There are only a handful of competitions from that point on, usually in rowing and track and field.

The end of April brings with it the countdown to the final home events of the year. Another sign that the academic year is ending? The email that TB got the other day that said that the event meeting would be cancelled.

By TigerBlog's count, here is the remaining home schedule for 2015-16:
* men's heavyweight, men's lightweight and women's open rowing this weekend
* men's lacrosse against Cornell Saturday
* baseball against Cornell Sunday
* softball against Cornell Sunday
* Heps track and field May 7-8

And that's it.

At least that's it for scheduled things.

It's possible that the same weekend as Heps track will also see Princeton host the Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament and/or the Ivy League baseball championship series.

As exciting as it would be to see all eight Ivy League baseball teams end up 10-10, a possibility that TigerBlog pointed out yesterday, he'd actually rather not see that come to be. Instead, he'd like to see Princeton clinch the Gehrig Division this weekend against Cornell.

If it all goes well for Princeton, the Tigers will win the division and then host the Rolfe winner by having a better record than the Rolfe champ. Right now, Princeton and Yale are both in first place, at 10-6.

Of course, the Gehrig Division comes first, and the Tigers are only one game up on Penn right now.

Then there is the women's lacrosse tournament. Three of the spots are already sealed, with Princeton, Penn and Cornell all at 5-1 and in the field.

The final spot will go to Harvard with a win over Yale this Saturday. Should Yale win, and Dartmouth beat Columbia, then there would be a three-way tie for fourth at 3-4. Without boring you on the details, Dartmouth would then be the fourth team. If Yale beats Harvard and Columbia beats Dartmouth, then Yale would be the fourth team.

Princeton would get at least a share of the league title with a win at Brown Saturday. There cannot be a three-way tie, because Penn plays Cornell Saturday as well.

Simply put, a Penn win and the Quakers host. A Penn loss and Princeton win and Princeton hosts. A Princeton win and the Tigers and the winner of Penn-Cornell share the title. A Princeton loss means the winner of the Penn-Cornell is the outright champion and host.

No matter what, the Penn-Cornell winner is assured at least a share of the Ivy League title.

Brown, Princeton's opponent, is 1-5 in the league, but the Bears just beat Dartmouth this past weekend. And they beat Princeton the last time the Tigers were in Providence.

So there you have it. The remaining home schedule. And the possibly at home schedule.

Oh, and one more thing for today.

There were eight University-wide winners of the Spirit of Princeton Award. To quote the Daily Princetonian:

The award recognizes a select group of undergraduate students who have made positive contributions to various facets of the University, including in the arts, community service, student organizations, residential living, religious life and athletic endeavors.
All undergraduate students were eligible for the Spirit of Princeton award and could have been nominated by faculty members, alumni, staff and fellow students in the Princeton community. The nominations were reviewed and final winners selected by a committee comprised of administrators and undergraduate students.

Of the eight winners, two are varsity athletes. 

One is football player Ian McGeary. The other is swimmer Beverly Nguyen.

You can read about them HERE.

It's an incredible accomplishment for both, given the time constraints of being a varsity athlete. Then again, TigerBlog has never ceased to be amazed at how the athletes here do it, managing their time as athletes while succeeding as students at a school like Princeton and still finding time to serve the community.

They achieve. They serve. They lead.

And they inspire. 

Why hasn't TigerBog ever wanted to get a "real" job? It's because of the McGeary's and Nguyen's of the world of Princeton Athletics.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prince+Ton

When TigerBlog was a sophomore in college, he got a terrible number in the room draw.

You know. The lottery that lets you select your housing for the following year. TigerBlog's number was awful.

His freshman year roommate was the perfect roommate. He and TB weren't quite friends, but they co-existed perfectly. Never an argument. Never a problem.

Back then, his roommate was certain he wanted to be a doctor. Today, he is Dr. Seth Rubin, an ob-gyn who practices about a half hour from Princeton. TigerBlog hasn't seen or talked to him in decades.

Still, they were good freshman roommates. As a sophomore, TB thinks, Seth went to live in a fraternity house. TB wanted to get a good single, but his number was bad, so most of the good rooms were gone.

With few choices left, he randomly selected a room in the lower part of the Quad. If you've ever been to Penn's campus, the Quad is the enormous series of dorms that stretch up Spruce Street from about 35th to 39th. It is 512,512 square feet of dorm space.

TigerBlog ended up in one of the forgotten parts of the structure. Ah, but as it turned out, he also lucked out a bit.

