Monday, July 25, 2011

Bye Jack; See You Soon

For whatever reason, TigerBlog can remember exactly the first time he ever met Jack McBride.

One day shortly after McBride arrived on campus, TB was walking across the track towards the football stadium when he came upon a kid on all fours, looking for something in the drain on the side of the track closest to where the chemistry building now is.

TB recognized the kid from a picture and asked him if he was Jack McBride, and he immediately sprung to attention and answered in the affirmative, followed by a huge smile and handshake.

TB isn't sure why he remembers that moment, as opposed to the other thousands of times he's met Princeton athletes. He remembers meeting Dan Cocoziello, another Delbarton grad who played lacrosse at Princeton, for the first time, when Cocoziello was standing against the fence at Class of 1952 Stadium during his senior year of high school, when he already looked like he was 30.

McBride, like Cocoziello, has a huge personality, only his is 180 degrees from the understated, quiet, soft-spoken - and hugely charismatic - Cocoziello.

No, with McBride the personality gushes from him at all times. And, like the first time TB met him, McBride is always smiling and always, always shaking hands. He is among the most polite people TB has ever met.

He's also among the best goal scorers.

McBride was the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year after scoring 19 goals, and he had back-to-back 35-goal seasons as a sophomore and junior, earning All-America honors and first-team All-Ivy recognition both times.

As a junior he scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Cornell in the first Ivy League tournament final. He then had two goals and three assists in Princeton's 8-5 opening round loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament.

Another 35-goal season as a senior would have given him 124 career goals, which would have ranked him behind only Jesse Hubbard, Chris Massey and Sean Hartofilis - and he would have only needed two more at that point to tie Hartofilis.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, McBride's goal total his senior year was exactly one, which came in the season-opener against Hofstra. Bothered by a groin injury, McBride was limited to less than 60 minutes for the season (a little more than three quarters against Hofstra and about five minutes against Penn).

He graduated this spring with 90 career goals, 15th-best in school history, and with a year of eligibility remaining.

And now it turns out that he'll be using that year at North Carolina, as he will work on his MBA while playing for the Tar Heels in 2012.

Because he graduated, McBride was no longer able to play at Princeton, or anywhere else in the Ivy League. He was essentially a college free agent, since he could play next year at basically any other school, and he chose North Carolina.

Interestingly, McBride will be playing against Princeton this coming spring, when the Tar Heels and Tigers meet at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on March 10 as part of the Face-Off Classic.

TigerBlog was trying to remember other instances of former Princeton players who came back to compete against Princeton, and he could only remember two.

One was J.R. Gillern, who left Princeton and went to the College of New Jersey and then played against the Tigers during the annual Division III game in 1998.

The other was a bit more dramatic, though it was the same sport. Dominick Martin (mar-TEEN) was Princeton's starting center as a freshman in 2001-02 and then transferred to Yale.

There have to be others, though TB can't think of them.

Or maybe there aren't, since not that many athletes transfer from Princeton.

In McBride's case, you have a player who was the team's star for three years and the captain last year, when he couldn't play but still was a very strong team leader.

The Princeton-Carolina game next year will be weird, as McBride will look out-of-place as he goes against his old team.

For TB's part, he'll have a hard time rooting against him, even on that day.

TigerBlog has always known that there was something special about Jack McBride, and not just as a lacrosse player.

He knew it ever since the first time he met him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liz Costello competed as a grad student for Tennessee in track last year, running against a Princetonian (can't recall name,
but may have been Banfinch)) in winter NCAA's. Liz graduated as a
Chem Eng, but had elgibility since an injury shelved her for her senior year of winter and spring track. As you remember, she
is one of Princeton's best cross country runners, All-Ivy four years,
and led the women to their unprecendented 1-2-3-4-5 sweep of the Heps.