Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Gold For Kareem

TigerBlog got an email yesterday with a take on his trivia question from yesterday.

If you recall, TB pointed out that there are two Princetonians who have won NCAA championships and Olympic gold medals - Caroline Lind in rowing and Jed Graef in swimming. TB also mentioned that Graef won his gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Games, the same ones where Bill Bradley won gold in men's basketball.

And then this was the question:
Since you seem to like this kind of stuff, here's one for you. Who was the third Princetonian honored for winning gold at the '64 Olympics besides Jed Graef and Bill Bradley? Hint: It's sort of a trick question.

TB emailed back looking for the answer, but he hasn't found it out yet. It's an outstanding question.

TB used to have a poster from the Tokyo Olympics that was signed by all of the Princetonians who were there. In all, there were five Princeton athletes at those Games: Graef, Bradley, John Allis (three-time Olympian in cycling), Frang Anger (fencing) and Seymore Cromwell (silver medal in double sculls).

The poster that TB had was also autographed by the U.S. team doctor, Harry McPhee, the longtime Princeton doctor whose son happens to be John McPhee. TB gave the poster to John a long time ago.

So what was the answer?

The summer continues to roll along, and it won't be long before Princeton's fall teams return to campus and begin practice and eventually games. It's all just a few weeks away.

In the meantime, this continues to be a big-time summer for Princetonians who continue to compete internationally.

So far this summer, Princeton has had current athletes and alums achieve great success in sports like volleyball, water polo, basketball, field hockey, fencing, rowing and hockey. If TB has missed anyone, he apologizes.

This past weekend Princeton rowers earned five medals at the World U-23 Championships, held in Sarasota, Florida. Interestingly, they represented four different countries - the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland and Norway.

You can read about Princeton's performance in Florida HERE.

Princeton is also well-represented at the current Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. In fact, the Tigers produced a gold medal already.

Kareem Maddox, a 2011 graduate, helped the U.S. team to the men's basketball 3x3 championship. The Americans went 2-3 in the preliminary rounds but came back to beat two of the teams it lost to as it won the gold.

The U.S. lost to Brazil by one and Argentina and Puerto Rico by two points each. Once in the semifinal, the U.S. bounced back to beat Brazil 21-12 as Maddox scored five. He had four more in the 21-19 win over Puerto Rico in the final. He shot 5 for 6 from the field in those two games.

TB didn't see the games, but he figures you can add in some pretty good defense as well. Maddox was always a great defender and in fact was the 2011 Ivy Defensive Player of the Year.

The sport of 3x3 basketball will be in the Olympics next year.

In addition to Maddox, Princeton is also represented by, among others, Kathleen Sharkey in field hockey. The U.S. team captain did not score in her team's first game Monday, but then again her team didn't need her to, as the Americans defeated Mexico 5-0.

Day 1 was a day of blowouts, as the four winning teams - the U.S., Argentina, Canada and Chile - won by a combined 30-0.

In yesterday's field hockey results, it was the U.S. men 16, Peru 0. Yikes.

For today, the women play their second game, this time against Chile at noon in Peru (1 Eastern time).

The Pan Am Games have a great website for results in all sports. You can see it HERE.

Congratulations to Kareem Maddox on the gold medal.

Will it be Princeton's only one of these games? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The NCAA Title/Olympic Gold Double

Trivia question - who are the only two Princeton athletes who have ever won an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal?

That's a good one, right? Before TB gives you the answer, a little background on how he came to ask the question. 

TigerBlog mentioned yesterday that he would put Kathleen Sharkey into the conversation of the greatest women athletes Princeton has ever produced.

He should have actually defined what he means by that.

First, he's only considering athletes who have completed their Princeton undergraduate careers. Second, there's an element to it of how you did, either professionally or internationally or both, that he's counting as part of the overall resume.

Actually, it's a bit different than the standard he has on the men's side. There, he would consider Hobey Baker, Dick Kazmaier and Bill Bradley the three greatest male athletes, and yet only one those three - Bradley - competed beyond Princeton in any meaningful way.

Who is the most accomplished Princeton men's athlete outside of Princeton?

It's without question Bradley. He was the 1964 Sullivan Award winner as the nation's top amateur athlete, after being the captain of the U.S. Olympic Team that won the gold medal.

He then went on to a long NBA career that included a pair of championships with the New York Knicks, in 1970 and 1973, which just happen to be the two most recent titles the franchise has won. Bradley was an obvious selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But he didn't win an NCAA title. And that got TB thinking back to the question he started with today.

Who are the only two Princeton athletes ever to pull off the NCAA title/Olympic gold double? 

Princeton has had 13 alums who have won Olympic gold medals. Of that group, only two also won NCAA championships as undergrads.

Those two?

Caroline Lind, who was in the first Varsity 8 boat in 2006 that won the NCAA title and then won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012.

The other was Jed Graef, the 1964 NCAA champion in the 200 backstroke who then won a gold medal in the same event in Tokyo, the same Olympic Games where Bradley won gold in basketball.

That's a pretty exclusive list. And you can see why. An NCAA title and an Olympic gold medal. That's quite a trophy case.

On the other hand, there are others who had no real chance to pull off that double but who are still well up among Princeton's most accomplished athletes. For instance, Chris Ahrens won a national championship in men's heavyweight rowing in 1998, but that is not technically an NCAA sport. Ahrens then added a gold medal in 2004 in Athens.

Or several lacrosse players. Well, not several. But three - David Morrow, Ryan Boyle and Tom Schreiber, all of whom won World Championships and the latter two of whom won professional championships in Major League Lacrosse, a league that the first one on the list helped make a reality.

It won't be long, TB believes, until you can add the name Bella Alarie to the list on the women's side. She's already put her name into the Princeton women's basketball record books and done something that no other player other than Bradley has done at Princeton, and that's score at least 40 points in a game (something she did twice last year).

Alarie already has international experience, and she'll be having more of it next week, when she plays for the United States team at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

In fact, the U.S. women begin playing a week from today, when pool play begins. The Americans are in Pool B, along with Argentina, Colombia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The other pool features Brazil, Canada and Puerto Rico.

TB confesses that he knows little about who the main contenders are, but his sense is that the U.S. has a chance to do well. You can see the whole schedule HERE.

There are 12 players on the U.S. team. It's made up of Alarie and 11 Power Five Conference players. The roster is HERE.

Anyway, once again the answer to the question is Jed Graef in swimming and Caroline Lind in rowing.

Alarie doesn't have a realistic chance at an NCAA title, so she's unlikely to join that list. Come back in a few years, though, and TB senses that between her international and soon-to-be professional careers, she'll have made quite a compelling case of her own.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Flag Bearer

TigerBlog was not shocked by the news Friday that the U.S. had won the women's water polo World Championship and even less shocked to see that Ashleigh Johnson was the MVP of the tournament.

Johnson, of course, is the 2017 Princeton grad who led the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The U.S. team defeated Spain in the final 11-6, outscoring the Spaniards 6-0 in the third quarter. Johnson made 14 saves in the game.

(Johnson was not one of the three American women's water polo players hurt in the collapse of the upper floor of a Seoul night club after the championship game, an accident that tragically killed two South Koreans).

TigerBlog has said this a million times, but if you've never seen Johnson play, you've missed out on someone incredibly special. In fact, TB wrote this about Johnson before the tournament began:

If you ever saw her play, you can understand why. A goalie, she seems not so much to float on the water as she does to use the water as if it was her own launching pad, reaching shots in the upper corners that seem impossible. Think about it. You're treading water. The pool is deep. You can't touch the bottom. And then you have to explode out of the pool to try to stop a shot that is rocketing at you.
TigerBlog has long maintained that Johnson is the best women's athlete Princeton has produced, edging out NCAA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Caroline Lind.

