Monday, June 5, 2017

A Ride Around Reunions

So TigerBlog figured he'd try to get a jump on Friday's banquet recap entry by writing some of it advance, during the day.

As it turned out, it was a bad idea, since he didn't use a word of it when he finally sat down to write post-banquet. Well, maybe not a terrible idea, since he figured he would use some of it this week.

His premise was where the women's athletic class of 2017 ranked all-time among Princeton's top female athletes. This is part of what he wrote:

If you want to say Caroline Lind is the greatest female athlete in Princeton history, you can definitely make the case. If you want to say it's Rachael Becker, you can make that case too.

Hey, he used it.

By the way, TigerBlog finds himself writing things that he doesn't use more and more these days. Maybe it's because he's more willing to trade off deleting a few hundred words that don't say exactly what he wants to say than he was before. Why is that?

Anyway, the point is that TigerBlog would put Rachael Becker up there with any female athlete who has ever played at Princeton. She won seven Ivy League championships between field hockey and lacrosse, and she remains the only Princeton lacrosse player, male or female, ever to win the Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation's top player.

Becker was a three-time first-team All-America in lacrosse, and she was the cornerstone of Princeton's 2002 and 2003 NCAA championship teams.

She won the Tewaaraton despite playing defense, something that no other men's or women's player has ever done.

TigerBlog thought of the irony of that as he saw Becker play defense Saturday afternoon on Sherrerd Field. Was this a game? No, she was chasing down her four children - and no, none of them had any more success in getting past her than her opponents did back when she was a player.

The occasion was a Reunions reception for men's and women's lacrosse and field hockey. There were familiar faces everywhere in the large crowd, for all three sports.

TigerBlog wrote this Friday (after the banquet, not before):
It breezes by, four years at Princeton. They go from names on a recruit release to the Grad College a few days before graduation in the blink of an eye.

And that's true for the undergrads.

The alums? That's a whole different story.

TigerBlog has heard coaches and athletes talk about Princeton in terms of the four years the athlete are there and then the 40 (and more) years that follow. If those four years to compete move quickly, they only start the clock on a lifetime of being a Princeton alum.

With all due respect to every other college on the planet, including TigerBlog's own alma mater, there can't be another school that engages its alumni the way Princeton does. And there can't be another alumni group that celebrates like Princeton.

If you take the whole Reunions event for granted because you're a Princetonian, then don't. It's something really special, and something really unique about the school.

TigerBlog wanted to stop by the lacrosse/field hockey reception. He didn't want to mess around with the parking, so he brought his bicycle, parked by the empty Grad College, and rode over to Class of 1952 Stadium.

Along the way, he saw all of the pageantry of Reunions, with the crowds, the jackets, the families and little kids, the orange and black everywhere.

For a Penn guy, it's pretty impressive.

TigerBlog didn't have a wristband, so he missed out on most of the festivities, mostly the Duran Duran concert Saturday night. He would have loved to have been there for that.

He did pedal from the lacrosse/field hockey reception to see one of his favorite events, the P-Rade.

The 25th reunion class was the Class of 1992, which was near the front of the line. TigerBlog was there to see the men's lacrosse alums, who marched with the NCAA championship trophy they'd won 25 years earlier.

About the same time that the lacrosse reception was beginning, the Class of 1967 was taking its annual class picture. At the same time, the class awarded an honorary varsity letter to Sam Isaly.

If you've been to a Princeton basketball game at Jadwin in the last few decades, you've probably seen Sam Isaly. He's there in a wheelchair, the result of a broken neck he suffered back when was a high school senior, back in 1962.

Sam went to the Western Reserve Academy prep school in Hudson, Ohio, where he played football and wrestling. He needed a year of recovery from his injury before he could attend Princeton, and he graduated in 1967, going from there to the London School of Economics to a long and highly career in the medical investing field.
And there he was, getting his letter presented to him by Gary Walters, also of the Class of 1967. Gary raves about Sam Isaly, about how he succeeded at Princeton, about his attitude, about how he never once felt sorry for himself.

And now, 50 years later, he was rewarded with the letter he surely would have won all those years ago.

It was just another special Reunions moment.

So was something else, something small, that happened back at the lacrosse event.

With all of the former players TB saw in a short time, one of his favorite moments was when he got to say hi to Trent Magruder, who had been a Daily Princetonian writer before he graduated in 2008. His very-identical twin Evan had been a back-up goalie for the lacrosse team. TigerBlog liked both of them very much when they were undergrads.

TigerBlog doesn't think he's seen either of them since shortly after graduation, on the team's trip to Spain and Ireland. There they were, though.

Evan is a law school grad. Trent? He is a surgical resident at Johns Hopkins. And there, a few feet away, was Justin Tortolani, who graduated as the all-time leading scorer for the men's lacrosse team with 120 goals, a figure that has been bettered just four times since.

Justin, in addition to being a former All-America, is a surgeon in Baltimore as well. TigerBlog introduced Trent to Justin, resident to surgeon. Justin told Trent to stay in touch.

That's how Princeton works, people.

Once you're one of them, you're one of them forever.

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