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.

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