Another name that needs to be added to the conversation is Kathleen Sharkey, the field hockey player.

Like Lind, Sharkey also has an NCAA championship on her resume, won in 2012. Also like Lind and Johnson, she has put together a very accomplished international career, and she is now an eight-year veteran of the U.S. national team.

Sharkey made her debut at the Olympics in 2016, where she helped the U.S. to a fifth-place finish. She is now she is the captain of the U.S. team for the Pan Am Games, which began this weekend in Lima, Peru.

More than just playing for the U.S., Sharkey is the team captain. And beyond just field hockey, she was the flag bearer for the U.S. team at the opening ceremonies.

By the way, she is the first field hockey player to be the flag bearer for the U.S. team at the Pan Am Games, but she is not the first Princetonian. That honor went to Karen Smyers, who did so in 1999, when she won her second-straight triathlon gold medal.

As for Sharkey, she was the 2009 Ivy Rookie of the Year and the 2010 and 2012 Ivy Player of the Year. She finished her Princeton career with 107 goals and 245 points, both records.

By a large margin, in fact.

The second-best goal total in program history is 71, shared by Ilvy Friebe and Kirsty Hale. That's about two-thirds of the way to Sharkey's total. Actually, it's 66.3 percent of the way for Friebe and Hale.

How does that compare to the percentage difference between Bill Bradley (the standard for all Princeton records) and the second-best men's basketball point total at Princeton. Bradley scored 2,503 career points, while Ian Hummer is second with 1,625, which means that Hummer had 64.9 percent as many points as Bradley.

That's pretty impressive.

The Pan Am Games field hockey tournament is an Olympic qualifier for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. The Americans have won the last two Pan Am championships, but only one current player - not Sharkey - played in the last one.

The 2019 Pan Am Games could end with a third-straight final between the U.S. and Argentina. The Americans are ranked 13th in the world, while Argentina is ranked third.

The U.S. team opens pool play this afternoon against Mexico. Lima, by the way, is an hour behind Princeton. The Americans will also play Chile and Peru before the quarterfinals Aug. 4.

There will be no videostreaming of the event except for the semifinals (Aug. 6) and final (Aug. 9). The winner of the tournament automatically advances to the Olympics.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Five Weeks To Go

So yesterday TigerBlog wrote about the 1930 Princeton-Yale football game after he found a ticket to the game at Palmer Stadium on his desk.

While there's still no update as to who put it there, there appears to be an update on one of TB's other questions about the game. What was the attendance?

The answer came from loyal reader Steven Feldman, Class of 1968:
According to the November 17, 1930 Daily Princetonian article about the game, 60,000 people attended the game. The capacity of Palmer Stadium was close to 50,000 so I am not sure how 60,000 people attended or how the newspaper decided on the 60,000 figure, but the game must have been a complete sellout. 

And there's the answer.

There were 60,000 people at Palmer Stadium that day to see a 1-4-1 Princeton team play a 4-1-2 Yale team. The Bulldogs followed up that game a week later by losing to Harvard 13-0; earlier that year Yale lost 18-14 to Georgia. 

The game against Georgia was played at the Yale Bowl. In fact, the only game Yale played that year that wasn't at home was the one at Princeton. 

TB's last question about the game, by the way, was what the weather was.

His colleague Greg Paczkowski once emailed him a link to a site where you can look up the weather from any day you'd like, but he can't find it. When he went back to all his old emails from Greg, he did find something weather related that was fairly fascinating as well.

It was a picture of snow removal from Sherrerd Field from March 2018.

That's a pretty setting, no? 

It was a Wednesday night. Three days later, Princeton played Rutgers on that same field in a men's lacrosse game. 

This is what the field looked like for the game:

That was a pretty good job by the grounds crew and facilities staff. Princeton won 15-14 in overtime, as an aside. 

The player pictured is rising junior longstick midfielder Andrew Song. TB put the video of Song's first career goal, in 2018 at Virginia, on Instagram yesterday. Song will bring five goals into his junior year. You can add "career goals by a longstick" to the list of things that TB wished he could easily look up, but he doesn't have anyway to do it.

The forecast this weekend isn't quite like last weekend's, when it was right around 100 degrees in the Princeton area, but it also does not have snow in it. 

This is the final weekend of July, which means a few things on the Princeton Athletics calendar.

First, the only month of the year with no Princeton sporting events is almost over. There are events in all 11 others, even if there's just one in August and very few in June.

Second, speaking of August, it rolls around in six days. That means that the first athletic event of the 2019-20 academic year will be five weeks from today, a women's soccer game at St. Joe's.

While on the subject of the calendar, the Princeton academic calendar changes after this year, with first semester exams to move before the Christmas break. This undoubtedly will have an impact on the athletic scheduling as well.

TigerBlog saw something that indicated that the Opening Ceremonies for the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held one year from this past Thursday. Those Games will be in Tokyo. 

TB is already looking forward to them. How will they be televised? Live swimming at 8 am local time to be on in primetime here? 

As for the rest of this week, what else is there? It's a Friday in the summer. The weather this weekend is supposed to be perfect. 

Hopefully everyone finds something fun to do. Summer things. 

Fall will be here soon enough. The snow can wait. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Section 19, Row 17, Seat 33

TigerBlog would like to say "thank you" to the person who left the old Princeton football ticket on his desk, though he has no idea who it was.

Whoever put it there either 1) knew TB would really like it or 2) was just trying to get rid of it. Either way, TB is glad he has it.

The ticket is from the 1930 Princeton-Yale game. How much did it cost?


Here, see for yourself:

The first thing TB did, of course, was to look up how much $5 in 1930 would be today. The answer is $73.

Fast forwarding to 2019, you can buy season tickets for Princeton's five home games for way less than $73. Not $73 per game. No, way less than $73 for the entire five-game season package.

In fact, if you're interested, season tickets cost $55 for the general public and $40 for faculty and staff or children 12 and under. You can buy them HERE.

The ticket from 1930 took TB down a lot of different paths.

First, who set the prices in 1930, and how did they come up with $5? What did other tickets cost back then? Was $5 a lot?

TB also wishes he had a way of looking up what the attendance was that day. And what does the "Group 11" on the ticket mean? Or is that "Group II?"

Beyond that, there was the actual football part.

The 1930 Princeton-Yale game was the last that season. Yale would win 10-7, ending a 1-5-1 year for the Tigers.

There are two fairly interesting facts that TB figured out from that game.

First, the seven points that Princeton scored brought the entire season total to 46 points. The 2018 Princeton Tigers averaged 47 per game.

Princeton's lone win in 1930, by the way, was in the season-opener against Amherst, a 23-0 victory. It was the only game that year in which Princeton reached double figures, and in fact those 23 points were exactly half of the total number the team would score all season.

The other thing about that 1930 game is that it was the final one at Princeton for head coach Bill Roper.

His full name, by the way, was William Winston Roper. TB knows this because the award for the top senior male athlete at Princeton is the William Winston Roper Trophy, and it's been awarded every year since 1936, or three years after Roper's death at the age of 53.

Roper had an interesting tenure at Princeton, or is that three tenures?

Roper, a member of the Princeton Class of 1902, became the head basketball coach at Princeton immediately after graduation before leaving to be the head coach in football at VMI. After two years there, he became the head football coach at Princeton in 1906.

That year, 1906, was as big a year as college football has ever had. It was in 1906 that then-President Theodore Roosevelt brought representatives of the major football powers of the day to the White House because of how dangerous the sport had become, with terrible injuries and even deaths during games somewhat routine prior to that.

It was out of that first meeting that the rules were changed and the NCAA was born. In fact, for years before the organization moved to Indianapolis, the last four numbers of the NCAA's phone number were "1906."

