Friday, January 29, 2021

Jen And Tara

Here's a question for you: How many emails does it take to find a time to do a podcast with a Director of Athletics in New Jersey, a prep school Head of School in New York City and a doctor in California?

The answer turned out to be "a lot."

Ah, but the good news is that after all of the back-and-forth, TigerBlog was able to connect with Mollie Marcoux Samaan (the Director of Athletics), Tara Christie Kinsey (the Head of School) and Jen Babik (the doctor) last night at 9 to put together the most recent edition of "The First 50" podcast.

It was sort of like working with television to find a start time for a game before settling on a 9 pm tip. 

Babik and Christie Kinsey were teammates on the Princeton softball team back in the 1990s, when the Tigers made back-to-back trips to the Women's College World Series in 1995 and 1996. Babik was a senior on the first of those teams, which was Christie Kinsey's sophomore year. 

Between the two of them, they have five first-team All-Ivy League selections (three for Christie Kinsey and two for Babik). Their names are all over the Princeton softball record book.

Among the entries:

* they rank 2-3 in career runs score (Babik is second, Christie Kinsey is third)
* Babik is Princeton's single-season record holder for runs scored; Christie Kinsey is third and fourth
* Babik is third all-time at Princeton in hits with 230; Christie Kinsey is fourth with 225

The Babik/Christie Kinsey years were a glorious time for Princeton softball, under legendary coach Cindy Cohen. The two both played on three Ivy League championship teams, including a 33-1 run through the league from 1994-96.

They were on the winning side of 10 NCAA tournament games.

They've both gone on to do extraordinary things since graduation.

Christie Kinsey went from Princeton to get a Ph.D. in English from Emory, in Atlanta, and she taught at places like Emory, Georgetown, Oxford and Princeton (where she also served as an Associate Dean in the Office of the Dean of the College and the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life). Today she is the Head of School at the Hewitt School in New York City.

If you're looking for great insights into Christie Kinsey, click HERE for her bio on the school's website. It includes some bio information, but more than that it's about her philosophies and values related to girls' education. There's a lot of interesting stuff there.

Speaking of Oxford, Babik went from Princeton to Oxford as a Rhode Scholar, where she earned a D.Phil (English version of a Ph.D.). When she returned to the U.S., she went to medical school at Stanford, and today she is a infectious disease specialist at the University of San Francisco Medical Center. 

The "First 50" podcast is part of the celebration of the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton.

Babik is one of the women TB has spoken to for the upcoming book on those first 50 years. Her story includes all kinds of interesting things, including how she learned to handle pressure from playing a marching French horn solo at a "Battle of the Bands" competition in old Giants Stadium while at Piscataway High School.

She also talked about being a two-sport athlete at Princeton (she also played field hockey) while also playing the jazz band, including doing two of those three on the same day. And about her experiences in England during her time there, including how she came to play soccer while she was there instead of softball (it had to do with her first day of practicing with a softball team she found there and how she the first baseman couldn't quite handle her throw from her shortstop position).

Babik talked a lot about the impact her athletic career has had on her personally and professionally. She talked a lot about the relationships she formed with her teammates on each of her teams, wherever they were.

Her time with the Princeton softball team has led to friendships that have only grown through the years. These were friendships that started out in practices and dining halls and on bus rides. 

And there with her was Tara Christie Kinsey.

Of all of those emails that it took to set up the podcast, it was one of the early ones that spoke loudest. It was from Babik, whose response to the invitation was this: "I would be happy to do this, especially if I get to do it with TC!"

Teammates. Always teammates. 


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Three Miles A Day

Mollie Marcoux Samaan has been sending out daily pep talks to the Princeton athletes on campus who are currently quarantining in advance of the second semester.

The messages are in the form of inspirational quotes from Princeton coaches. There have been some really good ones so far.

It got TigerBlog to thinking about what quote he would offer. While he thinks about that, women's cross country coach Brad Hunt didn't quote someone else. He came up with his own:

“Distance running is all about being comfortable while being uncomfortable - being confident when the push to the finish line feels uncertain. A great runner never gives up when the moment is hard. Overcoming any challenge creates growth and more strength for the next challenge. CONQUER THE QUARANTINE!”

-         Coach Brad Hunt

If anyone knows about distance running, it's Brad Hunt.

In addition to being the head women's cross country coach, he's also a runner himself. In fact, it turns out that Hunt has run at least three miles every day for ... what for it ... 15 straight years. He recently went past 5,500 straight days.

