Friday, May 14, 2021

To The Class Of 2021

TigerBlog smiled when he read what Nate Ewell tweeted the other day.

Ewell, who was a student-worker in TB's earliest days at Princeton, was one of the 1996 winners of the "Spirit of Princeton" award. He wrote this earlier this week, when the current winners were announced: "25 years later I can safely say that this honor was the coolest thing I'll ever win. Congrats to this year's honorees. Seriously, imagine being told you embody the spirit of the best damn place of all. It's enough to go to one's head."

The best damn place of all. Those words were written by Kenneth Sherman Clark, Class of 1905, for Reunions five years after his graduation.

That was 116 years ago. The spirit of the song still resonates.

If you have any doubt about that, then you didn't watch the Gary Walters PVC Awards Banquet last night. The common theme was the amazing bond that being a Princeton athlete creates, with teammates, with the other teams and with the University as a whole.

It's something that could have gotten lost during the last 14 months, as the pandemic disrupted the athletic experience of the current Tigers so completely and unfairly. Instead, it's something that came through perhaps more than ever.

As Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan said early on in the show last night, her hope is that the members of Class of 2021 always "draw strength and community from your teams." 

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber also appeared during the banquet. His message was about persistence and resilience and how much the last 14 months have been an unwanted lesson in both of those qualities. Princeton Athletics, he said, are about making a difference for the better in the world.

The 2021 banquet was the 24th overall and second straight that was forced to be online due to the pandemic. Despite that, the event celebrated the soon-to-be-graduating athletes, complete with the highest departmental awards.

The hosts were men's volleyball player AJ Chen and field hockey player Julianna Tornetta, who brought a great deal of energy to their role. Chen, by the way, was a winner of this year's Spirit of Princeton award, the same award Nate won 25 years ago. 

There were 11 winners of the award this year, two of whom were athletes - AJ and men's lacrosse player Terrell Seabrooks (shot putter Kelton Chastulik was a 2020 winner). TB has never met Chen, but he has known Seabrooks since he first joined the men's lacrosse team. He can tell you without hesitation that he is wildly deserving of the award.

One of the highlights of every banquet is the awarding of the Class of 1967 Citizen-Athlete Award, given for outstanding contribution to sport and society. The winner this year is Vietta Johnson, an orthopedic surgeon and former women's track and field sprinter and hurdler from the Class of 1982. Johnson went from Princeton to Harvard Medical School, and her career has been one dedicated to providing care for those who otherwise might not have had access to it. 

TB got to know Vietta this year, first on a Class of 1982 call and then as part of the celebration of the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton. She is an amazingly impressive person, and her accomplishments are inspirational. She is a perfect match for the award.

Marcoux Samaan also presented the Lorin Maurer Award, named for TB's late colleague who passed away in a plane crash in 2009. Here is the wording of the award: Awarded to that member of the Princeton Athletics family who best reflects the passion, dedication and infectious enthusiasm that defined Lorin Maurer’s character and her inspiring impact on colleagues and friends. Awarded in the memory of Lorin Maurer h78, 1978-2009.

The winner was Associate Director of Athletics For Events Management Karen Malec, and who else could it have been after a year in which she did so much during the pandemic, going into work every day, helping to coordinate testing and vaccinations and doing so much else to keep the campus running while helping the athletes enjoy as much of a college experience as possible. 

The biggest awards are the Roper Trophy and the von Kienbusch Awards, given to the top male and female senior athletes. The Roper Trophy went to fencer Daniel Kwak, an NCAA runner-up and later NCAA regional champion in the year there were no national championships. Kwak, on the way to medical school, mentioned how honored he was to be joining a legacy of those who have won the award.

Another highlight for TB was the way the von Kienbusch Award was introduced by the first two winners, Helena Novakova and Margie Gengler-Smith, who happened to be the first two women ever to compete for Princeton. The winner was Clara Roth, who said it was overwhelming to be included on the list of winners. She didn't mention it, but she's the 50th anniversary of women's athletics winner as well.

The banquet ended with as it always does, with a video tribute to the seniors, in this case 153 of them, as well as the singing of "Old Nassau." 

It usually happens in a tent at the Grad College or in a dressed up Jadwin Gym. Hopefully, the 25th edition of the banquet will be back to normal.

In the meantime, there will always be something very, very special about this class, and the one before it. They didn't get the experience they wanted, but they left their mark as Tigers nonetheless, in a way that brought out the very best of them.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Banquet Time

There was a time when TigerBlog used to attend the annual kickoff luncheon late in August at Trenton State College, which is now the College of New Jersey, which, of course, is what Princeton was at one time.

Each year, as the summer began to wind down, TB would find himself at this luncheon, where the president of the college used to say the same thing each time: "I predict each Trenton State team will go undefeated this year."

He was wrong, of course. It never happened, though that school has always been something of a Division III version of Princeton in terms of athletic success. 

Each time TB went to the event, he used to have the same two thoughts: 1) he's going to make the same joke about going undefeated and 2) another year has come and gone already?

In TB's modern era, such as it is, he's had the same feeling at a different annual event. Each year, as he walked to the Grad College or into Jadwin Gym for the Gary Walters Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet, he's had that same feeling.

Another year has come and gone? Really?

Through the years, the banquet has always been one of TB's favorite nights on the Princeton Athletics calendar. It's a great night of celebration of all the great things about Princeton, with a focus on the senior athletes of that particular year. 

They would gather together, with only a few days left until graduation. And they'd all say the same thing on that night: "I can't believe four years went by so fast."

TB has also always been struck by the difference between the banquet and the freshman orientation nearly four years earlier. They're both gatherings of the entire athletics class, but that's really the only similarity. 

At freshman orientation, they're wide-eyed, with no idea what to expect. At the banquet, they've all gone down the path of their athletic experience, with championships and individual honors for so many of them, and others who had to deal with adversities they never would have imagined when they started.

The adversity that the Class of 2021 had throw its way extends far beyond anything that was even remotely on anyone's radar on that day of freshman orientation. The Class of 2020 also had to deal with the COVID pandemic, and TB wrote this a year ago on the day of the banquet. 

That's an 8 pm start tonight. It's another chance to celebrate Princeton's great class of 2020, a class whose careers did not end in a manner any of them could have foreseen not that long ago - and a class who will be even stronger down the road for having gone through this.

Before any of that, though, they all deserve the recognition that awaits them tonight.

The same applies to the Class of 2021.

And so it will be another virtual banquet tonight. Again, it begins at 8. You can get more information about it HERE.

The virtual banquet will have the same elements of the in-person one. It celebrates the class, presents the major awards, has a few laughs and mostly reinforces the great spirit that defines Princeton Athletics.

As he did last year, TB wishes the absolute best to the members of this class. They have had their experiences disrupted, and they've powered through in a way that is inspirational. Just as he said last year, he's pretty sure the members of this class will draw on the way they handled things often as they move through their lives.

Princeton Athletics is about a lot of things. It's about competition and athletic excellence. It's about service. It's about learning lessons of leadership.

More than anything else, though, it's about education. That's what Princeton Athletics is all about. Education Through Athletics. It speaks to the life lessons that are learned through competing in intercollegiate athletics at Princeton.

They're not all easy lessons. They're not always the lessons they might want. But they are valuable, every one of them.

So tonight at 8 it's a time to celebrate the great Class of 2021. 

Every member of the class deserves to be saluted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The 2021 Bressler Award Winner

Did you get a chance to watch the Garret brothers event Monday night? 

The event, hosted by Soldiers To Sidelines, featured John, Jason and Judd Garrett, all Princeton football alums who have had long careers in football after graduation. They spoke about their experiences in the "family business," as they are the sons of a football coach, Jim Garrett, and they also talked about the 1987 Lehigh game, one Princeton won 16-15 after Jason led the team from its own 2 with 2:25 to play to the Lehigh 21 for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

TigerBlog wrote about the game Monday before the event.

He used the Daily Princetonian archives as part of the research. The only problem he had was that he didn't know the exact date of the game, so he chose a random Monday in October to check. He found out two things from that random Monday, which happened to be Oct. 5, 1987.

First, it was a week before the game was played, so he had to go to the Oct. 12 edition to read about Princeton-Lehigh football. Second, he stumbled on something he was not expecting on the Oct. 5 front page. 

The headline was: "McPhee reads from newest book, tells about Princeton childhood." The McPhee, of course, is John McPhee.

The newest book was called "Rising From The Plains." It was his 19th book; he's published 15 more since and has another, "Tabula Rasa," on the way. 

The story in The Prince mentioned how McPhee's wife Yolanda read from the book as well. "Rising From The Plains" talks about the geology of the Rocky Mountains, with pieces of a journal from the mother of a local geologist mixed in. Yolanda read the parts from the journal.

It's a book TB has not read yet. It's one he's going to read soon.

Speaking of geology, TigerBlog loved the video of Adam Maloof, the winner of the Marvin Bressler Award for 2021. The award is given each year to "that member of the Princeton family who, through heartfelt support of the University’s student-athletes and coaches, best embodies a belief in the lifelong lessons taught by competition and athletics as a complement to the overall educational mission. Awarded in the spirit of Marvin Bressler, professor of sociology, 1963-94."