Roper would coach Princeton from 1906-08 before spending a year as the head coach at Missouri. Then he came back to Princeton for two more years - coaching Hobey Baker and the rest of the team to the national championship in 1911, one of four he'd win at Princeton - before coaching football at Swarthmore in 1915 and 1916.

In 1912 he left coaching when President Woodrow Wilson, also a Princeton grad, appointed him to the position of appraiser at the Port of Philadelphia. At least that's what his Wikipedia page says. 

Anyway, he came back to Princeton in 1919 and stayed through the end of 1930.

Even with the loss to Yale, Roper still won 89 games as Princeton's head coach, which to this day is the most of any of the 22 head football coaches the program has had. Roper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Just think, TB got all that from an old football ticket.

And he doesn't even know who was responsible for it.

Whoever you are, thanks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wolf Man

Erik Peters saw 436 shots as Princeton's men's lacrosse goalie this past spring, not to mention several thousand others in practice.

Perhaps that is the best possible training for going face-to-face with Amarok and Koda.

And who are they? Lacrosse attackmen? Middies with monster shots?

Nope. They're wolves.

Yeah, actual wolves. This summer, they also became friends with Peters.

That's Koda on the left.

Peters is midway through an interesting summer.

He's spent the last two months working for the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, on issues related to wolves, conservation and attempts to reintroduce them into the wild. It's been hard work, with very long hours.

Now he's shifting somewhat on a dime and heading to New York City, for an internship in finance. That, too, will be hard work, with very long hours - just completely different kinds from the first.

Peters was recently featured by the Center for Career Development for his twin pursuits, with the great headline of "From Wolves To Wall Street." You can read that story HERE.

As for Peters, his time with the wolves was fascinating. TigerBlog's first question was the obvious one; namely, aren't the wolves scary?

"A lot of them are fairly socialized," Peters said. "It took about a month of being around them before you could do anything with them. You have to move really slowly, and you have pepper spray too. You just have to learn their personalities. Some of them are very social. Some you would never go near."

The center was part of a ranch, located about 90 minutes away from Peters' hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colo. He would spent three days a week there, sleeping at the facility, and essentially working 12-hour days that began when he woke up at 6 and began his shifts before 7.

"I did a lot of animal care in the morning," Peters said. "I'd clean the enclosures, have meetings about the ballot initiative that they're working on for wolf reintroduction to the wild. I'd also give a lot of tours. We'd run tours every other hour, with up to 45 people on them. Between the tours, I'd do other chores, some ranching stuff. At night I might be in charge of feeding them and then doing reports on them, how they behaved."

With his job with the wolves over, Peters is now heading to New York City. It's a far cry from where the ranch is located, in the Colorado mountains, with very little in the way of things like cell phone reception.

"It was definitely different," Peters said. "But it was a great experience. I got to meet a lot of people who I might not otherwise have been exposed to, and I got to see a lot of different viewpoints. It was hard work, but it was great."

Peters wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to pursue something that he was passionate about, such as conservation.

"It's not something I want to do as a career," he said. "But it's definitely something I'm very interested in, and this was an opportunity to explore that. It might be the only time I have to set aside a couple of months to do this. And it definitely connects with the kind of finance I'd like to get into. I'd like to get into renewables, investing in environmental deals. The first half of the summer was conservation experience that I won't be able to get later."

Peters, who will be a junior, started the final nine games of the season last year. He led the Ivy League in goals-against average, and was 25th nationally in save percentage.

Is there a connection between being a goalie in lacrosse and the rest of his summer's pursuits?

"I think so," he says. "When you're working with wild animals, you have to be confident in what you're doing. The animals could get hurt. You could get hurt. Even messing up the paperwork could hurt them down the line. Finance is also a high-stakes, high-pressure situation. I think lacrosse is where I learned not just to survive but thrive in situations like that, especially as a goalie."

The slogan "Achieve, Serve, Lead" is meant to show the value of athletics at Princeton, including the competition itself and the opportunities that Princeton athletes have beyond that competition.

Erik Peters' summer is a testament to that.

Plus, it's pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

University Field

TigerBlog was walking into Jadwin Gym one day last week when he was stopped by a family who asked him how to get to the E Quad.

Giving directions to places that you go to all the time isn't always easy. You can drive on the same roads every day and never notice small things, like, say their names.

Before smartphones came along, giving directions was a pretty big thing. TigerBlog remembers having to regularly call high schools when he first started out in the newspaper business and ask how to get there for whatever game he needed to cover.

For that matter, when he first started at Princeton, the number of phone calls he got looking for directions was pretty high. Now? It's been years since he's gotten one.

Back then, there was a main number for the Office of Athletic Communications that had four options, one of which was directions to Princeton athletic facilities.

As he remembers it, by the way, TigerBlog used to get more than a thousand calls per month on his office phone. These days, most days he doesn't get any.

It's a trade-off, of course.

The ease of getting information is undeniable. So, too, is the result of that, which is a continuing track of less and less human interaction.

TigerBlog used to get a lot of calls that started out something like this:

Caller: Hi, my (son or daughter) plays (fill in the blank sport) for (fill in the blank college) and their team will be playing at Princeton this weekend. Can you give me directions on how to get there?

In most cases, that led to something of a conversation. Nothing serious. Just a quick pleasant chat.

Now? That same person is just entering "Jadwin Gym" or whatever facility into Waze or another app, thereby rendering the conversation unnecessary.

Anyway, giving directions is one of the tasks that long ago vanished. There was a certain charm to it.

Meanwhile, back at the directions to the E Quad, TB told the people to walk up the road next to the football stadium, head up Roper Lane at the top of the stadium and then turn right.

The E Quad - the "E" is for "Engineering" - at one point was University Field, the home of Princeton football.

University Field, in fact, became Princeton's home stadium in 1876. Princeton football began in 1869 with the first game ever played (and the second, a week later, both against Rutgers). By the time 1876 rolled around, Princeton had played nine total games, against four teams.

Who were the four?

Rutgers, of course. And the second team Princeton ever played, Yale. And then Columbia. And then a school that is currently Division III and does not have a football team.


While you contemplate that, the interesting thing about University Field to TigerBlog is that it had seating for 20,000. It seemed like football was taking off almost from the start.

Princeton played only one home game in 1876, against Penn. That was one of four total games that year, along with road games against Yale, Penn and Columbia.

Princeton played four games in 1877 also, which marked the first time that Harvard appeared on the schedule.

By 1881 Princeton was playing a nine-game schedule, a season that included a game against Michigan. By the way, the score of that game was Princeton 1g, 2t, 1s, Michigan 3s.

Goals? Touchdowns? Safeties?

It wasn't until 1883 that games started to have scores that had one number for one team and one number for the other.

Oh, and the answer to the question about the fourth team Princeton had played?
It was Stevens Tech. 

Princeton has had only two other home stadium's since University Field - Palmer Stadium from 1914-1996 and then Powers Field at Princeton Stadium from 1998 through the present.

You may have noticed the one-year gap in 1997 during the construction. For the 1997 season, Princeton played eight road games and had two neutral site games, one at Giants Stadium (which also no longer exists) against Yale and at The College of New Jersey's Lions Stadium against Fordham.

The E Quad, by the way, opened on that spot in 1962.

For 38 years, that spot was the home for Princeton football.

TB wonders what a home game there must have been like.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Single-Game Tickets On Sale Today

When TigerBlog was a kid, he was fascinated when his parents would drive through the Lincoln Tunnel and they'd all get to the midway point.

There, painted on the wall, there was (and still is) a dividing line, on one side of which said "New York" and on the other said "New Jersey."

Come to think of it, TB is still fascinated by things like that.

Perhaps he should have painted on a line somewhere this weekend and painted "2018-19" on one side and "2019-20" on the other. After all, this weekend, Saturday to be exact, was the halfway point between the last athletic event of the last athletic year and the first athletic event of the coming one.

