Friday, October 30, 2020

Amy And Merrily

The First 50 Podcast With Merrily Dean Baker And Amy Campbell

TigerBlog is pretty sure that most goalies get started the same way.

The coach of the team of little kids is at practice one day and says they need a goalie. Is anyone interested?

And only one hand goes up. And so is born another goalie.

It's a thankless position. TigerBlog can tell you from first-hand experience that it can be brutal to be the goalie's father. As he's said before, every time a goal is scored, everyone looks at you like if you'd done a better job raising your child, the ball or puck would not be in the goal.

Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh. Still, it's a tough position to play.

On the other hand, it usually means a chance to play. And that's all that Amy Campbell was looking for when she put her hand up at the first day of field hockey tryouts for her college team.

Campbell told that story when she appeared on the second episode of "The First 50" podcast, a bi-weekly conversation devoted to the celebration of the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton.

The podcast is hosted by Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, and by TigerBlog. The guests on the second episode were Amy and Merrily Dean Baker.

Campbell was one of Princeton's top athletic administrators from 1988-99. Baker, of course, was the one who started the women's athletic program 50 years ago.

TB has known Campbell for several decades. He only met Baker back in January, though he knew a lot about her - and especially the extremely high regard in which she has always been held by everyone who has ever mentioned her.

Campbell and Baker both were athletes in the pre-Title IX era, when opportunities for girls to play sports were limited. In fact, it often was a function of where you happened to grow up, since some areas were way ahead of others when it came to providing those opportunities.

The two of them spent their careers working to expand those opportunities, both in compliance with the law itself but more so because it was the right thing to do. At Princeton, they both made dramatic impacts.

The conversation with the two and with Mollie lasts more than 50 minutes.

TB was timing it as they went along, and he kept alerting Mollie about the time every five or 10 minutes. As was the case in the first podcast, with Margie Gengler Smith and Helena Novakova, he couldn't believe how quickly time was flying by.

Campbell and TB worked together for many years at Princeton. Among TB's first memories of his time in the department is the extreme professionalism with which Campbell always handled herself and the high standards that she set, both for herself and everyone else there.

She was a huge believer in equity, and she had no tolerance for those who did not see the reasons why that was. 

Her personality comes out really well in the conversation. She's always been very laid-back and very thoughtful, and a deep-thinker on top of that. She can be very soothing and comforting, with a great empathetic quality to her.

As for Baker, she is sort of the original Mollie, or what Mollie would have been like if the charge had been hers to start women's athletics at Princeton. They actually have much in common, most notably their unbridled energy and their focus on staying true to the task and the mission at hand.

Every time TB hears Baker talk about what she did in the early 1970s to get the women's programs off the ground, he can see Mollie's having done it pretty much the same way.

The conversation they have on the podcast showcases that. Baker has just turned 78, but she has lost nothing off her fastball. And she certainly has lost nothing off her verve, which is one of her most defining characteristics.

The first two episodes of the podcast have been exactly what TB was hoping it would be. It's the story of women's athletics being brought to life, and not just in a way that says what event happened when.

It's more about the people who took it from its origins and made it into what it is now. And it's about the lessons that Princeton Athletics, and athletics in general, have taught the people who have been most involved in them. 

TB hopes you enjoy this episode. 

It's with two women who deserve an extraordinary amount of credit for what Princeton women's athletics is today.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Missing Heps

Well, this weekend would have been the Cornell home weekend for football, men's and women's soccer and field hockey.

TigerBlog isn't sure what the women's volleyball schedule would have been, but it's possible the Tigers would have hosted the Big Red there as well. 

What else would have been coming up on the athletic schedule? The Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships, which would have been tomorrow.

TB assumes they would have been at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City. Either that or in Princeton.

Because Princeton football played at Cornell on a Friday evening a year ago, TB was unable to attend the Heps cross country meet. The cross country races would have been at 11 and noon at Van Cortlandt, and it would have been cutting it too close to get to Ithaca on time. 

TB considered it, but then the kickoff moved from 7 pm to 6 pm, which made it impossible. As a result, TB had to miss the meet, for the first time in a long time.

There are few sporting events TB enjoys more than the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country meet. It seems a little more special when it's at Van Cortlandt Park, at least once you've found one of the rare parking spaces in the area.

It's a huge party, with eight women's teams and eight men's teams, not to mention eight tents. And a huge number of fans.

The races go off within an hour of each other. There is so much pageantry to the start and so much misery at the finish, as racer after racer gives every ounce of energy he or she has. 

Maybe misery isn't quite the right word, but TB can't really think of a better one.

Each year as TB watches, he stands by the start, sees the runners go off, talks to the million people he knows there from all the different schools as the runners make their way around the course, sees them briefly if the course has them come by the start again and then eagerly awaits the finish. 

As the runners start to head to the chute, he tries to calculate the team scores in his head, but that's not an easy task at all. He's never successfully done it.

It's a fascinating dynamic, as the runners try to improve their positions at the finish and in doing so provide crucial team points, even to teams other than their own. The runner from Team A who just edged out the runner from Team B? That pushed Team C above Team B in the standings.

Maybe it's that the races do not take very long. Maybe it's that it's an entire Ivy League championship season condensed into one day.

Whatever it is, the meet is always exciting and always dramatic, and, from TB's perspective as a non-runner, always fun. It's a big athletic party. 

The weather for Heps always seems to cooperate. Well, almost always. 

TB checked the weather for this weekend to see what it might have been like, and tomorrow's forecast suggests rain and temps in the mid-40s. That would have been less than ideal for spectating, but he would have gone anyway.

And no matter what, it's hard to imagine that the weather for Heps will ever be tougher than it was nine years ago today at the West Windsor Fields course at Princeton.

If you remember that day in 2011, it was snowing. Big-time snowing. There was a rare October snowstorm in Central New Jersey, one that left around four inches of snow on the ground.

It made the football game that afternoon into a snow bowl in a game that Cornell won 24-7, despite two big performances by Princeton freshmen, as Chuck Dibilio ran for 158 yards to break his own freshman single-game record and Quinn Epperly ran for 96 yards of his own.

Their paths would be much different after that freshman year, as Epperly would win the Bushnell Cup and lead Princeton to an Ivy League title in 2013 while Dibilio would suffer a stroke and never play football again. Dibilio's recovery from the stroke was chronicled beautifully by TB's colleague John Bullis in a documentary entitled "When The Game Ends," which you can see HERE.

As for the cross country races that day, they were contested in the ridiculous conditions that the snowstorm created. The Princeton men won the team race, while the women came in third.

It was the kind of day that stands out among all of the gamedays TB has experienced at Princeton. It's hard to believe it was nine years ago already.

As for the 2020 Heps that wasn't, TB can't wait for his next chance to go and watch one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Another Molly

Mollie Marcoux Samaan has gone running 23 times this fall, she says.

How does she know that it's exactly 23 times? It seems that she's been listening to a Molly Fletcher podcast each time she runs, and she's listened to 23 of them.

Given her interest in what Fletcher has to say, Marcoux Samaan jumped at the chance to have men's tennis coach Billy Pate reach out to her, as the two are friends, and have her speak to the entire department, something that she did yesterday.

The first takeaway is that people named Mollie or Molly seem to have a lot of energy, regardless of how they spell their first name.

Fletcher, who certainly brings all kinds of energy to her talks, is a motivational speaker and author, as well as a former sports agent. Her background certainly includes interactions with some of the biggest names in the sporting world, and she told a few stories about them along the way.

As for her own background, she played tennis at Michigan State, and in fact she was there when Merrily Dean Baker was the Spartan AD.

When Fletcher mentioned a story involving Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo and an act of empathy he showed toward a player after a tough outing, TigerBlog texted Marcoux Samaan to mention that in fact it was Baker who had hired Izzo at Michigan State.

She had also hired Nick Saban to be Michigan State's football coach, by the way. That's not a bad resume item: "hired Tom Izzo and Nick Saban."

Before she was the Michigan State AD, Baker spent 12 years at Princeton, beginning as a 27 year old who was charged with starting women's athletics at Princeton 50 years ago.

Marcoux Samaan mentioned Baker to Fletcher, and it led Fletcher to tell the story about how she had contacted Baker when she was a Michigan State student for some advice on how a woman could get into athletics as a career. She asked Merrily for 15 minutes, and she got an hour and a half instead.

As for Fletcher's talk yesterday, she certainly is right out of the "Be A Tiger" mold. She talked about essentially all of the values that Marcoux Samaan holds so dear for the department, even referencing the acronym at one point.

Fletcher is all about being growth-minded. She's all about accountability. Her talk certainly reflects that.

She talked about leadership and the lessons that successful leaders have talked to her about during her podcasts. One of the best moments of her talk, at least to TB, was when she mentioned her podcast with Holly Rowe, the ESPN reporter, who said that nobody should remember who the interviewer was, only what the questions were and how the subject answered them.