If you multiply 5,500 times three, you get 16,500 miles. The distance around the Earth at the equator is 24,900 miles.

That 16,500-mile number, by the way, assumes that Hunt ran exactly three miles each day and no more. He's probably way past that total.

As someone who rides his bike almost every day, TB can say firsthand that the idea of going 15 years without missing a day is extraordinary. There are so many days where TB has to talk himself into it, and there are others were the weather isn't cooperative or he just doesn't feel like it.

TB has a very serious respect for what Hunt is doing. 

TB doesn't know Brad Hunt well, but he knows him well enough to know that he's a really well-spoken person, one who makes really thoughtful points and who also has a very, very considerate side. Those qualities are all obvious.

To that you can also add, apparently, well-conditioned.

Meanwhile, back at Mollie's series of quotes, there was this from men's hockey coach Ron Fogarty:

Stay positive - test negative!”

That's quick and to the point. 

So what would make a good inspirational quote? TB is still thinking.

As always, he goes to Pete Carril first, who essentially said this after the men's basketball team beat UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament:

"You can give the greatest pep talk in the world, 'win one for the Gipper' and all that, and none of it means anything if the guys you're talking to don't believe they can do it." 

That's not word-for-word, but it's the basic point. TB doesn't have the original version that Carril said in the postgame press conference, but he does remember the "win one for the Gipper" part and the last part.

That's pretty classic Carril stuff. And it might not seem like it's inspirational at first, but if you think about it, that quote really says everything you need to know about athletics.

TB has always believed that in close games, a big difference can be the fact that one team knows it's going to win and the other doesn't. It's that confidence or doubt that often decides the outcome.

TB has seen it a thousand times. 

Another quote TB likes is one that he's heard before from many sources. It's not so much a quote as it is an attitude, and it's one that Princeton football alum Stephen Carlson said to TB when they spoke before the NFL playoffs a few weeks ago.

When Carlson was talking about the changes the Cleveland Browns had in the off-season related to coaching staff and personnel, he said something simply that resonated a great deal with TB:

"The only thing you can control is your effort," he said. 

That's a good one as well. It's easy to assign blame or think that it doesn't matter what you do, but as Carlson said, you can control your effort.

Lastly, TB always loved one from former Princeton men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, who said this:

"When things are going badly, stop and think what it is you do best and do that."

Again, there's a lot of wisdom there.

There are thousands of great, inspirational, thought-inspiring, effort-inspiring quotes out there. 

Also, if you don't know the origins of "Win One For The Gipper," then go watch "Knute Rockne All-American."

Or just watch these two clips:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

More John Scott

TigerBlog saw that Princeton alum Eric Robinson was the first star in the Columbus Blue Jackets' win over defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay over the weekend.

Robinson, who had a goal and assist in that win. is not that far removed from his days as a Princetonian. 

Robinson was the captain of the 2018 Tigers, the team that won the ECAC championship. Robinson had a 17-goal, 14-assist season that year and he finished his Princeton career with 39 goals and 28 assists. 

His NHL career is just starting to take off. 

John Scott's NHL career has already happened. Hopefully Robinson can stay in the league as long as Scott did, which was a total of eight years. 

If you remember Scott from last week, it was after TB listened to a podcast that featured Scott and the story of how he went from being an NHL enforcer to the MVP of the 2016 All-Star Game. You can read that story HERE, complete with the podcast.

By the way, even with its limited Princeton connection, that blog is the most-read entry of the month, by a fairly large margin. It's also the entry this month that generated the most feedback to TigerBlog, from Princeton fans who loved the podcast and were intrigued by the subject.

At the end of that story, TB mentioned that he found YouTube videos of several of Scott's fights with another Princeton alum, George Parros, during their NHL days. TB suggested he might try to track down Scott to see what his thoughts on Parros were a few years later and what his thoughts in general were about his hockey career.

And so that's what he did.

TB went through the athletic communications at Scott's alma mater, Michigan Tech, and he was able to get an email address. Scott responded quickly to the email, and he and TB had a nice 20-minute Zoom talk the other day.

These days, Scott lives in Traverse City, Michigan, which is about four hours northwest of Detroit. When TB spoke with him, Traverse City had just gotten a foot of snow, something Scott described as "nothing big."

Scott, on the other hand, is something big, checking in at 6-8 and 260 pounds. Add that to the skates, and he was a giant on the ice.

