Friday, October 1, 2010

Transactions And T Sherry

As months go, October is way up there among TigerBlog's favorites. It begins with average temperatures in the 70s and ends with Halloween, the greatest holiday of them all.

Along the way, you see the leaves change colors, get into the heart of football season, have fall youth lacrosse, watch Heps cross country on what is traditionally the last really nice day of the year and, thanks to the way the world works now, enjoy the start of the Christmas holiday season. What more could anyone ask?

November's not bad either, with Thanksgiving and all, but you also have the overlap of seasons that makes every weekend an adventure in athletic communications, as well as temps that down into the range of actually being cold. For October, you have it all - including the opportunity to spend about half of it wearing the great clothing combination of shorts with hooded sweatshirt.

TigerBlog didn't realize it was October until he was reminded of that fact by this morning's newspaper.

As TigerBlog has said in the past, he reads the morning paper - the one he used to write for - in this order: front page, op-ed, front page of sports, quick trip through the rest of sports, transactions, daily Jumble, Doonesbury, Dilbert. He can usually time it so that the entire process equals the time it takes to eat one bowl of Corn Flakes, unless it happens to be Rice Krispies that day.

Today's transactions included word that Scott Lowe had been hired as an assistant athletic director at Loyola, where he had formerly worked before heading out on his own into sports marketing years ago. Before that, Lowe worked here in the OAC, back in the glory days of Kurt Kehl, Mark Panus, Mike Falk and Mike Jackman, just before TB arrived.

The transactions section always fascinates TB, because of the casualness with which monumental events and turning points in so many different lives are announced:
X University - announced the resignation of Y coach so-and-so.
B University - named so-and-so head whatever coach.

Why did so-and-so resign? What's next for so-and-son? How big a decision was it for so-and-so to get that new job?

Each transaction has a human side to it, and that never comes through in the cold manner these transactions display.

This week, TB saw a story that wasn't exactly in transactions, but it did hit home hard with its human side.

The University of California dropped five sports this past week - men's and women's gymnastics, men's rugby (transitioning to a newly created status of varsity club), women's lacrosse and baseball.

The San Francisco Chronicle story about the announcement drew more than 150 comments, which were somewhat evenly divided between the "how could a school like Cal drop sports?" and "why in the world do tax dollars support college athletics?" camps.

TB, as someone who works in college athletics, feels badly anytime he sees sports being dropped, because it means the loss of jobs for coaches and loss of opportunities for athletes. And, the discussion of why colleges field athletic teams isn't worth having: They obviously have teams, and these teams are so ingrained in the culture and history of American college education that there is no possible contrary argument other than perhaps that if you were starting from scratch today, you might do things differently.

The situation at Cal is different because of who the women's lacrosse coach is.

Theresa Sherry will be in her fourth - and final - year as head coach of the Bears women's lacrosse team. Sherry was an assistant coach at Cal in 2007 before becoming the head coach a year later, and she was named the league Coach of the Year in her first season.

Sherry was a two-sport athlete at Princeton before graduating in 2004, and named her the No. 5 female athlete of the last decade at Princeton.

She was a three-time first-team All-America in lacrosse, and she scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the 2003 NCAA final to give Princeton its second straight national title. In soccer, she was a four-year letterwinner and top scorer for a team that won three Ivy League championships.

She also was well-known for singing the national anthem before home games in both sports.

Sherry - known simply as "T" or "T Sherry" to most - speaks softly, smiles easily, laughs a lot, comes from a close family and is as nice as anyone you're ever going to meet.

She's also fiercely competitive, and she worked hard to build Cal into a respectable Division I program. As Cal is shutting down its program, the sport continues to grow throughout the West, with teams at places like Stanford, Oregon, Fresno State and UC Davis and more on the way.

And then, just like that, her program was gone. The same is true for baseball, a sport that dates back more than 100 years at Cal, and three others.

The cuts affect 265 athletes, as well as the coaches.

TigerBlog has no doubt that Theresa Sherry will find another job and will be a head coach again. It's just that when you read the transactions each day, make sure you stop and remember that these are real people with real lives who are affected by all of these moves.

This week, it scooped up one of Princeton's all-time greatest women athletes.

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