Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Please Hold Your Applause To The End

TigerBlog walked outside this morning and thought to himself "nice day for graduation."

TB is pretty sure he remembers it being hot and muggy for graduation at Rutgers way back when, the day his friend Corey got his diploma. At that ceremony, all of the names of the graduates were read, something that took, as TB recalls, one hour and 40 minutes.

It began, of course, with the words "please hold your applause to the end."

When it became apparent how long it was going to take to get through all the names, TB and Corey's brother Brad went to get something to eat, came back to the graduation and found that they were still on the "S's."

Corey's last name is Zucker, which put him at the end of the long roll call of grads. As each one's name was called, they'd walk across the stage, shake hands with the person handing out the diplomas and then walk off the stage at the other side.

As Corey was last, he walked out on the stage and got his diploma. Then, as the people started to applaud, he walked to the front and center of the stage and took a bow.

Hey, they were supposed to hold their applause to the end.

TB's own graduation took place at the Philadelphia Civic Center, a building that no longer there, torn down and replaced by part of the hospital at Penn. TB's biggest memory of his own graduation - which did not have every graduate's name read - was the thought that in another 10 years or so, he'd see Princeton play La Salle there in basketball.

Well, not really.

Today is graduation day at Princeton. It's the 266th Princeton commencement, and TB can't imagine that any of the 265 that preceded it will have have had better weather than the Class of 2013 gets today.

Maybe that's a sign of good luck?

The business of college athletics, at least if its priorities are straight, is about education.

That's why TB always likes to walk over to graduation and see the grads as they walk out. They're wearing a different uniform than the one that has been so familiar for the last four years, this one all black, as opposed to orange and black.

Each year, they walk away from Nassau Hall, their four years at Princeton over, their time as Princeton athletes now in the past.

They do so with huge smiles across their faces, smiles that acknowledge that what they did wasn't easy. It's not easy to be a Princeton athlete, with the demands on them physically and mentally.

It's not easy to practice, do off-season conditioning and workouts, compete, prepare mentally, be rested enough to play at their peak level - all while completing all of the academic requirements of Princeton, one of the top colleges in the world.

It's not easy.

And yet they make it look like it is just that.

The Princeton Athletics Class of 2013 won 49 Ivy League championships in four years. That total is 21 higher than the next highest school and more than five of the other schools combined.

Princeton won eight national championships in the last four years, including four NCAA titles this year - field hockey, fencing, indoor track and field distance medley relay and one individual fencer.

There were so many big games, so many big moments across the last four years.

And now? They're all memories for the Class of 2013.

They arrived here four years ago as strangers to each other. They leave here having had an amazing experience together, one that will bind them to each other for the rest of their lives.

It's quite a phenomenon that occurs here, and it's the best part of Princeton Athletics.

And it's a great day for a graduation.

It's the end of the road here for the Class of 2013.

TigerBlog gives all of them his biggest round of applause.

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