TB had no idea what to expect from Scott when he connected to the Zoom. Yes, he wouldn't have agreed to speak with TB unless he felt comfortable speaking, but all TB really knew about him was that he came across as a good guy on the podcast.

That was something that was confirmed immediately when he first started to speak. He has a huge smile and a deep voice that still has a Canadian accent, from his childhood in Edmonton (where presumably he learned to think a foot of snow is "nothing big").

He laughed a lot, and he's clearly funny. He was happy to talk about any subject. For instance, on Parros:

"When George and I fought, it was a job. Off the ice, we're friends. I've spoken to him many times, and he's a really good guy. Besides, he can actually string sentences together, which is rare for a hockey player. He and I just happened to have the same job, that's all. It was never personal, just a job."

And about that job? 

"I'm not naive to the fact that everyone wants to be a goal scorer. I had to swallow my pride and say that I didn't have the skillset to do that in the NHL. I had to figure out how to get there. I viewed fighting as another tool to get me to my goal of being in the NHL. It's not something I took lightly. I trained. I trained my tail off. I scouted the guys I'd have to fight. I watched a lot of George Parros video. I mean, I did have some sleepless nights about having to fight some very tough guys, but there's no better feeling than planting a guy you don't like on his keester with a solid right hand. It's very primal."

TB asked him about the podcast and about the way he ended up in the All-Star Game, let alone as its MVP. He had no hard feelings to anyone who doubted him or caused him any problems, and he laughed pretty much on a sentence-by-sentence basis. 

These days he lives in Traverse City with his wife and six daughters. Yes. Six daughters. He could make a women's hockey team out of them alone.

But coaching isn't what he's interested in now. 

He's actually a mechanical engineer. He also has a hockey podcast called, somewhat aptly, "Drop The Gloves."

The entire time they spoke, Scott was wearing a sweatshirt that said "Hockey" on it. Not "Michigan Tech Hockey," and not something from one of the seven NHL teams for which he played.

It just said "Hockey."

When TB first saw it, he thought immediately of John Blutarsky, the John Belushi character in "Animal House," the one who at one point is wearing a shirt that just says "College." This was in the very beginning of the conversation, when TB thought that Scott might be a Blutarsky-type, a clownish caricature - albeit the greatest clownish caricature ever created.

What TB came to realize over the course of their conversation is that Scott is hardly a clownish caricature. He's funny and he clearly has a huge personality. And he clearly has a big heart.

But he's also very, very thoughtful and very, very deep. It didn't take 20 minutes to figure that out.

So yes, again, there's very little Princeton connection here. But that's okay for one day this week.

What's there is, though, is John Scott, a genuine, nice, friendly, warm man who is so much more than just a guy who used to fight other big guys in NHL games. 

TB is really glad he had a chance to speak with him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Hammerin' Hank

Trivia question - When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's career record, what high school did the pitcher who gave up the home run attend?

The pitcher was Al Downing, if that helps.

Hank Aaron passed away last week two weeks shy of his 87th birthday. Perhaps more than any other athlete in any sport ever, Aaron put together a career of incredible consistency.

There are 30 players who have hit at least 50 home runs in a season. It may surprise you to know that Hank Aaron is not one of them.

On the other hand, "Hammerin' Hank" hit at least 24 home runs every year from 1955 through 1973, and he reached 30 home runs in a season 15 different times while having eight different 40 home run seasons. His career high was 47, in 1971.

He also had 11 seasons of between 106 and 132 RBIs, and his 2,297 career RBIs are still the Major League record.

Aaron was named to 25 all-star teams in his 23-year career (there were two all-star games a year from 1959-62).

As TB said, he was a model of consistency. And a model of modest, team-first, non-spectacular sportsmanship. To be honest, TB doesn't remember anyone who would say that Aaron was their favorite player. He also doesn't know anyone who would say they didn't respect Aaron and the way he played the game. 

His list of baseball accomplishments is nearly endless. There is no believable list of the greatest players of all-time that doesn't include Hank Aaron in the top 10. 

Oh, and if you were a fan of the TV show "The Odd Couple" in the 1970s, then you also remember that Aaron's name was featured in one of its greatest scenes.

What TB didn't realize about Aaron is that he was the recipient of an honorary degree from Princeton in 2011 until he saw it on Princeton's social media feed.

