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. 

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