In other words, it's not about you; it's about the person being interviewed. That's how TB was taught a long time ago, and it's something that seems sadly to have all but vanished by now.

Early in her talk yesterday, Fletcher mentioned three main points of emphasis in life. They are:

* lead with love
* stay curious
* prioritize what matters

She asked if everyone on the call to take five pieces of paper and write down the five most important things in his or her life, one on each piece. That's a really, really tough question, right? How would you answer that?

It certainly got TB thinking.

Then, after the five things were identified, the next part of the exercise was to essentially rank them by crumbling up the one that you'd eliminate, and then the next one and so on.

Then she asked everyone if they were devoting proper energy to the most important thing, or things, every day. 

In the end, Fletcher spoke for over an hour, taking questions as well. She certainly brought a lot of energy, and it seems likely that she has plenty left over for the things on her list of what's most important to her.

She was entertaining. She was thought-provoking. She was inspiring, as was her message. The hour-plus seemed to fly by. 

There's not much else you can ask for from a motivational speaker.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Kicking It

Okay, there were three extraordinary highlights from the recently completed football weekend.

TigerBlog isn't sure which is the most incredible.  

He'll start with Todd Gurley of the Atlanta Falcons and the touchdown for which he apologized.

To set the scene, Atlanta trailed 16-14 but was in a near-perfect position to win the game, being in chip-shot field goal range and having Detroit with no timeouts. As a result, Atlanta could have taken the clock down near zero and then kicked the easy game-winner for the 17-16 win.

Instead, Gurley scored, giving his team the lead - but giving the ball back to Detroit. Matthew Stafford then led the Lions down the field with no timeouts and scored the winning TD on the final play, so it's not exactly all on Gurley.

Also instincts are instincts, and getting into the end zone is the whole point. Well, almost always. 

Maybe the most insane part of the clip is the way the Detroit defenders signal touchdown, while Gurley agonizingly tries to stay out of the end zone. TB has never seen that before.

Then there was D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks. If you remember earlier this year, Metcalf, a second-year wide receiver, cost his team a touchdown by slowing down and holding the ball in celebration before getting into the end zone and subsequently having it knocked away.

If he needed that as a lesson in the importance of hustle, it seems he got the message. 

TB has watched this clip a thousand times, and it gets more impressive each time Metcalk looks like he's chasing down someone slow, as opposed to an NFL defensive back who had a huge head start.

The best part is that the tackle saved a sure touchdown, and Arizona didn't even get a field goal on its possession. The Cardinals did win the game in OT, though.

Still, that's one of the greatest individual plays in NFL history. That's how impressive it was.

Then there was the play in college football this weekend. Which one? This one:

So that kick, to potentially win the game, hit the goalposts four times before bouncing away. What the heck? Is that even possible?

How about the reaction of the refs under the goalposts? They just calmly waited for the play to end and then said "no good."

The quadruple-plunk attempt reminded TB a little of a 2001 Princeton game, when Taylor Northrop's potential tying field goal from 57 yards hit the crossbar. It didn't just hit the crossbar. It hit the backside of the crossbar and yet somehow came back to the field, as opposed to dropping in.

What TB also remembers about that play was that the field goal would have been from 20 yards closer had it not been for a sack and two penalties.

TB also remembers being surprised that Northrop's kick was no good. That's how strong a leg he had.

When Northrop graduated in 2002, he held the Princeton record for career field goals with 38, something that's been broken by Derek Javarone (45) and Nolan Bieck (39).

When Northrop was Princeton's placekicker, he drew a regular crowd of NFL scouts to the games. TB is really surprised that he never got a chance in the league, not only because of his field goal ability but also because of how deep his kickoffs routinely were.

He was also a very thoughtful, very soft-spoken person. He had the perfect mentality for a placekicker, and he was a first-team All-American in 2001, as well as a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection as a placekicker and second-team All-Ivy as a punter.

These days, it appears that Northrop lives in Florida, where he works as a financial advisor. At least that's what a quick search turned up.

He also is married and has two kids of his own. There was a picture of him on his company website, and he doesn't look all that much different than when he played nearly 20 years ago.

Nearly 20 years already? 

Anyway, his kick that day was only one plunk off the crossbar, as opposed to four. Either way, it still stung in the moment.

On the other hand, he did make a lot more than he missed, and he is one of the greatest ever to play his position at Princeton.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Football Podcast

Henry Byrd was a second-team All-Ivy League offensive tackle in 2019.

As an offensive tackle, he stands 6-5 and just short of 300 pounds. Can you picture of man of that size tap-dancing?

Byrd spoke about his high school, Ensworth High School in Tennessee, and the art requirement it had for every student, on the most recent "First In Football" podcast. Byrd and the moderator, Cody Chrusciel, spoke about how the big lineman started out and then advanced in tap, and, ultimately how it helped make him a better football player by helping his footwork.

The podcast includes three interviews - with assistant coach Chris Zarkoskie, then Byrd and then former player Marc Ross. It's a little more 30 minutes, and it's entertaining throughout.

You can listen to it HERE.

If you did listen, it won't be hard to figure out the part that TigerBlog liked the most. Hint - it came when Ross mentioned him.

Cody asks Ross about his former Princeton teammate, Keith Elias. Before Ross answered, TB paused the podcast and thought about the word he'd use to describe Elias. Then when he restarted it, Ross used the same word: Intense.

Listening to Ross talk about Princeton football when he played certainly took TB back to those teams. And to Elias especially.

If any player at Princeton since Elias graduated in 1994 can even scratch his level of intensity, it was John Lovett. And this isn't a knock on anyone else who has played football at Princeton since. It's just that those two are just a bit different.

It was also Lovett who beat Elias' record for rushing touchdowns in a season, something Lovett did when he had 20 in 2018. Elias had set the record with 18 as a junior in 1992 and then broken it with 19 as a senior a year later.

Actually, the Lovett/Elias comparison is a pretty good one.

When TB thinks about Elias, he doesn't think about the records, the 20 or so he still holds. He doesn't think of Lovett in terms of statistics either.

He thinks of both of them for the way they simply imposed their will on every game they played. He thinks of the way that they had that rarest quality, where every time they touched the ball, the entire crowd waited to see if something special was about to happen.

They both used that intensity and their intangible qualities to carve out places in the NFL as players. Elias played for five NFL seasons. Lovett is in his second, after now earning regular playing time with the Green Bay Packers as a fullback after winning a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City a year ago.

Ross told a few stories about Elias that TB knew and one that he didn't know, that Elias liked to greet the visiting teams at Palmer Stadium by standing outside their locker room when they arrived. 

Ross used the word "ferocity" to describe Elias. It's a word that TB has used before to describe him as well, and it fits really well.

Ross also said how the other team knew Elias was going to get the ball the majority of the time and that he never took a play off. Neither did Lovett.

Elias and Lovett are probably the two best Princeton football players of the last 40 or 50 years. TB respects other opinions, and a case can be made for some others, but that's how good those two were.

As for Ross, he was a great player in his own right as a wide receiver and punt returner, and he still holds records of his own.

He's gone on to a long career in the NFL in scouting and player personnel, and he has two Super Bowl rings with the Giants' teams he helped build into champions. 

These days he's doing a lot of television work, and he's excellent at it. TB supposes he still wants to get back into an NFL front office, hopefully as a general manager.

For this week, it was great to hear him on with Cody.

Thanks for the shout out, and thanks for taking TB to a really fun time to be around Princeton football.

Friday, October 23, 2020

More On The First 50

TigerBlog remembers the first time he ever saw the Princeton women's basketball team play.

Apparently, he remembers it well.

The way he's always remembered the game, from the 1983-84 season, was that the women's game was the opening game of a doubleheader with the men at the Palestra. TB was a Penn student then. 

As he recalled, the game went into overtime, and as such, it ran to the point where most of the full house that was coming to watch the men's game was already there when it ended. He remembered that Princeton won the game, and he had memories of a Princeton woman who made a huge foul shot with the Penn fans waving their arms and yelling "Choke, Choke, Choke."

For the record, TB was not one of the ones doing such a chant. Perhaps back then there was something already inside of him that recognized that there was much more Orange and Black in his future than Red and Blue.

As it turns out, the woman who made that foul shot was Ellen Devoe, whose steal and layup at the end of regulation tied the game and forced the overtime in the first place.

It was a conversation that TB had yesterday with Karen Konigsberg, Class of 1986, that sparked the memory of that game. Konigsberg was a member of that Princeton team, and she remembered it pretty much the same way.

TigerBlog was talking to Konigsberg as part of his work on the book he's currently writing on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. 

As part of the 50th celebration, you can read excerpts from the book on the page. The first excerpt is already there, from Chapter 1, the story of Merrily Dean Baker.

You can read that HERE.