Maloof is a geology professor at Princeton and a Faculty Fellow for the baseball team. TB has met him once, and it was when McPhee referred him to Maloof for his opinion on a rock that TB's mechanic Ron had found.

It was a very interesting experience, to say the least. It was also wildly fascinating. 

If you watch the video, you'll see Maloof as he shags fly balls during BP. You'll also see him in his trademark overalls, which he was wearing the day TB met him in his office. 

Maloof mentions that he never met Marvin Bressler. TigerBlog did. He knew him well.

TB remembers one time when he was at the Princeton men's basketball banquet when Pete Carril was still the head coach. As he gave out the B.F. Bunn Award, which is the top men's basketball honor, he mentioned that nobody knew who B.F. Bunn was anymore, so the significance of the award was best chronicled by those great players who had won it.

There are still people around Princeton who knew Marvin, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 87. TB is glad he is one of them.

Marv Bressler was a sociologist through and through. The entire world was his classroom. TB first got to know him through many nights at Contes after men's basketball games, when he would talk about that night's game and then essentially anything else that helped define human beings. He remains one of the most interesting people TB has ever met.

He served in the Army during World War II and then went to Temple for his undergraduate degree and Penn for his master's and Ph.D. He was the chair of the sociology department for 20 of the 30 years he taught at Princeton.

He was also the original Faculty Fellow, having mentored a young Gary Walters in the 1960s during his time on the men's basketball team. When Gary became the athletic director, he created the Faculty Fellows program to mirror his experience for the current generations of Princeton athletes. Since then, literally thousands of young people have benefited from the program, which Marv so easily described as "given them an adult to talk to if they need it."

He was quick-witted. He had a very deep voice. His head was completely shaved. He smoked a pipe. He was a very, very, very great man.

Today he lives on in the award that's named for him. 

The winner this year is Adam Maloof, who, as you can see from the video, is quite deserving of an honor that bears the name of Marvin Bressler.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Olympian Tigers

Trivia question - The first sport in which Princeton athletes competed in the Olympic Games was track and field, in the first modern Games of 1896. In fact, Princeton track and field was represented in the 1896, 1900, 1904, 1908 and 1912 Games. The 1916 Games, originally scheduled for Berlin, were cancelled because of World War I, and it was in the 1920 Games where Princeton was represented by track and field and two other sports. Name the other two sports.

Before he gets to the answer, TigerBlog remembers a football game in Palmer Stadium for which there was a live tiger in attendance.

There were some great pictures of the tiger, including one in which he was crushing a football. Imagine what that Tiger could do to, say, a human head.

That tiger was in a cage and then on a very, very strong leash, under the care at all times of a group of people who clearly seemed to know what they were doing. This is in contrast to the tiger that was seen roaming around a residential neighborhood in Houston.

See for yourself:

As it turns out, this was a bit of a murky situation. It doesn't appear to be a tiger who wandered away from a zoo. The owner came and brought him back inside the house.

As TB read more about it, he learned that the neighbor with the gun was an off-duty police officer and that the "owner" of the tiger was seen fleeing in a van with the tiger. So yes, it appears to be a bit murky.

Princeton has been the Tigers since the 1880s, when the football team added orange stripes to black shirts in honor of William of Nassau of the House of Orange. This led to a newspaper story that complimented Princeton as "playing like tigers," and it just stuck from there.

Seeing a live tiger wandering around, even in those murkier circumstances, is an amazing sight. Have you ever seen live tigers at the zoo? There's a reason people love to see the big cats.

The tiger is a powerful, imposing beast and yet a beautiful one as well. It's easy to not give much thought to Princeton's nickname, as it's been the nickname for 140 years or so, but it really is a great moniker for your teams.

As for the trivia question, the answer is shooting and fencing. Karl Frederick of the Class of 1903 won gold in the 50m free pistol, 50m team free pistol and 30m team military pistol, and Henry Breckenridge of the Class of 1907 won bronze in team foil fencing.

Princeton fencing will be well-represented at the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.

On the men's side, Mohamed Hamza will be part of the Egyptian team and will compete in the individual and team foil events. Hamza, a sophomore at Princeton, competed four years ago for Egypt as well, finishing seventh in the team event.

At Princeton he has been an All-American after finishing sixth at the NCAA championships in 2018-19.

The other three Princeton fencers headed to Tokyo were all teammates on the 2013 NCAA championship team. Two of them were NCAA individual champions, and the third was an NCAA runner-up (from an all-Princeton final) and a 2016 Olympian herself.

Eliza Stone was the 2013 NCAA saber champion. Anna van Brummen was the 2017 NCAA epee champion. Kat Holmes was the 2017 NCAA epee runner up after being a 2016 Olympian.

All three will be on the U.S. team in Tokyo. 

They will be looking to join Susie Scanlan and Maya Lawrence as Princeton women's fencers who have won Olympic medals, after they won bronze in team epee in 2012. On the men's side, Hamza will be looking to join Breckenridge and Tracy Jaeckel (bronze in 1932 in team epee) as Princeton Olympic men's fencing medalists.

 


Monday, May 10, 2021

Three Garretts

TigerBlog hopes all the Princeton moms out there had a great Mothers' Day.

There was some great social media content in honor of the holiday. Here's an example of a particularly good one:

That's a very impressive move by the softball team. 

For the day after Mothers' Day, you should still be nice to your mom. In the meantime, here is something about one of the great families that Princeton Athletics has known.

If you have a Facebook account, which TB does not, you can watch a special show this evening featuring the three Garrett brothers, John, Jason and Judd.

As you almost are certainly aware, the Garretts are among the best football players Princeton has ever seen. Jason and Judd were Bushnell Cup winners (in 1988 and 1989), and both went on to NFL careers as players, coaches and in Judd's case scouting (and also writing; you can find his novel HERE). 

Jason is still the offensive coordinator for the Giants after spending 10 years as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. For his part, John is now the head coach at Lafayette.

All three are very close to Princeton head coach Bob Surace, by the way. Surace graduated in the same class as Judd (1990) and was a first-team All-Ivy League center. Surace and Judd Garrett won an Ivy League championship together as seniors.

The three Garrett brothers played together in the 1987 season. One of the games in which they played was against Lehigh, a game Princeton won 16-15. 

Rob Goodwin kicked a game-winning 38-yard field goal on the final play of the game, but that's not really what was the big story of the game, even if you factor in that Princeton was out of timeouts and had to rush the field goal team onto the field and get the kick off before the clock read all zeroes (though they might have gotten a little help from the refs).

Instead, it was the game-winning drive that Jason orchestrated, leading the Tigers from their own 2 to the Lehigh 21 with 2:25 to play. The drive almost ended before it started, as the Tigers had a third-and-28 from their own 6 long before getting anywhere near where Goodwin could win it.

The Garretts, though, bailed out Princeton. First Jason found Judd for 20 yards to make it a manageable fourth down. Then he connected with John for the first down to keep the drive going.

Jason also found John on the last play before the field goal, gaining just short of 10 yards, or enough to warrant a measurement that stopped the clock and gave Princeton a little advantage in getting the kick away.

Jason finished the game 25 for 31 for 309 yards. That was also the game where Dean Cain had three interceptions.

That epic game-winning drive is a big part of the discussion tonight. 

The event is being put on by an organization called "Soldiers To Sidelines," which helps veterans who are interested in getting into coaching. From the organization:

We will be breaking down film from the Princeton vs Lehigh two-minute drill where Jason, Judd, and John took part in that comeback. We will be asking the brothers what they saw and felt as the drive evolved. Additionally, we will be discussing with them the family connection to football and how coaching has become a "family business" for them.

It sounds great, right? 

If you're interested, you can watch it HERE.

The drive itself was a thing of beauty, and it'll be fascinating to see what their top memories of it are. 

It certainly seems like a great event for Princeton fans. Jason Garrett is one of the very best public speakers TB has ever heard, and the Garretts together are a very, very special part of Princeton Athletic history.  

Once again, kickoff for the event, as it were, is at 8.

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Athlete Of The Decade

TigerBlog mentioned John Hummer yesterday in connection with a New York Post story about the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates. 

If you missed it, you can read it HERE. Again, it's worth it. 

If you want a little more on the Gates divorce, you can read THIS story, which features comments on the legal process of the case from a family law professor at the University of Washington. You know him as BrotherBlog. 

There was another story in which he was quoted in which he was referred to an "expert." It's always good to be known that way. 

Meanwhile, back at Princeton basketball, TB has a few follow ups from yesterday. 

First, he got this great comment from loyal reader Mike Knorr about the Princeton games at UCLA that TB mentioned:

In that Indiana game when Hummer scored 32, I believe Geoff Petrie had 31. Al Dufty was snowed in in Buffalo so the Tigers were down a starter. I remember listening to the game on the car radio. I was in the Navy and my parents were taking me to McGuire AFB to catch a flight to Scotland. About two weeks later I received a cassette in the mail. My father recorded the second half of the UCLA game. I must have listened to it at least ten times. Each time hoping for a different outcome. But alas, that damn Sidney Wicks made that shot every time.

