Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Winning Women

The last four Ivy League championships of the 2015-16 academic year were handed out this past Sunday.

Princeton won baseball and open rowing. Yale won men's lightweight and heavyweight rowing.

And with those, all 33 Ivy League titles for the academic year of 2015-16 had been awarded. As TigerBlog mentioned yesterday, it was a seriously good year for Princeton Athletics.

The collective Tigers won 14 Ivy championships, which matches the second-best total in league history.

There have been six times in the history of the Ivy League that a school has won at least 14 Ivy titles in an academic year. Harvard has done it twice, with 14 both times (2004-05, 2013-14), and this is the fourth time Princeton has done it.

The 2010-11 Tigers won a league-record 15 Ivy League championships. The 1999-2000 and 2000-01 Princeton teams won 14 each, and now the 2015-16 academic year joins that list.

This is also the 23rd time that Princeton has reached double figures in Ivy League championships in an academic year. The only other school to win at least 10 Ivy titles in an academic year is Harvard; the Crimson have done it nine times, including this year, with 10.

The competition Sunday also ended Ivy League unofficial all-sports points championship for this year. Princeton won for the 29th time in 30 years, with 208 points to 185.5 for second-place Harvard.

Schools earn points based on their finish in Ivy standings, with eight for first, seven for second, and so on. If fewer than eight schools have a sport, then the winner still gets eight points. Also, if there is a tie, then those points are split. In other words, if two teams tie for third, then they both get 5.5 in that sport.

The Ivy League has 33 official sports that compete for a league title. There are 17 for men and 16 for women.

There are two men's rowing championships (heavyweight and lightweight) and only one women's (open), which explains the difference in the total number of titles available. Women compete in field hockey and men compete in football. Ivy has a champion in women's volleyball but not men's volleyball. Men have wrestling. Every other sport has a men's champion and a women's champion.

Princeton's 2015-16 academic year might have been one off the overall record, but it was historic in one sense. Princeton's women's teams combined for 10 of the 14 championships, marking the first time in Ivy League history that one school has reached double figures in one gender.

The year started with another first - Princeton swept the four Ivy League titles for women, which was the first time in league history that a team had won all of the championships available for one gender.

Even beyond the 10 championships, Princeton had no women's team all year who finished in the bottom half of the league in any sport. That too is incredible.

Princeton had 10 Ivy League women's champions and three more who finished second. There were two third-place finishes and one fourth-place finish.

And the team that finished in fourth was women's indoor track and field, and the Tigers won cross country and bounced back to finish second outdoors.

Of the three teams who finished second, two of them - women's swimming and diving and women's basketball - won a year ago.

Princeton has long had a serious commitment to women's athletics. It dates back basically to the earliest days of women at Princeton, back to the early 1970s.

Those pioneers of women's athletics here really set the stage for all of the success that has followed. TigerBlog has met many of them and heard them tell the stories of what it was like when women - and women's athletics - were so new to Princeton.

They were, for instance, called "girls," and not "women." They had substandard practice equipment and access to facilities only when the men weren't using them.

Athletic medicine? Strength and conditioning? Marketing and communications? The women were given the scraps.

Despite that women's athletics here grew quickly. And it was because of those earliest women athletes, and the coaches and administrators who believed in them and encouraged them.

By the 1979-80 season, the Ivy League awarded 13 championships for women - and Princeton won five of them.

Today Princeton is a model for women's athletics, and for an institutional commitment to equity and excellence. And it shows.

Clearly, the results speak for themselves. It's not easy to do what has just been done.

TigerBlog has long been in awe of the success of Princeton's women's athletes.

This year, that's more true that ever.

1 comment:

Merc said...

What is the undergraduate enrollment of the Ivy League universities? Princeton's success may sparkle more when the numbers of students are compared.