It's an excerpt, so it's not the entire chapter on Merrily. Her story is Chapter 1, and longtime Princeton women's track and field coach Peter Farrell was correct when he said that telling the story of women's sports at Princeton is impossible without starting with Merrily. 

TigerBlog spent a few days in Florida speaking with her back in January. She told him so many great stories about her time at Princeton and her own life and experiences that he was excited to get the book going.

From there, that excitement has only grown, as woman after woman TB speaks with is incredibly amazing.

Konigsberg, who scored two points in that game at the Palestra, is one of the very short list of women who lettered in three sports at Princeton, as she played field hockey and softball in addition to basketball. She also went on to Harvard Law School and, as a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York would help root organized crime out of the Teamsters' union.

Did you want to take on the mob? And what does she say helped prepare her for that? Her athletic experience at Princeton. 

That was yesterday. 

Earlier this week, TB spoke with Cathy Corcione, who at the age of 15 - before women were even allowed at Princeton - was a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team at the 1968 Games in Mexico City. She told TB the story of how she went from being too young to swim on the local swim club team to the Olympics in nine years. She talked about how she was adopted, how she reconnected with her birth family, how she witnessed first-hand the way the country changed in 1968, how she became a national collegiate swimming champion and how she and only five teammates led Princeton to a third-place national team finish.

There was also Deborah Saint-Phard, another Olympian. 

Saint-Phard was born in Haiti and left when she was six months old, fleeing the terror of Papa Doc. It wouldn't be until she was almost a Princeton grad that she would be able to return.

In the meantime, she moved so many times that TB thinks he lost track, but she lived in New York City, outside of Washington, D.C., and in Kansas (twice), Alabama and Louisiana. 

She became a world class shot putter, and she represented her native country in the 1988 Olympics. She even carried the flag in the opening ceremonies.

Today? She's a sports medicine doctor in Colorado and a strong advocate for the health of women and girls in sports. 

There was Amie Knox, who also lettered in three sports, including one, squash, that she had never played before arriving at Princeton. Did that stop her from becoming the No. 2 player in the country at one point? Nope.

It's one story after another like these. Pretty much all of them could fill a book.

TB is about 40,000 words into the project. He has a long way to go, and a lot of stories to tell.

He's very happy about where the book is going. And he's positive of what the main takeaway will be.

There aren't too many more people anywhere more impressive than the women who have played or coached at Princeton.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Princeton Pets

If you have a very young child in the three or so age range and you want to give yourself hours of laughs, teach the child to say the word "octopus."

There are few things in the world funnier than hearing how they say that. 

Also, there's the name of the city where the NFL's Colts play. That one is pronounced "Indian Apples" by your average toddler.  

Ah, but even that isn't as good as "octopus." 

Perhaps TigerBlog should be writing a book on child-raising, complete with a chapter on how to maximize laughs with your young ones? Tip - get them hooked on cartoons you liked as a kid. There's no excuse for raising a child who doesn't understand that Bugs Bunny is the cartoon GOAT.

Speaking of your average octopus, TigerBlog watched the movie "My Octopus Teacher" on Netflix the other day. 

If you've never heard of this, it's a documentary set in South Africa - or in the Atlantic Ocean off South Africa more precisely. It's the story of a documentary filmmaker and environmentalist named Chris Foster who meets an octopus while diving in waters that appear to be much colder than TB would be able to tolerate.

Foster decides to visit the same spot every day in an effort to see what sort of relationship can be built between the human and the octopus. He originally leaves an underwater camera nearby to see how the octopus interacts with it, and eventually it appears the octopus realizes that he is no threat to it and sort of befriends him.

Foster mentions that an octopus has an intelligence level slightly above that of a dog or a cat, which is somewhat hard to imagine. Still, it does appear from the movie that he and the octopus become friends.

The movie itself bounces back and forth between the underwater footage and commentary from Foster. The interviewer is never seen or heard, and the only other human involved is Foster's son, who comes to dive with him.

The best part of the movie is the extraordinary quality of the underwater video. It does get you to think about just how amazing nature can be. The pace is a bit slow, and Foster isn't exactly next in line for a stand-up comedy special on Netflix. In fact, the octopus was much funnier.

Still, it is well worth your time to check this one out. It's worth it for the footage alone. It's not quite as good as "March Of The Penguins," but it's a fascinating 83 minutes. Like TB said, the idea of what goes in on nature is fascinating, and it's depicted so forcefully in this movie.

Speaking of dogs, cats and the occasional octopus, you may have noticed on Princeton Athletics social media that a new feature entitled "Princeton Pets" has sprung up.  

It's a cute series. It's basically taking current Princeton athletes and featuring their pets.

The latest one features Bruno and his "boopable" nose. 

So far the series has featured dogs, with names like "Georgie" and "Prince" and "Tank." The dog named "Prince" by the way is named for Princeton.

Bruno seems like an amiable dog. TigerBlog learned some things about his owner yesterday.

For one, Nicole Kresich, from Mater Dei High School in California, had a 16-goal, 26-assist freshman year, and last spring she was off to a six-goal, 10-assist start through nine games when the season was postponed.

More than that, TB also found out that Kresich is an English major who wrote for her high school newspaper. And one of the stories she wrote for that high school newspaper, which is called "The Scarlett Scroll," was the story about her Mater Dei classmate, Wyatt Benson, and his commitment to Princeton.

Benson has played two seasons of water polo for the Tigers. He has 60 goals and 12 assist in his career to date. 

There are so many great stories involving Princeton's athletes. The Princeton Pets series is a way to introduce you to some of these amazing young people.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Turning 91

TigerBlog can't begin to imagine how many emails he's received on his Princeton email account since he first started there.

It was his first email account. He didn't even understand how it worked. His first question was how much did it cost to send one.

Little did he imagine the impact that email would have on his job and the ability to transfer information quickly and easily, as opposed to the existing way of putting everything in the mail. 

He still remembers having to get prints made of head shots of all of Princeton's football players and then put them in the United States mail to the legendary Kathy Slattery at Dartmouth for her football program. It was an arduous project, and Kathy didn't get the pictures until just before she needed them. 

When TB had to send the same pictures to Rick Bender at Dartmouth a year ago for program in advance of the game at Yankee Stadium, the entire thing took about two minutes. 

TB has kept a few emails through the years. Most of the ones he gets he deletes without ever opening. How did he end up on so many lists? 

One of his favorites is from Sept. 9, 2003. That would be more than 17 years ago already. Wow.

It came from his former colleague and longtime friend John Cornell, who had been the publications director for the Office of Athletic Communications. That was back when there were a lot of publications, there was a separate OAC position to design them. There were only two people who ever had the title of publications director, and John followed Mike Zulla in the position.

By September of 2003, John was working for the state of Maryland's Division of Natural Resources, where he came up with the slogan "saving the bay one fish at a time." Well, at least he joked about it anyway. Funny guy, John Cornell.

The email TB saved was sent to seven people, and it was entitled "You know you worked in the OAC in 2001-02 if ..." Then it listed a whole bunch of inside jokes.

Reading it back yesterday, TB couldn't help but laugh out loud. They're hysterical, actually, but, hey, you know, you had to be there to appreciate them.

And of course, they took TB right back to 2001-02. There were a few references to the fact that once upon a time, everything that had to be printed, produced, copied or anything had to have a job number, and the list of job numbers was kept in the OAC. Anytime anybody anywhere in the department needed to do any of those jobs, they had to first call the OAC and get a number while also giving the OAC person the account number for which to bill the work. 

It was a huge pain.

Anyway, you'll have to take TB's word for it. The list is still great. 

To that list, TB could have added three simple words: You love Yav.

Everyone in the OAC back then loved Yav. He was an almost-every day part of doing business at Princeton then.

Yav is the nickname for the great Harvey Yavener, a longtime local sportswriter at the Trenton Times (and briefly before that at the Trentonian). Yav was the one who got TB started on the Princeton beat back in 1989.

Yav stopped writing around 10 years or so ago, a combination of age and the changing landscape of the newspaper business. He was, without a doubt, a classic old-school newspaper guy, and he never would have been able to, or wanted to, be part of what sportswriting has evolved to these days.

Nope. He was all about the longform feature, and the epic postgame story. And the wrap  - his one-man crusade to give as many column inches as possible to every single college event on any given day played by Princeton, Rutgers, Rider, the College of New Jersey (then Trenton State College) and Mercer County College. 

Yav had a notebook, in which he write in pencil, every event coming up. On the busiest nights - "killer wraps," he'd call them - there could be 30 or 40 events in his notebook.

His best things were his ability to get a great story from any subject, often taking an hour to interview an athlete where others might only take 15 minutes, and his commitment to gender equity long before anyone else in the newspaper business - especially a man - ever considered it. 

Yav turned 91 yesterday. TB spoke to him to wish him a happy birthday. He's still sharp, even if his hearing isn't very good and he moves slowly. He mentioned how he never thought he'd live this long, let along live this long and still be mentally where he is.

