Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Reading

August, as always seems to be the case, has flown by, and the calendar today turns to September.

By the time September ends, all kinds of things will have happened around Princeton Athletics.

There were two athletic events played in August, both by the women's soccer team. There will be 66 Princeton events played in the month of September.

Among the highlights of the month will be three games on ESPNU, beginning with Thursday's women's soccer game against Rutgers. That game is at 5, by the way.

There will also be men's water polo against Pacific on the 13th at noon and then men's soccer against American on the 29th.

There will also be two football games in September. The opener is the 19th, at Lafayette. Kickoff for that one is 6.

If you live in Princeton, it's definitely worth the trip to Easton. It's basically an hour to the Lafayette campus, and it's a great place to see game, especially an opening game.

If you're going to be outside of Philly on the 20th, stop by Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. That's where Princeton will play Chestnut Hill in the sprint football opener - the season-opener for the Tigers and the program opener for CHC.

This weekend figures to be a good one for field hockey on Bedford Field, with North Carolina (Friday at 4) and Virginia (Sunday at 1) come to town. The women's volleyball team is home only once in September, but it is a big one, as Penn comes to Dillon on the 25th.

The high temperature for today in Princeton will be in the low 90s. The high temperature a month from today in Princeton on average is 73.

It is very much summer today. It will be the early days of autumn a month from today, when day after day after day will have nearly perfect weather.

Before TigerBlog turns the page on August for good, he would like to talk about two page-turners he went through last month. August was a two-book month for TigerBlog.

First he read "The Boys In The Boat," the story of the 1936 Olympic champion U.S. men's eight crew. The title characters were all members of the University of Washington's national championship crew earlier that year, and several of them rowed for four years in college and never lost a race.

The book is a fascinating study of what life was like for the rowers, especially the one around whom the book is centered, a rower named Joe Rantz. They became teenagers and attended college during the Great Depression, and just piecing together enough money to attend college - and eat - was a struggle for most of them.

At the same time, the book also contrasts what the Washington rowers went through with what was going on with the rise of Nazi Germany at the same time. It ends with a great description of the gold medal race, a larger message about what it took to bring down Nazi Germany and then a rundown of what happened to each rower for the rest of their lives.

An alternate in the boat, by the way, was a man named Dutch Schoch. After graduating from Washington and attending the Olympic Games as an alternate, Schoch came to Princeton to coach, and he was the men's heavyweight coach from 1946-65. He was also the head golf coach from 1966-70.

"The Boys In The Boat" is a great story, one that almost reads like fiction, the story is so good. TB really liked this book.

He loved the other book he read. This one was called "The Founding Fish," written by John McPhee, who in addition to his writing and teaching career is also the Academic Athletic Fellow for the men's lacrosse team.

In that respect, TigerBlog might not be the most objective person to talk about McPhee's books. TB has read a number of them, and he loves all of them.

McPhee, of course, came to prominence with his New Yorker article and later book "A Sense of Where You Are," which profiled Bill Bradley. He has written nearly 30 books, all non-fiction, all fascinating.

"The Founding Fish" might be TB's favorite. The book is the story of the American shad, and the title refers to the legend that the American shad saved the young republic when the spring migration up the Schuylkill River fed George Washington's troops at Valley Forge, re-energizing the Continental Army.

The book is a bit scientific at times, but there's just something really special about the way Mr. McPhee writes that makes it more of a story than a textbook. Maybe it's because of the way TigerBlog knows him that enables him to relate to the storytelling, as he's heard them first-hand many times.

Either way, the book taught TB all kinds of things about the American shad and fishing in general. It also made him laugh out loud on many occasions.

The last chapter was the best, as Mr. McPhee raised questions about the moral implications of fishing. TigerBlog did not envision that coming as he read.

TB can't imagine how many fish John McPhee has caught in his life. TigerBlog has never caught a fish. He's been fishing, but he's never caught a fish.

After reading "The Founding Fish," he feels like he has.

Anyway, those were TB's two books for August. They're both worth your time.

And now it's September. It'll be a busy month for Princeton Athletics.

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