Here's what the University said about him:
Henry “Hank” Aaron is one of the most accomplished baseball players in American history and is currently senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves. As a player entering Major League Baseball soon after its integration in 1954, he confronted racism with quiet dignity, and as an executive he has fought discrimination in hiring practices ... As he approached Babe Ruth’s record of 714, he received almost a million letters, many of them abusive. Today America is a much better place with much more opportunity for all, in part because he gave all of us an imperishable example of grace under pressure.

That last part, about the abuse he took for chasing down the beloved Babe, was 100 percent true. It's one of the things TigerBlog remembers most from that time. 

TB watched the game live on tv when Aaron hit 715. And where did Al Downing go to high school? Trenton High School.

TigerBlog remembers when another athlete, Mia Hamm, received an honorary degree from Princeton as well. This was in 2006, five years before Aaron did.

TB was one of Hamm's escorts that day. He first met up with her at the Nassau Inn early on the morning of graduation, and he was with her through a reception, the ceremony and a luncheon.

What stands out most about that day?  

It was the way Hamm was mobbed wherever she went by basically everyone she ran into. 

There haven't been too many more popular athletes, male or female, in this country over the last 25 years or so than Mia Hamm.

Here's what was said about her:
For men and women around the world, but especially for girls in this country, she has personified the achievement of excellence, the expansion of opportunity and the determination needed to overcome defenders of opponents’ nets and limitations on the participation of women in sports. Because of her, many have dreamed what they otherwise would not have dared to dream, and have set out to realize their dreams by following her model of courage, integrity, discipline, good sportsmanship and effective teamwork.

Every word of that is true.

There was a time when women's athletics had no crossover appeal to the mainstream male audience. 

Just as no believable list of the greatest baseball players of all-time can exist without Hank Aaron, no credible list of the women athletes who made that crossover possible can exist without Mia Hamm, right up there near the very, very top.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Flag Day

Okay, so that was pass interference. It's just that it was pass interference all game and it wasn't called, so why call it there?

TigerBlog refers, of course, to the end of the NFC Championship Game, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got the game-clinching first down on a pass interference call that was 1) no worse than so many others that weren't called before it and 2) on a very, very, very, very late flag.

In the end, it ruined what would have been a dramatic ending had the call not been made, since Green Bay would have gotten the ball back with a chance to get the winning touchdown in the final two minutes. Instead, Tampa easily ran out the clock on a 31-26 win.

Now, you can also argue that Green Bay didn't deserve another chance after kicking a field goal on a fourth-and-goal from the 8 just before the two-minute warning. What was Packers' coach Matt LeFleur thinking?

He needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion, so the odds weren't great. Still, there was no guarantee that the Packers would ever get the ball back and besides, if they did, they still needed a touchdown.

If you're Tampa Bay, what were you thinking when you saw Green Bay send out the field goal team? You were thinking "good," and one of TB's main rules in sports is "never do what the other team wants you to do."

Tampa Bay's trip to the Super Bowl adds another chapter to the extraordinary career of Tom Brady, not that he needed any additional chapters. For Brady to go from winning six Super Bowls in New England and now in his first season - at the age of 43 - to taking Tampa Bay to the big game is incredible.

For the record, it's his 10th Super Bowl after his 14th conference championship game. 

TigerBlog was rooting for Green Bay, of course. And why?

Because the Packers have Princeton alum John Lovett on the team. Lovett, who won a Super Bowl ring last year with Kansas City, was just establishing himself as a key cog on Green Bay's offense when his season ended with a knee injury.

Still, he's on the team, and TB always roots for the Princeton guys.

If you're a Patriots' fan, were you rooting for Brady? Does he have a lifetime pass, even if he left "your" team and led a different one to the Super Bowl while "your" team didn't make the playoffs? 

What percentage of Patriots fans were rooting for Tampa Bay, who, by the way, becomes the first team to play at home in the Super Bowl.

Whenever TB sees a game from Green Bay, he thinks back to his own trip to the city in Wisconsin. Actually, it's not a city at all. 

It's a town, not that much different from Hamilton, which is about 10 miles from Princeton. It's a small suburban town that just happens to have an NFL team there.

TB was there for an in-season basketball tournament with the Princeton men between Christmas and New Year's in 1995. 

Princeton defeated Ohio in the semifinal 65-60. The final went to Wisconsin-Green Bay, by a score of 55-35. 

It was actually a one-point game at halftime, with Green Bay ahead 24-23. Princeton would shoot 4 for 18 in the second half, though, including 0 for 9 from three-point range. 

