Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy New Year

As TigerBlog looks out the giant windows in front of Jadwin Gym out towards the football stadium, he can see all of the following at the same time:
* sunshine
* rain
* blue sky
* gray clouds
* black clouds

Oh, and two people just walked by with umbrellas open.

The sun that is peeking through is causing the wet sidewalks and grass to glisten. The wall around the football stadium has turned a darker brown, the color it gets after it's been rained on for awhile.

According to Accuweather, it's currently 69 degrees with showers, except the little raindrops are coming out of a smiling sun on the website. That's about what's going on here now.

It's rained a lot around here this week. There were more than 11 inches of rain in a two-day period this past Sunday/Monday, which made for more than one flooded basement in the area.

It rained again Tuesday before being beautiful out yesterday. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be rainy, with a chance for 1-2 more inches of rain.

TB feels badly for his OAC colleague who long ago chose this week for his vacation in Ocean City. Earlier, he sent an email that started this way:
"You know what makes a beach vacation great? Flooding."

The OAC consists of three rooms on the balcony of Jadwin (it used to be four, with a large back room that was eliminated in favor of "OAC South," a branch office located on C level).

When TB first started working here, he was in the room furthest away from the mailroom. Then he moved over one, which would be the middle one now. For about 10 years, he's been in his current spot, next to the mail room.

TigerBlog used to have two desks in his office, but he's settled on one now. The other one has been moved into the hall, and TB wonders if he's supposed to call someone to come get it or if it'll eventually disappear on its own. He has the same four maroon chairs that were here when he first started working here a long time ago, though he'll be adding something new to his office when it gets delivered: a futon.

He's not sure where he's going to put the futon yet. It might be time for a complete rearranging of the office.

In fact, TB is a pretty good creature of habit. For instance, there are pictures of George Leftwich and Chris Marquardt playing basketball for Princeton in games from 1990 (Leftwich in the NCAA tournament against Arkansas) and Marquardt (against Loyola Marymount in 1991) that have been on TB's top shelf since Kurt Kehl put them there, probably shortly after the games were played. There are two roladexes filled with phone numbers, neither of which were TB's and neither of which TB has looked at in years.

Behind TB's desk, there's the same book case that Kurt had when this was his office - and most of the same books in it.

The futon and perhaps some realignment of the office could be considered a New Year's resolution of sorts.

After all, today is New Year's Day.

Sort of.

Today is the day that fall athletes begin to report and practices start for some fall sports, particularly men's and women's soccer, field hockey and men's water polo. Women's volleyball reports Sunday, and football begins Tuesday.

The start dates for all sports are governed by very strict Ivy League and NCAA rules, and those rules are as wildly debated as anything.

There are all kinds of factors involved in figuring out when teams can begin, and they involve issues like start of classes, costs, first competition dates and so on.

Today, though, none of that matters.

As the first soccer players, field hockey players and water polo players begin the first practices, it is New Year's Day for the 2011-12 academic year.

Princeton's 15 Ivy titles in 2010-11? They don't mean much right now. The streaks of winning the Ivy League's unofficial all-sports points championship (25 straight years) and having at least one team or individual national champion (40 straight years) are back in play.

The athletic year here is a long haul, with 38 varsity teams and 1,000 athletes. Competitions begin two weeks from tomorrow and don't end for more than nine months.

Between now and the senior-athlete banquet - and actually beyond - there will be nearly 700 competitions and any number of storylines to go with them.

Had someone told TB a year ago at this time that there'd be five men and five women who won the Roper and von Kienbusch Awards, he wouldn't have gotten more than five or six correct.

Each year tells its own story, has its own special moments and tough defeats. Sitting here today, watching it rain, stop, rain harder, clear up, rain again and so forth, TB has no idea what those moments will be.

It's why being part of college athletics never gets old. No matter what's happened, the next year is always going to be unique.

That's why today is so special. The first day of the new year.

New Year's Day, 2011-12.

The athletes are back. Let the games begin.

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