By the way, it's easy to say the last academic year - "twenty-eighteen, nineteen." Flows.

The coming one is a little different. It's "twenty-nineteen, twenty." Doesn't flow as easily, but it's not too bad.

How about the one after? That one will be "twenty-twenty, twenty-one." Doesn't flow at all.

The one after that will be the best. "Twenty-twenty-one, twenty-two." Easy.

Anyway, the last event of last athletic year was the NCAA track and field championships back on June 8. The first event of the 2019-20 athletic year is Friday, Aug. 30, when the women's soccer team plays at St. Joe's.

That would mean that there is a 83-day gap between the end of last year and the start of this year, which made the mid-point 
day 42, which was Saturday.


When you work in college athletics, you get used to the differences in work flow at the different times of year. For those 83 days of the summer, things by definition are a bit slower, since there are no athletic events. 

It's certainly the heart of summer now, that's for sure. This weekend featured temperatures hovering close to 100 in the Princeton area.

Of course, at this time of year, there are a few topics that are on every Princeton Athletics fan's mind. Vacations. Swimming. Relaxing.

And, this morning, Princeton football tickets.

As of this morning at 9 am, Princeton single-game tickets are on sale. It's a big year for the Tigers, what with the 150th anniversary of the first football game and the fact that the team is coming off a perfect season.

The 2019 football season begins against Butler Sept. 21, which is two months from yesterday. Training camp, as will the entire return to campus of all the fall athletes, will be here in a blink.

Here's the entire home schedule:

Sept. 21- Butler (Community and Staff Day), 5 pm
Oct. 5 - Columbia (Youth Day), 1 pm
Oct. 11 - Lafayette (Mascot Night), 7 pm
Oct. 26 - Harvard (Homecoming), 1 pm
Nov. 16 - Yale (Senior Day/Salute To Service), 1 pm

The Princeton-Dartmouth football game is a neutral site game, at Yankee Stadium, Nov. 9. This will be three days past the 150th anniversary of that first game, between Princeton and Rutgers.

This year, by the way, is the first time that Princeton has played Harvard and Yale at home in the same season. Princeton's 10-0 season last year featured wins at Harvard and Yale.

It also featured the highest scoring offense in Ivy League history, at 47.0 points per game. If you take away the 14-9 win over Dartmouth, then Princeton averaged 51 per game.

Princeton had six home games a year ago, and here were the point totals: 51, 66, 48, 66, 14, 42. That's a lot of points on Powers Field.

And now you can get tickets for the encore season. You can buy season tickets, single-game tickets and tickets to the Princeton-Dartmouth game HERE.

They're very affordable. The stadium is a great place to see a game.

What else do you have to do on a July Monday? 

Friday, July 19, 2019

50 Years Later

TigerBlog used to attend a summer camp called "Camp Toledo," which was located in High Falls, N.Y.

So did BrotherBlog.

Years and years later, TigerBlog was driving past the area on the New York State Thruway and got off to try to find where his camp had been. He thinks he found it, though he's not 100 percent sure he was in the right place, since it had closed in the 1970s.

Camp Toledo was located in the Catskill region of New York.

It was a typical summer sleepaway camp, and TigerBlog and his brother attended it for five straight summers, eight weeks each summer. Then, after one year of not going, they spent eight more weeks at a different camp in the same basic area, that one called Camp Echo.

TigerBlog has a lot of fond, idyllic, Wonder Years-type memories of his summer camp days.

What he has no memory of is what went on at Camp Toledo on July 20, 1969. He just knows that he is sure he was there on that day.

As you probably know, that day was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk on the moon. The 50th anniversary of what has to be up there with any human achievement ever is tomorrow.

Back as it unfolded, TB was a kid at summer camp. He doesn't remember anything about how the news was shared with the campers, if there was a TV hookup, anything.

He asked his brother yesterday if he remembers, and he doesn't either. Oh well.

TigerBlog has read a lot about the first lunar mission. Most recently, he saw a documentary early this week called "For All Mankind," which was a series of essentially home movies from the trips to the moon, with narration by various astronauts.

What was really striking to TigerBlog was the way that Armstrong and Aldrin ran, tumbled and strolled around the surface but were able to find their way back to the lunar module. Were they worried at any point that they wouldn't remember where it was parked?

Speaking of parking, there was Mike Collins in the command module, flying above the moon's surface all by himself while the other two landed, walked and then came back to meet him. In all he was by himself in a space capsule for nearly 24 hours, during which time he orbited the moon 30 times.

It's like he dropped them off and couldn't find a parking space. In all seriousness, that had to be an incredibly unique emotional experience, being all alone, often on the far side of the moon, out of radio contact with any humans.

Collins never walked on the moon, but he has been quoted as saying he felt as much a part of it as Armstrong and Aldrin.

In all, 12 people have walked on the moon. Of that group, four are still alive.

How many can you name? Well, there is the third person who walked on the moon, Pete Conrad, who was a 1953 Princeton graduate.

Of the 12 people, there are two colleges who produced two alums in the group - Purdue and the Naval Academy.

The anniversary of the moon walk is tomorrow.

The first Princeton Athletic event of the year is six weeks from today, a women's soccer game at St. Joe's. The first football game of the year is two months away, as the Tigers will host Butler Sept. 21 to start the 150th anniversary season.

It's essentially the middle of the summer, and yet the Princeton Athletics news continues. There were five new stories on the webpage yesterday, including the news that Chris Sailer had been named the women's lacrosse Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.

There was also a story about rising sophomore men's basketball player Jaelin Llewellyn, who was invited to the Chris Paul Elite Guard Academy. Llewellyn, who became the first freshman to lead Princeton in assists in 12 years and who added 10.1 points per game to that, is one of 20 players who are currently competing there.

Of the group that was there last year, six were chosen in the most recent NBA draft.

Anyway, that's about it for this week.

Have a great summer weekend. Fall, and the new athletic year, will be here soon enough. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Random Summer Thursday

TigerBlog wasn't expecting to see Billie Jean King on the front page of yesterday.

And yet there she was. You can see the story HERE.

Billie Jean King, who did more to advance women's athletics than any other single person, presented an award to Princeton rising junior Ryan Seggerman, a first-team All-Ivy League selection who has also battled Type 1 diabetes.

From the release:
Seggerman was one of two recipients of the 2019 Novo Nordisk Donnelly Award, which provided a one-time scholarship toward education, tennis development or medical care. Seggerman won the honor in May and was presented the award at the Philadelphia Freedoms' World Team Tennis match Tuesday at Saint Joseph's' Hagan Arena alongside co-winner Brendan Wolan, a student at Illinois, and World Team Tennis co-founder and tennis legend Billie Jean King. 

The picture on the webpage got TB to wondering who is the most famous athlete who has ever been on the Princeton athletics site. He's not counting anyone who actually played at Princeton, like Bill Bradley or Jason Garrett.

The answer is ... that he can't think of anyone more famous than Billie Jean King. Maybe there's been one. He just can't think of who it was.

Since it's the middle of July, there's something of a randomness to what appears on the webpage. This week is no different.

There was a story was about the two goals scored by Princeton women's soccer alums in the NWSL, one each from Jen Hoy and Tyler Lussi.

You can see them HERE.

Lussi scored more goals at Princeton than any player who has ever played here, male or female, with 53. Hoy scored 36 of her own. Both were Ivy League Players of the Year.

Also, both goals were game-winners in stoppage time. 

What stood out from the two clips is how many people were at the game in Portland, where Lussi scored the winner. When TB looked it up, he found out that the number was 18,909, which is basically what the home attendance has been for the Thorns all year.

There was also a story about the Princeton Football Association's release of the top Princeton football players from the Ivy League era. The list covers 192 players between offense, defense ad special teams, and Jay Greenberg of did writeups on all of them.