Not sure if the name is familiar to many anymore, but TB remembers Jeff Nordgaard, who had a 28-point, 13-rebound night in the championship game. Nordgaard went on to play for the Milwaukee Bucks briefly, as well as for a long time in Europe.

That game was played in the Brown County Arena, which is across the parking lot from Lambeau Field. The Princeton hotel was in the same parking lot. You know what TB never saw while he was there? The sun.

Four days after that game, Princeton lost its Ivy League opener against Penn. The Tigers then won 12 straight league games before losing to Penn in the regular season finale. 

Then came some games you might remember - an Ivy playoff win over the Quakers, who had beaten Princeton eight straight prior to that, and then the win over UCLA. It was Pete Carril's last season as Princeton head coach.

Seems like forever ago, right? 

Well, it was a long time ago. You know what happened a few months later? 

Tom Brady was a freshman at Michigan.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Wendy Zaharko And Princeton Women's History

If it was the third Thursday of the month, as yesterday was, than it must have meant the debut of another excerpt from TigerBlog's upcoming book on the first 50 years of Princeton women's athletics. 

As projects go, this one is TB's all-time favorite. 

He continues to make considerable progress on the book. The big issue now is how to package everything he's written.

The content varies wildly from subject to subject. Some of very long chapters that focus on general topics, while others are smaller pieces that focus on one individual. 

Of course, he'll figure it out. And he's confident that the final product will accomplish his original goal - to tell the stories of how Princeton University went from not having women students to creating the athletic program from the earliest women to building a national model for women's athletics. 

To date, he's been happy to share the excerpts.

This month's subject is one of the stand-alone pieces, this one on the great Wendy Zaharko.

You can read it HERE.

One of the best parts of this project has been the opportunity to speak with some of the great women athletes at Princeton from the 1970s, women TB had heard of and knew a great deal about but had never actually spoken to before. 

There have been so many of them whose stories he's gotten to hear and write about. Cathy Corcione (Olympic swimmer). Carol Brown (though he'd met her before, he'd never written about her remarkable travels from growing up in a state that literally had a law against high school sports for girls to competing in two sports at Princeton and then winning an Olympic medal). Podie Lynch (the only letterwinner in the first class for women, 1971). Janet Youngholm (another two-sport pioneer). Aime Knox (a great three-sport athlete).

Wendy Zaharko, though, was on a bit of a different level. 

It's probably because TB has spent so much time on the squash courts of Jadwin Gym (at least until two knee surgeries and a shoulder that is worse than either of those knees), but the name "Zaharko" has always carried with it a special place in Princeton history.

When TB first spoke to her, what he mostly knew was that she was a three-time national squash champion, an unbeatable force in her playing days. He knew she was a doctor. He knew she lived in Princeton for a long time.

Mostly he knew that anyone who ever talked about greatness in college squash was awed by her name. Zaharko. In her entire college career, she never lost so much as a single game, let alone an entire match.

So that was the background for his conversation with her. 

TB thought she'd grown up in Princeton, but it turned out she actually was from Wilmington, Del. TB jokingly asked her if she knew Joe Biden, as if everyone who lived near Wilmington, Del., would know him. 

As it turned out, she knew him pretty well. He used to play basketball across the street from her house, and she was in charge of chasing down the ball when it rolled away. She was seven at the time.

She told the story of her early interactions with the then-teenager boy who would grow up to be President of the United States. She also talked about how she had a chance encounter years later on a ski slope where she saw him and told the Secret Service agents around him to mention she was there, only to hear "Wendy!!!!!!' from him before they could let him know.

There is so much more to Wendy Zaharko's story beyond that.  

She talked about how she had to come back from major back surgery that had her in a full body cast while at Princeton. She talked about how a conflict with her legendary coach Betty Constable forced her to miss the national championships her sophomore year, or else she would have been a four-time winner. She talked about how the two of them reconciled. She talked about her medical school experiences and her medical career. She talked about the impact Princeton had on all of it.

The chapter on Zaharko is one of TB's favorites. He's just not 100 percent sure yet how to fit into the context of a book.

There will definitely be section on the early pioneers. 

Wendy Zaharko was one of them. 

Her name remains high on the list of the all-time greatest to compete for Princeton.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Marquardts

When you say the name "Marquardt" to TigerBlog, he's always going to think first of Chris Marquardt, a men's basketball player from the Class of 1992.

Chris Marquardt stood 6-9 but was mostly a great three-point shooter. TB doesn't even need to look it up to know that he went to Clearwater Central Catholic High School. 

