Thursday, May 17, 2018

A TImeline, Of Sorts

To Bart Kalkstein, a loyal TigerBlog reader, yes, the Office of Athletic Communications has been relocated to E level of Jadwin Gym.

Bart left a comment yesterday after TB wrote he now works 50 feet from the tennis courts on E level that asked if those 50 feet were vertical. No, they're not.

The OAC, which spent somewhere around 45 years on the balcony level, has been downstairs for more than two years now. It's a great space, next to the wrestling room, and it comes with the added bonus of including Brian Fitzwater, the world's most laid-back IT guy ever. Having Fitz there is good for 1) getting premiere service for computer needs, and 2) laughs.

There are no windows in the OAC though. On many days, TigerBlog won't see the light of day from the time he arrives until it's time to leave. He's gotten used to it.

When TB went upstairs yesterday around 1, he saw a three-on-three basketball game that was just breaking up. He asked Fiona McKenna, who graduated last year after playing women's hockey and who now is working for the Princeton Varsity Club, if she was any good at basketball, and she replied with one word: "no."

Brad Pottieger, who works in Room 1 of Jadwin, chimed in that Fiona had scored five of the seven points in the last game, so perhaps she was selling herself short.

It's been awhile since TigerBlog played lunchtime basketball, but he's still played more than most of the people who play these days. Every day the email comes from Cody Osgood of the business office to ask who is in, and that's the email list that TigerBlog actually started and the email that he used to send out, before John Mack took it over and before Mack passed it off to Jon Kurian, who then sent it to Cody.

TigerBlog used to keep a list of people he'd played with during lunchtime basketball at least once. It was a really long list, one that stretched out past 200 names.

It included people like Pete Carril, Bill Carmody, John Thompson and Joe Scott, all of whom would be Princeton head men's basketball coaches. It featured an ex-NBA player - Armond Hill - and an ex-NFL player - the guy who was the assistant football coach whose name TB can't remember right now.

There were athletic communications people. There were administrators (TB can think of at least seven people who played who went on to become either athletic directors or conference commissioners). There were athletic trainers. There were assistant coaches. There were even people from the other side of campus who just happened to wander in one day and just kept coming back, like this one guy named James who had some connection to the psychology department and who called way too many fouls, including the rarely-seen-in-pickup-basketball call of a charge.

Why bring all this up now?

Well, two reasons.

First, it's because he was thinking about basketball after Courtney Banghart texted him to tell him that Blake Dietrick had made the roster of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream.

Dietrick, of course, is one of the all-time greats of Princeton women's basketball. She was the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year after leading Princeton to a 31-1 record and the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

Getting to the WNBA is quite an achievement.

And second, he was thinking about what it means to work in one place for a long time, something he thought about when he saw the story about the Harvard men's tennis coach, Dave Fish, who is retiring after 42 years with the Crimson.

As near as TB can figure, Princeton has never had a coach who went 42 years, though it has one now (Fred Samara) who is finishing Year No. 41.

Mostly, though, that story got TB to thinking about what it means to spend your entire career in one place. First, it's not for everyone. There are people who come and go each year, either to get out of the college athletics business all together or to go someplace else.

The ones who stay do so because they buy into the school and its values and love the opportunity to be a part of it and to represent it. That's what's kept TigerBlog here all this time.

When he saw the story about Coach Fish, it made him wonder how many people at Harvard he'd worked with in that time. Or how many people Fred Samara has worked with here.

Or how many TB has, for that matter. It's a lot. But it's also an actual number out there. TB wonders what it is.

The list of people he's played basketball with alone is huge.

They're not just names on a spreadsheet though. They're a timeline, of sorts, a timeline of the decades spent working here.

And the ones who have helped make it special.

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