The room he randomly chose was in a section of a dorm that was being renovated, and so what should have been a floor with eight rooms instead only had two. It was TigerBlog and one other person, a guy from Minnesota. He and TB had a whole floor to themselves for a year, including a bathroom built for eight.

Anyway, the guy from Minnesota, whose name TB cannot for the life of him remember (Phil, he thinks), was a huge fan of two musical acts: Husker Du and Prince.

TigerBlog had never heard of either. Phil (let's call him that) was a huge fan of both.

Shortly after that Prince began to make it big. As you know, he became a mega-star and had a long career, before he passed away last week at the age of 57.

Despite Phil's efforts, TigerBlog never became a huge Prince fan. He liked some of his songs - "Little Red Corvette," "1999" and "Raspberry Beret" especially.

Prince? He was okay. Not the worse. Far from the best.

He didn't make TB cringe, but TB never wanted to go see him in concert. And what was with the whole "artist formerly known as" thing?

That doesn't mean that TB wasn't surprised to hear of Prince's death, which is obviously a shame. He senses wherever he is and whatever his name actually is, Phil took it harder than TB.

Oh, and TigerBlog definitely never got into Husker Du.

One thing TB thought of with the news of Prince's death was the presence of all of those bumper stickers that people have around here, with Prince's picture and then the word "Ton." You know. Prince+Ton.

 This was a good weekend for the softball team from Prince+Ton.

The Tigers took three of four from Columbia, which kept them three games in front of Penn in the Ivy League's South Division. The North Division got a little tighter, as Dartmouth's runaway instead has become a one-game lead over Harvard.

The Ivy League championship series will be either Princeton or Penn at either Dartmouth or Harvard. Brown, Yale, Cornell and Columbia have been mathematically eliminated.

The North winner will definitely host the ILCS. Dartmouth is 14-2, followed by 13-3 Harvard. Those teams play four times this coming weekend. The math is obvious.

The South winner will be either Princeton or Penn. Princeton has four to go against Cornell (two at Cornell Saturday, two home against Cornell Sunday), while Penn is home against Columbia Saturday and at Columbia Sunday in its final four games.

The Quakers would have to make up three games on Princeton to force a one-game playoff and four to win outright. In other words, Princeton's magic number is two - it needs a combination of wins or Penn losses that adds up to two.

On the baseball side, it wasn't as good as weekend for Prince+Ton, but the John Thompson rule does apply. You remember the rule? As long as you're in first place when the weekend ends, you're fine.

Princeton is in first place in the Rolfe Division, with one weekend to go. The Tigers dropped three of four to Columbia, though, so they will take a one-game lead over Penn into its four games against Cornell.

Unlike softball, Princeton will play at Cornell Friday, not Saturday. The rest of the weekend is the same as in softball.

By the way, if the final weekend of Ivy League baseball goes like this:
Brown sweeps Yale
Harvard and Dartmouth split
Princeton gets swept by Cornell
Columbia takes three of four from Penn

... then all eight Ivy League baseball teams will be 10-10.

Will it happen? Unlikely. But it's a cool note.

Princeton and Yale are both 10-6. Princeton was swept by Yale, so the Tigers could only host the ILCS by finishing with a better record than the Bulldogs.

Of course, Princeton needs to finish with a better record than Penn, Columbia and Cornell before it can worry about the championship series.

Still, it's makes for a pretty exciting end of the leagues season.

So that's Ivy baseball and softball.

As for Prince, rest in peace. You left behind a long legacy of original music and millions of fans, even if TigerBlog wasn't one of them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Conversation With Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly, Part II


Kristine Lilly talked about playing sports - any and all sports - in the backyard in Connecticut, with her brother, four years older than she, and his friends.

TigerBlog, sitting in the back of McCosh 50 last night, could close his eyes and see it.

They played soccer, of course. And football. And basketball. And baseball. And anything else.

It's easy to see, right? A bunch of boys tell her "You're just a girl. You can't play with us. You're not good enough." And then about five minutes later, they're like "um, er, okay."

And really, that's what happened over and over again for Lilly and Julie Foudy, her co-panelist for the Princeton Varsity Club Jake McCandless ’51 Speaker Series - and the rest of those they played with on the U.S. women's national soccer team for all those years.

No, they were told. You can't play with us. You're girls. You're not good enough.

And then they'd see them play. And again, always - "um, er, okay."

Foudy and Lilly talked about how they made national team as teenagers, high schoolers. Only there was nobody to play.

No Women's World Cup. No women's soccer in the Olympics. What good was being on the national team?