Mike, by the way, is correct. Petrie did have 31 in that game.

In fact, as near as TB was able to figure, that was the only game in Princeton men's basketball history where two players both had at least 30 points.

Looking this up got TB to wondering how many times Bill Bradley played a game at Princeton in which he was not the team's leading scorer in the game. The answer? Three.

Who were the players who did lead the team in scoring in those three games? TB will give you one hint - one player did it twice. Also, he'll give you until the end today to guess.

In the meantime, TB also stumbled onto a story about Bradley from Town Topics of Jan. 1, 1970. In it was a story about the newspaper's choice for Princeton's Athlete of the Decade of the 1960s. It probably comes as little surprise:

In greater retrospect, Bradley is the dominant figure in the history of Princeton athletics, surpassing even the now legendary Dick Kazmaier. This is not merely a matter of opinion: well before the end of the decade which followed "Kazmaier's gridiron exploits, a number of the statistical records he had set had been erased by lesser players who lacked his composite ability. In contrast, not only has no one at the Princeton or Ivy level broken a single record that Bradley set. but the spread between his achievements and the occasional superlative performance by one of the latter-day players is so great as simply to emphasize the sheer magnificence of his achievements. Even in a sport in which scoring at the individual and team level has more than doubled in the past 30 years, it is entirely probable that the best of Bradley's records will last out the current century.

There are a few extraordinary things in that write-up. First, how far away must the end of the century seemed when it was written. 

Second, everything in there is so true. It could have been written today, actually. Certainly all of those records still stand.

The newspaper also included a runner-up of sorts for the top Princeton athlete of the 1960s. Not surprisingly, it was Cosmo Iacavazi, the All-American football player who was also in the Class of 1965. In fact, as great as Bradley was at Princeton, it speaks volumes about Iacavazzi's own career as a Tiger that they both shared the 1965 Roper Trophy.

Also, the trivia answer is:

Art Hyland did it twice: (27 for Hyland, 20 for Bradley vs. Colgate and 27 for Hyland, 26 for Bradley vs. Dartmouth (second game), both in 1962-63)

Don Rodenbach did it once (22 for Rodenbach, 18 for Bradley in the first Penn game of 1963-64).

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Princeton Mention In The Last Paragraph Of A Bizarre Article

TigerBlog hadn't read anything about Bill Gates and his divorce until he was texted a story about the situation.

The text included a link to a New York Post story and this note: "Princeton mention in the last paragraph of this bizarre article."

Now if that doesn't get TB to want to read about the situation, nothing could. First, he was intrigued to see the bizarre part. Second, what would the Princeton mention be? 

The headline was bizarre enough: "Bill Gates took getaways with his ex-girlfriend after marriage to Melinda."

The first three paragraphs take it to another level:

After marrying his wife, Bill Gates would spend a long weekend every year at a cozy beach cottage in North Carolina — with his old girlfriend.

The billionaire Microsoft founder made sure the bizarre arrangement was part of the deal when he married Melinda French in 1994, he told Time magazine in a 1997 profile.

“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology,” Gates said of his private getaways with fellow nerd techie and ex Ann Winblad — Winblad — who is now happily married to actor Kevin Kline’s detective brother, Alex Kline, a source told The Post on Tuesday.

There's a lot there, not the least of which is that Bill Gates' former girlfriend and longtime travel partner was Phoebe Cates' sister-in-law.

So TigerBlog kept reading. First, he was intrigued by how Gates had gone on these trips with his former girlfriend after he got married. 

Presumably Melinda knew about it. Heck, perhaps those were her favorite weekends of the year? 

As he read, of course, TB was waiting for the punchline. After all, he was promised a Princeton reference. What would it be?

It had nothing to do with any of the three major players' being a Princeton grad. What was it? 

As he got closer and closer to the end, his interest was more and more piqued. Then he saw this:

A former high-school valedictorian and head cheerleader from Minnesota, Gates’ ex co-founded an accounting software company, sold it — and then partnered up with retired NBA Supersonics player and Princeton University grad John Hummer in a venture-capital firm.

What the heck? TB was not expecting a John Hummer reference.

HERE is the whole story.

John Hummer is one of the greatest men's basketball players Princeton has ever seen. He's also a member of what is likely the most accomplished family Princeton basketball has known. 

John's brother Ed was a three-time All-Ivy selection who played on the Final Four team of 1964-65 as a sophomore and the great 25-3 team of 1966-67. Ed's son Ian is the No. 2 scorer in Princeton men's basketball history with 1,625 career points; Ian was also the 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year.

As for John Hummer, he was a three-time All-Ivy League selection, including a first-team selection in 1969 and 1970. He finished his career with 1,031 points.

He helped Princeton go 14-0 in the league as a junior, for the first of what would be three perfect league seasons for Pete Carril as Tiger coach (1976, 1991 were the other two). Hummer and Geoff Petrie combined to average 36.6 points per game between that year.

Any guesses how long it would be until two Princeton teammates bettered that mark? 

The answer is one. The next year, Hummer and Petrie combined to average 39.8. The only time in program history that any two teammates did better were in the Bill Bradley years: Bradley and Art Hyland (43.5 in 1962-63) and Bradley and Robert Haarlow (42.3 in 1963-64 and 40.1 in 1964-65).

Also, in case you're wondering, Hummer's career high was 32, which he scored in an 82-76 win against Indiana on Dec. 27, 1969, in a game played at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion in the Bruin Classic. The next night he scored 25 more in a 76-75 loss to then-No. 2 UCLA, who would go on to win the NCAA championship.

That, by the way, was the first of two years in between Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton for the Bruins, who won the NCAA championship both times anyway.

Hummer put Princeton, a 30-point underdog in that game, on top 75-74 when he tipped in a missed shot with 11 seconds left, but the great Sidney Wicks broke the Tigers' hearts with a jump shot with four seconds to play to win it.

John Hummer went on to become the 15th pick in the 1970 NBA draft. He was the first pick of the expansion Buffalo Braves, whom TB remembers watching when the team had players like Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio. Extra credit if you know that today that same franchise is the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Hummer would average 6.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in a six-year NBA career that saw him play for the Braves, Bulls and Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder).

After that, he became a venture capitalist. And, it appears, he had a pretty interesting business partner along the way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Welcome Women's Rugby

TigerBlog wrote yesterday about Steve Morgan, the great Princeton sprinter from the Class of 1987 who still holds the Ivy League record for the 200 meters 34 years after he set it, not to mention the school records in the 100 and 200.

As TB learned yesterday, Morgan passed away in 2010.

To learn more about who Morgan was, TB reached out to Fred Samara, the head coach of Princeton men's track and field. This is what Samara said about Morgan:

Steve was a remarkable athlete for us. Steve had an amazing stride, the longest I’ve ever seen except for Bolt. I can tell you a funny story. At the 1985 Penn Relays, Steve was running the anchor leg for us on the 4x400 Relay. I was watching the race from the other side of the stadium from where our team was sitting. Now you need to realize two things: Steve was about a 30-40 point scorer for us at the Heps, and the Heps were the next weekend. So Steve was running a super race passing many runners. But all of a sudden I noticed a limp in his stride and him tugging at his leg. I became very distraught as I watched him repeatedly tug at his leg. 'Oh no, a pulled hammy' I said to myself, the Heps are lost. After the race I rushed over the the team and frantically yelled to Coach Larry Ellis with almost a tear in my eye, 'what happened to Steve;' 'how badly was he hurt,' what are we going to do now! Larry and the team started to laugh obviously reacting to my overwrought concern. I said 'why are you guys laughing?' So Larry falling down laughing at me said, 'Steve’s not hurt! His jock broke at the 200m mark and his privates were bouncing all over the place!'

That's a great story. And it's good to get some insight into a person whose name appears all over the record book.

Also, anytime you appear in comparison to "Bolt," then that's impressive stuff - even more impressive when it's more than just the fact that they share the same home country of Jamaica. Bolt, of course, is Usain Bolt, probably the greatest sprinter of all time. 

The men's track and field team was the fourth varsity team in Princeton history, dating back to 1876. The first three? 

You probably know that the first varsity team at Princeton was the baseball team, in 1864. The football team, you also probably know, dates to 1869. The third team was heavyweight rowing, in 1872. There were two other teams in the 19th century - men's lacrosse in 1882 and men's golf in 1897.

The 20th century saw a huge growth in teams at Princeton, especially from 1971 on, when women's varsity teams first made an appearance. The first six women's varsity teams were tennis, field hockey, open rowing, squash, basketball and swimming and diving, followed a year later (1972-73) by lacrosse.

From 1990 on, there were five varsity teams added: women's golf in 1992, men's and women's water polo and men's volleyball and in the 1996-97 academic year and then women's lightweight rowing in 1998.

