Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Year In Review Part II

There is nobody who will ever be able to convince TigerBlog that Princeton Athletics would not have won at least one national championship in the 2019-20 academic year.

In fact, there could have been more than one.

Who would it have been? Women's hockey? A wrestler? Men's lacrosse? Men's lightweight rowing? Women's lightweight rowing? Someone else?

Sadly, that will remain unanswerable, just as TB's deep belief that it would have happened will remain unwavering.

As TigerBlog said yesterday, the biggest story of 2020 in Princeton Athletics at everywhere else was the COVID pandemic. It was the virus that limited the 2020 portion of the athletic calendar to slightly more than two months, nearly weeks of which also included the final break for first-semester exams in advance of the switch in the academic calendar.

Princeton has 37 varsity teams, but only 22 of them were able to compete at all in the year 2020. The last time Princeton had fewer than 22 teams compete in one calendar year was 1971, just as women's athletics were getting started.

Still, there were some incredible moments in Princeton Athletics in 2020. And, as TB does on the final day of every year, here are some of the top ones (unlike most years, these are in no order, so you can decide which was biggest):

* the women's hockey team won its first ECAC championship, defeating Cornell 3-2 in overtime on Mariah Koepple's goal 58 seconds into overtime back on March 8. Cornell came into the game as the No. 1 ranked team in the country and played like it in the first three minutes, scoring two quick goals and threatening to run Princeton out of Lynah Rink. Instead, the Tigers toughened from there, as Steph Neatby stopped the final 31 shots she faced and Sarah Fillier and Carly Bullock scored second-period goals to tie it. Princeton would have entered the NCAA tournament at Northeastern the following weekend, and the 26-6-1 Tigers would have had as good a chance as anyone to win the championship.

* the wrestling team defeated Cornell 19-13 on Feb. 9 in Jadwin Gym, and in doing so all of the following happened: 1) Princeton won its first Ivy League title since 1986, 2) Princeton ended Cornell's 17-year run as Ivy champs and 3) the wrestling team made Princeton the first school to reach 500 Ivy League championships. Trailing 10-4, Princeton won five straight matches, clinching it when Travis Stefanik went from down 4-3 with a minute to go to up 6-4 with a takedown with 10 seconds left and then finally 10-4 at the end with back points. When the NCAA championships were cancelled, it left Princeton to wonder if Patrick Glory (EIWA champ, unbeaten on the year) or Matthew Kolodzik (EIWA champ) would have won an individual national title.

* The women's basketball team rolled through the Ivy League, becoming the first team to win all 14 league games by double figures. Princeton, under first-year head coach Carla Berube, went 26-1 overall and had an RPI near the top 10 nationally. There was no NCAA tournament, but Princeton would have been looking at a seed around No. 5 and would have had a legitimate chance to reach the Sweet 16. On what proved to be the final weekend of the year, Bella Alarie broke the 30-year-old school career scoring record and finished her career with 1,703 points before being the No. 5 overall pick in the WNBA draft. Alarie became a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year and Carlie Littlefield, who on the same night that Alarie broke the scoring record reached the 1,000-point mark for her career, was named a first-team All-Ivy League selection for the second time.

* the women's swimming and diving team easily won the Ivy League championship at Brown (Feb. 19-22). The Tigers were led by freshmen Ellie Marquardt and Nicole Venema, who were two of the three high-point Swimmers of the Meet with 96 points each, while Mimi Lin was the career high-point diving champion. The Ivy title was the 23rd for the women's swimming and diving program.

* the men's indoor track and field team won its sixth-straight Ivy League Heptagonal championship, which was also the program's 23rd overall. Princeton had six event winners on the final day of the meet, held Feb. 29-March 1 at Cornell. Joey Daniels won his third-straight 60 hurdles title, this time in school- and meet-record time. Andrei Iosivas, also a wide receiver on the football team, won the Heptathlon and earned Outstanding Field Event Performer honors. 

* Julian Knodt, May Tieu, Daniel Kwak and Alexis Anglade all won NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Regional titles on March 8 at Duke as Princeton won four of the six weapons and had the runner-up in the other two.

* Reid Yochim and Mark Paolini scored overtime goals to lead Princeton to a sweep of Dartmouth in the opening round of the ECAC playoffs.

* The men's lacrosse team raced out to a 5-0 start to earn a ranking in the top three of every major national poll. The Tigers defeated defending NCAA champion Virginia 16-12 in Charlottesville on Feb. 22, and there were also wins over Big Ten rivals Rutgers and Johns Hopkins. The four-goal win over UVa would actually be the closest game of the season, and the Tigers would score at least 16 goals in each of the five games.

It's up to you to decide what the No. 1 moment of the year was.

That Princeton had that many moments in such a small window tells you a lot about the success that Tiger teams traditionally enjoy.

Lastly, Happy New Year to everyone. Thanks for being such loyal Princeton fans, and here's to hoping that everyone stays safe and healthy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Year In Review Part I

Every year at this time, TigerBlog goes through a list of the top moments of the previous 12 months in Princeton Athletics.

Each time he does it, he's amazed at a few things.

First, it never seems possible that another year has come and gone. Second, if you went back 12 months, you would have no way of knowing what the top stories were going to be.

It's part of the great charm of Princeton. You never know which team is going to step up and have a season for the ages. It could be, and often is, anyone.

TB also seems to mention in his Year in Review stories that another great part of working at Princeton is that each year brings a large number of great moments from which to choose. And, he adds, this is something that nobody at Princeton ever takes for granted.