If you remember Yav, then you remember Polly too, his longtime companion (more than 60 years together without ever having actually gotten married). Polly, herself a saint, passed away two years ago.

Yav is still going strong though. 

TB thinks the last Princeton athlete he ever interviewed was Alicia Aemisegger, who graduated in 2010. If you came around after that, then you don't remember him.

And that's a shame. He was such a huge part of Princeton Athletics for so long. And, for TB, he's been one of the most special people who has ever been a part of his life.

So happy 91st birthday Yav.

Hopefully there are many more to come.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Doc And Jack

So Doc Emrick announced that he was retiring yesterday.

The legendary hockey broadcaster is 74 years old, so he's earned it. There haven't been too many big hockey moments in the last few decades where he hasn't been behind the mic, whether it was the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Winter Classic or the Olympics.

Back when TigerBlog was a kid, every announcer sounded like Doc Emrick did. Somewhere along the line, "hip, edgy and highly emotional" replaced "folksy and respectful" as the sportscasting norm.

To that end, TB has always liked the way Emrick calls a game. He's not making himself bigger than the event, or, for that matter, even part of the event. He never seemed to be driven by ego.

He also didn't go down the path that so many current broadcasters, even the really good ones, do. He never used a lot of words to say what could be said in a few words, or fancy words to say what could be said in simpler terms. 

He could be a little overly folksy, 

The key to being a good play-by-play announcer is preparation. In this regard, Emrick was beyond impressive, and that was never clearer than during the Olympics.

When he did NHL games, he would see the same players over and over, so there wouldn't be that many newcomers to have to research. In the Olympics, there would be a ton of non-NHL guys, many with difficult names to pronounce, and Emrick would know who they were and everything about them as if they all were his neighbors.

According to something TB read, Emrick did more than 3,750 hockey games. It made TB wonder how different venues there were in which he called a game.

TB does know one where Emrick did a game. Hobey Baker Rink.

It was in 2013, and it was a game between Princeton and Union. The game was televised by NBC Sports.

This game happened to fall during the 2012-13 NHL lockout, which began in September and then ended when the new collective bargaining agreement was ratified on Jan. 12, 2013.

The Princeton-Union game was played on Jan. 11, 2013. Because there were no NHL games to call, NBC Sports gave some college games to its top announces. Princeton was lucky to have Emrick on the game from Baker Rink. 

TigerBlog chose not to go to the game and instead to watch it on TV, just to hear Emrick do the game. He spoke about both teams, again, as if they were all his neighbors. He even found time to wish a happy birthday to Princeton's then-hockey contact Kristy McNeil, as if she was a cousin of his. 

That game, TB thinks, was Emrick's only encounter with Princeton Athletics. He could be wrong about that.

He does know that Jack Scheuer saw a ton of Princeton games, the overwhelming majority of which were not in Princeton.

Scheuer was a staple at the Palestra for, well, for long before TigerBlog ever walked in the building. He was the AP reporter for Big Five basketball forever, and TB would see him any time he was there for a Princeton-Penn game.

He was as much a part of the building as anyone. Maybe the only person TB can associate more with the Palestra than Jack Scheuer was his late friend John McAdams, the wonderful longtime public address announcer in the building (and for a million other buildings, including when he did Princeton football games at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium).

TB didn't know Scheuer as well as he know McAdams. He did know Scheuer well enough to say hello and have a quick chat every time he saw him. He knew him well enough to be saddened by the news that Scheuer passed away last week, at the age of 88.

Mike Jensen wrote a great piece about Scheuer in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. It mentioned how Scheuer played in pickup games into his 80s at the building, and how he still shot the same set shot he did when he played at Frankford High, graduating in 1949. As he read that, TB pictured Pete Carril as he shot that same shot in his own pickup games in Jadwin Gym.

You can read Jensen's story HERE

So congratulations to Mike Emrick on his incredible career, and the best to him in retirement. And RIP to Jack Scheuer, another gentleman who had another great career. Walking into the Palestra will be a little different from now on.

Monday, October 19, 2020

5 For 5

TigerBlog ran his streak with his colleague Cody Chrusciel to five straight weeks.

Of what? 

Of texting each other somewhere around the time that the Princeton football game of that weekend would have figured to be starting. The two are now five for five on the season.

If you think that the people who work in Princeton Athletics are glad that there are no games this fall, and therefore less work, well, this is Exhibit 1,000 that you're incorrect. 

This weekend would have been the game between Princeton and Brown. The game would have matched Princeton head coach Bob Surace against his former offensive coordinator - and current close friend - James Perry. 

The last time Brown came to Princeton was during the perfect 2018 season. That was the game that John Lovett missed due to injury, and in his place Kevin Davidson made his first career start. That made Brown the lone team against which Davidson made two career starts.

If you couple that game with the game last year in Providence, then here are Davidson's numbers in his two starts against the Bears: 

53 for 74, 678 yards, nine touchdowns, one interception. Combined score of the two games: Princeton 113, Brown 32.

It's safe to say that had the game been played, Brown would not have missed Davidson. 

Speaking of Lovett, he made a great play on the kickoff coverage team for the Green Bay Packers against the Tampa Bay Bucs yesterday:

Lovett, keep in mind, is a two-time Bushnell Cup winner as a quarterback. Well, sort of as a quarterback. He was more of a physical imposition on the other team who could do everything, so calling him a quarterback sells him short, even though he was a great quarterback at Princeton.

Anyway, to those who saw him play at Princeton, it's not a surprise that he's doing well on special teams in the NFL.

Speaking of former Princeton quarterbacks, Jason Garrett got his first win as the offensive coordinator with the Giants yesterday in a 20-19 win over Washington. 

TigerBlog is torn in a few ways here. First, he's rooting for Garrett to do well with the Giants and then get another NFL head coaching job. Or, possibly, to give up coaching and instantly become the next Tony Romo on TV, a job for which he is a complete natural, with his voice and his personality. 

TB has heard a lot of public speakers in his time at Princeton. No. 1? That's Dick Vitale, the Dick Vitale in his prime who spoke at the Meadowlands at halftime of a 1997 Princeton basketball game against Wake Forest in the Jimmy V. Classic. Jason, though, is really, really close. 

Great public speaking is about addressing the audience from your heart. That quality is what makes Jason Garrett an extraordinary public speaker, as good as it gets.

Assuming that he wants to stay in coaching, to get another head coaching spot, Jason needs an offense that can put up points. To do that in the NFL, he needs a good quarterback.

Is Daniel Jones the answer for the Giants? It's Year 2 for him. Is he showing signs of  being the long-term answer?

There seems to be universal agreement that Clemson's Trevor Lawrence will be somebody's long-term answer. TB has seen enough of Lawrence to be on the same page. Would the Giants give up on Jones so quickly and draft Lawrence with the No. 1 pick, should they get it?

Jones, you might remember, was originally a Princeton commit before going to Duke. Can you imagine having added him to the group with Lovett, Davidson and Chad Kanoff? 

Another thing from the Giants game yesterday is that Princeton head coach Bob Surace knows that TB salutes Washington head coach Ron Rivera for going for the two-point conversion in the final seconds and for the win that would have come with it. For TB, that is always the right move. You've just scored. You have the defense on its heels. Go for it right there.

Of course, it takes a coach who is willing to be second-guessed if it doesn't work, like it didn't for Rivera. That's a rarity in the NFL.

This coming week for Surace and the Tigers would have been the game at Harvard. 

TB is assuming he and Cody will get to six for six.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Co-Eds Triumph

As TigerBlog mentioned yesterday, the 50th anniversary of the first day that women competed in intercollegiate competition for Princeton University was on Oct. 17, 1970.

That would make tomorrow the 50th anniversary of that event.

As TB also mentioned, he's currently writing a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. It's a wildly fun project for him.

When he was first asked to write the book, TB said that he didn't want it to be an encyclopedia of events. Instead, he wanted it to be a narrative that told the story of how a school that didn't have women's athletics was able to build such a model program and have the overwhelming success it's enjoyed in these 50 years. 

As such, the book is divided into three sections, all of which are designed to tell the stories of the women who competed here and of the women - and some men - who made those competitions and experiences possible. 

So far he's spoken to many women about their Princeton athletic experiences, and he's not yet halfway to the total number to whom he will speak. In fact, there have been just about 4,500 women who have won varsity letters at Princeton in the last 50 years, and TB could probably get a great story out of all of them.

Interestingly, many of the women TB has spoken to have said the same thing at first: There's nothing special about my story. Then they go and tell TB a fascinating story. 

He's learned a lot about women's athletic history so far, with a long way to go. Some of the stories he's heard are incredible.

TB will be posting book excerpts from time to time as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. Another part will be the podcast series "The First 50" that he and Ford Family Director of Athletics will be doing, and there will of course be a ton of other content, especially on social media.