Earlier this week, Princeton announced the addition of its next varsity team, the women's rugby team, which will move from its highly successful club status to become a varsity in 2022-23. Here is what Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in the story announcing the move:

"This is an exciting day for Princeton women's rugby and Princeton Athletics. The women's rugby team has been a transformative experience for generations of Princetonians, providing valuable educational opportunities and offering a strong, vibrant, empowering and diverse community. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into this process, and I am thankful for the passionate work of the club's student officers and members of the Princeton University Rugby Endowment board. We look forward to working together on a smooth transition from club to varsity status. We are proudly celebrating the 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton this year, and I can think of no better way to continue that celebration than by making this announcement which will provide even more opportunities for female student-athletes to enjoy the enormous benefits of varsity athletics participation."

TigerBlog does not know much about the sport of rugby, other than the fact that it is pretty much non-stop action. He's looking forward to learning a lot more about it in the next few years.

The move, as Mollie says, will create more varsity athletic opportunities for women athletes, and it comes during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of women's athletics. 

You can read the entire release HERE.

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Remembering Steve Morgan

TigerBlog's longtime friend Rich Fisher used to refer to himself as the George Bailey of Mercer County. 

George Bailey. As in "It's A Wonderful Life," the great Christmas movie. George, played by Princeton alum Jimmy Stewart, only wants to get out of Bedford Falls, only he never does. In the end, he realizes he actually has a wonderful life.

Fish, as everyone calls him, has written for basically every newspaper in Mercer County in his time. He grew up here. He actually left for college (Point Park), but he's back ever since. There isn't a sporting event played on any level in Mercer County that Fish hasn't covered at some point, including a lot of them at Princeton.

TB remembers a story that Fish wrote one time about his experience as a fan at the Kentucky Derby. Or was it the Indy 500?

Hmm. TB texted Fish, who confirmed that it was in fact the Kentucky Derby. The 1986 Kentucky Derby, to be exact. The winner was Ferdinand, who didn't win the Triple Crown but who did do something that has to be fairly rare: He won the Derby, finished second in the Preakness and finished third in the Belmont.

TB doesn't remember Ferdinand. He does remember that the story Fish wrote about the ’86 Derby and was great. It was all about what it was like to be there and experience it first hand from the infield. 

TB knows quite a few people who have gone, and the common denominator is that it's considered a must. There are, it appears, very few experiences in sports that can compare to being at Churchill Downs for the Derby.

TB was in Louisville once. It was for the NIT in 2002, when Princeton fell to Louisville. He never made it to the fabled racetrack.

The Kentucky Derby went off Saturday for the 147th straight year. A year ago, it was held in September due to COVID. 

This time, it was back to its usual spot, on the first Saturday in May. The winner was a horse named Medina Spirit. 

TB likes to watch the Derby. Hey, it only takes two minutes. He wouldn't know the first thing about how to bet on it. 

Would he want to go? Sure. Maybe one day. It's not the sporting event he'd most like to attend - that would be the World Cup final, or maybe the Olympics.

Meanwhile, back in 1986, Princeton's Steve Morgan ran a 20.69 200-meter dash at the IC4A championships to set a school record. That record still stands to this day.

It came pretty close to going away this past weekend at the Fast Times Before Finals, when sophomore Ibrahim Ayorinde ran a 20.88 to win the 200. Freshman Daniel Duncan came in second in the 200, with a time of 21.06. 

Nobody at Princeton has ever run the 200 faster than Ayorinde other than Morgan. Nobody has run it faster than Duncan other than Morgan and Ayorinde. That's a pretty impressive effort in the meet Saturday.

Ayorinde, by the way, was a member of the Canadian U-18 national team. Duncan, for his part, was the second-fastest New Jersey high school sprinter in both the 100 and 200, not to mention the valedictorian of North Plainfield High School.

Of course, it's always good to remember how dominant Morgan was in his time at Princeton. TigerBlog looked it up: Morgan was the 1984, 1986 and 1987 Heps 100 champ and the 1985, 1986 and 1987 Heps 200 champ. His time of 20.72 in the 1987 Heps is still the Ivy League record. 

He remains one of only two runners in Ivy Heps history to win the 100 and 200 three times (Yale's Donald Martin, 1969-71, was the other). His 10.36 in the 100 at the 1987 Heps also remains the school record.

Morgan came to Princeton from Jamaica, and he barely missed qualifying for the 1988 Jamaican Olympic team. He was a chemical engineering major, and he went on to a career in software design, at a time when huge strides were being made in technology that formed the foundation of what exists today.

Unfortunately, TigerBlog learned about Morgan's post-Princeton career from Morgan's obituary. He passed away on Dec. 29, 2010, and he was buried in his home country.

Steve Morgan remains one of the greatest track and field athletes Princeton has ever known. His records remain untouched nearly 35 years since he set them. 

Sadly, his story does not have a happy ending.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Old Friends

TigerBlog saw this the other day on Twitter. 

It's a short feature on Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley. It's very good stuff:

There aren't many people TB has met at Princeton who can tell stories the way Scott Bradley can. Or has the kinds of stories, what with all of his years as a Major Leaguer. 

TB mentioned Bradley's Twitter debut back in February.

At the time, TB said that he wasn't sure why it took Bradley so long to get involved on Twitter but that nonetheless he was already one of the best accounts to follow. Nothing that Bradley has done since has made TB think any differently.

Far from it. In fact, Bradley keeps getting better and better. 

He mixes his experiences as a Major League Baseball player with the relationships he built there with his work as the Princeton head baseball coach to his general thoughts on the game of baseball and so much more. The result is very, very entertaining.

Bradley tweeted this earlier this weekend:

There's a lot in that picture. 

Chris Young is the general manager of the Texas Rangers. Will Venable is the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox.

Between them, they scored 1,811 points as Princeton men's basketball players. That's a figure that would have approached, oh, 2,700 or more had Young not lost his final two years of eligibility when he become a professional baseball player. 

Had he played those last two seasons of 2000-01 and 2001-02, he would almost certainly have finished his career second all-time at Princeton in points and rebounds and first by a very long margin in blocked shots. 

As it is, he's still second in career blocked shots, with 145. The career record is 159. Today's trivia question - who holds that record? TB will give you the answer later.

Chris Young and Will Venable are two of the most extraordinary Princeton athletes TB has ever seen. They were two-sport athletes, both having been basketball players and baseball players. 

To tell you everything you need to know about them as college athletes, they both went on to long careers in Major League Baseball and yet you can make the case that they were better college basketball players than college baseball players. 

TB has written this a lot here through the years. Venable was at his best in the biggest moments as a Princeton basketball player. Young would have had just as long an NBA career as he did a Major League Baseball career.

It's great to see how well they're doing in professional baseball, an arena in which Princeton is very well represented. Venable, by the way, will be a Major League manager one day not too far away.

Young, for instance, is one of three Princeton baseball alums who is currently a Major League general manager. In addition to Young, you have Mike Hazen with the Diamondbacks and Mike Chernoff with the Cleveland Indians. 

Princeton also has Mike Ford on the Yankees and David Hale on the Phillies.

By the way, the answer to the trivia question is Rick Hielscher, the two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and member of the Class of 1995. 

Also, it got TB to thinking about the women's record for blocked shots in a career. He knew it belonged to WNBA player Bella Alarie, but he wasn't sure how many she had. He figured it was more than Hielscher, and as it turns out, it was.

In fact, Alarie had 249 career blocks, and she is the only player to have more than Hielscher's total. Alarie also had the four best single-season totals in school history. 

Anyway, back at the picture of Young and Venable, it was taken earlier this weekend in Arlington, where the Rangers took three of four from the Red Sox.

It's great to see both of them doing so well.

Friday, April 30, 2021

On Draft

So wait, there's a duck that's more than three feet tall? 

TigerBlog saw a story about Long Boi, who supposedly was a giant mallard, the biggest one ever. As it turns out, that's not exactly true, though TB did find this epic sentence in a story:

Although the “world’s tallest duck” title has not been officially bestowed upon Long Boi by any official duck measuring entities, this dapper duck received the “Waterfowl of the Year” award in the University of Bantshire’s Waterfowl University Rankings in 2020.

That is just too good. There is so much amazing stuff in that one sentence, not the least of which are 1) there are "official duck measuring entities" and 2) that there is a Waterfowl of the Year.

If you didn't click through the story, this is how it starts:

Longboi has been crowned the best waterfowl in the country in the University of Bantshire’s Waterfowl University Rankings. The dapper duck was a crowd favourite from the start, winning his heat with 67% of the vote. The Indian Runner Duck cross beat the Lancaster Ducks in the finals by more than 90 votes, and beat Swansea’s swans by more than 1000.

That's two dapper ducks. Well, one dapper duck, twice.

If you're looking for a better sentence than that one, you won't get it today. TB can't beat that right now.

Seguing away from a giant duck, TigerBlog was correct when he said he wasn't going to watch the NFL draft last night, despite the presence of such generational talents. If you read yesterday, you get the reference. 

TB received a comment from his post yesterday about the overuse of the phrase "generational talent." He mentioned that there have been about five such generational talents in his lifetime, which generated this:

Your calculation of five generational talents in your lifetime is right on target. By definition, a GT comes along once in a G. So that's basically one every 20 years.

So that would make TB at a minimum 80 years old?  

