Friday, May 24, 2013

Athletic Diversity

TigerBlog has spent much of the week working on the video for next week's Princeton Varsity Club awards banquet.

Among other things, the video each year is a great reminder for TigerBlog of the amazing diversity of athletic talent that gathers under the heading of "Princeton Athletics."

TB long ago bought into the concept of having 38 varsity teams and 1,000 varsity athletes and the philosophy of treating all of them as equally as possibly. Not completely equally, which would be impossible.

Still, you can't be part of Princeton Athletics if you don't agree with that way of thinking.

Projects like the video always get TB thinking about how all of these athletes came to play the sports they played, and if athletic ability is interchangeable. TB has mentioned both of these a few times in the past.

Forgetting size considerations, could a good fencer be a good football player? Are all 1,000 of them just great athletes who, for whatever reason, drifted into one sport over another?

And how did that happen?

What role does fate play? How much of it has to do with where someone grew up and what sports were big in that area, or what sports didn't exist in that area?

The video is a once-a-year reminder of all of this.

The webpage is a daily one.

TB is always amazed at the randomness of the stories that make up the top seven on at any given moment. They could be almost anything at any time.

As TB sat down to write, the seven stories consisted of two on women's golf, one on men's lacrosse, one on each water polo team, one on track and field and one on men's tennis.

That's a pretty wild mix.

The first three were all about Princeton athletes in NCAA postseason competition, and all three are about not-to-be-taken-for-granted accomplishments.

Matija Pecotic's Princeton career ended yesterday with a loss in the second round of the NCAA men's tennis tournament. It was the last Princeton appearance for Pecotic, who came from Malta and became the first three-time Ivy League men's tennis Player of the Year - and the 11th in any sport.

As an aside, TB has some pretty good video of Pecotic bouncing the ball on the side of his racket.

Then there's the second story, the one about Kelly Shon at the NCAA women's golf championships.

Shon qualified the hard way, as one of six individuals who made the field of 126 during the qualifying rounds without having her team advance.

Shon sits at eight-over through three rounds, which puts her in the top half of the field. Shon, the second Princeton women's golfer to reach the NCAA finals, has one more round to play.

She finished her third round in 55th place, which is also third among the six individual qualifiers.

When Shon's final round is over, then the 2012-13 academic year will be down to just the national championships in rowing and track and field.

The first of three days of qualifying for the NCAA track and field championships was yesterday, and Princeton is at the Eastern regional, at North Carolina A&T.

Princeton has 23 athletes competing, all of whom are looking to advance to the NCAA finals in Eugene, Ore., in early June.

Twenty-three. That's a lot.

At Princeton, it's sort of taken for granted that track and field athletes will reach this level and even the finals. Why wouldn't it, when it seems to happen every year?

But it's not an easy path to get there.

Keep that in mind as you read the list of those who make it.

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