He did have to look up that Marquardt scored 426 career points. Something else he did not have to look up was that Marquardt's class remains unique as the only Princeton class to win four Ivy League championships and reach four NCAA tournaments.

In fact, since freshman became eligible in the mid-1970s, the Princeton Class of 1992 is the only Ivy League men's basketball class to play in four NCAA tournaments. On the women's side, only one class has made four NCAA tournaments - the Princeton Class of 2013.

These days, the name "Marquardt" at Princeton is associated more with swimming than basketball.

When TB saw that there was a Matthew Marquardt on the men's swimming and diving team and an Ellie Marquardt on the women's team, he wondered if they were related and possibly the children of Chris Marquardt.

As near as he can figure, and he could be completely wrong about this, it appears that none of the three Marquardts are related.

Ellie Marquardt, as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, became an All-American in the 500 and the 1,650 freestyle and was an NCAA qualifier in both before the season was ended due to the COVID pandemic. She was also the High Point Swimmer of the Meet at the Ivy championships when she won the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 and set a league record in the 500.

In one season she set three school records, and she's also in the top 10 in six other events. That's not a bad debut.

Ellie Marquardt is from Charlotte. 

Matthew Marquardt is from Cincinnati. Well, he went to high school in Cincinnati. The last few weeks, he's been from basically everywhere.

Matthew Marquardt is finishing up on an amazing adventure, having ridden his bike across the country. He started in San Diego on Dec. 30, and he arrives today in Jacksonville.

That's a long way to ride in a short amount of time. 

In fact, he reached single-day highs of 160 miles. That's a lot. 

If you missed it, there was a story about Marquardt's ride on You can read it HERE.

This is from the story. It's his schedule during the ride:

6:15 a.m. - wake up
6:15 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. - eat breakfast, pack up car and leave hotel
7:30 a.m. - drive to starting point
8:15 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. - start biking

Every 45 minutes stop to eat a 100-200 calorie snack (apple sauce, raisins or almond butter)

1:00 p.m. - stop for a 45 minute lunch break (eat a bag of prepared rice, eat a box of deli meat, two bananas, bottle of coconut water, maybe a few gummy bears or some cereal)

2:00 p.m. - sundown (around 5:30 p.m.) - continue to bike and stop about every 45 minutes to eat a snack

Around 6:00 p.m. - get to next hotel

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - eat dinner, shower, use the Normatech, foam roll and stretch, clean/maintain bike and prepare it for the next day 

9:00 p.m. (or earlier) - lights out

That's incredible. 

TigerBlog is a bicycle rider. Reading the story, TB thought it would be something he might want to try, but he would probably have to do it over a much, much, much longer period of time.

The most he's ever done in one day is 34 miles. He can't imagine riding as far as Marquardt did in such a short time.

If you read the whole story, you'll see a picture painted of a young man who clearly seems to be impressive in so many ways. He talks about a commitment to service. He is headed to medical school. He certainly is in great physical condition. 

He's another example of what TB has often said about so many Princeton athletes all these years. 

Where do these people come from?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Presidential Trivia

When TigerBlog wrote yesterday about George Parros yesterday, he completely forgot that Parros had brought the Stanley Cup to Baker Rink in the summer of 2007.

In fact, TB forgot that he had a picture of his then-young kids with Parros with the Cup on the Baker ice. He's dusting it off for you here:


Parros, by the way, is 6-5, so neither one of TB's kids ever caught up to him in height, though they did close the gap quite a bit.

That was more than 13 years ago? Time really does sail by.

Shifting to today's subject, as you may have noticed, TigerBlog does not write about politics. 

It's a good policy. If you're looking for political debate, TigerBlog is not your place for it. There appear to be some other place you can go to find it if you like.

Today, of course, is the inauguration of Joe Biden as the new President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the new Vice President.

In honor of the occasion, TB offers the following quiz. The way it works is simple.

TB will give you an event in Princeton Athletic history. You need to answer with who the President of the United States was when it happened.

He'll give the questions first and then at the end he'll provide the answers.

With no further delay, here is the Princeton Athletics Who Was The President Trivia Game:

Who was the President of the United States when ...

1) Princeton reached the NCAA men's basketball Final Four?

2) Dick Kazmaier won the Heisman Trophy?

3) The first women's athletic event was held?

4) The first men's athletic event was held?

5) Princeton played in the first football game? 

6) Princeton became the first school to sweep the NCAA lacrosse championships in the same season?