Those two things are even more relevant as 2020 comes to a close.

One, even in an abbreviated athletic year, Princeton still had some great on-field moments, even if they all happened in slightly more than two months. Second, if there was anything that came out of 2020, it's that nothing should ever be taken for granted.

There's no doubt at all as to what the top story for 2020 was, in Princeton Athletics and everywhere. It was, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even as he thinks back to it, TB is still shaking his head at how quickly things went from "normal" to "completely shut down." 

In very short order, there were 11 Princeton events on Saturday, March 7, including the last two regular season basketball games, a stunning overtime win by the men's hockey team in the ECAC playoffs and another huge performance by the men's lacrosse team.

There were six more events the following day, including an amazing OT win by the women's hockey team in the ECAC final. 

TB was at the women's lacrosse game at Stony Brook that Sunday. He went to the team's postgame tailgate afterwards. He had plane tickets for Jacksonville for the team's upcoming trip there.

It all seemed so normal. That was Sunday.

There were still some other events contested as the week started (women's golf and men's and women's diving). There were also, beginning that Monday, some rumblings.

It started with the idea that fans might not be permitted to attend the Princeton-Penn men's lacrosse Ivy League opener that was coming up Saturday. That was Monday afternoon or so.

There was a coaches' meeting Tuesday - where everyone gathered in the Jadwin Zanfrini Room, all maskless - to update the situation, including the news that the Ivy basketball tournaments had been postponed and that no fans would be allowed at any events. Other winter teams, including both hockey teams, were getting ready to get on buses for postseason competition.

By Wednesday, Princeton president Chris Eisgruber was in Jadwin Gym, meeting with the entire athletic department to break the news personally that all athletic events for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year had been postponed. Nobody was permitted to sit within six feet of anyone else at that meeting.

It was shocking. It still is as TB thinks back on it.

In a blink, the unimaginable had happened. TB would never have guessed that he was watching his final Princeton athletic event for a long time when he was at that women's lacrosse game that Sunday. 

Since then, Princeton Athletics has worked tirelessly to maintain the education and social connection that binds the students and teams together. It's been one hurdle after another, one more time where the answer had to be "no" instead of the "YES!!!" that everyone wanted to scream.

TigerBlog will be back tomorrow with a list of the top on-field moments from 2020. Hopefully it serves as a reminder of what it's always been like.

Before that, though, he does want to take a moment to salute all of the members of the Department of Athletics, all of his colleagues, all of whom have done so much these last nine months or so to support the athletes, to be there for each other and to be involved in the communities that needed the help so much. 

And he especially wants to salute all of the alums who have worked on the front lines and done as much as they could to fight the virus up close. 

This wasn't even remotely close to the year that everyone wanted or expected or became used to, but it's been the year that everyone has been forced to deal with and accept. 

TB's colleagues have shown their remarkable true colors through all of it, and he considers himself as fortunate as he ever has to be one of them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Little Ballet, A Little Women's History

TigerBlog stumbled on "The Nutcracker" on TV the other day (it was Christmas Day actually), and he ended up watching all of it. 

The work of Tchaikovsky dates to 1892, and it plays out in two acts. The first is set on Christmas Eve and revolves around gifts, including a nutcracker, that are given to children by a magician. The second is set in a land ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy and includes a lot of the music known as "The Nutcracker Suite."

TB has always loved the music from "The Nutcracker." In fact, he remembers buying a version of it in a record store in West Lebanon, N.H., in a strip mall opposite the hotel where Princeton teams stay when they play at Dartmouth.

In fact, TB walked over to the music shop with none other than Pete Carril, a few hours before a Princeton-Dartmouth game. Pete wanted to buy some Spanish music.

This was when TB was still in the newspaper business. To give you a sense of how long ago that was, TB bought a cassette of the "The Nutcracker," not even a CD, let alone a download.

The ballet, of course, is a Christmas staple. It's incredibly impressive to see it performed by the top dancers in the world, who make something really difficult seem easy.

There would seem to be a lot of overlap between being a great ballet dancer and a great athlete. They both require, among other things, strength and endurance, as well as mental toughness to push through when fatigue starts to set in.

Then there is the teamwork involved. And the concept of how much preparation is necessary to reach the highest levels. And of course how all of the practice leads to a public performance.

About the only difference is that there's no score kept in ballet.

TigerBlog has seen it at McCarter Theater. So have a lot of other people.

As near as TB has been able to figure, "The Nutcracker" first played at McCarter in 1935. The theater was five years old at the time.

There were still several decades between when McCarter opened and when women were first admitted to Princeton. This year has been the 50th anniversary of when women first competed for Princeton in intercollegiate athletics, and TB was asked a very interesting question the other day.

What was the first intercollegiate event for women and when was it? Not Princeton women. That he knows well - it was Oct. 17, 1970, when Helena Novakova and Margie Gengler Smith represented Princeton in the Eastern tennis championships.

No, when was the first time women competed anywhere in intercollegiate competition.

TB found this in "The Sport Journal":

Women were not active in intercollegiate sport until basketball was introduced at Smith College in 1892. Basketball quickly spread to other colleges, and students began to clamor for intercollegiate play. Women’s physical educators opposed such competition because they were not ready to lose control over their programs (as they perceived the men had). The first intercollegiate competition among women was a scheduled tennis tournament between Bryn Mawr and Vassar. It was canceled because the Vassar faculty did not allow their women’s athletes to participate in competition between colleges. The honor of being the first teams to compete in women’s intercollegiate athletics belongs to the basketball teams of the University of California, Berkeley vs. Stanford and the University of Washington vs. Ellensburg Normal School; they played in 1896.

