Thursday, December 21, 2017

Miss TigerBlog ’22

TigerBlog isn't sure specifically what year it was - sometime in the early 1990s - when he sat in the old press section at Jadwin before a Princeton-Penn game and had a conversation with Chuck Yrigoyen.
Chuck was the communications director at the Ivy League at the time. TigerBlog was still in the newspaper business. The game was between his alma mater and a team he'd only recently started to cover. The rivalry was at one of its more intense places at that point.

Chuck - as nice a guy as you'll ever meet, by the way - came up to TigerBlog and asked which he was rooting for that night. As a reporter, he technically wasn't supposed to be rooting for either team.

"Princeton," he said, without hesitation.

He was, too. Even early on, he was hooked on the school. Yes, he'd gone to Penn, and yes, as he's said often, he had a great experience there.

It's just that even back then, 25 or so years ago, he knew that there was something different, something unique, something very special about Princeton University.

Nothing that's happened to him since has changed his opinion of the school. He's spent much of his adult life on the campus, and he's gotten to meet so many incredible people here, some of the very best people he's ever seen.

It's more than just that, though. His friend Charlie called the other day. Charlie was his roommate TB's senior year at Penn, and they've stayed close ever since. Charlie is also one of the very best people TB has ever met.

It's just that Penn never bred in TB the kind of loyalty that Princeton does. TB has told you this before, several times. It's true, though.

There's just something different about Princeton. It pulls you in when you're 18 or so, and it holds onto you for the rest of your life. It's a life-changing experience for the very, very few who are fortunate to attend.

That's why last Wednesday was so stressful.

Miss TigerBlog, back in her Little Miss TigerBlog days, seemed like she was an average student, until fourth grade, or maybe third grade. One of those.

That's when, at parent-teacher conferences, her teacher suggested that she needed to get her eyes checked. She said she noticed that MTB did better when she sat closer to the blackboard, and that led her to think there might be something wrong with her eyes.

As it turned out, she was right. Since then, MTB has never been without her glasses or contacts, and once she had them, she became overnight a different student.

There was the summer where she read most of the Harry Potter books. There was middle school, where it became really apparent that she excelled academically. And there have been the last four years, her high school years, where she has taken her academic record up several levels.

She is intense about it. She is hard-working. She is successful. She is also well-rounded, with a strong sense of community.

And so there she was too, last Wednesday, waiting on the response she was going to get from the Princeton Office of Admissions. She had applied Early Action here, and an email came saying that decisions would be announced at 3 p.m.

At 2:36, MTB texted "24 minutes and counting."

TB was nervous, he has to admit. He knew what the prize was. He wanted his daughter to experience a Princeton education, because he has seen up close for so long what it means to those who have had that experience.

Time crawled all day. It crawled even more for the last 24 minutes. Finally, it was 3, and TB logged on, from, of all places, Jadwin Gym. Then he clicked on the link. Then he saw one word in big letters - "CONGRATULATIONS."

Then he called MTB, who had just logged on herself. All TB heard was her screaming. He's pretty sure it was "I got in. I got in."

TigerBlog saw a story the next day that said that within one hour of admissions decisions that 40 kids had accepted. MTB wasn't one of them. She didn't accept until a few days later.

This makes her, of course, Miss TigerBlog ’22.

Her father is pretty sure that he won't be seeing her too much while she's here. He asked her if she was going to mention at the football games that it was her father as the PA announcer, and she laughed and said "never."

TigerBlog Jr. texted a picture of him and his sister congratulating her and saying that he was willing to admit that she was the smarter one. When he saw her, he did try to include that he was the better looking one. She gave him the same look she gave her father.

She also asked her father if he would get her a Princeton sweatshirt. He said "sure, go up to your room. There are three in there."

MTB, of course, has spent a lot of time on the Princeton campus already. She went to nursery school there. She went to summer camp there. She's been to basically every athletic venue. She's been to McCarter Theater.

Back in 2006, when she was six years old, she even had her first broken bone there. It came when she ran into a chain link fence outside of Nassau Hall, during the 2006 bonfire, breaking her collarbone.

MTB wrote about all of these experiences in the essay on her application. At the end, she mentioned that she'd spent so much time there as a kid that she sort of took the place for granted. It wasn't until later that she realized how different it was, how special it was, and what an amazing opportunity it would be to be able to attend.

Most people who know TB would describe him as even-keeled, fairly emotionless. He has to admit that this has made him quite the opposite. Even now, a week later, he still looks at the "CONGRATULATIONS" email every now and then, just to make sure it's real.

When MTB was in elementary school, she and her father went to the annual Father/Daughter dances. One year, there was a sports theme, and each father and daughter were supposed to wear the jerseys of their favorite teams.

TB found the picture of the two of them the other day. Here it is:

They wore Princeton stuff. TB is pretty sure that the jersey MTB is wearing is the No. 13.

Here she is now:

As in, Princeton Class of 2022. Just writing the words makes TB proud.

He can't wait for her to be here, to be embraced by this University, this special place that he has seen up close for so long and yet from now on will look at a little differently.

MTB ’22.

It sounds so good, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

TB P'22 doesn't sound too bad, either. Congrats.

Sometimes it's not a bad thing when you owe your soul to the company store!

Anonymous said...

As I was reading this post, I was slowly getting more and more nervous myself. Although I realized early in your essay that the title strongly suggested MTB would get into Princeton, it still felt like watching a movie in which you know that the main protagonist can't possibly be killed, but you're still nervous when he or she is in a moment of danger.

Congratulations, TB, to you and your daughter. Mazeltov.