Friday, January 26, 2018


Pens down, close your blue books.

Do they still use blue books? Those were a staple of exam-taking backing in TigerBlog's day. Do they still use them? Is everything electronic now?

TB supposes he should know the answer to this.

Ah, the dreaded blue books. They just have been 5.5x8.5, with college ruled lines and blue covers. For TB's exams, they said "University of Pennsylvania" across the front.

The idea was to fill as many of them as possible during the time of the exam. It really didn't matter what you were saying. Just keep filling up space. Multiple blue books were better than one. No argument that could be cogently made in a few sentences was good enough. Keep writing. 

In the end, the people who wrote the most got A's. It trickled down from there.

Well, maybe not exactly. TB, though, is reasonably sure that the thought went through his mind that, while he was pretty happy with his answer, it needed to be longer.

Those blue books are the lasting memory of his time taking finals at Penn. Well, that and the time that he had an astronomy professor who invited the class to his "Gala Final Revue" and proceeded to turn astronomy into a song-and-dance routine. It was very clever.

First semester exams are winding down at Princeton. With the end of exam period comes the return of athletic events, something Princeton has had none of for nearly two full weeks.

Things start slowly this weekend, with a little bit of calmness before the big storm. Then they explode next weekend, as the winter teams will begin their sprint to their finish lines while the spring teams start to practice.

In case you're keeping track of these things, the first Princeton lacrosse games of the year will be three weeks from tomorrow, including a men's home game against Monmouth.

In the meantime, let's compare this weekend with the one after it.

This weekend, Princeton has seven athletic events. The teams who are playing are men's and women's tennis (twice, Sunday at home), men's basketball (home against Rowan Sunday at 1), men's and women's track and field and women's swimming.

That's this weekend. Six teams. Seven events.

Next weekend? There are 36 events between Friday and Sunday. Thirty-six. That's a ton.

Those events will be played by, if TB counted correctly, 15 different teams. There are a lot of Division I schools that don't have 15 teams, let alone 15 who play on the same weekend.

So yeah, it's getting exceptionally busy around here very quickly.

Before it does, TigerBlog did want to mention something that happened here during the down time for exams: Luis Nicolao's farewell luncheon in Jadwin Gym this past Tuesday.

Luis is leaving Princeton after a 20-year run with the men's and women's teams, one that saw him win better than 800 games and go to the NCAA tournament seven times. As TB has said, Luis is one of the most well-liked people ever to walk into Jadwin Gym, and he's also one of the funniest.

Both of those dynamics were clearly on display for his farewell luncheon.

Luis started out by apologizing for his red eyes, since he'd just been in the chlorinated pool. But was that why, or was he actually tearing up as he spoke? He seemed to be, until he used that as a setup for some good punchlines.

And everyone who spoke about Luis talked about the same things, all while making fun of his at the same time. His sense of humor. His laid-back demeanor. His likeability.

Like all good roasts, there were elements of truth in the ribbing, while there was also an element of genuine emotion to go with it. Luis wouldn't want any other kind of sendoff, TB supposes.

What's the word that best describes it?

For TigerBlog, he'd use bittersweet. It's the nature of things, to have people move on from here. Very few people stay for 20 years in the first place, let alone another 20 or so after that. And, TigerBlog presumes, the idea of coaching at his alma mater - Navy - has to be very luring.

Still, Luis will miss Princeton. And Princeton will miss him. He's TB's favorite kind of person - no BS, always steady, never really seeming to take things too seriously while he actually is very intense about what matters, a really strong advocate for his program and a genuine fan of the others.

He's been someone who has been great to have around all these years.

As TB started to walk out of the Jadwin lobby Tuesday, he was stopped by another person who fits the same basic description that TB just gave of Luis. This time, it was former women's track and field coach Peter Farrell, who was here for 20 years and then stayed for 19 more after that, reaching 39 before he left two years ago to travel the world, which seems to be what he's spent his time doing since.

Peter grabbed TB's hand and stopped him as he walked by. Then he summed up the event, and Luis, perfectly, using almost no words to do so.

"That was," he said, "heartfelt."

Yup. Peter was 100 percent correct.

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