7) Hobey Baker first played varsity football and hockey for Princeton?

8) Princeton won its first Olympic gold medals?

9) Princeton had its first woman win an Olympic medal?

10) Princeton added men's soccer, men's cross country, wrestling and men's swimming and diving?

11) The first time Princeton women's teams combined to win at least eight Ivy League championships in one academic year?

12) The women's soccer team reached the NCAA Final Four? 

13) Princeton had the first person who held the title of Director of Athletics?

14) Princeton won four straight men's golf NCAA championships?

And now the answers:

1) The first Princeton men's basketball team defeated Penn State, North Carolina State and Providence to reach the NCAA Final Four in 1965. The POTUS at the time? Lyndon Johnson

2) Dick Kazmaier won the 1951 Heisman Trophy. Harry S Truman was your POTUS at the time. 

3) The first time women competed for Princeton was in the fall of 1970, when Richard Nixon sat in the Oval Office.

4) Princeton's first athletic event was a baseball game against Williams on Nov. 22, 1864. Abraham Lincoln was the President, and that same day the Battle of Griswoldville was fought in Georgia as part of Sherman's March to the Sea. 

5) The first football game was played on Nov. 6, 1869. Ulysses S. Grant was the POTUS.

6) The Princeton men and women both won the NCAA title in 1994, when Bill Clinton was in his first term. 

7) Hobey Baker was in the Class of 1914. His first varsity seasons were in 1911 (football) and 1911-12 (hockey). Who was the President? One of the biggest (literally and figuratively) sports fans ever to be POTUS was in office - William Howard Taft.

8) The first Princeton Olympic gold medals came at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. In fact Princeton won seven medals in those Games, with two golds and two silvers from Robert Garrett. The POTUS then was Grover Cleveland, who, as a bonus trivia fact, is actually buried in Princeton, in the cemetery on Witherspoon Street near the library. 

9) Carol Brown won bronze at the 1976 Olympic Games as a rower. Gerald Ford was the President at the time. You get a bonus fact about Ford also - he competed against Princeton in football while at Michigan at the early 1930s.

10) Princeton added men's swimming and diving, wrestling, men's soccer and men's cross country in a 12-month period from 1905-06. Theodore Roosevelt, one of the driving forces in the founding of the NCAA, was the POTUS.

11) Princeton won eight Ivy League women's championships in the 1981-82 academic year and then did it again the next year. In other words, the Tigers won eight for the Gipper, as Ronald Reagan was in the White House. By the way, TB in his upcoming book on women's athletics considers those years as sort of the birth of the modern era of women's athletics.

12) Princeton knocked off Central Connecticut, Villanova, Boston College and Washington to reach the 2004 NCAA Final Four. George W. Bush was in the White House. 

13) Ken Fairman in 1941 became the first Director of Athletics, when Franklin Roosevelt was the Commander-in-Chief. Fairman would actually take a leave from Princeton to work for Roosevelt when Fairman became a World War II tank commander.

14) This is a bit of a trick question. Princeton won four straight national titles in men's golf from 1927-30. Calvin Coolidge was the POTUS for the first two; Herbert Hoover was the POTUS for the last two.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

John Scott

TigerBlog hopes you had a chance to read yesterday's guest entry from Tad La Fountain. 

If not, HERE it is.

His piece was really good. It was also really long. TB originally thought about making it a two-part entry, but he decided to let it all go on one day.

Hopefully you liked it.

The average length of a TigerBlog entry is about 750 words. The piece Tad wrote was twice that. 

TB, though, will never give up on the idea that people will read lengthy pieces as long as they're compelling and well done. Tad's piece is both of those.

As for TB, he's passed the 60,000-word mark on the women's history book. That's coming soon enough, so yes, he's hoping that people still have the patience for something long.

In other news, TigerBlog listened to an amazing podcast over the weekend. Here it is:

This is an outstanding podcast. It's the story of former NHL player John Scott, who was a fringe player - and mostly an enforcer - who suddenly at the end of his career found himself through an incredible series of events in the all-star game.

TigerBlog sort of remembered the story. The podcast will tug at a bunch of your emotions, mostly making you smile and, perhaps, a bit misty.

TB wanted to share the podcast with you today. The only problem is that the story of a 6-8 former hockey player who never scored more than three goals in a season in college or the NHL has nothing to do with Princeton Athletics.

He also used his non-segue segue last week, and he's only good for maybe one or two of those a year. That meant the challenge was now to find something that links John Scott and Princeton.