It doesn't say what year that tennis match would have been between Vassar and Bryn Mawr.

Still, that goes back further than TB might have guessed. That was pretty advanced for the times, he would think, to have allowed women to compete. 

Intercollegiate men's basketball only began three years earlier. There is some doubt as to what should count as the first game, but it seems like it was between Drexel and Temple on Nov. 22, 1893. 

That game, which Drexel won 26-1, was played with nine players on the court for each team at a time. 

It would be a few years before Princeton would first play basketball. The first game for the Tigers was on Jan. 26, 1901.

Anyway, that's your story for today. 

Some ballet. Some women's athletic history.

Coming tomorrow and Thursday? TB offers some 2020 Year in Review stuff.

Guess what the top story was.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Rooting Interest

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for more yards in the fourth quarter Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders than he did in any game in his Harvard career against Princeton.

By the way, typing "Las Vegas" before "Raiders" still seems a bit strange.

If you missed the game (and TigerBlog did, as he was actually watching one-loss Liberty's thrilling OT win over previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina at the time), Fitzpatrick came off the bench to complete 9 of 13 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown while playing only in the final quarter. 

The Dolphins, led by Fitzpatrick, won 26-25 on a 44-yard field goal on the game's final play.

The FitzMagic part came on a 34-yard completion, which actually was more of a no-look heave, the no-look part courtesy of the fact that his facemask was being yanked as he threw, adding another 15 yards and setting up the game-winning kick.

Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden is being criticized for his decision in the final minute to not score a touchdown but instead have a running back intentionally stop at the 1 and then have a quarterback kneeldown to set up the go-ahead field goal with 19 seconds to play. The criticism is unfair, since Las Vegas (still weird) did the 100 percent correct thing in that situation.

Fitzpatrick had only 19 seconds to get his team, with no timeouts, in position for a field goal. It took the miraculous play - one nobody has ever seen before - to make that happen. The bottom line is that is that if you can't prevent a team from doing what Miami did in 19 seconds, then you deserve to lose. 

Josh Jacobs stopped himself at the 1 with 1:50 to play. Had he scored there, then Miami would have had all of that time to drive for the winning touchdown (though no timeouts). Instead, they got the ball back with 19 seconds left.

You're going to win so many more times doing what Gruden did than you will taking the touchdown.

The bottom line, people, is that the outcome does not make the decision right or wrong. It's the logic that originally goes into it.

Meanwhile, speaking of Fitzpatrick, he never threw for more than 172 yards in a game against Princeton before graduating in 2005. TB has two questions about him.

First, is he a Hall-of-Famer? Don't laugh. He is the only player to throw a touchdown pass for eight teams. He is 30th all-time in NFL history in career passing yards and 35th all-time in passing touchdowns. 

And he was also the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 400 yards in three straight games. Yes, often playing for a lot of teams is a sign that you were expendable by all of them, so it argues against greatness, but isn't there something different about him compared to other "journeymen?"

Second, is he the non-Princeton Ivy League athlete in one of the four major professional sports who is the easiest for Princeton fans to root for? TB is trying to think of someone else who fits that description. Jeremy Lin maybe? 

Is there someone else obvious?

TB has written this before, but the list shouldn't be very long. When you have such great, and longstanding rivalries, it's hard to dial up excitement for someone from the other side.

But this is a bit different. This isn't the same as rooting for the Ivy League champion in the NCAA tournament, though TB would love to know if most Princeton fans do that or don't do that. The results would be fascinating.

This isn't even rooting for an athlete on another Ivy team while they're still an Ivy athlete. This is rooting for someone who once was an archrival - and someone who has a big-time beard and seemingly big-time personality.

In the case of Fitzpatrick, he comes across as tough to root against, especially when he does things like he did Saturday night.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

TigerBlog has a large collection of Christmas songs on his iTunes.

He's always been a big fan of Christmas music. He was a trumpet player in high school, and he loved when the concert band, or the jazz band, played holiday music.

What's his favorite? 

It's probably not a shock to anyone who has read this for awhile to learn that it's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band version, of course. That's a big sticking point with TB.

It's the song, but it's also the artist. He's not interested in hearing anyone sing "Silver Bells" except for Dean Martin. The same goes for "Silent Night" and Emmylou Harris. 

It has to be Darlene Love's version of "Winter Wonderland," though his high school jazz band did do its own great version of the song.

"The Christmas Song?" If it's not Nat King Cole's voice that starts out with "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," it's likely TB won't even make it to "Jack Frost nipping at your nose." 

And does he even have to mention "White Christmas" and Bing?

He has his favorites. 

Having said all that, he does have to give honorable mention to the Beach Boys jazzed up version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Oh, and you know what he cannot stand, not even a little bit? TV commercials that substitute its own lyrics for classic Christmas songs. TB would rather listen to fingernails on blackboards.

Today, of course, is the day before Christmas. As he said last year (and the year before that and the year before that and so on and so on):

The surest way to get TigerBlog to tear up is invite him over, click HERE and to fast-forward to the 7:00 mark.

Never fails.

If you don't want to go through all that, then the link takes you to the last scene of the Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life."

The line that always, 100 percent of the time, brings a tear to TB's eyes is Harry Bailey's toast to his brother. TB could watch it in early July on a day far removed from Christmas and still it'll have the same effect.

