Friday, December 18, 2009

Coach Of The Decade is currently counting down the Top 10 male and female Tiger athletes of the decade. Today's posting was the No. 7 athletes, current senior Liz Costello of cross country and track on the women's side and Greg Parker ’03 of the wrestling team.

The next three in the countdown will be released next week, and the final three will be released the week after, ending with the No. 1 selections on Dec. 30.

It's been a fun project to do, and judging by the page view numbers, it's been well-received. TigerBlog has certainly gotten feedback from those at HQ who all have an opinion. Even one disgruntled alum called to complain that he was ineligible because he only competed for one year (okay, he wasn't quite disgruntled, just joking around, and at least he read the fine print).

The whole thing got TB thinking about a different question: If you were going to select a Princeton Coach of the Decade, who would it be?

TigerBlog didn't set any limits to who his selection for top coach would be other than it had to be someone who coached at Princeton this decade. Before considering who deserved the honor, TB went back and checked to see how many coaches who were the head coach of their sport on Jan. 1, 2000, are still the head coach today.

TB didn't really have any preconceived notions about it, other than it seems like there's been some turnover through the years. Somewhat surprisingly, he found out that 16 head coaches (eight men's teams, nine women's teams - Luis Nicolao of water polo coaches both) have been here the entire decade. It seemed like a lot to TigerBlog, but that's not the point.

So who was the Coach of the Decade around here? That was the next part that got TigerBlog thinking. It could be just about anyone.

Between Jan. 1, 2000, and the end of the 2009 fall season, Princeton teams combined to win 117 Ivy League titles, 42 more than the next-highest school. Princeton teams won 13 national championships, and 13 athletes won individual national championships.

None of this happened accidentally. It's a tribute to the coaching staff as much as anything.

So where to start? There are a lot of good choices:

* Kristen Holmes-Winn has been the field hockey coach for seven seasons and won six Ivy titles. She also took Princeton to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, and with her team of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Tiger field hockey is positioned well for a serious NCAA title run in the near future.

* Bob Callahan won seven Ivy squash championships and reached five national finals. Princeton players won six individual championships this decade.

* Julie Shackford won five Ivy League women's soccer championships and reached six NCAA tournaments. Her 2004 team became the first women's soccer team in league history to reach the NCAA Final Four, and she was the Division I Coach of the Year. She also broke the record for career wins at Princeton by a men's or women's soccer coach.

* John Thompson won three Ivy League championships in four seasons as men's basketball head coach. He took the Tigers to two NCAA tournaments and one NIT.

* Bill Tierney won one NCAA championship, played in three NCAA finals and reached the Final Four four times in men's lacrosse. His last 10 Princeton teams won seven Ivy League titles and played in eight NCAA tournaments.

* Peter Farrell won six Ivy titles, including four in cross country, where he built the women's team into one of the five best in the country out of more than 340 teams.

* Nicolao went to two NCAA Final Fours.

* Gail Ramsay won three national Howe Cup championships and two Ivy League titles.

* Greg Hughes was a head coach for one year, but he made it count, putting together a dominant lightweight men's crew that won the national championship.

* Lori Dauphiny won four Ivy League women's open rowing championships, and her 2006 team was probably the greatest first varsity 8 boat in women's collegiate rowing history.

* Rob Orr won six Ivy swimming and diving championships.

* Scott Bradley (edited version, TB apologizes for initially forgetting Bradley) won five Ivy championships and advanced to five NCAA tournaments, winning two games while there. Bradley had eight 20-win seasons and produced 14 draft choices, of whom three are currently in the Major Leagues.

* Susan Teeter won eight Ivy swimming and diving championships and has had Princeton consistently ranked in the Top 25 nationally.

All of them are excellent choices. You could even make a case for wrestling coach Chris Ayres, who has Princeton moving down the path towards becoming highly competitive after years of struggling.

Still, if TigerBlog had to choose, he'd come up with these two, one male and one female:

Chris Sailer won two NCAA women's lacrosse championships, played in three championship games and reached the NCAA tournament all 10 years. Her teams also won five Ivy League championships, and Sailer herself made the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Guy Gadowsky inherited a men's hockey team that was 8-50-4 in the two years prior to his arrival. He equaled that win total his first season and then took the program to where it had never been before: to consecutive NCAA tournaments. Princeton won the 2008 Ivy League and ECAC championships and reached the ECAC final four again in 2009, and Gadowsky's teams have been consistently ranked nationally while sending an army of players to the professional ranks.

If TB had to pick the No. 1 Coach of the Decade at Princeton, he'd go with Gadowsky.

Hey, this was fun. Maybe next, TigerBlog can rank Princeton's top SIDs of the decade.


Anonymous said...