The story is HERE.

Then there was a story about George Humann.

The 6-11 rising senior on the men's volleyball team had himself quite a few months on the court, beginning when he was named the EIVA Player of the Year as Princeton won the league championship, the MVP of the EIVA tournament as Princeton won the title, led Princeton to an NCAA tournament opening round win and then now on the international stage helping the United States to a second-place finish at the FIVB Nation's League playoffs this past weekend.

The U.S. hosted the event in Chicago and then made an incredible run to the final before falling to Russia. Along the way, the Americans defeated France, Russia and Brazil.

You can read all about that one HERE.

Parker Dixon, Huhmann's teammate and classmate, also competed internationally, at the World University Games in Italy. The U.S. team went 2-5 and finished 16th.

As for Dixon, he was also a first-team All-EIVA selection this past spring.

The story about Dixon is HERE.

The sixth story as TB was scrolling through the website yesterday was about the addition of Courtney Birchard-Kessel to the women's hockey coaching staff.

Birchard-Kessel has a long and impressive history of playing and coaching professionally and internationally, after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire. You can read more about her HERE.

And that was yesterday afternoon on

The website isn't nearly as busy in the summer as it is during that academic year, obviously, but there is always some sort of news that involves Princeton Athletics.

On a random Thursday in the the summer you never know what you'll find there.

Maybe even Billie Jean King.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Geared Up

TigerBlog was riding his bike the other day when he came upon a guy who was running.

As he got closer, he could see the shirt that the runner was wearing. It said "Penn, Class of 2020."

That would make him a rising senior this fall, it would seem. In his mind, TB had this conversation with the kid:

TigerBlog: "Hey Quaker."
Penn Kid: "Hey."
TB: "I'm an alum."PK: "Yeah? Then why are you wearing Princeton shorts and a Princeton t shirt?"
TB: "Upgraded."

TigerBlog wishes him well, even though he has no idea who he was.

A few days later, TB was going through his closet, looking to get rid of old clothes. He started counting up how much Princeton gear he's accumulated in his time here, and he came up with this answer:

A lot.

It also dawned on him that he has absolutely nothing, zero stuff, that says "Penn" on it. How many people own nothing from their alma mater?

In fact, TigerBlog has apparel from six different colleges. One is Princeton. Penn isn't one of the other four.

Guesses on the others?

If you read this every day, you should be able to get three of the five, may get the fourth and probably wouldn't get the last one. To test this, TB asked John Mack, one of the most loyal Princeton alums and TB readers.

To prove TB's theory, John got three of the five: Sacred Heart, Denver and Purdue. He also guessed Washington (BrotherBlog hasn't given TB anything from there, and TigerBlog Jr. stole TB's UW hat years ago) and Georgetown (he used to have stuff but got rid of it when the Hoyas didn't retain John Thompson III as men's basketball coach).

So the other two? Louisiana-Lafayette, from the time Princeton played there in the NCAA baseball regionals and TB went with the team. The last one? Navy. TB has a really good Navy football t shirt and shorts. He's worn them for years.

TigerBlog remembers the first three pieces of Princeton gear he got. They predated his time as an official University employee.

One was a Princeton Lacrosse sweatshirt. There's no real story behind it, other than TB was covering a game and saw it on sale outside of Palmer Stadium and bought it for $20.

It's not the only Princeton gear that TB has ever purchased. It is the only Princeton gear that TB has purchased for himself. It's also one of the very, very few pieces of Princeton gear that TB bought that wasn't for a baby.

Another was a Princeton rowing hat, which former Princeton coach Dan Roock gave to him after TB wrote about crew for the first time. It was a good hat.

It also came with a really nice note from Dan talking about how much the coverage meant to the rowers on the team. TB remembers that more than the hat.

In fact, it's something that really resonated with TigerBlog, since he had spent almost all of his time to that point covering football and basketball. Not to overstate it, but that note was one of the things that started TB down the path of understanding the value of broadbased athletics and valuing the experience of all of Princeton's athletes.

Meanwhile, another lesson came from his second piece of gear, which was a Princeton basketball sweatshirt. It was given to TB by a former Princeton basketball coach, and if you guessed Pete Carril, then you would be incorrect. Actually, it was a gift from former women's coach Joan Kowalik.

Interestingly, the sweatshirt was black and said "Princeton Basketball" on it in orange, with a basketball in between the words. TB is pretty sure that not one person who ever saw it thought it came from the women's coach.

TigerBlog, as he has said many times before, was one of the very few sportswriters who covered women's basketball, or women's athletics at all, back then. He did it because of Harvey Yavener, his mentor at the Trenton Times, who insisted that all athletes deserved coverage.

If you think of gear as just free stuff, consider the lessons TB took from those two, a hat and a sweatshirt. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Perfect Form

Okay, Bob Surace's first pitch at Yankee Stadium last night might have been a little high.

On the other hand, at least Surace stayed in the park, unlike Yankee starter James Paxton, who gave up a leadoff home run to Tampa's Travis d'Arnaud, the rare catcher who was batting leadoff.

You can see Surace has tremendous form, right?:

That's a perfect release point. His weight is coming forward. All good, even with the glove. 

That had to be incredibly stressful, as TigerBlog said yesterday. He's not sure he'd want to do it (or, for that matter, why he'd be asked in the first place).

It would be fairly embarrassing, for instance, to show up like this on youtube:

If you didn't notice, there were just short of three million page views for that. 

Paxton, by the way, pitched in college at Kentucky and is making $8.8 million with the Yankees for this season. TigerBlog found this out by looking on his scores app.

While there, he also saw that Paxton was born on Nov. 6, 1988. What else happened in history on Nov. 6?

If you go back 150 years, to Nov. 6, 1869, you'll find the first football game ever played. That was between Princeton and Rutgers. The teams actually played two games in eight days back in 1869, and each team won one. From what TB has read, they played by slightly different rules in the first game at Rutgers and then the second game a week later at Princeton.

Here's what the Princeton Companion has to say about it:
Football was first played at Princeton on crisp fall afternoons in the 1840s when students gathered behind Nassau Hall for impromptu games. Opposing teams were made up of residents of East and West Colleges or members of the Whig and Clio Halls; sometimes, all the A to L's were pitted against the M to Z's. After the Civil War, increasing interest led to interclass matches and eventually to an epochal event -- the first American intercollegiate football game, between Princeton and Rutgers, in New Brunswick on November 6, 1869.
The twenty-five players from each college played in their street clothes, and the several hundred spectators stood around on the side or sat on a wooden fence. There were no coaches, no officials, no programs -- the Rutgers Targum, on which we chiefly depend for the record of the game, tells us that Princeton's first goal was made ``by a well directed kick, from a gentleman whose name we don't know, but who did the best kicking on the Princeton side.'' The Targum is equally silent about the identity of the first wrongway player in American football history, a Rutgers man ``who, in his ardor, forgot which way he was kicking,'' and scored for Princeton instead of Rutgers. By agreement, the home team's style of play was used, and Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4; a week later, Princeton won the return match on its grounds, 8 goals to 0.

Can you imagine what intramural football looked like in the 1840s?

In the present, Surace was at the Stadium last night as part of the celebration for the 150th anniversary of college football. So was Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, who also threw out a first pitch along with Surace.

The coaches were there to promote the Nov. 9 meeting between Princeton and Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium, which will be played three days after that 150th anniversary. The Tigers and the Big Green were by far the two best teams in the Ivy League a year ago, when Princeton went 10-0 and Dartmouth went 9-1, with the only difference between them a 14-9 Princeton win in an all-time Ivy classic.

It's almost time for football to start. NFL and college teams will be opening training camps. The first NFL exhibition game is between Denver and Atlanta, and that's just 15 days away.