Want to see some more of TB's favorite Christmas clips? Then watch one of these:

* the end scene from "A Christmas Story"

* bonus scene from the same movie

* Charlie Brown makes a bold purchase

* the Grinch's heart grows

* this one is more serious (go to the 20:00 mark)

* this one is the greatest ever version of any Christmas song ever performed 

* this one is second

* this is really cute

* and you can't watch the last one without this one

* oh, and here's one more. Is this a Christmas song, or a showtune? It's both.

As with everything else in these surreal times, holiday plans in 2020 have been impacted significantly by the COVID pandemic. 

Also as with everything else, TB hopes it's a one-off and that next year things will be back to normal.

Of course, normal means a return to competition for Ivy League athletics. 

For now, click on the links and enjoy them.

And Merry Christmas everyone. Hopefully it's safe and happy. 

And he'll leave you today with this, which, unfortunately, not available on iTunes, at least not by these guys.

And this one especially has to be these guys.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Lussi And Shon

The "First 50" Podcast With Tyler Lussi And Kelly Shon

TigerBlog starts your day with some good news.

The days are getting longer.

This week marked the shortest days of the year. Sunset was at 4:33 Monday in Princeton. That was the day of the Winter Solstice.

Monday night was also the night of "The Great Conjuction," an anomaly in the world of astronomy in which the planets Saturn and Jupiter appear very closely to each other in the night sky. Sadly, the night sky in Princeton Monday night was cloud-covered.

Not to worry, there will be another "Great Conjunction" on Nov. 4, 2040. 

Weirdly, 2040 seems so far away, like some sort of futuristic time, whereas 2000 doesn't seem all that long ago. 

Since Nov. 4, 2040, will be a Sunday, you'll have to wait a day to read about TB's thoughts about the "Great Conjunction." It'll probably start like this: TB waited 20 years for another Great Conjunction, and it was cloudy again? What the heck?

Anyway, even though winter has just started, the days will slowly and surely get longer. By the Summer Solstice, the sun won't set until after 9 at night. That'll be this coming June 20.

That day will also be Fathers' Day. You know what will make a great gift this coming Fathers' Day? TigerBlog's book on the first 50 years of women's athletics.

Okay, it's not done yet. But it's getting there.

And TB is very happy with how it's going.

Of course, instead of writing his own book, maybe he should have just borrowed the senior thesis of Tyler Lussi, the all-time leading scorer in soccer history at Princeton (that's men or women). 

Lussi, a member of the Class of 2017, wrote a thesis entitled "EXERCISING THEIR EQUALITY: COEDUCATION AND ATHLETICS AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY AFTER 1969."

It includes this line on Page 1:

How would women’s soon to be discovered in 1969, but still unknown, voracious appetite to compete in college athletics affect Princeton’s plunge into coeducation?

Lussi shared her thesis with TB after he and Mollie Marcoux Samaan had Lussi and fellow Princeton alum Kelly Shon on the "First 50" podcast, a series that TB and Samaan are doing as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton.

The short answer to Lussi's question, as TB has learned in his book interviews, is this: "a lot."

In fact, it was one of the first things that Merrily Dean Baker, who started the women's programs 50 years ago, said to TB when he met with her. To quote her directly, 

“It worked because the Princeton women were successful in everything they did. We were lucky. I honestly believe the success of women’s athletics had a major impact on the success of co-education in general.”

TB is looking forward to reading the rest of Lussi's thesis.

The earliest pioneers of women's athletics seem to have a few common denominators. First, they did what they did not necessarily to be pioneers but simply because they loved to play. Second, they are thrilled at what the modern Princeton athletes have become.

And that group includes wildly impressive women like Lussi and Shon.

The two of them were dominant Princeton athletes in their sports, Lussi in soccer and Shon in golf. Beyond that, they both have gone on to compete in arenas that weren't available in the early days.

They both went from Princeton to become successful professional athletes.

As with all of the episodes of the podcast, TB finds himself listening in awe to what the guests say as much as he does thinking of his next question. Also, it was again fascinating to hear their stories, about how they came to excel at their sports, how they came to Princeton and in this episode, what it's like to be a professional athlete.

Shon, of course, played on the LPGA tour, making the cut in 51 tournaments in four years. Shon, a two-time Ivy Player of the Year and the 2013 Ivy champion, was the third league player to play on the LPGA tour.

Lussi was a two-time Ivy Offensive Player of the Year. She finished her Tiger career with 53 career goals, and only one player, male or female, is within 10 of her total.

Their podcast, as well as all of them, is definitely worth your time to hear.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Guest TigerBlog - Jim Barlow Talks About Bob Bradley And Jesse Marsch

TigerBlog was going to write about how Princeton alum and former head soccer coach Bob Bradley was coaching tonight in the CONCACAF Champions League final tonight, somewhat ironically against Tigres of Mexico.

On the heels of the run by another Tiger alum turned coach, Jesse Marsch, it seemed interesting to TB to see if there was any commonality between the two. To find out, he turned to Jim Barlow, the current Princeton head coach who played for Bradley at Princeton and on whose staff Marsch once coached. Here is what Jim had to say:

I am so lucky to be able to call two of the giants of World Soccer my friends, and to consider them such an integral part of the Princeton Soccer Family as they both played for and coached in our program. To see the success they have enjoyed, and continue to achieve, on both the domestic and international stages is truly inspiring.