Speaking of the NFL draft, which continues until the start of the next mock drafts, TB was on his Office of Athletic Communications zoom call yesterday when the subject of the draft came up. TB's colleague Warren Croxton is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan (and fan of all Philly teams), and Warren most certainly wanted the Eagles to get either a top wide receiver or cornerback. Well, actually he wanted a quarterback, but that didn't seem likely.

How'd that work out for him?

Princeton football has had 16 players selected in the NFL draft, of whom three were in the last eight years: Seth Devalve in Round 4 in 2016, Caraun Reid in Round 5 in 2014 and Mike Catapano in Round 7 in 2013. The Tigers have also had great success of late with undrafted free agents, including John Lovett (Super Bowl ring with Kansas City last year) and Stephen Carlson (entering Year 3 with the Browns after having recovered onsides kicks in back-to-back wins over Pittsburgh last year). Both Carlson and fellow UFA Jesper Horsted had NFL touchdown receptions in their rookie years. 

The first Princeton player chosen in an NFL draft was Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner. Kazmaier was selected by the Chicago Bears, but he famously chose Harvard Business School over the NFL.

Frank McPhee, cousin of author John McPhee, was drafted in 1953 by the Cardinals, who at the time were located in Chicago. Eventually they'd make their way to St. Louis and Arizona.

Princeton has had one No. 1 pick. That was in the 1966 draft, when Charlie Gogolak, the placekicker, was taken with the No. 6 overall selection. 

There have only been five kickers who have ever been chosen in Round 1 of the NFL draft, three placekickers, one punter and one who did both. The others, by the way, are:

2000 Sebastian Janikowski (PK), 17th overall
1979 Russell Erxleben (PK), 11th overall
1978 Steve Little (punter/PK), 15th overall
1973 Ray Guy (punter), 23rd overall

Gogolak remains to this day the highest selection at No. 6. Unless someone took a placekicker higher than that last night. TB wasn't watching.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Going Second

Memo to everyone: Please stop calling athletes "generational talents."

This seems to have caught on everywhere. TigerBlog thinks it started with Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson quartertback who will be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft tonight. Yes, he by all means appears to be an extraordinary quarterback, but hey, can we let him take a snap in the NFL first? 

You can only consider someone a generational talent AFTER they've finished playing. And, by the very nature, you can't have multiple generational talents in the same sport at the same time, so if Lawrence is a generational talent, then, say, Patrick Mahomes is not.

Also, if TB thinks about, there have been about five actual generational talents that he's seen in his lifetime. 

TigerBlog is mildly interested in the NFL draft. He finds it fascinating, the amount of time and money that goes into it, only to come away three years later having to draft yet another franchise quarterback because the savior from three years ago didn't save anything (that's a New York Jets reference). And that doesn't even take into account the endless mock drafts, which in the end matter as much as NCAA tournament field predictions all year.

TigerBlog's rule No. 1 were he a NFL GM would be to always trade down and get more picks. The more picks you have, the more likely you are to get good players. There is no guarantee that having the top pick translates into having the best player three years from then. 

Look at Mahomes. He is probably the guy you'd take to build your franchise around if you were choosing up sides. He was the 10th player picked. TB has never heard of three of the guys taken ahead of him: Solomon Thomas (the third pick?), Corey Davis and John Ross. When TB looked them up, he found out that none of the three is still on his original team. Neither, for that matter, is Mitch Trubisky, who was the No. 2 overall pick. 

TB's other big rule would be never judge a player by his best moment in college or in the combine; only go over the entire body of work.

If you want to know a draft that TB was very interested in, it was held Monday night at 10:30 and lasted only one hour. It was the Premier Lacrosse League draft. 

The format was great. The league's eight coaches were all part of a Zoom call, and they simply announced their own picks. No league commissioner was needed. Imagine that in the NFL? It would be way better.

TigerBlog's main interest in the draft was a pair of Princeton alums. Would Michael Sowers go first or second overall? Would Connor McCarthy get drafted?

The first two picks by all indications seemed to be Sowers, the all-time leading scorer at Princeton, and Jeff Teat of Cornell. TigerBlog, by the way, has seen both referred to as "generational talents" on several occasions.

As TB has said on many occasions, he thinks Sowers is better than Teat while he acknowledges freely that he would think Teat is better than Sowers if he had been the Cornell contact. That's how it works.

Generational talents or not, both are extraordinary lacrosse players. More than that, both are also extraordinarily humble young men who have been flawless representatives of their programs. TB can vouch for Sowers on that front. He is modest and team-oriented, a great leader and a real role model for every little kid who came up to him for an autograph or picture in his time as a Tiger. 

Teat, by all indications, is the same way. TB has never met Teat, but he's heard this about him for years. And to get the definitive word, he reached out to his old friend Julie Greco, who was the Cornell men's lacrosse contact for Teat's time with the Big Red. She could not have had more good things to say about him as well.

Teat would go No. 1 to the Atlas. That sent Sowers at No. 2 to the Waterdogs. While TB would have loved to see Sowers go first, he's happy that Sowers is now going to be teammates on the Waterdogs with another Princeton alum, the great Zach Currier. 

TB would love to see McCarthy get a chance even after going undrafted. When healthy, he's a lethal outside shooting midfielder.

Yes, Sowers is playing at Duke this year, along with Phillip Robertson. Yes, McCarthy is at North Carolina. They play each other Sunday afternoon, and hopefully in the NCAA championship game next month.

No matter what, though, to TB, they'll always be Princeton guys. 

 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Get Well, Devin

TigerBlog went to the lives stats Sunday night to see how Devin Cannady was doing for the Orlando Magic in their game against the Indiana Pacers.

He saw Cannady's line: 1 min, 1 foul. That's okay, TB thought. It's still early. And that was the best part. 

Here he was, playing in the first quarter, getting real minutes.

Then he checked back later and saw that it was still the same stat line. Then he saw on Twitter why: Cannady, the Princeton alum, had suffered a devastating ankle injury.

Like pretty much everyone else who saw the news, TigerBlog had his heart sink. How could you not? 

Here was Cannady, who had worked through so much to get to where he was, in the NBA. He wasn't just in the league. He was showing he could, as TB has said several times, stick around for awhile. 

During the last few games, his minutes played had gone up. The game before the Pacers' game, Cannady had scored 17 points. If you saw the highlights, you saw a really, really confident player:

Like TB said, Cannady was playing with great confidence. And with great joy. It's a great combination. And it certainly was paying off in results on the court.

And then, after just one minute in the next game, his season was over. The play in question came when Cannady sprinted back to contest a shot at the basket on defense.

TigerBlog hasn't watched the video. He has no interest in that. 

He was watching the Monday Night Football game in 1985 when Joe Theismann broke his leg against the Giants. The video of that was gruesome enough. He doesn't need to see the same kind of video involving Cannady.

TB read that Cannady's teammate Mo Bamba took off his jersey and put it over the injury so that neither Cannady nor anyone in the arena could see it. There was clearly blood on the court too.

This is what Bamba said after the game:

"I saw my teammate down, and I did what he would have done for me. I didn't want him to see it, so i took the shirt off my back and gave it to him. It's something he would have done for me. It was tough. I'd be lying to say it wasn't tough to play afterwards. If you ask Devin if he regrets playing defense the way he did, he'd say no."

TB would agree with the last part. He didn't get to where he was by not going full-out at all times.

It was that attitude that took him from Princeton, where he is the school's fifth all-time leading scorer, to the G League, where he had a big year last year for the Long Island Nets and then was the MVP of the finals this year for the Lakeland Magic.

And then he signed a 10-day contract. And then a two-way contract.

At first, it seemed like his ankle had been broken. The Magic then put out a statement that said that he instead suffered an open right ankle dislocation with a severe lateral ankle sprain. He had surgery to repair the damage, and now the long road back begins for him.

Cannady will throw himself into that rehab with the same nonstop energy and passion that got him to reach the top in the first place. Of that you can be sure. If attitude is the key, then he'll be just fine. 

There was one image from the game the other night that TB did see, and that was Cannady on the stretcher being taken off the court after the injury. 

As TB saw that, he felt awful for the young man - and hopeful that it wasn't the last time he'll be wearing an NBA uniform.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Speaking Of Women's Athletics

If there have been common denominators from the women whom TigerBlog interviewed for the book on the history of women's athletics at Princeton, here they are:

* the cherished the opportunity to compete at Princeton and the relationships they built as Princeton athletes

* they have drawn from the experience as they have gone down the paths of their professional post-graduate lives, especially when they have been in positions of leadership

* they have stayed very loyal to Princeton

Sure, all of their stories are unique. In fact, many of them started out their interviews by saying something along the line of "there's nothing really special about me" before telling a really special story. 

Those three themes, though, have come up time and again. They have been referenced too many times to consider it a coincidence, and so TB thinks that those are the pretty close to what defines the women's athletic experience.

Those themes also came through loudly and clearly the last two nights, when Mollie Marcoux Samaan and the Princeton Varsity Club held two women's athletics speaker series events. 