So just like Lilly did in her backyard, they simply made it happen. They pushed. They demanded. They set the bar high.

And then they delivered beyond anyone's wildest expectations.

Now, in 2016, it's easy to forget what it took to get them to where they are. No soccer player who has ever lived, male or female, has represented his or her country in international play more than Kristine Lilly. Julie Foudy is fourth on that list.

They have won multiple World Cups. They are Olympic gold medalists. They have played soccer all over the world.

So yeah, looking back, it may be easy to see Lilly in her backyard.

But if you could go back to those days and could ask that little girl - and the other little girls with whom she'd make history - what they thought life as an athlete would be, there's probably no way they would have been able to imagine what would become of them.

To TigerBlog, that's the biggest contribution they've made.

The talk in McCosh 50 was well attended. There were some young girls there, soccer playing girls themselves, and they asked good questions during the Q&A portion of the night. But they hardly made up a majority of the room.

Nope. It was a pretty even distribution between men and women. Ever since they made their breakthrough in 1999, men have watched women's athletics and embraced women's athletics in ways that never would have been dreamt about before that.

And so the women on the stage last night weren't "women" athletes. They were just athletes.

Famous ones. World famous ones.

This was like having having the event with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and having them say "yeah, our 1927 team was pretty good." It was like having Paul Hornung and Bart Starr talk about how football got a little bigger while they were playing for the Packers together.

Lilly and Foudy were part of a team - no, make that a movement - that really changed the sporting world. Their 1999 World Cup championship was the game-changer, and it has done more than any single athletic event to bring women's athletics in the mainstream.

Lilly and Foudy came to Princeton to speak about their experiences, and about the state of women's athletics.

Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux, herself a soccer (and ice hockey) player at Princeton, was the moderator, and she introduced both, who seemed genuinely embarrassed by the lengths of their resumes. Both then spoke for a few minutes, and that was followed by some questions from Marcoux and then open questions of the audience.

Among the themes:

* the value of the team - both spoke about what it meant to them to be a real, true team, not just a bunch of individuals. They talked about how everyone on the team embraced her role, and it took all of them together, even the ones who didn't play in the games, to become champions. They talked about how close everyone on the team was, and how much they miss not seeing each other regularly anymore

* get out of your comfort zone - Foudy showed a graphic that had a small circle with the words "your comfort zone" in it and then a much larger circle, not touching the first, that said "where the magic happens." Get out of your comfort zone, she said. And then she showed a video of a young girl at the top of a ski jump who had to talk herself into jumping off - only to find that the experience brought her greater confidence to move ahead

* leadership and service - The Princeton Athletics theme of "Achieve, Serve, Lead" was discussed. Leadership? It's personal, not positional, Foudy said. Service? Don't do it just to check a box on a college application. Do it because you want to make change, for the better. Find your passion and pursue it.

* advice to the young players - have fun. And play to win. One doesn't have to exclude the other.

They were very entertaining. They told stories about what it was like to be on the wave of history. They personalized it, with stories about making fun of Mia Hamm's famous shampoo commercial and a video practical joke they played on Brandi Chastain.

They talked about the current controversy about pay disparity between the men's national team and the women's national team. They talked about how much still needs to be done to grow the women's game internationally.

As TigerBlog sat there and watched and listened and took some notes, he kept coming back to something Mollie Marcoux said early in her introduction. The 1999 World Cup championship was a sporting event that was so noteworthy that people remember where they were when they saw it.

She's right.

There aren't that many sporting events like that for TigerBlog. He's not talking about Princeton here, obviously. There are hundreds of those from Princeton.

But beyond that? The Miracle on Ice, for sure. The Giants when they won the Super Bowl.

And the 1999 Women's World Cup final.

TigerBlog was in Seattle, visiting BrotherBlog, and he supposed to be flying to Philadelphia at the time. That flight, though, was cancelled, and he was put on a flight to Dulles Airport instead.

The plane landed after the game should have ended, but because it went overtime, it was still going on when TB got off the plane. He saw a TV and a crowd around it, and he realized what was going on.

He got to a spot where he could see the TV just as the penalty kicks were starting. His car was at the Philadelphia airport, his luggage was who knows where ,but so what. Everything else could wait.

He wanted to see the end of the game.

When the U.S. won, a roar went up in the terminal. It was a roar of sports fans, male and female.

They were celebrating the achievement of one of the most remarkable and important teams in the history of American sports. Girls who can't play? Hah. No.

These were women who were champions, and trailblazers.

It was great to hear two of their best speak at Princeton last night. They were beyond impressive.