The first episode of the podcast features, who else, the first two women who competed for Princeton in that tennis match 50 years ago tomorrow. Those two would be Margie Gengler Smith and Helena Novakova.

The two of them could make an entire book all by themselves.

Margie is part of family that includes two sisters who also played at Princeton, Nancy and Louise (whom you may also remember as the women's tennis coach for 25 years). Did you also know that their maternal grandfather, John Logan, was a member of the Princeton Class of 1913 who also played football with Hobey Baker? 

That wasn't their only Princeton connection. Their father Herbert was in the Princeton Class of 1931, and his brother Arthur, their uncle, was in the Class of 1933.

Margie would appear on the cover of the Princeton Alumni Weekly as a senior in 1973 with the headline "Princeton's Best Athlete." A year later she would marry Stan Smith, the Hall-of-Fame tennis player whose credits include winning the singles title at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. 

As part of their travels together, Stan and Margie found a young man in South Africa whom they helped bring to the United States and then helped put through college here. That young man had three children, all of whom would graduate from Princeton, including Nathan Mathabane, who ran track and is now an assistant dean of admissions.

As for Helena, her story is even more remarkable. She was born in Communist Czechoslovakia and left the country at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1968. 

Through an incredible series of events, she made her way through West Germany to England and finally to America, eventually finding her way to Princeton University, where she became a great tennis player and swimmer and the 1972 winner of the Von Kienbusch Award as the top female athlete. 

Here's a part of her story, in her own words:

On the evening of August 25, 1968, the adults in my family decided that I should pack my suitcase and be ready to leave Pilsen the next morning to travel to the West.  I had planned to take a year off to study abroad and had an exit visa in my passport. My brother Vladimir jumped at this opportunity and decided to join me.

As we were leaving our home the following morning, Russian tanks were parked in the streets below our windows. Young soldiers peeking out of the hatches were bewildered by the fists, angry faces and words directed towards them. They had expected flowers and welcoming gratitude because they had been told that they were on a rescue mission. Instead of hugs they saw fury and also pity. Yes, some people felt sorry for these exhausted youngsters who had been tricked into believing a lie.

My uncle and my mother dropped us off at the train station in the most surreal way by keeping a distance from the platform to avoid possible suspicion of cooperation. We all passed the last moments before the train chugged off wondering when and if we would reunite again. Our eyes were glazed over with tears and anxiety, and the magnitude of the moment was squeezing our naked souls.

At the border crossing while passport control dealt with my papers, my brother, who did not have the exit visa, was escorted off the train. We did not even have a chance to hug and say good-bye. That was how I started my journey 50 years ago. I was then 21.

In the Nuremberg train station, American Red Cross workers asked English-speaking travelers to help with processing the influx of refugees. I volunteered and met wonderful people from Oklahoma who appreciated my help and invited me to their home, full of love and open hearts. During those initial days in Germany, I experienced the most difficult inner anxiety worrying about Vladimir. Did he try to cross the border through the mine fields on foot? Keeping busy helped me endure because lines of communication with Czechoslovakia were cut off and I had no way to find out what went on after I departed.

Three days later I said farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Cox, my new friends from Oklahoma from the American Red Cross, and took the train to my uncle’s home in Augsburg, where I was to spend a couple of weeks before crossing the Channel to England for my “Year Abroad” working as an “au-pair” and studying English for a Cambridge Certificate at Barnett College. A huge boulder of relief fell from my shoulders when the bell rang at my uncle’s and there stood two young Americans who had come from Pilsen with news from my family that my brother had returned home safely. These two students from Princeton University had been trapped in the events of Czechoslovakia while traveling and found shelter with my family the day I had left. Thus began my connection to the US.

It was 50 years ago tomorrow that those two women played in that tennis tournament. Margie won the singles title. Helena came in third. Together they won the doubles. Also together, they won the team title.

There was a small blurb in the Daily Princetonian that Monday, under the heading "Co-Eds Triumph."

It was the first time that was true, but hardly the last. 

So happy anniversary to the women athletes of Princeton. 

You've been triumphing for 50 years now, in the most impressive ways possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

First 50

The score of the first football game ever played, the one between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, was 6-4 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.

The score of the first Princeton baseball game was 27-16, against Williams, in 1864.

Princeton actually played two games against Williams that season. The second was 30-17 in favor of Princeton.

In other words, the first football game was what is these days much more of a baseball score, and the first two baseball scores were more like modern-day football scores.

Since 1864, Princeton baseball has played countless 6-4 games, and by countless, TigerBlog means "a lot more than he want to count." 

On the other hand, Princeton football has played two 27-16 games, both against Brown. How many 30-17 football games has Princeton played? 

Any guesses?

It's either zero, eight or 16. Guesses?

You'd think 30-17 would be fairly common, right? Well, if you guessed "zero," you'd be correct.

The President of the United States on the day of the first Princeton baseball game was Abraham Lincoln. That, by the way, was the first intercollegiate athletic event in Princeton history.

Lincoln was the 16th POTUS. Richard Nixon was the 37th. 

That's a lot of Presidents between the first athletic event for Princeton and the first athletic for Princeton involving women.

The first time women competed for Princeton was shortly after the dawn of co-education. Two women, Margie Gengler and Helena Novakova, represented Princeton at the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Championships in New Paltz, N.Y. Together, they won the team championship all by themselves.

That event was 50 years ago Saturday.

Princeton women's athletics started out in the win column and has not let up since. In the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, there have been, among other things, all of the following:

* 22 individual national champions
* 33 team national champions
* 35 Olympians
* 16 Olympic medals
* four Rhodes Scholars

There have also been, TB would assume, way more All-Americans than there have been 6-4 baseball games.

There have been just about 4,500 women who have won varsity letters at Princeton in the first 50 years (including, TB can say with limitless pride and admiration, his own daughter).

Women's athletics at Princeton have grown from two women in shirts purchased at the U-Store with their names sewn on the back of them by the only woman administrator in the Department of Athletics - and one of two overall at the entire University - to what it has become.

More than just all of the winning, the women's athletics teams at Princeton have been a model of what intercollegiate athletics can be at their best - a place for competition at the highest level by highly dedicated athletes who make lifelong friendships and learn all of the great lessons that serve them for the rest of their post-Princeton lives. They do all this while also being extraordinary ambassadors for the University and especially being inspirations to the little girls who watch them and want to grow up to be like them.

The 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton is a very big deal, and the Department of Athletics will be celebrating for the foreseeable future. It's not the celebration that Princeton had hoped, as having in-person events will have to wait until the COVID pandemic ends.

Still, there will be speaker events, social media content, a podcast series with Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan (herself a two-sport athlete at Princeton), stories on (including a webpage dedicated to the women's athletics celebration) and much more.

For his part, TigerBlog is currently writing a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. With everything he's done at Princeton in all his years here, this book is definitely his favorite project.

He's spoken to, and continues to speak to, so many impressive women through the generations who have done so much to bring women's athletics to Princeton and then take it to the level it now enjoys. He's very much looking forward to the final product this coming spring.

There will be some excerpts from the book on the webpage, beginning next week with some of the story of Merrily Dean Baker, the woman who purchased those two shirts and sewed those names on the back - and did everything else necessary to get the women's program started.

TB invites you to enjoy all of the upcoming content about the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. 

And if you're one of those letterwinners, this celebration is all about you and what you've accomplished.

You're part of an amazing sisterhood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Good Value

TigerBlog mentioned yesterday that Matt Evans won the 1999 Roper Trophy as Princeton's outstanding senior male athlete. 

He received an email yesterday asking what about Brian Earl. The correct answer to the 1999 Roper Trophy is that there were three winners: Evans, Earl and Jeff Halpern. 

Two of them are now coaches. Earl is the head coach of the Cornell men's basketball team. Halpern is an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and in fact he just won a Stanley Cup with the team.

Now that he's cleared that up, TB can tell you about something interesting that he read yesterday that he did not know about as it relates to Presidential elections.

This was in relation to the election of ’20. In this case, that would be 1920. 

Actually, it was two interesting facts about that election.

First, it was Warren Harding against James Cox, and both candidates were from Ohio. Harding was a Senator, and Cox was the state's Governor.

How many times has that happened? 

Well, if the question is when there was another time when two people ran against each other who were both from the same state and at the time of the election were both holding major offices (governor, senator, even member of the House of Representatives), then the answer is never.

If the question is how many times have two people run against each other when they both had their legal address in the same state, well, that answer is four, including in 2016. The others were in 1904 (President Theodore Roosevelt defeated Alton Parker, who was the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals) and 1944 (when President Franklin Roosevelt defeated New York Governor Thomas Dewey).

There was also 1860, when Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were both from Illinois, but Douglas was not a major party candidate.

So there you have it.