The first was Sunday night, when two members of the Class of 1997, rugby player Angie Knighton Long and rower Kara Nortman, joined Marcoux Samaan for a discussion entitled "Investing in Women's Athletics." Both of them are highly successful venture capitalists who have invested in franchises in the National Women's Soccer League. 

The discussion was part of the Jake McCandless ’51 PVC Speaker Series. You can see their entire conversation here:

One of the most interesting parts of their talk was the statistic that only four percent of the media coverage of sports is devoted to women. TB has mentioned many times here how when he was in the newspaper business, he was often the only one covering women's events. 

Now it's more than a quarter-century later. It's hard to believe that the number is still so low after all this time, especially with the incredible growth of women's sports. 

Both Nortman and Knighton Long talked about the need to change that number, as well as the fact that the potential to do just that is part of the reason they wanted to invest in the league. 

Additionally, there was this from Knighton Long, something that TB thinks captures the essence of athletics: "It teaches you to fail and get back up and try again. I can't say how important that is. Women maybe don't want to take risks because they don't want to fail. It teaches you that anything is possible."

Their talk included appearances by, among others, Nortman's coach at Princeton Lori Dauphiny and Tyler Lussi, the all-time leading scorer in Princeton soccer history and a member of the Portland Thorns of the NWSL. Speaking of women and media, Lussi would be a natural in the field once she'd done playing.

The event last night focused more on leadership and featured Marcoux Samaan again as the moderator, this time with a panel of four women: Bella Alarie (Class of 2020, professional women's basketball player), Stephanie Hsiao (Class of 2005, swimmer, now marketing director for NFL China), Whitney Malkiel (a women's hockey player from the Class of 1994 and now vice president and general manager for Global Nike Women's, Jill Pilgrim (1980 track and field alum who is a business and sports attorney with the Knight Commission).

For Alarie's part, the event began at 1 am, as she is Spain playing professionally and getting ready for the Euroleague championship game. 

The panel discussion lasted nearly 45 minutes, and that part of the conversation will be available online shortly. After that portion, there were breakout rooms, in which the panelists (minus Alarie, who was excused, as it was nearly 2 am in Spain by then) joined with Princeton coaches and PVC board members to continue the discussion.

It was a two-night sequence of insights from women who have been directly impacted by their time at Princeton and who have gone on to accomplish great things with that foundation. For Marcoux Samaan's part, TB is pretty sure she would do these discussions every night pretty much forever.

She could do that and never run out of impressive Princeton women alums with whom to speak. The last two nights were a showcase of Princeton's values and how they continue to resonate in real-world examples.

Monday, April 26, 2021

To Recap

If you went to goprincetontigers.com yesterday morning, the first story you saw was a recap of the crew races Saturday in Philadelphia.

That's a recap. Not a news story. Not a feature story. Nope.

Recap. In this context, that's a great word, right? 

TigerBlog has written hundreds of recaps in his time. Recaps are usually the most common stories on the webpage.

Ah, but the recaps Saturday? They were the first in 407 days. 

Princeton's four rowing teams competed Saturday in Philadelphia against Drexel and St. Joe's. It was a day of brilliant sunshine, both literally and figuratively.

Princeton's teams had been sidelined for 407 days due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The last time Princeton teams competed was back in March 2020, during those surreal few days that saw the program go from a full winter/spring overlap weekend into a total shutdown almost on a dime.

Do you want to know the last time Princeton went 407 days without a varsity athletic contest? Hint - Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States.

The first Princeton varsity athletic event was a baseball game against Williams in November of 1864. Princeton had at least one varsity team compete every year since until the pandemic came along. 

Princeton's crews swept every race Saturday, winning almost all of them by at least 10 seconds. The women's lightweights were behind after 500 meters but came back to win comfortably by 2.6 seconds. The rest were blowouts.

It doesn't matter. It wouldn't have mattered if the results had been reversed. The big story was that Princeton was back competing.

It continued yesterday with the Princeton Invitational track and field meet at Weaver Stadium. Among the highlights were a school-record javelin throw from freshman Kate Joyce, whose 50.44 meter throw was better than two meters further than anyone else at Princeton has ever done.

To say that those 407 days were brutal for everyone involved would be an understatement. Tough choices had to be made on so many levels, including by the athletes themselves, many of whom chose to take the academic year off from school.

Through it all, what has really stood out to TigerBlog is how the Princeton Athletics connection has been maintained and even enhanced during this pandemic. There have been all sorts of ways in which Princeton's athletes, athletic alums, Friends' groups, staff, faculty fellows and others have stayed connected with each other and, more importantly, attacked any sense of isolation that may have arisen, as it has for everyone to a degree during the last 407 days. 

No matter what, there have always been people out there who were sharing this commonality of Princeton Athletics. There were all kinds of ways in which it manifested itself, through mentoring, sharing stories, alumni gatherings, team events, social justice initiatives, community service and so amh others. 

Yes, it's been a lot of Zoom, and who hasn't used the term "Zoom fatigue" lately. But it's also kept people from being alone. It hasn't just been talking about Princeton Athletics. It's been about the way Princeton Athletics has done more than its share to keep that connection.

Much of this has been captured on social media and on the webpage. The amount of content that has been produced has been extraordinary, considering that such a huge part of what usually is done is related to athletic contests.

Of course, the two best parts of Princeton Athletics have always been the people and the games. To be able to have athletes back to doing what they do best - and love the most - is impossible to overstate.

And that's why it was so great to get back to having actual competitions like the ones this weekend. There will be others too before the end of the academic year. Then it will be on to 2021-22. Hopefully that gets Princeton back to something resembling normal. 

TB has often written here about his favorite athletic events during his years at Princeton. At some point many months ago, he wrote that one of his favorites would be the next one, whatever it was.

It turned out to be rowing in Philadelphia. He was right. Those races are among his favorite events.

Like everyone else, TB will be thrilled when the games start up again full time. At the same time, there will always be something pretty special about the way the entire Princeton Athletics world handled this brutal time of COVID, from those who fought it on the frontlines (and are part of the "Tiger Heroes" series) to those who did everything they could for the current athletes whose experience was so wildly disrupted.

Here at Princeton, there has always been a huge emphasis on "Education Through Athletics" and the "Be A Tiger" values of athletic competition. Their worth has been even more fully apparent in the last year-plus. 

They aren't just words, and that's something that became even more obvious during the 407 days between events.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Women's Athletics Speaker Series

For Friday, TigerBlog takes you back to Wednesday and Friday.

If you recall, Wednesday was picture day. TigerBlog has a follow up on one of those pictures, the one of the Dartmouth football player who was launched off the back of one of his teammates. To refresh, here is the picture:

To add some context, TigerBlog turns to his old friend and the man behind the Big Green Alert Bruce Wood, who knows as much about Dartmouth football as anyone. Bruce sent this:

This is from the Jack DeGange/David Shribman 2004 book Dartmouth College Football: Green Fields of Autumn.

AIRBORNE: SAM HAWKEN '68. It is illegal today, but in 1965 Dartmouth's "human steps" play was the brainchild of assistant coach Jack Musick. While it misfired, the play made the Princeton players wonder, "What will these guys do next!" While scouting Princeton, Musick learned from small talk with a Princeton manager that Charlie Gogolak, one of the Ivy League's greatest kickers, always aimed over the right guard. The play was practiced, and six-foot-two inch sophomore back Sam Hawken, wearing cross-country shoes, was charged with climbing the steps and vaulting to block Gogolak's field goal attempt. Unfortunately, Hawken leaped too soon and was offside. Gogolak, now rattled, scuffed his next attempt. In a "most memorable" game, this may be the most memorable play in Dartmouth football history.

So there's that cleared up. 

Next up is Monday. This past Monday was the 50th anniversary of the first "team" event in Princeton women's athletic history. It was on April 12, 1971, that Princeton defeated Penn in women's tennis 5-1. 

It was the third time that Princeton women competed, with the first the previous fall, when Margie Gengler Smith and Helena Novakova played in the Eastern tennis championships and the second in March 1971, when Jane Fremon and Cece Herron competed at the Eastern swimming and diving championships. The tennis match against Penn was the first time that Princeton women competed as a varsity team against another school's varsity.

TB received a picture yesterday from Novakova, who played No. 2 singles behind Gengler Smith in the Penn match. 

That's Novakova on the right. On the left is Merrily Dean Baker, Princeton's first female administrator and the person who got the women's athletic program started. The two celebrated the 50th anniversary of that Penn match by going to lunch together in South Florida, where they both live

That's a great picture, with a lot of Princeton history to it. 

Speaking of Princeton women's athletics history, you have two great chances coming up in the next few days to hear Tiger alums reflect on their experiences at Princeton and how those experiences shaped them since they graduated.

The first of the events is Sunday night from 7-8 and is part of both the 50th anniversary of women's athletics celebration and the Jake McCandless PVC Speaker Series. It is entitled "Investing In Women's Athletics" and features Angie Knighton Long, a rugby player from the Class of 1997 who is now the CIO and owner of Palmer Square Capital Management and owner of the Kansas City team in the NWSL, and Kara Nortman, another member of the Class of 1997 who is a partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest venture capital firm in Los Angeles, and the owner of Angel City Football Club. 