Princeton is about a month away from practice. For the first time in 54 years, the Tigers will come into a season off a perfect year, and they'll also be chasing a fourth Ivy title in seven years.

All of that makes this football season fascinating from the start.

The history piece is just a huge extra, one of which happened last night at Yankee Stadium.

Monday, July 15, 2019

On The Mound

Were it not for the new rule that required a tiebreaker at 12-12 in the final set, it's possible that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic might still be playing at Wimbledon.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. Federer had two match points at when it was 8-7 in the fifth and couldn't close Djokovic out, but someone would have broken serve again and held their own to win. At some point.

This was the first year at Wimbledon that the rules called for a tiebreaker in the fifth set. In years past, it would have just gone until a player won by two games.

This time around, there was going to be a tiebreaker if the players were tied at 12-12, and that's exactly how it played out. Djokovic would win, ending the longest final in Wimbledon history at 4:57. That's just short of five hours.

Considering how long they played and how intense the stakes were (not to mention their combined age is 70), it was incredible to see how they were still moving at the end. 

It was obvious that this was destined to be remembered as one of the great matches Wimbledon has seen. The pressure on each to hold serve was immense, and they did so 22 times in 24 games in the fifth game.

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of those games were held with no drama.

There was one thing that TigerBlog couldn't figure out as he watched it. He's vehemently anti-penalty kicks to decide soccer games, but he wondered why there wasn't just a tiebreaker at 6-6 like there is everyone else.

How can he have both of those viewpoints? They're sort of contrary to each other no?

Oh well. It was a great match.

Way back in the early 1980s, TigerBlog covered a few U.S. Opens when he was still a sportswriter. His favorite player from his experience back then was easily Martina Navratilova.

TigerBlog got into the newspaper business through his friend Jack McCaffery, who worked at the Trenton Times back then and now has been a longtime columnist with the Delaware County Times (and is the brother of University of Iowa men's basketball head coach Fran McCaffery).

Jack once took TigerBlog to a game he was covering at Yankee Stadium, and when it over, they went back to the parking lot to head home. As it turned out, the media shared the same parking lot as the players, and this was really TB's first time up close with so-called "famous" athletes.

It also turned out that Jack had left the lights on in his car and so his battery was dead. As he asked each player who came out if they had jumper cables, none of them could be bothered - until Lou Paniella came by and said sure, he'd help. Then he pulled his Cadillac up, hooked up the cables and got the car started.

Paniella, by the way, played 16 years in the Majors and won the 1969 American League Rookie of the Year.

That would be TigerBlog's favorite memory of the old Yankee Stadium, although perhaps techically he should admit that it didn't really happen in the stadium.

He's never been to the new Yankee Stadium, so he has no favorite memory. His favorite things that have happened there so far have been Scott Bradley's experiences at Old Timers' Day, especially this past year, when the longtime Princeton baseball coach was mic'd up for the occasion.

You can add tonight to that list, as Princeton head football coach Bob Surace will throw out the first pitch at the Yankees-Rays game. Surace will be joined by Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens for the pitch.

TB would think that it's not easy to throw a strike on a first pitch. There have certainly been some awful attempts at it through the years, efforts that have found their way to youtube.

As for Surace, he was a center at Princeton - an All-Ivy center at that. Teevens was a quarterback at Dartmouth, and in fact he and Surace are the only two ever to win an Ivy League football championships as players and head coaches.

Still, it would seem that a quarterback would have an advantage in this situation.

Either way, tonight's effort is for fun - and to help promote the upcoming game at Yankee Stadium between their two teams this November.

That game, Nov. 9, will be three days after the 150th anniversary of the first football game ever, held on Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers.

This year will be a celebration of that anniversary throughout the college football world, and especially at Princeton, who played such a large role in the sport's formation.

And tonight will be a part of that celebration.

Friday, July 12, 2019

First Pitch

TigerBlog was watching TV the other day when a commercial with Chuck Woolery came on.

First, TB recognized Woolery as a game show host. Second, he couldn't remember which game show until he looked it up.

Woolery was the host of, among other games, "Love Connection," which he did for 11 years. Before that, he was actually the original host of "Wheel of Fortune."

If you add the amount of time TB has spent in his life watching both of those shows combined, by the way, it probably doesn't come to a full football game.

The commercial that featured Woolery was for Blue Emu, which 1) is a joint pain treatment and 2) has commercials on Princeton radio broadcasts. You can add 3) it doesn't have the strong scent that some other joint paint treatments do.

TigerBlog knows this from the last four words of the live read, which are "... and you won't stink." It's pretty good actually, since the knock on most of its rivals is that in fact, they do stink when you apply them.

What struck TigerBlog is the way Woolery said those last four words. He had the emphasis on "won't," whereas TB - and especially Patrick McCarthy, with whom TB does men's basketball games - have the emphasis on the "you."

TigerBlog would consider himself to be near the high end of non-radio people in terms of hours spent on the radio broadcasting games. He's done a lot of games in his Princeton career in football, basketball and lacrosse, even though he's not exactly what you would consider to be a professional announcer.

He'll be back doing some Princeton football radio this fall, something that he hasn't done in a long time. Actually, he can't really remember how long it's been, though he's pretty sure the last person he did a game with was Dan Loney. This time it will be with Cody Chrusciel.

TB was on the website yesterday when he noticed that there is a countdown clock for the first game, which is now 71 days away. Princeton will host Butler on Sept. 21, which will be Game 1 during the 150th anniversary season of college football.

As part of that celebration, Princeton will be playing a game at Yankee Stadium in November, against Dartmouth. That game will be Nov. 9, which will be three days after the actual anniversary of that first game, between Princeton and Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869.

You can get more information about the game, including how to buy tickets, HERE.

In advance of that game, Princeton head coach Bob Surace and Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens will be throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Monday night's Yankees-Rays game.

As he writes this, it dawns on TigerBlog that he has never asked Princeton football coach Bob Surace why he is a Yankees fan. After all, Surace is a South Jersey guy, from Millville. How'd he get so into the Yankees?

No matter how, Surace is a huge Yankees fan. Throwing out the first pitch there has to be a huge thrill.

In addition to the first pitch and a bunch of other stuff, the football website is also releasing the results of a committee of 18 who attempted to chose the best Princeton players by position in the Ivy League era. The committee was headed by Jay Greenberg, a longtime sportswriter who now does much of the writing for the site.

The team was revealed Monday night at the annual alumni golf outing at the Springdale Golf Club, and it's being released in three parts on the football site. will have the full list early next week.

There are seven weeks left until the first athletic event of 2019-20, which will be a women's soccer game against St. Joe's on Aug. 30. As TB said, the first football game is three more weeks after that, which means that opening kickoff is 10 weeks from tomorrow.

That, though, does not mean there is no football news in the meantime. In fact, there's quite a lot of it.

There's the first pitch Monday. There's the release of the all-time team after that.

By the way, Chuck Woolery is a native of Ashland, Kentucky, a town that will be represented on that all-time team.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More Summer Travels

TigerBlog received this comment earlier this week:

TB, four years ago, I left a comment suggesting a few topics for your summer columns. (Left comment on 6/12/15; your last response on 8/28/15.) You predictably knocked those pitches out of the park, so here are some more ideas that you might consider to be in your strike zone:

Greatest games or events you've witnessed, considering their historical context (last time, you answered exclusive of historical context)
Most improbable team or individual achievements (other than comebacks, which we covered)
Saddest or most bitter you've been due to Princeton sports
Most nervous moments you've had, in-game or otherwise
Most extreme emotions other than happy, sad or nervous (For instance, I think that arguably your best column ever was describing what went through your mind when you inputted the official scorer's entry for your daughter's ground ball. As another example, when I attended Princeton Stadium's 1998 inaugural game against Cornell, the pre-game festivities included football alumni marching onto the field beneath their class banners. Watching the history unfold in front of me, I started to tear up. My girlfriend at the time, a gritty street-smart New Yorker, saw me getting choked up and looked at me quizzically. I felt the need to explain myself and quietly said, "This makes me feel part of something bigger than myself." Within a month, we broke up. I think she literally thought to herself, "Any man who would come close to crying at a football game is not a good long-term match for me.") 