The other thing that TB learned was in that 1920 election, Warren Harding won by the largest percentage of the popular vote over his opponent than any other candidate ever. Harding, it turns out, had 26.2 percent more of the popular vote – aided by the fact that women could vote for the first time – than Cox, a figure that nobody has bettered since.

Warren Harding. And you thought he was only famous for the Teapot Dome scandal. And from the affair he had with the woman who had his child, something that TB didn't know about until he watched "Boardwalk Empire."

That election was, of course, 100 years ago. Well, almost 100 years ago. Actually it was 100 years ago this coming Nov. 2.

You know what was exactly 100 years ago today? 

There were two interesting items in the Daily Princetonian of Oct. 14, 1920. Hey, this is what historians like TigerBlog do for fun. They check out old newspapers from 100 years ago.

The first was a story about how men's soccer season tickets were on sale. The cost to watch the 1920 Tigers? It was $1. That's for the entire season ticket, not per game.

TB has no idea how many games the 1920 Tigers played. The first year of men's soccer at Princeton was 1906, but the archives only have year-by-year results beginning in 1938. 

Of course, while $1 doesn't seem like a whole lot, keep in mind that 1) that's the equivalent of $13.60 today and 2) modern-day men's soccer games at Princeton are free. 

The other story TB saw in the paper from 100 years ago was about transportation to the upcoming Harvard football game. The story said that Princeton fans could take a train to New York City and then a boat to Boston.

How much? That would be $13.56 for the round-trip, which was overnight both ways. That cost, by the way, did not include a stateroom or meals on the boat. Staterooms were going for $2.43 and $3.42.

Again, in today's money, that's $184.37 for just the boat, and then either $33.04 or $46.50 for the stateroom. And that doesn't include food.

That's a bit pricey, no? 

On the other hand, that game was Princeton's only away game that year. It was also the only sort-of blemish on an otherwise perfect season, as Princeton and Harvard tied 14-14 in that game. 

Not to worry though. Princeton still won the 1920 national championship.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Matt Evans, Record-Holder

So the game to which TigerBlog was referring yesterday should be obvious.

In yesterday's entry, TB mentioned that Army-West Point had replaced Princeton on its football schedule with the Citadel. Instead of the Tigers at West Point Saturday, it was instead the Citadel.

Final score: Army 14, the Citadel 9.

That final score leapt out at TB as the same final score of the 2018 Princeton-Dartmouth game.

If you remember that game - and of course you do - it was the first of two straight Princeton-Dartmouth games that matched 7-0 against 7-0. In the 2018 game, Princeton defeated the Big Green 14-9 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

The Big Green won the rematch last year 27-10 at Yankee Stadium. The difference between the two games was that in 2018, the two combined to go 19-1, which meant the head-to-head matchup became winner-take-all for the championship. A year ago, both teams lost the following weekend, and the game between the two did not end up being for the title.

The most amazing thing about that 2018 game is how the first 11 minutes of the game were and how the 49 after that played out. Dartmouth took the opening kickoff and then marched down the field, going 75 yards on 14 plays. Just like that, it was 7-0.

Princeton took the kickoff and then, on its first possession, answered with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of its own. That made it 7-7, and it left everyone in attendance to wonder if either offense would be stopped that day.

And then the defenses rose up, and every yard, every inch for that matter, was an achievement. TB can't remember seeing another game quite like it.

The offenses were unstoppable on their first possession. The defenses were unmovable after that.

The 2018 game was also the most intense Ivy League football game TB has ever seen, and that was a function of how great the defenses were. It just seemed like whoever got the next touchdown would be the winner - and that's how it played out - and therefore it put that much more pressure on every possession for both sides of the ball, but especially the defenses.

The coordinator of the winning defense that day was Steve Verbit. In addition to being the team's defensive coordinator, Verbs has been busy these days on social media tweeting out pictures of a player or a few players from their playing days and from today, with what their overwhelmingly successful careers have been.

It's a very effective way of making the point that the Princeton football experience is a rewarding one for the four years you are a Tiger and then one that breeds lifelong success after that. 

The most recent one that TB has seen is of Matt Evans, who was a punter for the Tigers in the late 1990s.

Evans holds the Princeton records for career punts and punting average in a season, and he is second in career punting average. 

In fact, he punted 239 times in his career, or 59 times more than the next-best total of 180, held by Colin McDonough. Only Ryan Coyle (41.2) has a better career average than Evans did (40.8), and Evans averaged 44.0 yards per punt as a senior in 1998.

As a freshman, by the way, Evans was the punter and classmate Alex Sierk was the placekicker on the 1995 outright Ivy League champion Tigers. Evans was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection as a punter.

Ah, but Evans was also a baseball player at Princeton. And he wasn't just any baseball player.

More than 20 years after his final game at Princeton, Evans still holds the career records for home runs, doubles and extra base hits at Princeton. Evans, a first baseman, was also a three-time All-Ivy baseball pick, though he was never first-team in baseball, despite his 26 home runs. 

As a senior he won the William Winston Roper Trophy as the top senior male athlete.

And of course, this get TB to thinking about how many people hold career records in two different sports at Princeton? 

Now TB has something else to look up.

Monday, October 12, 2020


TigerBlog didn't watch too much college football this past weekend. 

Actually, he didn't watch too much football period, college or pro.

He's still rooting for the Giants, his favorite team for his entire life. Were it not for Jason Garrett as the team's Offensive Coordinator, TB would no longer be even remotely interested. 

When TB was a kid, his favorite pro teams were the Giants, the Mets, the Knicks and the Islanders. Eventually, he began to root for the Devils instead of the Islanders because 1) the Islanders were no longer winning Stanley Cups and 2) the Devils were The New Jersey Devils, an actual, genuine New Jersey team.

Yes, the Giants and Jets played at the Meadowlands. But they were always, and still are, New York teams. 

It's fascinating to TB that his first memories of watching sports on TV include the Red Holtzman Knicks. He had no idea back then that he'd come to learn way more about Bill Bradley than just what he saw on his TV screen.

As for the Giants, they fell to 0-5 yesterday with their loss to the Cowboys. That ties them for the best record for an NFL team in New York, or, you know, New Jersey. For that matter, the Jets and Giants have as many wins as Princeton, who isn't playing this fall.

The Jets also fell to 0-5 yesterday with a non-competitive showing against the Cardinals. TB's interest in the Jets is mostly in Manish Mehta, the former Princeton Office of Athletic Communications assistant who is now the Jets' beat writer for the New York Daily News.

TB heard Manish on WFAN with Danielle McCartan, for an interview that aired during Danielle's "McCartan After Midnight" show Friday night, well, actually, Saturday morning. It actually aired at 4:40 am.

No, TigerBlog was not listening to the interview in the middle of the night. He listened to it Saturday afternoon while he rode his bike.

If the name Danielle McCartan is familiar to Princeton fans, it should be. She's the same person who did a lot of Princeton women's basketball games on the old Ivy League Digital Network and then in Year 1 of ESPN+. 

In addition to being an aspiring broadcaster, she's also a teacher. And she's been a coach. It makes for a busy schedule, TB supposes.

She's gone from Princeton games to overnight on the weekends on WFAN, which is the No. 1 sports talk radio station in the country. Her interview with Manish was very strong, with some humor, some tough questions - like asking Manish about his support for Jets' coach Adam Gase at first, something that's obviously changed. 

It was a good question to ask, and Manish answered it perfectly, talking about how things can change sometimes. She didn't duck the question, and he didn't duck the answer. It made for very good radio. So did the fact that she's very knowledgeable and very personable without trying too hard to be funny or edgy. TB was impressed.

Anyway, this weekend was the first time since the COVID situation began that Danielle was back on the air. 

This weekend also would have been the Princeton football game at Army. The teams have played 13 times, and Princeton leads the series 6-4-3. 

Of course, there is a bit more to it than just the numbers. Princeton and Army played twice in the 1980s, with Army's having won both. Before that, you go back 77 years to find another meeting. 

Hopefully, it won't be 77 more until they can make the schedule work. By the way, of the 13 games, there were eight that were played in 1908 or earlier, including four in the 1800s.

Anyway, Army replaced Princeton with the Citadel, and the teams played Saturday at Michie Stadium. TB was expecting a high-scoring Princeton-Army game. In fact, he told someone Saturday that he thought it would have been 42-28 Army, or something like that.

The game between Army and the Citadel, though, ended 14-9 Army.  It was lower scoring and closer than TB figured, as Army improved to 4-1 and the Citadel fell to 0-4.

The result made TB rethink his position. Princeton definitely would have won. 

Hey, why not.

Oh, by the way, the final score of the game between Army and the Citadel?

Where have Princeton fans seen that score before?

Think about it. You'll figure it out.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Almost An Anniversary

Were it not for the COVID-19 situation, the fall teams would be heading into the heart of their Ivy League seasons.

TigerBlog has said that he was not going to be spending the whole fall doing a bunch of "what ifs," because what would be the point.

