Thursday, January 4, 2018

Tom And Luis

TigerBlog was ahead of the game when he referred to Tom Schreiber as the best lacrosse player in the world.

That was back nearly a year ago, when Schreiber was named the Rookie of the Year for the National Lacrosse League, the indoor professional box league that hasn't been kind to American field players through the years.

That award came after he was named the Most Valuable Player of Major League Lacrosse for the first time in 2016 and before he repeated the honor a year ago. For good measure, he also led the Ohio Machine to the MLL championship in 2017.

It's rare that someone can combine the ability to dominate the indoor and outdoor games the way Schreiber does. It's even rarer when that player, like Schreiber, grew up learning and playing the outdoor game first.

TigerBlog knew Schreiber was different long ago. It took about 10 seconds of watching him as a Princeton freshman back in 2011, by which time he'd already had the first goal of his career. He'd go on to put up 200 points out of the Princeton midfield, with 106 goals and 94 assists, and he probably had 100 lefthanded points and 100 righthanded points.

Every time he touched the ball here, he was capable of making something spectacular. He's only gotten better as a pro. In fact, in his most recent game with Toronto, he did this:

So is Schreiber the best player in the world? Well, TigerBlog isn't the only one who thinks that. Apparently his friends at Inside Lacrosse and US Lacrosse Magazine agree, since he currently graces both current covers, both of which declare that Tom Schreiber is, in fact, the best player in the world.

The IL cover is particularly intriguing, in that it has two pictures of Schreiber, one in his Rock uniform and one in his Machine uniform.

HERE's more on how it was done.

Here's the other cover:

TigerBlog can't say enough good things about Schreiber the person as well. Apparently he struggled with the idea of being called the best in the world, which doesn't surprise TigerBlog at all. 

In fact, TB went back and looked up a text message he sent to an alum who asked him what he thought of Schreiber as a person. TB said this: "Imagine someone a lot nicer than the nicest person you've ever met."

TigerBlog could go on all day about Schreiber and was going to, but he'll save that for another time.

For today, he needs to also talk about Luis Nicolao. 

TigerBlog was stunned yesterday by the news that Luis will be leaving Princeton after 20 years to become the head water polo coach at the United States Naval Academy. Luis is a Navy grad, and Navy is the only school he would have gone to other than Princeton.

Luis has coached the Princeton men and women during his time here. He leaves with a record of 844-312, which is a .730 winning percentage. His wins have been almost evenly distributed through both programs, with 402 with the men and 442 with the women.

He has taken both to the NCAA tournament multiple times. To be exact, it's four times with the men and three with the women, and you can also throw in nine Southern Division championships with each as well.

But Luis is much more than a water polo coach.

Luis is, like Schreiber, an extraordinary human being, one who is more than just what you see in an athletic venue. It would be forgivable had Luis gotten lost just in what he needed to do with his two programs, but Luis was never just about water polo.

Yes, he was completely committed to putting the best teams out there that he could, and the results speak for themselves.

It's just that Luis loved being a part of Princeton. The community. He was a regular at as many other events as he could attend. He's a big picture guy. He's engaging and funny and considerate and, you know, just the kind of person you want to be around day after day.

Want to see a great picture?
That's Jon Kurian (the guy who never heard of "On the Waterfront") with Santa at one of the Department of Athletics Christmas parties. Santa?

That's Luis.

He was Santa then, and he was Santa this year. He's always Santa.

TigerBlog once had a conversation with two people about whether or not their young daughter still believed in Santa Claus. The father said something along the lines of "I doubt it."The mother said something along the lines of "I hope so. I still believe in Santa."

The little girl, by the way, is now 24 years old.

Anyway, maybe you want to believe in Santa. Maybe you're way too old to think that there's a guy out there on a sled driven by eight reindeer who brings presents to all the nice children on Christmas Eve.

But maybe you can believe in a Santa who makes the world a bit of a better place. That's how TigerBlog always looked at Luis Nicolao.

For the last 20 years, he made Princeton a bit of a better place to be. And now he's leaving, and while TigerBlog wishes him luck at the Academy, he knows that he will also miss him.

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