The moderator of the discussion will be Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

The second event is Monday, when four "Princeton Alumnae Leaders In Sport" will participate in panel discussion. They are: Bella Alarie (Class of 2020, professional women's basketball player), Stephanie Hsiao (Class of 2005, swimmer, now marketing director for NFL China), Whitney Malkiel (a women's hockey player from the Class of 1994 and now vice president and general manager for Global Nike Women's, Jill Pilgrim (1980 track and field alum who is a business and sports attorney with the Knight Commission).

The discussion Monday will be followed by breakout sessions co-hosted by Princeton women's head coaches and PVC board members.

For more information, including the link for the event Sunday and how to register for the event Monday, click HERE.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bat Out Of Hell

If you ask TigerBlog what the most creative album he's ever heard, he'll give you an answer without hesitation.

It's not the best album he's ever heard, though it is close to the top. It's not, for instance, "Born To Run" or "Darkness On The Edge Of Town," TB's two favorite Springsteen albums.

Even as great as they are, though, there is an album whose sheer creativity eclipses even those two. What is the album?

"Bat Out Of Hell," by Meat Loaf. 

TigerBlog remembers when he first heard the album, and he was blown away by it immediately. The first song from the album he heard was "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," and he literally stopped what he was doing to try to figure out what in the world he was listening to.

The entire album is amazing. There are seven songs, and they average just short of seven minutes each. The longest is the title track, which goes for 9:48, all of it riveting. "For Crying Out Loud" goes for 8:45.

"Paradise By The Dashboard Light" is next at 8:28 and features play-by-play in the middle from Phil Rizzuto. "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)" begins with a dialogue about a wolf with red roses who does not appear anywhere else in the song.

It's creative all right. It's poetic lyrics mixed with powerful, operatic music. 

TigerBlog once told the guy who wrote it all that he was a genius. The response? A glance and a very, very tiny hint of a smile.

The "guy" was Jim Steinman, who passed away yesterday at the age of 73. His other credits included writing "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" for Bonnie Tyler and "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" for Air Supply. His song "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" for Celine Dion is on the album "Falling into Me," for which he won a Grammy.

He also wrote "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young," which TB would call the best song that almost nobody has ever heard. It's from the 1984 movie "Streets of Fire," and as soon as TB heard it, he knew it sounded an awful lot like something Jim Steinman would have done.

TigerBlog met Jim Steinman at a men's basketball game at Columbia University. He was there with Princeton, who played in Levien Gym that night.

Long before the game started, TB was introduced to a man sitting courtside. He had long gray hair in a pony tail, with blue jeans and a leather jacket.

"This is my brother Jim," Bill Steinman said. 

That's when TB told Jim Steinman he was a genius. 

Bill Steinman was the longtime Columbia sports information director. He's one of the legends of Ivy League athletic communications, and he was at Columbia when TB was in the newspaper business and when he started at Princeton.

By the way, that was a glorious era for SIDs in the Ivy League, with among others Steinman at Columbia, the late-great Kathy Slattery at Dartmouth, John Veneziano at Harvard, Dave Wohlhueter at Cornell, Chris Humm at Brown and Steve Conn at Yale, not to mention Chuck Yrigoyen at the league office itself. 

Of that entire group, the only one still working in the league is Steve Conn, after the retirement last summer of Humm. Conn and Dartmouth assistant Cyndi Mansell are the only currently working in the league who have been at their school longer than TB has been at Princeton.

TB always loved going to Columbia, where he'd see Steinman and AP write Bill Shannon, who passed away a few years ago. For a few years, TB didn't realize the connection between Bill and his brother. He learned about it long before that night he met Jim in New York City, and it was interesting to see Bill and his world-famous sibling together.

When TB saw the story about Jim Steinman's passing, it mentioned Bill, who confirmed his brother's death. 

It also had this quote: "I miss him a great deal already."

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Picture Day

TigerBlog received an email from Hungary earlier this week.

It was a request for a picture of the Gogolak brothers, the ones who fled Hungary in 1956 and came to the United States, where they ultimately, among other things, became the first soccer-style placekickers in the NFL.

The first-ever soccer-style placekicker was actually Fred Bednarski, who kicked a 40-yard soccer style field goal for Texas against Arkansas in 1957. Bednarski, who was born in Poland, was a little more than a decade removed from a Nazi concentration camp when he made football history. 

Bednarski's field goal was the only one of his career. The Gogolak brothers turned the experiment into an art form, and both would go from Hungary to upstate New York to the Ivy League (Charlie at Princeton, Pete at Cornell) and then ultimately to the NFL. 

The request for the picture was for a podcast that was being turned into a book. TB could not find the picture that the author requested, but he did have a few others of Gogolak, including this one:


 

As it turned out, TB would spend about an hour looking on the OAC server for the picture. Along the way, he found all kinds of random stuff. 

Many of the pictures weren't labeled as anything other than a number or some sequence of numbers and letters. There are probably several thousand of these pictures on the server, and TB could have spent all day going through all of these images. 

They literally span every decade, every sport, in absolutely no order at all.

And that makes today Picture Day. 

For instance, there's this one:

 That's Charlie Gogolak on a field goal attempt. More interestingly, there's the Dartmouth player (TB is pretty sure that's Dartmouth) who is looking to block it.

As you can see, No. 38 has launched himself off a teammate's back to get as high in the air as he could. Would you rather be the airborne guy (who is pretty high up there and has to land somewhere) or the launch pad guy (presumably he has cleat marks on his back)? 

Also, this is now illegal. TB isn't sure when the rule changed, but you're not allowed to propel yourself off a teammate. One last thing - doesn't it look like if the defense lined up like this, it opens the outside nicely for a fake? 

That's not the only cool picture TB found.

There's this one as well:


 

This one begs a few questions. First, why are both teams wearing dark uniforms? Second, why is only one team wearing numbers?

Princeton is the team with the Tiger stripe sleeves and no numbers (on the front, at least).

The picture is from the 1931 Princeton-Michigan game in Palmer Stadium. Michigan won the game 21-0.

TB at first thought that the picture included future U.S. President Gerald Ford, but it turns out that 1931 was his freshman year at Michigan. Princeton played the following year in Ann Arbor, in a game Michigan won 14-7, and Ford played against the Tigers in that one. He'd also go on to be a first-team All-American.

Even without a future President of the United States, it's still a cool picture. So is this one:

That's the women's basketball team on its trip to Senegal in the summer of 2011. TB took great pride in the fact that he successful ID'd everyone in the picture. He even gets extra credit for the two on the end on the right side - team managers Jordyn Seni and Amanda Roman.

That trip, which included a stop in Paris, predated a season that saw the Tigers go 24-5 overall and 14-0 in the Ivy League before falling to Kansas State 67-64 in the NCAA tournament. 

Niveen Rasheed, who is the fourth from the right in the picture, was coming back from her knee injury that had wiped out more than half of her 2010-11 season. She would win the 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year Award, as well as the 2013 award.

Princeton would win the Ivy League title in each of the four seasons of the Class of 2013. 

And then TB will leave you with this picture as well:

This picture was taken at the final horn of a 4-1 win over UConn in the 1998 NCAA semifinals at Franklin Field. The Tigers fell 3-2 to Old Dominion two days later in the final.

There is a color version of this picture somewhere. It's one of the best celebration shots at Princeton that TB has seen. 

Maybe he'll spend the rest of the day trying to find it. Who knows what else he might find.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Do You Know Lisa Sweeney?

So TigerBlog was minding his own business the other day when a man and a woman walked past him, walking their beagle.

There's something different about beagles, by the way. They're the cutest of dogs. 

TB supposes it has to do with the whole "Snoopy" thing. 

About 10 minutes later they were all still talking (well, except the dog, who didn't offer much to the conversation). It turns out that the woman was someone TigerBlog wrote about back in his newspaper days.

In fact, she was someone TB wrote about when she was in high school and college. 

The world being the small place that it is, it doesn't usually take long to find some connection people with one another. In this case, the connections took TB back to the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The way to spark conversation, by the way, is to wear something that says "Princeton Athletics" in public. Someone invariably is drawn to it and begins to talk about the University and what the sweatshirt-wearer's connection to it is.

In this case, the woman with the beagle asked TB this question: Do you know Lisa Sweeney, the softball coach at Princeton? The answer, obviously, is yes.

TB went on to explain that she is now Lisa Van Ackeren, after marrying Brendan Van Ackeren. TB said that both had been athletes at Lehigh and that "one of them was in the Lehigh Hall of Fame; can't remember which one."

Actually, it's Lisa, a softball pitcher. Brendan was a football player at Lehigh.

The woman then said to send her regards to Lisa. And she said her name, or at least her maiden name. Once she did, TB knew exactly who she was.

Her name when she played softball at Neshaminy High School and the at Rider was Kelly Ford. She had two brothers, one of whom TB wrote about as a football player at the College of New Jersey, especially during its 1990 run to the NCAA quarterfinals. He's pretty sure he remembers the other brother from Neshaminy.