Yes, this is great. TigerBlog will get to all of them before the end of the summer.

As for today, it's always good to see Ashleigh Johnson on the front page of

Johnson, a 2017 Princeton grad, has twice been named the top women's water polo player. Not in the league or in the collegiate ranks. Nope. The best in the world.

If you ever saw her play, you can understand why. A goalie, she seems not so much to float on the water as she does to use the water as if it was her own launching pad, reaching shots in the upper corners that seem impossible.

Think about it. You're treading water. The pool is deep. You can't touch the bottom. And then you have to explode out of the pool to try to stop a shot that is rocketing at you.

Johnson won an Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and then came back to Princeton to compete as a senior. Only Bill Bradley had ever done that before - competed as a Princeton athlete after having won Olympic gold.

TigerBlog thought that Johnson's international career was over until he saw the story yesterday that said she'll be competing at the World Championships this weekend in South Korea. You can read it HERE.

The story refers to Johnson as "one of the greatest athletes in Princeton history," and that is a 100 percent true statement.

There are six stories that scroll across the front page of the website, and three of those yesterday involved Princeton athletes involved in major international competitions.

One of them was Johnson.

Another was George Humann, the men's volleyball player who is the only collegiate player on the U.S. team for the FIVB Volleyball Nation's League Finals.

You can read about this one HERE.

Humann will be with the U.S. team in Chicago for the six-team tournament. He'll be back at Princeton next season, hoping to equal what happened last year, when he was the EIVB Player of the Year and then tournament MVP as Princeton won to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.

The other story about Tigers on the international stage was about the upcoming field hockey tournament at the Pan Am Games. That one is HERE.

There will be two Princeton alums there, playing for different countries. The first is recent grad Elise Wong, a von Kienbusch finalist this past year. She'll be playing for Canada.

The other is Kathleen Sharkey, who is a longtime member of the U.S. National Team and a former Olympian. Sharkey is the team captain for the U.S.

Here are two numbers for you about Sharkey: she scored 107 goals at Princeton (and helped the team to the 2012 NCAA title) and she has made 166 appearances with the national team.

The Pan Am Games will be held in Peru beginning July 29. The winner of the field hockey tournament advances to the Olympic Games.

Oh, and Bella Alarie will be at the Pan Am Games as well, with the U.S. women's basketball team.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Happy Birthday Coach Carril

When TigerBlog first started writing this every day, he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do in the summers.

After all, there are no athletic events, obviously. He has learned through the years that there is always something he can come up with, but back then he was uncertain.

So what did he figure he'd do? When in doubt, write funny Pete Carril stories.

TigerBlog was asked yesterday how many years he covered Carril's teams, and the answer is seven - five as a sportswriter and then the last two of Carril's 29 years at Princeton as the athletic communications contact. He's never been around anyone quite like Pete Carril, with his work ethic, character, humor and world view. And his mannerisms. And the way he combined them all.

Today is Carril's 89th birthday. TigerBlog was going to pawn this off as original, but he actually wrote it on this day two years ago. As he reread it, he figured he'd just copy and paste, since it's still what he'd want to say about Coach.  

So happy birthday, Coach Carril:

Today will be the eighth time (actually ninth) in TigerBlog history that he shares this story with you:

Back on Dec. 28, 1994, TigerBlog found himself in New Orleans, at the UNO Holiday Tournament championship game. It was Princeton against the host team, the Privateers, at the Lakefront Arena.

Before the game, TigerBlog had gumbo and jambalaya. Both were great. Seriously. He did. He remembers that clearly.

New Orleans won, 50-43. As TB looked back at the box score, he couldn't help but notice that no Tiger was in double figures. Three scored nine. Who were they? He'll even give you their initials: JM, RH, SG.

That should make it really easy. He'll give you the answer shortly, though sometimes he forgets to do that. He'll try not to this time.

The night before, Princeton had beaten Texas A&M in the first round of the event. That game went three overtimes before Princeton won 71-66.

Two Princeton players went all 55 minutes - JM and CD.

After that game, Princeton head coach Pete Carril was asked about having to play New Orleans in the final. They're going to be tough, he said. They have big guys.

When a reporter told him that his team also had big guys, Carril answered without flinching this way:

"Yeah, but I didn't go down to the docks to get them."

How did he think of those kinds of things so easily? He was so good at it. TigerBlog should have written down every great line he ever heard from Carril, in actual interviews and then in every day situations. Even without benefit of that, TB can still remember a lot of them, and they are all classics.

Why mention this today?

It's because today is Pete Carril's 87th birthday (actually now 89th). That's why.

Happy birthday Coach.

There are a lot of people who played for him at Princeton who call him only "Coach." They wouldn't dream of calling him anything different. No matter how old he gets, he's never "Pete" or "Coach Carril" or anything. He's just "Coach."

Oh, and the initials? You have: James Mastaglio, Steve Goodrich, Rick Hielscher and Chris Doyal.

TigerBlog has written more about Pete Carril than any other subject, he's pretty sure. There's a reason for that.

There has never been anyone on this campus quite like Pete Carril. TigerBlog has often referred to him as the "conscience" of Princeton University, and he thinks it's a great description.

If you're reading this, then you're probably a Princeton fan. If you're a Princeton fan, then you know well his backstory.

He's from Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania steel town. His father, a Spanish immigrant, worked in the mills for 40 years, and it was from him that Carril developed a sense for the work ethic, his own and the one he demanded of those around him.

After playing at Lafayette, including for Butch van Breda Kolff, he started his career as a high school teacher (American government) and basketball coach, first at Easton High School and then at Reading High School, where he had a point guard at Reading named Gary Walters.

From there it was to Lehigh for a year and then to Princeton for 29. He'd win 511 games at Princeton and 523 overall, and he coached the Tigers to 13 Ivy titles, 11 NCAA appearances, the 1975 NIT championship and some of the greatest games college basketball has seen.

His Princeton career ended in 1996, first with the epic Ivy League playoff win over Penn and then the even more epic win over defending NCAA champion UCLA in the NCAA tournament.

When he left Princeton, he was an assistant coach in the NBA for more than a decade. Now he's retired, and he's a frequent visitor to Jadwin Gym.

Back to the "conscience" idea, Carril brought a sense of accountability to Princeton. His players all started out equally, regardless of where they came from, what their high school was, how much money they had or didn't have.

In his nearly 30 years at Princeton, Carril was unconnable, if such a word exists (it doesn't). He couldn't be less impressed by things other than effort, teamwork, hard work, dedication. These weren't just words to him. These were the required, necessary tenets of his world, his team.

Maybe the best thing he said, and he said it a lot, was this: "you can't separate the player from the person." What he was saying was that character is as much a part of the game as talent. He's right.

The conscience.

TigerBlog connected with Carril in the 1980s, first as a sportswriter and later as the last athletic communications contact he had as the basketball coach here. TB was once on the wrong end of a shouting match with Carril, but that was it. And being the basketball contact had its perks; one of Carril's rituals was to buy the basketball contact soup for lunch.

The other perks? They were related to watching one of the game's greatest from a front row seat. TigerBlog hasn't met too many other people who have made an impact on him the way Carril has - and he wasn't even one of his players.