In his first five seasons as head coach of Princeton hockey, Gadowsky's record was 76-80-10 . There are probably only 100 D-1 schools that play men's ice hockey.

I'd have a hard time asserting that such a record warrants Coach of the Decade, at least when compared to several of the others you mention.

But then, I'd also have a hard time including JT111, as much as I like him, since four years is hardly a decade!

Tierney? Callahan? Glenn Nelson? Pete Farrell? When was the last time Men's Swimming lost a home dual meet?

Is it W-L record, national prominence, League titles?

Anonymous said...

I think Gadowsky is well worth considering. You have to judge him by what he inherited, and the entire preceeding 100 years of Princeton hockey. Even just considering the advent of the ECAC in the early '60s, in over 40 years, Princeton had just 7 seasons at or above .500 in the ECAC -- and four of those were .500, before he came in.
We had made one NCAA appearance in the history of the program.

By improving the record every year in his first 4, taking us to back to back NCAA appearances in one of the very few sports where Princeton has a losing record "lifetime," including one ECAC tourney title and an Ivy title, he actually has turned in one of the greatest coaching achievments in Princeton sports history. I was amused to read in a Yale student paper story on men's hockey a little while ago a description of Princeton as a traditional power in men's hockey! Ths is the perspective of a current undergrad at another school and is an amusing measure of how Gadowsky has so completely turned around the program and its image. Hopefully, he will continue to be successful -- take note, Janet Rapelye.

But all of that, to me, does not necessarily make him coach of the decade. I think this exercise is a delightful "fool's errand," and I say this, TB, with tongue in cheek. Princeton has had so much success in so many sports, you could justify a wide number of our coaches for this title. Since competitive conditions vary so widely across the varsity sports that we compete in, you really are making apple and orange comparisons.

My suggestion is to declare the title a tie among just about all of the coaches you cited. Really.

Happy holidays to you and your colleagues and thanks again for all the great work.

P.S. You'd rate very high lifetime, TB, along with John Humenik, whatever happened to him?

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to all of the coaches mentioned in this post, where does Scott Bradley fit in this discussion?

* Five Ivy championships (and the NCAA tournament appearances that come with them).
* Two of Princeton's three all-time NCAA tournament wins (and a few other close calls).
* At least 10 Ivy League wins every year in the decade.
* Eight 20-win seasons.
* Fourteen major league draft picks, three of which are currently in the Major Leagues and one of which has been an All-Star.

I would think that all of that would at least earn his name in the conversation, no?

Princeton OAC said...

TigerBlog did not realize he forgot to include Scott Bradley. Clearly, that was an oversight, one that TB will correct. TB also stands by his selection of Gadowsky. As for John Humenik, he is currently the executive director of CoSIDA, the sports information association. And thank you for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiousity, based on what another commented on this blog, I went to the Men's Swimming site to see just how good they have been. Here is what I learned from the profile of their coach, Rob Orr:

"Entering his 28th season at Princeton, Orr has compiled a very impressive 251-38 (.869) career dual meet mark, including a 218-22 (.908) record in the EISL. The next dual meet loss he suffers at DeNunzio Pool will be his first, as the Princeton men are 94-0 in the 15-year-old building."

Pretty impressive. Especially since the date on that profile is 2006 (sic), and doesn't even include any mention of more recent titles, or coaching Doug Lennox '09, who is currently listed as #10 in Princeton Male Athlete of the Decade.

Maybe you need to update a few of the records, before you hand out awards.

Anonymous said...

What are you going to do when the decade ends next Dec. 31?

Anonymous said...

Gadowsky could have had some even greater teams if he didn't let his ego get in the way of bettering his squads. He is a good coach--there's no doubt about that--but he's somebody with a penchant for needing to be in absolute, 110% control of everything. Anything that might possibly suggest otherwise, he will do whatever it takes to assert his authority. Furthermore, consider the NCAA tournament teams--the first (and arguably better), had a senior class composed of recruits from Gadowsky's predecessors. Also, those NCAA tournament teams really could have used some additional firepower in their lineups--a true sniper--and Gadowsky's ego got in the way of having just that in his lineup...

Anonymous said...

To those that have commented on Rob Orr's record, his dual meet record is currently 107-0 in DeNunzio pool since it opened in 1990. Since that biography you reference in 2006, the Princeton men won 3 out of the previous 4 EISL titles (Ivy League + Navy). They are heavily heavily favored in 2010 after blowing out Harvard several weeks ago.

While Pete Carrill is tough to top by putting Princeton basketball on the map and inventing an offensive philosphy, Rob Orr certainly has to be in the discussion for one of the greatest Princeton coaches ever given his longevity (since 1979) and consistency.

Other highlights -- The Princeton 200 yard Medley Relay won back to back NCAA titles in 1990-1991. This was at the time an American Record. The school record still stands.