Bob Bradley has won an MLS Cup, a Supporter’s Shield, two U.S. Open Cups, a CONCACAF Gold Cup title and three MLS Coach of the Year Awards. As the Coach of the USA National Team, he won the CONCACAF Gold Cup and was a runner-up twice, and also finished second to Brazil at the 2009 Confederations Cup after beating Spain (the best team in the world at the time) in the semis. He then advanced the USA out of their group at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. After that challenge, Bob had successful stints coaching the Egyptian National Team and professional teams in Norway and France. He also become the first American to coach in the English Premier League. Now, back in MLS after returning to coach the expansion Los Angeles Football Club in 2017, he has the team on the brink of the biggest title for North and Central America, the CONCACAF Champions League (the final is against Tigres from Mexico tonight at 10 pm EST).


Jesse’s path has been a little different. After a great playing career at Princeton, Jesse won three MLS Cups and four U.S. Open Cup titles as a player for DC United, the Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA over a 14-year career. After he retired as a player, Jesse quickly transitioned into coaching as an assistant for Bob with the U.S. National Team at the 2010 World Cup, then as manager for the Montreal Impact. In 2013 and 2014, Jesse returned to Princeton as a volunteer coach for our team that captured the 2014 Ivy League title. He then returned to MLS, coaching the NY Red Bulls from 2015-2018. In that short time, Jesse won the 2015 Supporter’s Shield and was named MLS Coach of the Year. In 2018, he decided to go to Europe to become an assistant coach for Bundesliga side RB Leipzig before being named head coach for Austrian side RB Salzburg in 2019. In his two years at Salzburg, Jesse has won both the Austrian Bundesliga and the Austrian Cup, and he has coached into the group stage of the European Champions League twice. He is now preparing his side for a run in the Europa League this spring.


Just rattling off these accomplishments makes me realize how much these two have done for our sport on our campus, in this country and around the world. What is even more amazing, however, is the kind of people Bob and Jesse are. 

I have learned so much from them. They both create environments that get the balance right between competitive and fun. Their culture is grounded in strong relationships and a love for the work that is being done. Both never stop learning. Both also balance the big picture with an incredible eye for the smallest details that matter. 


Neither avoids confrontation or hides from difficult conversations. Both ask you to put yourself out there, to take risks, to “go for it.” Both have taken some huge risks themselves, including going to countries where they don’t even speak the language to take over huge clubs. They both live in the present, enjoy the moment and value every person at their clubs.


Both have incredibly strong and unique spouses who have helped them get where they are. Both have children who have learned similar traits from their parents and fearlessly challenge themselves in different ways.


But Bob and Jesse are not the same person, nor the same coach. 


Their soccer philosophies differ, their teams play differently, they value different team traits as more or less vital to their team’s success. They communicate differently. 


While they both strive to create “originals,” rather than copies, on the field – they have both emerged as originals in the world of coaching. And they have become among the best in the world at what they do.


With some huge games coming up, the Princeton Soccer Family wishes Bob and Jesse good luck – you two have made us all proud to be associated with Princeton Soccer!


Monday, December 21, 2020

Thanks For The Memories, MLL

Back in 1960, Princeton defeated Cornell 6-5 on the final day of the season to win the Ivy League men's lacrosse championship. 

The deciding goal was scored by Cookie Krongard, then a junior. It was his only goal of the game, or, more accurately, the only goal of his career.

Then again, he did make 20 saves in that Cornell game. Cookie was the team's goalie.

In fact, he was a three-year starter for the Tigers, from 1959-61. He was a two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and a 1961 first-team All-American. 

Princeton went 14-0-1 in Ivy League games in his three years. In 1985, he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a few years after his older brother Buzzy had been.

That, however, was hardly the end of his lacrosse career. 

To this day Cookie can be found jumping into the cage at an alumni game. And, back in 2008, when he was 67 years old, he tried out for Major League Lacrosse.


In fact TigerBlog stumbled on a quote from Rob Scherr, who played at Johns Hopkins and was the starting goalie at the time for the New Jersey Pride, the team for which Cookie auditioned.

“I was very surprised in how he stepped in there and took the shots. He was getting knocks all over the place and stayed in. A lot of people don’t have the guts to even get in there at the level we do. But a 67-year-old guy coming in, that’s pretty interesting and pretty spectacular.”

Cookie's attempt to play in Major League Lacrosse at the age of 67 is one of the better stories of Princeton's history with the league. 

The news came last week that MLL is to be no more, after its 20 year run as a groundbreaking outdoor professional lacrosse league. MLL has technically merged with the Premiere Lacrosse League, which came on the scene two years ago, creating two outdoor leagues.

From the start it seemed like two leagues was one too many. And, once the PLL took almost all of the best players and with its NBC contract and corporate sponsorship, it seemed like a real uphill battle for MLL.

With the merger, the Boston Cannons will become the eighth PLL team and will become the Cannons LC. The current Cannons roster won't make up the new one, which instead will be set the same way that the Waterdogs were last year, as an expansion team. 

TigerBlog, for one, will miss MLL. He's enjoyed following the league all these years, which isn't that surprising.

Princeton had a very strong impact on the old league. TB made a list of about 20 players who competed in MLL, and he's pretty sure he's missing a few.

The very first MLL player was a Princeton alum, Ryan Mollett, who was the first pick of the first MLL draft back in 2001. Jesse Hubbard at one point was the league's all-time leader in goals scored; Ryan Boyle at one point was the league's all-time leader in assists and points.

