Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Happy 70th

TigerBlog was still a college student the first time he interviewed Pete Carril.

It was for the Penn student radio station. He remembers it well. It was at the Palestra, at the bottom of an entryway outside Princeton's locker room.

It was a bit intimidating. It's been awhile since TB has felt intimidated by interviewing anyone, but he can remember being intimidated by Carril. Perhaps when it was over, Carril thought to himself: "nice kid; can't wait until he's on our side?"

It's too bad he can't go back to that moment to remember what he was thinking. It certainly couldn't have been "four years with these guys, and then it'll be a lifetime with the other guys."

Beyond anything else, he does remember thinking that Carril was, well, sort of old. At the same time, it dawns on TB that he is now older than Carril was on that day when he first interviewed him. And TB does not consider himself old at all.

Perspective, right?

TB has co-workers in their 20s and early 30s. Do they think TB is old?

When it comes to feeling old, TB thinks that working on a college campus all these years has actually helped him stay young.

So when is someone considered old these days? Again, it's all relative.

When TB was a kid, he probably thought anyone who was 50 was old. That's ridiculous now. Hey, he knows a guy who is 89 who can ride his bike more than 11 miles like it's nothing.

Maybe what would be considered old has changed through the years. Or maybe TB has just gotten older and sees it differently?

Not everyone who is the same age is the same age, as it were. In other words, not all 70 year olds are created equal.

In fairness, when TB saw that Fred Samara had turned 70, he thought he was actually 47. You can take that two ways.

First, Samara has won 47 Ivy League Heptagonal championships as Princeton's head coach of men's track and field. If you factor in all of the Ivy League titles Princeton track and field has won since he arrived as a coach (including his time as an assistant), TB believes that number is 64.

Second, he has the energy of what you would consider to be the average 47 year old.

Ah, but he's 70 now. TB knows this by the video that some of his many, many alums made and then posted to the Princeton track and field Instagram.

That's pretty good, right?

Actually, that's better than good. That's a lot of heartfelt emotion for a coach who has meant a lot more than just championships to his athletes.

TigerBlog has written a lot through the years about the dynamic that exists between athletes and coaches the life lessons that are learned through participating in intercollegiate athletics. A lot of these lessons come directly from the coaches.

The video doesn't begin to capture the quantity of people who have been touched by Fred Samara here. As TB said, what sticks with those who competed for him - and still do - aren't the championships.

The video where they wish their coach a happy birthday reflects all of that. 

But wait. There was more than just that post from the track and field team. There was this one too:

Yup. Mike Tyson.

 And so that leads to this sentence, one that TB never really imagined he would ever write:

"Fred Samara, TB joins Mike Tyson in wishing you happy 70th birthday."

He'd also add "stay young," but he doesn't actually need to do that.

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