Ford mentioned that she had played with a travel softball team called the Blazing Angels. TB remembered them too. Former Princeton star Stacie Bonner had played with the team, and she and Ford had been teammates.

When TB emailed Lisa Van Ackeren to tell her that he'd met someone who knew her, this was her response: 

"Yes! Kelly gave me my first pitching drill tool - a foam softball - when I was 7 at one of sister's high school games (her dad coached my sister-in-law, my sister and me at Rancocas Valley). I used to throw it against a full length mirror in my parents' bedroom until I started going to pitching lessons."

TB started his writing career covering high school sports. He moved to covering colleges in 1989.

During his time writing about colleges, he'd say he spent 40 percent of his time covering Princeton events, 30 percent of his time covering Trenton State (now TCNJ) events, 25 percent of his time covering Rider events and the other five percent covering Rutgers and Mercer County College events. 

There were great teams and great athletes and great games he covered at Rider and TCNJ. It was a great mix of sports and leagues and levels, and TB developed a great understanding and appreciation of college athletics in general and especially gender equity while at the newspaper. He was lucky that he worked at a newspapers, and for someone (Harvey Yavener), who valued women's college sports long before most outlets did.

He always looks back at those days with great fondness. In his short time speaking with Kelly Ford Saturday, there was a lot of "you must know so-and-son" and "were you there when such-and-such happened?" That's all quite normal.

TB remembers so many details of those years, and so many of the games he covered. In fact, he was on TCNJ's website yesterday and found coincidentally a story about that 1990 football team. He wasn't really surprised at how many details he remembered, and to that end how many scores he remembered from that season.

So yes, it was great to go back to the newspaper days and relive some of them. 

Of course even back in those days, there was something very special to him about covering Princeton. For as much as he enjoyed the other schools and the relationships he made there, Princeton was always his favorite. 

The last few decades have made that even clearer.

Monday, April 19, 2021

To You, General Kelley

So TigerBlog was watching Rutgers-Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse Saturday afternoon, and he couldn't help but notice that every Scarlet Knights player had the words "General Kelley" on the back of his uniform.

Being the curious sort he is, TB looked up who General Kelley was. It turns out it was General Robert Kelley, Rutgers Class of 1956, who passed away last week at the age of 88.

Before he became the youngest brigadier general in the history of the U.S. Air Force (at the age of 43) and won eight air medals, General Kelley was a member of the Rutgers men's lacrosse team. In fact, he was a three-time All-American, earning first-team honors in 1955 and 1956.

He'd finish his career with 100 goals, eight of which came against Syracuse and Jim Brown his junior year. 

TB, further curious, looked up how Rutgers did against Princeton while Kelley played there. Turns out, his three varsity games were fairly even.

How even? How about 1-1-1.

In 1954, when Kelley was a sophomore, Princeton defeated the Scarlet Knights 11-9. In his senior year, Rutgers defeated Princeton 17-11, led by six goals from Kelley.

In 1955? It was a 14-14 tie. 

Now there aren't too many ties in lacrosse. There have been 18 in Princeton men's lacrosse history, of which 10 were before World War II. There also five in the 1960s, and the two most recent were in the 1968 season, when the Tigers tied Maryland and Yale.

The Princeton-Cornell rivalry has produced some wildly exciting games in the modern era. In the 1930s the teams played to tie games of 2-2 (1930) and 1-1 (1931). Maybe they were exciting in their own way? 

TB wanted to find out some details on that 14-14 tie in 1955, and so he went to the Daily Princetonian archives. The only problem is that he didn't know what the date of that game had been, so he had try to guess which issue of the paper to check.

He went for mid-April and randomly went to the April 18 edition. What was the lead headline that day? 

It wasn't Princeton-Rutgers men's lacrosse. As it turned out, the game was actually played nearly a month later. 

Nope, the random edition that TB chose had a giant headline that was two words long: "Einstein Dies." 

There was this in the story: 

Dr. Harold W. Dodds told the Princetonian this morning that "the contributions which Dr. Einstein made to man's understanding of nature are beyond assessment in our day. Only future generations will be competent to grasp their full significance. 

Seems pretty accurate. Dr. Dodds, by the way, was the University president at the time.

Meanwhile back at the 1955 lacrosse game, TB finally found the story, in "the Prince" edition of May 12. Turns out it was quite a game, beyond just how the score seems to indicate.

This was how "the Prince" story began:

In the most dramatic lacrosse battle seen here in more than a decade, Princeton and Rutgers struggled through four quarters and two overtime periods to a 14-14 deadlock before 1100 wildly cheering fans at Bedford Field yesterday. It was a game that had everything: superlative shooting, blocking, playmaking, passing and goal-keeping. The spectators were left limp by the two and one half hour fight.

The game would feature 10 ties, the last of which came when Princeton's Bob Stinson made it 14-14 with just over a minute to play. Kelley almost won it, but his goal was waved off when referee Frenchy Julian said it had gone in just after the final buzzer. 

Two small footnotes: 1) under today's rules, Kelley's shot might have counted, if it had left his stick before the final horn, as opposed to then, when it had to be in the goal before the final horn and 2) since 1968 the USILA has awarded the "Frenchy Julian Service Award" for "outstanding and continuous service to the sport."

Lastly, the story mentions that the team's played two six-minute overtime periods before the game was called a tie. The preview story says that the game began at 4, and the quote above says it took 2:30 to play, meaning it ended at 6:30. These days, it's still light enough at 6:30 to keep playing. Did the rules say a tie after two scoreless overtimes? TB will have to check on that one.

Of course, Daylight Savings Time didn't become a national law until 1966. From World War II until 1966, which means when the game was played, it was hit-or-miss as to whether DST was used in different states. TB is pretty sure New Jersey had it then, but if not then maybe it was too dark to keep playing.

Anyway, it was fun going back to 1955. 

And as for General Kelley, he was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life and who was a model for a life of service. TB is glad he learned about him this weekend and he sends his best to General Kelley's family - included his extended family of Rutgers men's lacrosse.

 

 

Friday, April 16, 2021

For A Ride

It was supposed to rain all day yesterday, so TigerBlog figured it would be an off day for bike riding.

Then when he woke up, it was only drizzling, and the forecast had changed enough to make him think he could get out without getting soaked. By 8 am, he was out for a ride.

When he finished 11 miles later, he was feeling pretty good about things.

Then, at 10, it was time for the monthly Princeton Department of Athletics staff meeting. And who was one of the guests?

Matt Marquardt. 

If you don't remember, Marquardt is the extraordinary young man who is a senior on the men's swimming and diving team. He's headed to medical school next year.

He's also become an expert in sleep management. As part of his comments yesterday, he posted a slide with five tips to improve your sleep:

1. wake up within a one-hour time range every day
2. get your sleep at night (7-9 hours, plus one when training)
3. make your room a sleep oasis
4. only nap in 90-, 26- or five-minute intervals
5. avoid regular use of melatonin and sleeping pills

And there you have it. 

To TigerBlog, Marquardt will always be the guy who rode his bike across the country. He touched the Pacific Ocean in San Diego on Dec. 30, and he touched the Atlantic Ocean in Jacksonville 20 days later.

That's 2,479 miles in 20 days. That's an average of 124 miles per day. That's essentially TB's regular daily ride squared.

He did all of this to challenge himself, see parts of the country he otherwise might not have and also raise money, in this case for St. Jude's Children Hospital.

He endured seven inches of snow in Texas that forced him to take a day off. The next day he had to ride on a wet 35-degree weather with a tough headwind.

As TB rides these days, he keeps wondering how Marquardt did it. TB would have loved to be able to do something like that when he was young, and he'd still love to be able to do some sort of Point A to Point B ride one of these days.

But to go 2,479 miles in 20 days? No chance.

TB has written about Marquardt before. He's never actually met him, and yesterday was the first time he's heard him speak. He's obviously an extraordinarily impressive young man - even if he's sort of made TB feel bad about his own riding regimen.

Speaking of Princeton athletes who are riding across the country, there are two others who are currently doing so. 

Women's basketball player Maddie Plank and men's basketball player Charlie Bagin left from the Jersey Shore this week. They'll arrive in Washington state on June 17.

That's a little more than 3,000 miles (3,058 to be exact), and that's 65 days to do so. That's an average of 47 miles per day. That's a bit more manageable.

Interestingly, they both talked about training with weighted bicycles, to be ready to ride while carrying up to 40 pounds at a time. 

Plank and Bagin are doing so to raise awareness of mental health issues, something both have said they have been dealing with in the last year. 

Here is what they had to say on the subject:

"Maddie and I are very excited for this trip; we've been thinking about it and talking about it and planning it for about 8 months now," said Bagin. "It's taken on extra meaning now that we've decided to ride for mental health awareness, an issue that we have both been keenly aware of, especially over the last year.
 
"Upon selecting this amazing cause, I felt so willing and empowered to speak about my mental health struggles and give support to others," said Plank. "I continue to battle an eating disorder and understand that it's a huge problem in athletics and women everywhere. I hope Charlie and my journey gives hope and provides help to those who need it!"

You can read more about their trip HERE.

You can also follow their progress on Instagram at namicoast2coast.