Kevin Lowe scored an overtime goal in an MLL championship game for the Long Island Lizards, making him the only player ever to score an OT goal in both an NCAA final and an MLL final. Boyle and Matt Striebel won three championships together with the Philadelphia Barrage, and Boyle added another with the Cannons.

Tom Schreiber was a league MVP and champion, with the Ohio Machine. Zach Currier also won a championship with the Denver Outlaws. Josh Sims won two championships with the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

Chris Aslanian, last year's volunteer assistant coach, was an MLL Rookie of the Year. 

That's all off the top of his head. He must be forgetting others.

When the news came, TB felt badly for all of the players who would have been playing professionally but now won't, not to mention all of the others who worked and coached in the league. 

The PLL is a cutting edge professional league, polished in every way. MLL wasn't quite as polished, but it was a lot of fun.

It was more than that, though. It was also important. It was a hugely important first step for professional outdoor lacrosse in this country.

It leaves behind a very solid legacy.

And it also leaves behind a lot of great memories for the Princeton players who were such a huge part of Major League Lacrosse during its 20 years.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Charlie Volker, Bobsledder

TigerBlog was expecting a call Wednesday from Fred Samara, the head men's track and field coach at Princeton.

He didn't have Fred's number in his contacts. Usually, when he gets a call from a number he doesn't recognize, it turns out to be an urgent message about the extended warranty on his car, which, by the way, he has no extended warranty on his car.

When his phone rang, he saw that it was a number he didn't know, and so he almost didn't answer it. Ah, but it's a good thing he did, since it was Fred on the other end.

TB remembers when caller ID first became a thing. He remembers the running joke was "hey, nobody is ever going to answer your call," which is what everyone said to all of their friends.

When call waiting came along, that was worse, especially before you could see who the other caller was. Now it was "hey, I know I'm in the middle of talking to you, but it's possible somebody more important is on the other line."

Anyway, he's glad he got to speak to Fred. For one thing, it's always good to talk to Fred. For another, he wanted to talk to him about one of his former athletes, Charlie Volker, a football/track and field alum who is now a U.S. national team bobsledder.

TB is in his second go-round as the Princeton football contact for the Office of Athletic Communications, after having done so from 1994-2001 the first time. When he found out about Volker's new vocation, he texted the football contact in between his two stints, his former colleague Craig Sachson, to ask him if he'd seen the news about Volker and what he thought. Was Volker the kind of guy he thought would make a bobsledder?

Sachson's response: "This surprised me less than almost any other player would have."

Armed with that, TB set up to speak with Volker. 

TB had been the PA announcer for Volker's football career at Princeton, but he'd never met actually met him before. As such, he also invited Princeton head football coach Bob Surace to join them on Zoom.

Surace being Surace, he asked the question that cut right through to the heart of everything:

"Charlie, what do your parents think of this?"

That's a really good question. TB's best question was "have you ever seen 'Cool Runnings.'"

If you've seen "Cool Runnings," you know it's a fictionalized version of the 1988 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team. The basic premise was that a team of great sprinters became bobsledders and made an immediate impact on the sport at its highest level.

It's a cute and charming movie, one of the best sports movies TB has ever seen. It's a classic root-for-the-underdog story, with four Jamaican sprinters (including one named "Sanka Coffee" and another named "Yul Brenner") and their coach, played by John Candy.

If you haven't seen it and you're looking for something really good to watch, check it out. 

On a bigger scale than just being quality entertainment, it's sort of a true story, or at least based on one. Jamaica did field a team at the 1988 Olympics. 

TB won't ruin the end of the movie for you, but if you've seen it, that actually did happen for the Jamaicans in their sled. 

The basic premise of creating a team for Jamaica was to get sprinters into bodsleds. That's the case for Volker, who graduated in 2019.

Volker isn't from a Caribbean island nation, but he is more from the shore than he is from the snowy mountains. He came to Princeton from Rumson-Fair Haven High School, which isn't exactly known as a winter sports hotbed.

The short version of the story is that Volker won a lot of championships at Princeton in both football and track and field, is an athletic freak and is now an aspiring Olympic bobsledder. More than that, he just qualified for the U.S. national team for the first time, and he'll be heading off Europe for some races after the new year. 

TB doesn't want to give away the rest. 

Hey, you can read it for yourself.

He will say, though, that bobsledding isn't something TB would want to do. He was in Lake Placid once in the summer, and you can still go down the bobsled track there in a cart on wheels. TB wanted no part of that.

But Volker? He's perfect for it. His early success will only fuel his determination.

TB wishes him nothing but Cool Runnings.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Missing Doug Gildenberg

TigerBlog was a history major in college.

He even has the word "historian" in his current title at Princeton. It's no wonder he's a big fan of history, especially Princeton Athletics history.

As he writes this, he's wondering what it is about history that appeals so much to him. He's always been good about memorizing dates and all, but there has to be more to it than that.

Maybe it's because history is really about storytelling, and maybe he really enjoys that part of it. He certainly has during all of his time here. The current women's history project is just an extension of that.

He certainly likes the idea of seeing, as it were, how things used to be, whether it be the first women's athletes in the 1970s or Hobey Baker 60 years before that or the first football game 40 years before that. He loves the idea, and the challenge, of creating a record of what has happened here.

TB has a book called "Athletics At Princeton," which is about Princeton sports in the 1800s. It's an old brown dusty book of 600-plus pages, and TB has no idea of how that book came to be in his possession.

The story of the book itself would make for a great history lesson, actually. It was published 120 years ago, and somewhere along the way it made its way to Jadwin Gym.