While he's not writing those, though, he certainly hasn't gotten past the whole idea that there are no sports currently going on. For him, this is the first fall in nearly 40 years where he has not had games to cover. 

That is especially true on Saturdays. They're just weird now.

As he did all spring, he finds himself spending his Saturdays thinking about where he would have been and what he would have been doing. Last week, it was to have been the Ivy opener at Columbia. 

Speaking of Princeton football, TigerBlog has a good Bob Surace story. TB wrote earlier this week about the novels that he and Judd Garrett have published.

TB didn't mention that the lead character in his story is a fictional member of the Class of 1990 named Sam Wainwright. As he was writing it, TB needed to know what the Class of 1990 Reunions jacket looked like, so he texted Surace, a member of the class. 

All he said was that he needed a picture of Surace's Reunions jacket. And about 90 seconds later, Surace texted him back a picture of it, without ever asking why. It was pretty classic Surace. Happy to help. Literally no questions asked.

Anyway, the whole "what would TB have been doing today" thing will be even more acute tomorrow.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day that Princeton played football at Army. Considering that the weather tomorrow in West Point will be sunny with highs in the mid-70s, yeah, it would have been a perfect day for the game.

TigerBlog has never seen a football game at Army. He was definitely looking forward to this:

Hopefully that game will be able to be played at some point in the near future. 

Speaking of the near future, there is something that definitely will be happening one week from tomorrow. It'll be the 50th anniversary of the first time that women competed in intercollegiate athletics for Princeton.

It was on Oct. 17, 1970, that Margie Gengler (now Margie Gengler Smith) and Helena Novakova represented Princeton in the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Championships in New Paltz. Not to give away the whole story, but it went well.

There is all kinds of content on its way from Princeton Athletics about the anniversary and about the first 50 years of women's athletics. The addition of women into athletics at Princeton is as big as anything else that has ever happened for the Tigers, and the women's teams have been a model of success and a representation of Princeton's Athletic values from Day 1.

Which, of course, was 50 years ago next Saturday.

TigerBlog has been spending most his time these days writing a book on the history of women's athletics at Princeton, and he's really happy with how it's progressing. He's very much looking forward to the finished product, which will be available in the spring, in conjunction with the first actual team event, which was a women's tennis match against Penn on April 12, 1970.

In addition to the book, there will be all kinds of additional information in the form of social media, written stories on the webpage, podcasts and videos. And, of course, here on TigerBlog.

You'll be able to start to see all of this beginning next week, including some book excerpts.

There really are no shortage of stories to tell, beginning with the way that athletics for women began at Princeton – fueled by the drive of the first female administrator, Merrily Dean Baker, about whom everyone TB has spoken with has raved – and continuing through the present day. 

TigerBlog's research has already taken him to so many impressive women who have represented Princeton as coaches and athletes, and their stories have been fascinating and inspiring. He still has many, many more to talk to as well. It began with a trip to Florida in January to meet with Baker herself, and it's continued since then.

It's an anniversary well worth celebrating.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Athletic Communicators

The Scrambled Aches are no longer the Bad News Bears of the CoSIDA fitness challenge.

Could they be the New York Knights instead? 

If you're not up on your baseball movies, the Bad News Bears were a collection of misfits in a California youth baseball league, at least until Tatum O'Neil and the kid on the motorcycle (who was also in another great sports movie, the very underrated "Breaking Away") showed up. The New York Knights were a collection of misfits in the National League, at least until Roy Hobbs showed up.

The Knights began the season in last place before making a serious move up the standings once Hobbs arrived. Eventually, they, well, TigerBlog isn't going to tell you what happened, in case you've never seen "The Natural."

And if you haven't, please stop what you're doing and go watch it, unless you've never seen "Hoosiers," in which case you should go watch "Hoosiers" instead because it's a slightly better movie, though both are among the five best sports movies TB has ever seen.

TB told you the story of the Aches a week ago, when his team in the fitness challenge finished last for the second straight week. Ah, but this week? It's all changed.

The power of teamwork is a beautiful thing to see. The Scrambled Aches have been pushing each other to do better, and so they have.

And as such, TB can tell you that the Aches vaulted all the way from last place of 10 teams all the way to fifth in this week's standings. What will this week hold? 

Who knows. If nothing else, it's been a fun, well, exercise, and a way to connect with fellow athletic communications professionals from around the country, on all different levels of college athletics.

As TB said last week, there's a bond that exists between people in his profession. He went on to point out that there's a commonality to all athletic communications people.

There's also another thing that binds the people in TB's profession. There's a sense that nobody really has a great idea of what it is people in sports information do.

More than that, there's a sense that people don't understand how much the position has evolved through the years. What goes on in the Office of Athletic Communications now bears no resemblance to what went on there 10 years ago, and what went on there 10 years ago bears even less resemblance to what went on there when TB first started doing this.

It's caused everyone in the field to take a hard look at how they do their jobs and what is required of them. It's also caused everyone in the field to learn new skills, radically different ones.

TigerBlog read a thread on Twitter Tuesday night written by Steve Kirschner, who has been in sports information at North Carolina since before TB was at Princeton.

Read the thread. And then read all the comments underneath. And read what some of the biggest names in sports media had to say about athletic communications.

It's nice to see so many of those people stand up for those in athletic communications, but the job now goes so far beyond just that.

When TB first started at Princeton, it was all about media relations. Story placements. That sort of stuff.

Today Princeton's OAC still does that side of things, but it also is very much its own media outlet. And it continues to be a more and more demanding field.

Who in athletic communications ever really disconnects? Who puts down the phone, logs off of the computer?

It's actually the opposite. At their most peaceful moments, those in athletic communications are constantly tweeting out some reference to something that happened somewhere completely out of nowhere in the sports world that reminded them of a time that something similar happened at one of their games. They're constantly making graphics and gifs. 

They're constantly producing content.

It's how the business is. Everyone in it knows what they were getting into when they signed up.

And it's not for everyone. TB has seen a lot of good people who've left the business because the pace and the hours weren't for them.

For TB's part, he's never known anything else. He's been a lifer in this business.

That's why he liked Steve's thread the other night so much. It spoke for everyone in the business.

Athletic communications provides insight into a department and a university. It tells the stories directly that need to be told, the ones that speak to the heart of what each school is trying to be and what it values most.

Certainly that's the case at Princeton.

Actually, that's what's kept TB there all these years.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Author, Author

Judd Garrett answered his phone, and TigerBlog was struck immediately by two things.

First, Judd sounded very much like his older brother Jason. Second, Judd also sounded very much like TigerBlog.

The part about Jason refers to their voices themselves. Vocally, they are very similar.

When it came to content? TB might have been talking to himself at times, for as similar to each other the two were at many times during the conversation.

Judd Garrett is, of course, one of the Garrett brothers, the ones who made such a lasting impact on Princeton football in the 1980s. Jason and Judd Garrett are the only brothers who have ever won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Player of the Year, which they did in 1988 (Jason) and 1989 (Judd).

It's a football family, to be sure. Their father Jim was a longtime coach. Jason obviously coached the Dallas Cowboys for 10 years and is now the Giants' offensive coordinator. John is the head coach at Lafayette.

Judd has never been a head coach, but he's a longtime NFL assistant coach and scout. He's also quite a bit more than that.

Judd Garrett recently published his first novel, entitled "No Wind." It's a coming-of-age story, set at the Jersey Shore, with a lot of baseball in it. And with a lot of depth. And with very well-chosen phrasing.

He began writing the story while he was still a Princeton undergrad. That was also when he was setting Princeton football rushing records for yards in a season (1,347) and career (3,109), records that lasted only until Keith Elias came by shortly after Garrett graduated.

Still, all these years later, Elias is the only player who has topped Garrett's numbers. And Garrett's Princeton resume includes leading the team to the 1989 Ivy League championship, its first in 20 years. 

In the 31 years since, Princeton football has won seven more Ivy titles, so that 1989 team deserves a great deal of credit for breaking the championship ice, as it were. 

While doing all of that, Garrett started his novel. Then he added to it, a little at a time, eventually writing to double its final length before he went through a tight editing process.

Garrett would write when he found the time, which wasn't easy, considering that he was a full-time NFL coach. And father. 

He's been through way more than his share of tragedy in his life as well. His first wife Kathy passed away in 2007 at the age of 38, leaving him and their four children. Kathy Garrett was Kathy Kobler when she was a dominant soccer and softball player at Princeton. Garrett would later lose his oldest child as well. Today he is remarried, with two children with his second wife, Erin. 

It's no wonder that his book is filled with depth, emotion, family, questions of faith, thoughts on the randomness of the universe. 

He ran with power and ferocity as a Princeton running back, and that same passion comes through on each page of his novel.

As Judd wrote: "You can come back to your memorable places, but you can never go back to the time that made those places memorable."

