Thursday, June 11, 2020

High Energy From Crista Samaras

TigerBlog got a message the other day asking what Tayor Simmers' number was when he played lacrosse at Princeton.

TB immediately responded "6"

Why does he know that still, especially considering Simmers graduated in 1994 after winning two NCAA titles and being named an All-American? He has no idea. He just does.

It actually got him thinking about other random players through the years and if he could remember their numbers, from all different Princeton teams.

For instance, he was trying to remember which of the Willis twins from the women's soccer team during the run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four was 6 and which was 9. He's pretty sure it was Janine at 6 and Rochelle at 9. He could be completely wrong.

Also, the men's basketball team in 1990 often had 00 (Kit Mueller), 11 (Sean Jackson), 22 (George Leftwich), 33 (Matt Lapin) and 55 (Matt Eastwick) on the court, though 35 (Matt Henshon) usually started. You'll have to trust TB that he can still tell you their high schools as well.

A fun thing to do is to go into the Princeton men's basketball archives and click on the links to the box scores for games when Kit Mueller was the team's center. TB did that on the 1990 game against St. Joe's (he covered that game all those years ago), and Mueller had the typical 22 points, eight assists, 40 minutes line that he normally had.

Also, three players went 40 minutes in that game: Henshon, Leftwich and Mueller. Leftwich had his own typical line, with one turnover in those 40 minutes.

Princeton won 62-47. That game was played in the Palestra, by the way.

When TB saw that Crista Samaras was going to be one of the featured speakers during the virtual CoSIDA convention, he signed up to hear her speak. CoSIDA, by the way, is the national organization for sports information directors. TB has never been to one of its conventions, and this was supposed to be in Las Vegas, where he has never been.

He has watched some of the sessions online this year, though, and they've been pretty good.

When he saw Samaras was to speak, he tried to remember her number at Princeton, which he thinks was 29. He texted women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer, who coached Samara in the late 1990s. She said she thought it was 29 also.

As an aside, Samaras cannot be TB's favorite No. 29 in Princeton women's lacrosse history. That's the same number Miss TigerBlog currently wears for the Tigers.

Oh, and she's also done ESPN+ color commentary for Princeton women's games.

Samaras graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's lacrosse history with 270 career points. She held that record for nearly 20 years, until Olivia Hompe broke it. Samaras is still in second place.

She also scored to Hompe in goals scored at Princeton, with 189. She was a three-time All-American and a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, after winning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award as a freshman.

TB remembers Samaras as a very high-energy player during her days at Princeton. If anything, she is even more high energy these days.

Samaras is a force of nature, and that was obvious from the first seconds of her talk to an audience of more than 300. Had she been in the same room with everyone else, she would have fed off of their energy. Instead, she had to do that in despite being the only one in the room at the time, which is not easy to do.

Samaras has done just about everything in lacrosse, from coaching at Yale and Richmond to building a huge club program to designing lines of lacrosse clothing. Listening to her speak, it's easy to see why she's been so successful.

Now she's the CEO of Brave Enterprises, and she spoke about issues related to the psychologies of fear and braveness, especially as it relates to young people. She also spoke about the 1997 season, when she had to take a year off from Princeton because of her academic record and what impact that has had on her.

In fact, the talk was remarkable for its willingness to be open and honest about her own shortcomings and issues in her life. It was refreshing to hear someone talk that way.

It was like watching one of the training scenes in a "Rocky" movie. Her energy fueled everyone watching it, and when it was over, it left you wanting to run up the steps of the art museum.

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