Eventually, TB stumbled on it in the E level storage room and moved it to his desk. This was in the 1990s. It's stayed with him ever since.

How many people have read the book? How many people have owned it? How many desks has it sat on through the years? 

The book was written by Frank Bresbrey, a member of the Class of 1879 and a rower at Princeton. His book is a meticulous recap of every athletic event played by a Princeton team in the 19th century.

TB's women's history book isn't meant to be the same sort of encyclopedic memoir the way that the Bresbrey book is. What he does hope is that 120 years from now, his book is sitting on someone's desk somewhere.

Seriously, looking at the old book is extraordinary. Its own story is almost as fascinating as the stories contained inside of it.

Speaking of Princeton history, there is Doug Gildenburg.


Doug Gildenberg is not a Princeton graduate. He went to Delaware, actually.

But he in his own way is a big part of Princeton Athletic history. Gildbenberg is a long, long, long time football and basketball stats person at Princeton. He goes back way before TigerBlog showed up.

His stat career goes back to his freshman year of high school, when he was 1) cut from the basketball team and 2) offered a job keeping stats. He's been doing so for 45 straight basketball seasons since then, most of them at Princeton for the men and women.

When TB first started covering Princeton, it was Doug and Jeff McCollum, a 1966 Princeton grad. Jeff, who wrote for the Daily Princetonian as an undergrad, left once stat-keeping went from hand stats to computer stats. 

Doug, though, has soldiered on. He's worked with a lot of different people, most notably Bob Nicastro and the Yackos, Norm Sr. and Norm Jr. 

Doug has been the constant. And this fall and winter he, like everyone else, has missed being in his usual sit in the press box at Princeton Stadium or courtside in Jawin Gym.

He's a good guy, Doug. He'll talk to anyone in the press box, and he's always happy to be there. He knows every possible situation that can come up statistically and how to enter it, and you never have to worry whether or not he's going to be there on time. 

TB received a nice email from Doug the other day, talking about how much in fact he does miss his regular role. 

He also said he's looking forward to next year. He's speaking for more than just himself when he says that.

And 2020 notwithstanding, Doug Gildenberg has already carved out a spot in Princeton's history. 

Not everyone who has done so has done so on the field.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Golden Doodle

So TigerBlog was walking along the other day without his phone, which meant he couldn't check the time.

He walked past a man who was walking his dog, a rather large dog, and TB called out: "Do you know what time it is?"

And what did the man respond?

"Golden Doodle."

How great is that? He clearly wasn't paying attention that closely to what TB said. Either that, or a few people asked him what kind of dog he had.

"What time is it?"

"Golden Doodle."

Love it.

That has absolutely nothing to do with Princeton Athletics. The closest connection to Princeton Athletics is that when the conversation happened, TB was wearing a "Princeton Football" sweatshirt. Oh, and his Princeton bucket hat, an olive one with a striped "P" on it;

And that's not really a huge connection or anything. Or for that matter, it's not really all that unique for TB, who has something Princeton related on pretty much at all times.

It's interesting that telling time has gone from having a wristwatch to checking your phone. Or, if you're really lazy, you can simply say "hey Siri, what time is it?"

Do people still wear watches?

TB has never been a huge fan of wearing watches. In fact, he hardly ever has. The only watches he ever had as an adult were either NCAA tournament watches, NIT watches or in-season tournament watches. 

The two best of the last of those were the ones he got at the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu in 1998 and one of the ones he got from his two trips to Iowa State (1995 and 1998). The weather at those two locations in December was radically different, although on one of his trips to Iowa State, the temperature there set a record for the month in the state and started to melt the frozen lakes, which created the most absurd fog that TB has ever seen.

On that trip, TB flew to Minneapolis with Tom McCarthy, then the radio play-by-play man, and met up with his childhood buddy Larry Zucker, who lives in Eden Prairie. After dinner with the Zucker family there, TB and McCarthy drove the three hours south to Ames, the site of Iowa State.

The only problem is that you couldn't see at all out of the front of the car. TB has never seen any fog close to that. The three-hour ride ended up taking a whole lot longer. 

As for the NCAA tournament watches, they were all pretty special to him.

He got his first one after the Tigers' 1996 trip to the men's tournament, the one where Princeton defeated UCLA in Indianapolis. The watches were given out (if TB is remembering this correctly) at a reception with then-University president Harold Shapiro.

In other men's basketball news, Princeton alum Devin Cannady hit his first NBA three-pointer in an exhibition game this past Friday, when his Orlando Magic defeated the Atlanta Hawks 116-112. Cannady played seven minutes and had a rebound, assist and blocked shot in addition to his three points.

Orlando plays at home tomorrow night against the Charlotte Hornets in the third of four preseason games. Cannady had a strong season a year ago in the G-League for the Long Island Nets, averaging 14.4 points per game and shooting 36 percent from three.

Also in Princeton men's basketball news, there is a really good "Journey To Jadwin" piece on Jaelin Llewellyn, the current junior from Toronto who led the Tigers in scoring a year ago.

The story talks about how Llewellyn went from growing up in Toronto and rooting for the Raptors, how his father (a former player at Rhode Island who suffered a broken hip that derailed his professional career) helped get him started, Jaelin's experiences with the Canadian national program, how he went from Canada to finish high school in Virginia and ultimately how he made it to Princeton.

This part of the story really resonated:

While he received offers from the likes of Virginia, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgetown and Purdue, Llewellyn ultimately chose Princeton the summer before his senior year at Virginia Episcopal. 