Judd is not currently coaching, something he hopes to resume next season. In the meantime, though, he finally had the time to finish his book and get it published.

So why does he remind TB of himself?

TB also recently published a novel. Like Judd, it's also his first. Like Judd's, it also is largely set in a beach town.

And mostly, like Judd, TB wrote his the same way.

They both had an idea of a story. They both had themes to their story. They both had points to make.

And so they both set out to write. They had no outline. They had no plan. They just went where the story took them.

Most people do not write that way. 

When TB spoke to Garrett earlier in the week, he was so struck by how similar their writing philosophies were. And how much obvious pride he had in the accomplishment.

It's the same way TB felt, especially the first time he actually saw the book in publication. TB always wanted to try to write a novel, and he actually started a few times, only to delete it after a few pages because it was awful.

Then he finally started to hit upon the right story. In much the same way as when you read a book that you really like and can't put it down, it was the same way in writing one.

TB is really happy with the way his came out. It's not the same sort of coming-of-age story as Judd's, but it does have many of the same themes. 

Also like Judd, the editing process might have been rougher than the writing of the book. 

So now both are published authors. It's an accomplishment that both will always cherish. That's what really came out from talking to Judd. It's the sense of having set out to do something difficult and having achieved that lifelong goal that they both share.

If you're interested in Judd's book, you can get more information HERE.

If you're interested in TB's book, you can get more information HERE.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Chris Sailer Show

The lead story on over the weekend was the one about men's golf alum Evan Harmeling and his first professional victory.

Harmeling won the Savannah Golf Championship in a playoff after tying at 21-under. The win came on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is sort of the Triple-A of professional golf.

Golf in Savannah this time of year? It doesn't get too much better than that if you're a golfer.

The win has Harmeling in the serious running to earn a PGA Tour card. 

The best part about the story about Harmeling's win was this:

Harmeling qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of 2019 thanks to a high finish on the PGA Latin America Tour. The Princeton politics alum has been exceptionally generous along the way, including donating to his caddie a car he won by making a hole-in-one during a Latin American Tour event and by donating his check from the Massachusetts Open in 2013 to the One Boston Fund following the Boston Marathon bombings.

That says a lot about him.

Harmeling finished sixth at the Ivy League championships in 2012 as a senior after finishing 18th the year before. He's certainly come a long way to get to be the champion of a professional event. 

The Harmeling who won the tournament in Georgia also doesn't look anything like the Harmeling who competed at Princeton. You can see that by clicking HERE and HERE.

Congratulations to Evan Harmeling. TB is hoping to see him on the PGA Tour next year.

Another story on GPT, one that was added yesterday, is the podcast with Chris Sailer that TigerBlog did. 

The two had not done a podcast since March 19, right when the entire COVID-19 situation started to break. TB went back and listened to that one to try to see what stood out the most.

Mostly, it was a reminder of how quickly everything progressed back then. The women's lacrosse team had played at Stony Brook on Sunday, March 8, and then by Wednesday everything had been shut down.

As TB pointed out to Sailer on that March podcast, when they left Stony Brook that Sunday, there wasn't a sense in the world that the season was over.

That podcast brought back the emotions of that week. 

The Ivy League, as you recall, was the first to postpone its basketball tournaments. It was also the first to cancel spring sports - and so for a few hours at least, the Ivy League athletes were the only ones who had to be dealing with it. 

At one point in the March podcast, TB asked Sailer this question: What do you say to your players? 

The same question applies now, nearly seven months later. 

Think about that. It's only been seven months. It seems like a few lifetimes ago.

TB and Sailer spent a lot of time on the podcast in March talking about uncertainty, about the future, about eligibility, about what things were going to look like. Some things have been cleared up, such as what online learning would be like.

And yet others still need to be resolved.

One thing that stands out to TB is that back in March, everyone everywhere thought things would be back to normal by the fall. And yet here we are.

For the podcast yesterday, TB revisited some of the same questions. Again, the common theme was uncertainty.

The women's lacrosse team was to have had 32 players on the roster for the 2021 season. Of that group, 19 have withdrawn for the year, which leaves 13 enrolled players. What will that mean for a potential season? Sailer talked about that.

In general the conversation was about what goes into coaching during a pandemic. Sailer, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and a three-time NCAA champion coach at Princeton, has nothing in her background that prepared her for this.

Nobody does.  

These are uncharted waters, obviously. And again, there are more questions than answers right now, including whether or not there will be a 2021 season in the first place.

If the end of the 2020 season seems like a lifetime ago, as TB said it was just seven months. In other seven months, it'll be May. For Princeton women's lacrosse, that's a time that usually means Ivy titles and NCAA tournament runs.

What will things look like then?

TB has no idea. He wishes he did.

You can listen to the podcast HERE.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Bride 107, Groom 106

If you look at the top of the Princeton field hockey list of all-time scoring leaders, you'll see the name Kathleen Sharkey.

In her four years as a Tiger, Sharkey - known as Kat - put up 245 career points before graduating in 2012. Her 107 career goals are also the program record.

In fact, nobody is even close to Sharkey. The next-best total for points is 198, by the great Kirsty Hale, Class of 1999, and then it drops down to 173, by the equally great Ilvy Friebe, Class of 2003.

In goals, it's even more dramatic. Sharkey's 107 not only make her the only Princeton field hockey player ever with at least 100 goals but also the only one with at least 90, or even 80. Hale and Friebe are tied for second, at 71.

When TigerBlog thinks of unbreakable Princeton records, he thinks of Bill Bradley and his 2,503 career points in men's basketball first and foremost. Here it is, 55 years after Bradley set that record, and nobody has scored more than the 1,625 that Ian Hummer did. If you're looking at all of Princeton basketball, you can go with the 1,703 that Bella Alarie scored for the women.

Alarie, as great as she was at Princeton, only made it 68 percent of the way to Bradley's total. And Bradley only had three varsity seasons, with no three-point shot.

Friebe and Hale, with 71 goals, are even further away from Sharkey than Alarie is to Bradley. They are just past 66 percent of the way, just short of two-thirds.

Consider how good Princeton field hockey has been through the years, with all those Ivy titles and NCAA Final Fours. The most recent Princeton team reached the NCAA championship game last year, and no player on that team has more than 34 career goals.

To have one player so far out in front of everyone else in a program that has been that great through the years is extraordinary.

As for Sharkey, she's a key reason why Princeton won the NCAA championship in 2012. The Tigers defeated Maryland 3-2 in the semifinal and then North Carolina 3-2 in the final, and Sharkey had three of the team's six goals in those two games. She had nine in the five NCAA games during that title run.

She'd go on from Princeton to play for the United States national team, even playing in the 2016 Summer Olympic games. She was a three-time first-team All-American and a four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection.

This past Friday night, Kat Sharkey married former Princeton men's lacrosse player Tom Schreiber. There have been countless marriages between former Princeton athletes prior to this one. Has there ever been one where both the bride and groom were three-time first-team All-Americans and four-time first-team All-Ivy League selections?

That's the case with Mr. and Mrs. Schreiber. 

The groom is one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. 

He has been the Most Valuable Player and a league champion in Major League Lacrosse. He has been the Rookie of the Year in the indoor National Lacrosse League. He has been the Midfielder of the Year both years of the Premier Lacrosse League.

Internationally, he is known as "Captain America" with the U.S. national team. At the most recent World Championships, it was his goal with one second remaining in the final that gave the U.S. the 9-8 win over Canada.

More than just his ability, he is also universally known in the lacrosse world for his humility and modesty as a player, something that once was known as "sportsmanship." He is in many ways one of those players who seems to be too good to be true, someone who combines all of his ability with a humble way on the field and off. 

If you've ever seen Schreiber interact with fans, especially young fans, then you know exactly what TigerBlog means.  He's certainly seen it time and time again. Certainly any time TB has asked Schreiber for a favor, he's dropped everything and done it immediately, no questions asked. He's almost apologetic if he can't do it within seconds.

And now he and Kat Sharkey are married. For him, this means, of course, that he has committed to going the rest of his life having to accept one excruciating thing about his wife.

She scored one more goal in college than he did. 

Schreiber finished his career with 106 goals at Princeton. That has to be tough, no? 

And yes, Schreiber is the best passing midfielder TigerBlog has ever seen. And so he coupled those 106 goals with 94 assists, as opposed to the 31 for Mrs. Schreiber. 

In college field hockey, points are awarded by giving two for a goal and one for an assist, whereas in lacrosse it's one for a goal and one for an assist.  If lacrosse did it the same way, then Schreiber would have had 306 points, instead of 200, and he would have far surpassed his wife.

TB wishes nothing but the best for the newlyweds. Certainly they are a thoroughly Princetonian couple, perhaps, with the four first-team All-Ivy selections and three first-team All-American selections each, a history making couple.

It's just that the score is Bride 107, Groom 106.