Pete moves slower these days. His body, that is. His mind is still sharp.
There are fewer and fewer people left in the department who were here when he was the basketball coach. He was here for 29 years. In the years since he left, Princeton has had five basketball coaches: Bill Carmody, John Thompson III, Joe Scott, Sydney Johnson and the current one, Mitch Henderson, a player on Carril's last team.

Pete is a Princeton legend. Talk like that always ran contrary to what he was about. Do your job every day. Don't worry about things like talk of legends and that sort of thing. You can't coach to have people be impressed by you. No. You have to believe in something and stay faithful to it.

Carril is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. TigerBlog is the one who nominated him, and, in the program the night Carril was inducted, there was a four-page feature on him written by TB. 

It's one of the two really long features TB has written about Carril, in addition to the millions of smaller pieces. Carril never said one word to TigerBlog about either. Nothing. No feedback at all.

TigerBlog likes it that way. It says a lot about the man himself.

Do your job. Do it the best you can. Your reward is knowing that you didn't cut any corners. If that's not good enough, then you're missing the point of why you did it in the first place.

That's also the lesson. That's Pete's lesson.

And today is his birthday.

Happy birthday to the conscience.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Is It Hockey Season Yet?

Well, the Women's World Cup is over.

The next Olympics don't start for slightly more than a year. What else is there to talk about in the summer then?

There's the old standby of the District 12 Little League tournament.

TigerBlog's introduction to the newspaper business came nearly 36 years ago, when he began covering high school football. He went through the entire academic year on the high school beat, and then when June rolled around, he asked the same basic question.

What else is there to talk about in the summer then?

He was told that the answer was Little League.

He had no idea how big the District 12 Little League tournament was back then in the Mercer County area, not until he spent a few weeks covering games and seeing the huge crowds. He was startled by it more than anything else at first, until he just came to accept it as the norm.

When TB's friend and former colleague David Rosenfeld first started working at Princeton, he too was taken aback by the extraordinary number of column inches devoted to the district Little League tournament. In fact, it started when David walked into TB's office carrying the newspaper and asking the question "What's huh-ter-buh?"

"Huh-ter-buh?" TB asked.

Then he looked and saw what David meant. There was a headline that said "HTRBA Advances In District 12."

HTRBA. That was one of the Hamilton Township teams.

Maybe it's because of that background that TB still finds himself interested in who wins the tournament each summer. As such, he was hanging on Rich Fisher's tweets Sunday as Fish was updating the final day - while he was also giving commentary for the videostream.

As it turns out, Bordentown defeated Sunnybrae to win and advance to the state tournament. Bordentown's win was delayed by rain Saturday, leading Fish to write this: "It took two days, but Bordentown finished up a tense and thrilling District 12 Little League tournament."

One question for Fish, by the way - Aren't they all tense and thrilling?

So that's District 12 Little League for 2019.

And again, what is there to talk about in the summer?

Hockey, of course.

The Princeton hockey schedules for the 2019-20 season were announced yesterday. Between the two teams, there will be 29 home regular season games, which is a lot of opportunities to see the Tigers play.

If it seems like hockey season is a long way away, it isn't.

In fact, there's a little more than three months until the puck drops for the Princeton women, who are coming off a huge 2018-19, one that saw the Tigers win the Ivy League title and get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

The encore season begins Oct. 25 and 26 with a pair of home games against Syracuse, and there will also be a pair of home games against St. Anselm in early January. There are also the 11 home ECAC league games.

Princeton only plays two non-league road games, but it's quite a road trip. The Tigers will venture to Las Vegas for a pair of December games against Ohio State.

The 2019-20 season will mark the sophomore year of the national Freshman of the Year from last year, Sarah Fillier, who led Division I in points per game and assists per game, and Maggie Connors, who was second in Division I in goals per game and power play goals.

As for the men, they have a road trip even further than the women, as they'll play in, of all places, Northern Ireland.

The event is called The Friendship Four, which will now be in its fifth year. It brings four U.S. college teams to Belfast in the early season, and this year it'll be Princeton against Colgate and Merrimack (New Hampshire is the fourth team who will be there).

The game against Colgate won't count in the ECAC standings. In fact, Princeton will play Colgate eight days before the game in Northern Ireland as part of the ECAC trip to Colgate and Cornell.

Princeton will open its season at St. Cloud, who spent a lot of time last season as the No. 1 team in the country. There's also a two-game series at home against Colorado College, whom Princeton last played in 1990.

Princeton's men are a year removed from the ECAC championship and the NCAA tournament.

Hockey in the summer?

Like TB said, it'll be here soon enough.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A U.S. Win

TigerBlog's Sunday bike ride with John McPhee had to be moved up to the very early morning.

Was it going to be too hot later in the day? Raining?

Neither of those. It had to be done in time to watch the championship game of the Women's World Cup.

There was a long time in the world sporting culture where a women's soccer game couldn't possibly generate the kind of interest that the most recent World Cup final did. If you missed it, the United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0, completing a dominant run to a second-straight title.

In fact, there was a long time when there was no women's soccer on the international stage at all.

The men's World Cup was first contested in 1930. It would be 61 years - in 1991 - until the women had their first World Cup.

Soccer has been an Olympic sport for the men since 1900. The women first had Olympic soccer in 1996.

To go from that to what the Women's World Cup has become in a relatively short time says something about the progress that women's sports have made. The current state of unequal pay between the men and women also says something as well.

TigerBlog doesn't want to get into the politics of the event, because there are certainly lots of them. He'll leave that for his friend Sean Gregory, the former Princeton men's basketball player who covers sports for Time Magazine.

He wrote THIS after the game, which covers all of issues surrounding the U.S. team. Included in Sean's story is this:
Record numbers of viewers tuned into the tournament. In Britain, England’s semi-final match against America drew 11.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV broadcast in Great Britain this year. France’s quarterfinal against the U.S. attracted 10.7 million viewers, making it the most watched TV broadcast of the year in France too. In Brazil, that country’s round-of-16 game against France drew the highest-ever audience for a women’s World Cup game — 35.2 million people. FIFA expects that more than one billion people will have watched this World Cup across all platforms, up from around some 830 million in 2015.

The story doesn't make reference to the numbers in the United States, but they had to be huge as well.

TigerBlog has said this a lot here, but one of the biggest things that's happened at Princeton since he arrived is the extraordinary way that male fans have embraced women's teams, in ways that seemed very unlikely 25 or so years ago. Some of this, at least, is attributable to the growth of women's sports - especially soccer - on the international level.

TigerBlog was mostly rooting for Jill Ellis in the most recent Women's World Cup. He first met the U.S. coach nearly 20 years ago, and he was the women's soccer contact for Princeton when Ellis and her UCLA team defeated the Tigers in the 2004 Final Four.

He can vouch for you that Ellis is well worth rooting for and an extraordinarily nice person. And now she is the second coach (and first woman and first since 1934 and 1938) to coach a team to two World Cup titles.

Ellis, who was born in England and then moved to Virginia, played soccer at the College of William and Mary, back before there was a Women's World Cup. One of her teammates there was named Nancy Reinisch, who happened to be three years behind TB in high school, as an aside.

Nancy now is the mother of Kevin O'Toole, whom you might recognize as the reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in men's soccer. Kevin led Princeton to the Ivy League championship and into the NCAA tournament this past fall.

Nancy and Kevin were both in Lyon, France, for the final yesterday. In fact, Nancy was there as part of a larger W&M group of alums there to support Ellis.

There were other Princeton alums there as well, including Matt Sanner, a 2013 grad and two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection whose brother Thomas was the 2015 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

TigerBlog loves the World Cup, both of the World Cups, for that matter.

He'll miss it now that the games are over, just like the men's last year. Next up will be the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo for his international summer fix.

As for this World Cup, he's happy for Jill Ellis, who did something extraordinary. Most coaches don't make it through two World Cup cycles, let alone win two of them.