Friday, December 11, 2020

The Four-Time Olympian

The monthly Department of Athletics staff meeting was held yesterday morning.

As it was December's meeting, that probably would have meant that the annual Holiday Party would have been held last night, presumably in the lobby of Jadwin Gym.

With the current pandemic situation, the meeting was on Zoom. As for the Holiday Party, it's on hold for now, though Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan has said that the party will happen at the first available date, which of course will make it a holiday unto itself.

The meeting yesterday, though, did feature a dance contest. 

And, of course, there was an "ugly sweater" contest. There were too many people in Santa hats to count, and there were all kinds of, um, interesting outfits. 

Special merit goes to women's soccer head coach Sean Driscoll and his Olaf outfit. And to Brad Hunt, the women's cross country head coach, who had a sweater and hat that were light up with Christmas lights, which probably explains why he also needed to be wearing sunglasses with it. Lizzie Pannucci, Manager of Intercollegiate Programming, also had a hat with lights on it.

Executive Associate AD Anthony Archbald went full-on Santa Claus, complete with falling snow in his background. Stacie Traube from the football staff stood out with a green Santa hat.

Nobody, though, could top Chas Dorman, the Assistant AD for Communications. He had the most colors represented, some of them quite randomly placed, between his Santa hat and sweater. There are a lot of words that can describe his outfit, though "understated" is not one of them.

If you know TigerBlog, it probably doesn't shock you to know that he was not wearing any sort of holiday sweater. 

His contribution to the staff meeting was to put together a women's athletic history trivia quiz that Mollie could use during the meeting. This year is, of course, the 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton.

He came up with 15 trivia questions. He could have come up with 10 times that many if he had to, since there is so much amazing history to women's athletics at Princeton. 

TB's colleague Kim Meszaros turned it into a contest during the meeting. The winner was Mike Thibault, the hockey equipment manager, followed by the advancement duo of Brendan Van Ackeren and Mason Darrow in second and third. 

Here's a sample question:

How many Princeton women have lettered in three sports (excluding cross-country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field)? A) 11, B) 17, C) 24, D) 38.

The answer: B, 17.

Here's another that wasn't part of the contest: Who is the only Princeton athlete who has ever made four Olympic teams? 

As you (hopefully) know, TB is in the process of writing a book on those first 50 years of women's athletics. Each month he's been posting an excerpt from the book, which will be finished in the spring.

This month's excerpt was put up yesterday, and it features the woman who is the answer to that question. The only four-time Olympian in Princeton history was Anne Marden, a rower from the Class of 1981.

Marden first qualified for the Olympics in 1980, which was the year that the President Jimmy Carter led a United States boycott of the Games due to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

She then won a silver medal in 1984 in the quad and then another silver in the single in 1988. In 1992 she might have won a gold, but a bug she caught slowed her just enough that she finished fourth.

Looking back on it now, it's easy to look at the two medals and realize that her Olympic experience worked out just fine for her. During the 1980 boycott, though, there was no way for her to know that there was ever going to be a second chance to make it to the actual Games themselves, let alone two more after that.

For some, by the way, 1980 was their one and only chance.

TB has spoken to two women from Princeton (Marden and Carol Brown) who would have rowed at the 1980 Games. Both of them have won Olympic medals (Brown won a bronze in the eights in 1976), and yet the frustration of what happened in 1980 has stayed with them.

TB knew Marden's name as being a four-time Olympian, but he'd never spoken to her before he Zoomed with her a few weeks ago. Marden grew up in Concord, Mass., and went to Phillips Exeter before attending Princeton, and she and her husband have been living in England for pretty much her whole adult life.

She was easy to talk to, and her story from being a 15 year old who liked to, in her words, "hang out and smoke cigarettes" is a great one. 

Like all the rest of the women TB has written about so far, he was totally impressed with Marden and was thrilled to be able to write about her.

You can read the excerpt HERE.

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