“I definitely want something else other than only basketball because I’m more things than just basketball,” said Llewellyn. “I have a lot of other interests and things that I like to do when I'm not dribbling a ball and I think Princeton has a culture that creates a space for that, even if you don't do anything with it.”

You can read the story HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Women's Trivia Time

As TigerBlog mentioned last week, he put together a women's athletic history trivia contest for the monthly department staff meeting.

He included one sample question last Friday, and that drew several emails asking for the complete quiz. So, he's decided to offer it to you today. 

There will be three parts. 

First, there are the questions. Second, there is a brief break so that there are a few paragraphs between the questions and answers. Third, there are the answers.

If you want, he can add an essay question at the end.

Part I - The Questions 

How many women in Princeton history have lettered in three different sports (not including cross country/indoor track and field/outdoor track and field)?

A)    11

B)    17

C)    24

D)    38


How many women have won a varsity letter at Princeton?

A)    2,876

B)    3,421

C)    4,549

D)    5,423


How many Olympians has Princeton women’s athletics produced?

A)    20

B)    25

C)    30

D)    35


Kelly O’Dell holds the Princeton women’s hockey record for goals in a career with 121? How many career goals did Mollie Marcoux Samaan score?

A)    117

B)    118

C)    119

D)    120


Squash was one of the original sports for women in the 1971-72 academic year. How many head coaches has Princeton women’s squash had all-time?

A)    3

B)    5

C)    7

D)    9


Julia Ratcliffe holds the Ivy League record for the hammer throw. In all, Ratcliffe threw the hammer 134 times in her Princeton career. How many of those 134 throws are better than the next-best thrower’s best throw?

A)    87

B)    100

C)    111

D)    134


The women’s basketball team has won 15 Ivy League championships, the first of which came in the 1974-75 academic year when the Tigers won all five of their games in the Ivy League tournament. Over the course of how many days was that five-game round-robin tournament played?

A)    2

B)    8

C)    15

E)    21


Princeton won the 2006 NCAA championship in women’s open rowing. How many of the eight women in that boat went on to win an Olympic medal?

A)    0

B)    1

C)    2

D)    3


How many mother/daughter letterwinner combinations have there been in Princeton women’s athletic history (mother won a letter and then had a daughter who did so as well)?

A)    none

B)    9

C)    24

D)    32


Chris Sailer has won 418 games (and three NCAA championships) as Princeton head women’s lacrosse coach. How many other Division I women’s lacrosse coaches have won at least 400 games at one school?

A)    none

B)    3

C)    5

D)    7


How many team and individual women’s national championships has Princeton won?

A)    24

B)    36

C)    55

D)    76


Which Princeton women’s team has won the most Ivy League championships?

A)    Field hockey

B)    Lacrosse

C)    Softball

D)    Swimming and Diving


Princeton has had three women compete as Tigers after they won Olympic medals. Which of these Olympic medalists was NOT one of those three?

A)    Ashleigh Johnson (water polo)

B)    Andrea Kilbourne (ice hockey)

C)    Caroline Lind (rowing)

D)    Susie Scanlon (fencing)


Who was the first winner of the Von Kienbusch Award as the outstanding senior female athlete?

A)    Carol Brown

B)    Margie Gengler Smith

C)    Podie Lynch

D)    Helena Novakova


During its NCAA-championship season of 2012, the field hockey team scored 45 goals in its seven Ivy League games. How many goals did the Tigers allow in Ivy games that season?

A)    1

B)    6

C)    8

D)    11

Part II - The Part In The Middle So You Can't Just See The Answers

As you know if you read the entry from Friday or the book excerpt posted last week, Anne Marden is the only four-time Olympian in Princeton history. 

One part of her story included a reference to a great, great, great grandfather who was an English sea captain and artist. Marden then sent TB this painting:

The "Watercolour of Sailing Boat in Storm" was painted by Antoine Roux of Marseilles in 1828. The painting is based on one of the sketches of that Marden ancestor, whose name was Captain William Skiddy. 

According to the Marden family history, Captain Skiddy went to sea at the age of 10 as a cabin boy and also was educated in France. Captain Skiddy had a daughter Lillie, who in 1866 married Frances Alexander Marden. Eventually, the painting made it all the way to Anne Marden's parents. 

Pretty cool, right?

Part III - The Answers  

Okay, for the answers, here you go:

* there have been 17 women who have lettered in three sports

* there are 4,549 women who have won varsity letters

* there have been 35 Olympians

* Mollie Marcoux Samaan had 120 career goals, one off the record

* there have only been three head coaches in squash (extra credit knowing they were Betty Constable, Emily Goodfellow and Gail Ramsay)

* Julia Ratcliffe? All 134 of them. Her worst throw at Princeton was better than anyone else has ever done in Ivy League history

* they played five games in two days in the first Ivy women's basketball tournament

* there were three future Olympic medalists in the 2006 boat (Caroline Lind, Adrienne Morin, Gevvie Stone)

* there have been 32 mother/daughter letterwinner combinations

* no other Division I women's lacrosse coach besides Chris Sailer has won 400 games at the same school

* how about 55 team and individual national championships

* field hockey (with 26) has won the most Ivy titles for a Princeton women's team

* Ashleigh Johnson, Andrea Kilbourne and Susie Scanlon all competed at Princeton after winning Olympic medals

* Helena Novakova was your first von Kiensbusch winner, back in 1972

* the 2012 field hockey team allowed just a single goal in seven Ivy games total (Dartmouth scored it)