Monday, May 24, 2010

Karen Malec's Saturday

Of all the dull household tasks that people have to deal with, the two that have never really bothered TigerBlog are doing the dishes and doing the laundry.

Maybe it's a cleanliness thing. Who knows.

Of the two, TB's favorite is easily the laundry. There's a great deal of satisfaction that comes with knowing that all of the clothes have been washed, dried and folded.

For the record, TB is not a big fan of separating out his clothes, and basically everthing he owns can go in the dryer.

Of course, doing TB's laundry isn't that complicated. Perhaps it's because he's not a suit-and-tie guy, unlike FatherBlog, who would wear a sportcoat to the beach.

Instead, most of TB's clothes have the words "Princeton Athletics" on them, unless they say "Princeton Lacrosse" or "Princeton Water Polo." Ever since Princeton signed its deal with Nike several years ago, the attire at Princeton events has been a selection of white or black with orange trim, the aforementioned words and a swoosh.

Almost all of the Nike stuff has been white or black. The varieties have been great, with long-sleeved and short-sleeved stuff, any number of jackets and fleeces, cottons and dri-fits and enough t-shirts to wear a different one every day.

As far as TB can remember, there's only been one orange garment, and that's the bright orange "Princeton Athletics" dri-fit.

If you were in Princeton Stadium Saturday for the NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals, you might have noticed an army of people wearing those orange shirts. Why? Because Karen Malec said to, that's why.

And who is Karen Malec? If you're the average Princeton fan - and certainly one of the 8,000-plus who were in the building Saturday - then the odds are good that the name is not familiar.

Princeton athletics is filled with people who work hard and do this hard work far away from the spotlight.

The NCAA quarterfinals are a perfect example. Anywhere you looked Saturday, you saw something that was the product of months of work on somebody's part, all designed to look like it took no effort at all.

What is TB talking about? How about:

* lockerroom and teamrooms. Princeton Stadium has only two team rooms, but four teams needed a place to dress, shower and meet pre-game, halftime and postgame.
* merchandise.
* concessions.
* credentials.
* seating. Did you notice one side was closed off? How did that decision get made?
* the field. There was a stencil of "2010 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships" on the field, and it didn't get there by itself.
* television. ESPN had issues with its generator for the first game, and eventually the feed from the videoboard was tied into the ESPN truck. Again, this didn't just happen.
* game stats.
* press conferences.

On and on the list could go. There were hundreds of details that needed to be taken care of, and while the number of people who did this was large, the person of ultimate responsibility was Malec, Princeton's head of event management.

Of course, she was ably assisted, as always, by Steve Kanaby. And there you have it. Malec and Kanaby - Princeton's entire athletic events staff.

Hosting the quarterfinals began with a bid that Malec and Kanaby submitted a long time ago. The bid itself is a complex document with any number of issues that have to be sorted out before the school knows if it's even going to get the games in the end.

Then, once Princeton was selected as a host, the process of months and months of planning - internally and with the NCAA began. Malec had to find hotels for four teams and officials, food for the VIP area, volunteers to work all over the stadium (TB is pretty sure Malec put her husband and son to work), a way to hang a 90-foot banner, a place for the team buses to park, a rooom for the pre-tournmament meeting, and on and on and on - including finding orange shirts for those who were working and didn't have them.

The quarterfinals are somewhat smaller than the Final Four, but the Final Four naturally draws much greater help. Almost every detail for the quarterfinal round fell to Malec.

TigerBlog arrived at around 11:10 for the games Saturday, after TigerBlog Jr.'s first-round playoff game in the morning (we won). He could afford to be late. Yes, he had a lot of responsibilities, but they were all under control and he had great help from the rest of the OAC and a few volunteers.

Besides, TB's role was nothing compared with what Malec and Kanaby had to do.

TB has no idea what time Malec got there. He does know that when he was leaving, at about 7:30, he looked across Princeton Stadium and saw Malec and a bunch of others doing what? Yes, picking up the garbage.

And, oh by the way, this all came after Malec and Kanaby were there for a month's worth of huge track and field meets, as well as all the other athletic events on the Princeton campus.

If you attended the games Saturday, you probably didn't give any thought to the planning that went into it. You didn't have to, because everything went so smoothly.

The truth is that Karen Malec - and Steve Kanaby - were responsible for just how smooth it all was.

If there had been problems, you would have gone up to one of the people in the orange shirts, demanding to know who was in charge. Then you would have known her name.

The fact that 8,000 people went home without knowing who Karen Malec is shows just who Karen Malec is - and the job she and Kanaby do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good job TB for giving props to Karen. She is a very hard worker. Well done Karen!