Tuesday, April 1, 2014


The mid-afternoon stillness at DeNunzio Pool was shattered by a blood-curdling scream, which was followed a second later by laughter.

Then the scream/laughter combo was repeated about two minutes later.

The occasion was the second-to-last day at Princeton for Diana Chamorro, who has spent the last two-plus years working in the Office of Athletic Communications. Diana is leaving to head back to her native California, leaving the field of college athletics.

When Diana came to Princeton, she had lived her whole life either Northern California or Seattle. TigerBlog didn't think she'd become an East Coast lifer back then, so he wasn't surprised when she told him she was heading west again.

During her time at Princeton, Diana was the OAC contact for women's basketball, field hockey, baseball, sprint football and men's and women's water polo. In her short time here, she was part of some big-time seasons, with NCAA appearances in women's basketball and water polo and of course the NCAA championship in field hockey.

And now she's going home.

First, though, she had some unfinished business. And that involved the 10-meter platform at DeNunzio.

Way back when, the OAC had a publications director, a position that didn't last very long. In fact, there were only two of them, from the time the position was established until it was eliminated in favor of a more traditional sports information position.

The first was named Mike Zulla. The second was John Cornell. On Zulla's last day, he vowed to jump off the 10-meter platform in DeNunzio, and he did. And so did a bunch of other people.

Yesterday, as her time at Princeton was winding down, Diana decided to do the same. And so off she went to DeNunzio around 2 in the afternoon, when the pool was basically empty.

The vacuum was on in the pool, so she there was a slight delay as 1) it was turned off and 2) there was a small debate over whether or not it would pose a threat to electrocution had it been left on.

With a small crowd of four - two of whom are trained lifeguards - watching, Diana and fellow OAC staff member Kristy McNeil ventured up to the top of the DeNunzio tower.

If you've seen 10-meter diving in the Olympics and thought it was graceful and artistic, then it's probable that you've never been to the top of a 10-meter platform. TigerBlog was there the day Zulla left.

It's petrifying.

For starters, it seems like the ceiling is about an inch overhead. For another, it's a long way down to the water.

Diana went to the edge. Talked herself into it. And jumped. Kristy then did the same.

Don't believe TB? You can see for yourself on youtube. In 2014, what self-respecting athletic communications person wouldn't have it taped and the video displayed.

There was a time when the OAC had major turnover, back when the full-time positions were actually internships that only lasted at most two years.

When TB first started at the OAC, there were three interns - Laura Stange, Emmy Zack and Chuck Sullivan. TB isn't sure what happened to the two women - Laura worked at Cornell and the ECAC but hasn't been at either for awhile; Emmy left Princeton for Oregon - but Chuck is now one of the administrators with the American Athletic Conference, after working at Harvard and then the Big East.

When TB was still at the newspaper, there were two interns, one of whom was Tim Bennett, who has been at Yale for a long, long time. The other was a woman named Kris Pleimann, who left Princeton and returned, TB thinks, to her native Colorado.

TB isn't sure if any of those three women are still in college athletics. Chuck and Tim - two of TB's all-time favorites - both are.

The spring at the OAC in the 1990s was a time to advertise the internship, whether it be for one position or two. And for the current interns to look for other jobs.

There were some great ones back then. Vinnie DiCarlo. David Rosenfeld. Jen Rynearson. Erin Melody.  Manish Mehta. Melissa Lempke. Jen works at Providence now. TB can hear her distinctive laugh all the way from here.

David came back after working at Loyola to spend five more years at Princeton; in fact, Kristy replaced David when he left. He's an OAC Hall of Famer.

Manish? He's in athletics, just not administration. Nope, Manish covers the Jets and the NFL for the New York Daily News.

And of course the three great triumvirates, the Craig Sachson-Matt Cicciarelli-Jenn Garrett group and the Cassie Lawton-Tom Milajecki-Ben Solomon group.

Of the six of them, TB is positive that one still works in athletic communications. That would be Craig Sachson, who has been at the OAC the last 12 years after two at Cornell. The others? All but Solomon went from Princeton to another sports info position, but TB doesn't think any of them still are in the profession.

Is that everyone? TB has to be forgetting someone. 

Ben Solomon had the best interview of any of them. He was a Princeton kid who was working in New York, and he said he wanted the job in the OAC so he wouldn't have to take the train to New York every day. That was good enough for TB.

Of course, it's ironic that one of the few who endured in athletic communications is Sachson, who didn't even know what it was when TB first reached out to him, back when Sachson was also a newspaper guy. TB read his stories and thought he was a good writer; who knew that, as Rick said to Louie at the end of "Casablanca," it would be "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Jen Milner came here from Utah. Geoff Loose came here from, well, New Jersey.

Yariv Amir, currently the Assistant AD for marketing and a bunch of other stuff, was the last intern hired, at least as TB recalls. His position became full-time, as did the others. Zulla started as an intern but became the publications guy when that position was added.

A woman named Sophia Duck was hired. And Kim Milardo, who TB thinks predated Sophia. Kim married Owen Daly, a former Princeton men's lacrosse player.

Eventually Andrew Borders came on board, and Kristy replaced David. When Scott Jurgens left to become the marketing person at East Carolina (and now Montana State), Yariv moved to marketing, and that opened the door for Diana.

TB probably has forgotten someone. Oh yeah, there was that guy who worked for six hours, decided sports information wasn't for him, and left and never came back.

And Diana? She did a lot here at Princeton. She learned how to do video and then did a ton of it, especially for women's basketball. In an office where our charge is to help give the athletes a better experience, Diana certainly did that for her sports.

TB hopes she had a really good experience at Princeton.

He doubts she'll ever live east of the Mississippi - or even east of whatever it is that is on the California state line - again, but he's glad she decided to spend the time here that she did.

It's left her as part of an exclusive group, a group of really great people.

TB has been privileged to work with all of them.


Stacie T. said...

The best of luck to Diana! Congrats on the 10m too!

Anonymous said...

I have never jumped off a 10-meter platform but I have leaped off steep, high rock formations into a lake. My earnest advice: Cross your legs.