Ah, the challenge.

The first was that perhaps he played against Princeton while he was at Michigan Tech. That would be the easiest.

Well, the Princeton-Michigan Tech series history lasts all of two games, and they long predate the early 2000s, when Scott was in college (as an engineering major, no less). In fact, the series predates when Michigan Tech was called Michigan Tech.

The first meeting between the two was a 3-3 tie on Jan. 4, 1930, when the school was called the Michigan College of Mining. That game was in Princeton, one day short of seven years after Hobey Baker Rink opened.

The only other meeting was in Detroit on Dec. 30, 1969. That one was a 5-2 Michigan Tech win.

Michigan Tech, by the way, is located in Houghton. How long a ride is that from Detroit? How about just short of nine hours.

So that was a dead end.

When TB heard the John Scott story, it did remind him of the career of Princeton alum George Parros, who played for eight years in the NHL. Like Scott, Parros became known as an enforcer.

Parros actually had much better numbers, in college and the NHL. 

Scott, at Michigan Tech, scored seven goals and added 12 assists. Parros had 20 goals and 32 assists for his Princeton career.

In the NHL, Scott played 286 games, with five goals, six assists and 544 penalty minutes. 

In his NHL career, Parros played 474 games, with 18 goals, 18 assists and 1,092 penalty minutes. 

Scott averaged 1.9 penalty minutes per game. Parros averaged 2.3 per game.

Parros also won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Scott had the all-star game experience that was covered in the podcast.

There is one big connection between Parros and Scott. 

When TB did a search, he found four videos that showcased fights between the two of them.

TB does not like to see fighting in hockey. It detracts from the beauty of the game. In fact, TB is not going to link to the videos he found here at all.

What TB really wonders is what it would be like for Parros and Scott to get together now and talk about their experiences in the NHL and especially what they remember from their fights.

In fact, maybe he'll try to track them down and find out. Hmmm. He wonders what he'd learn from such conversations.

Monday, January 18, 2021

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Guest TigerBlog

TigerBlog has a standing offer to anyone who wants the floor here. 

Very few people have taken him up on the offer. One such person who has is Tad La Fountain of the Class of 1972, and he is back today with some Martin Luther King Jr. Day thoughts.

April 4, 1968 didn’t start off as an unusual day.  I was wrapping up my senior year at Westtown School (decades before Westtown became known for hoopsters such as Mo Bamba – now of the Orlando Magic – or Cam Reddish of the Atlanta Hawks) and was waiting to hear about college.  That evening a group of us involved in preparing for the School’s upcoming Mock Convention was meeting right after dinner when another student came in with the news that Dr. King had been shot; an hour later, we got the news that he had died.

A few weeks later, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles.  As recounted last year by writer David Margolick in an article in the New Yorker, it had been just prior to heading to California that Senator Kennedy had sought out some campaign workers for Senator Eugene McCarthy in order to understand why his competitor’s supporters were so superior to his own.  Finding a couple of young McCarthy workers in the Indianapolis Airport late in the evening of the Indiana primary, Kennedy offered to buy them breakfast; as reported at the time by the late Jimmy Breslin, the senator in return subjected himself to an articulate and forceful confrontation from the young woman as the young man basically sat by.  According to the Margolick article, Kennedy was so impressed by the young people that he spoke about them several times over his remaining time in California. 

So he should have been – Patsy Sylvester had graduated from Westtown only the previous June, where she had been Girls’ Student Body President her senior year, and had dropped out of college to get involved in what she hoped would be a transformative election.  In some regards, it was such an election – though not to Patsy’s liking.  She didn’t return to UMass, but finished at McGill, married briefly, had a daughter and then succumbed to cancer thirty years ago.

Had he also been allowed to lead a full life, Senator Kennedy would have lived long enough to see the young man that he encountered, a UNC student named Taylor Branch, go on to write the definitive series on the civil rights movement: a trilogy entitled “America in the King Years.”  The first volume, “Parting the Waters,” earned Branch the Pulitzer Prize.  In that work, Branch repetitively writes of the physical and moral courage shown by those who pursued the expansion of what should have been guaranteed universally available to all Americans nearly two centuries earlier; in nearly all cases, those front-line activists were young, substituting energy and clarity of purpose for the power that often accrues to those older and more well-positioned in society.

How does this relate to Princeton athletics?  We could make a direct connection to a former Tiger hoopster and Woodrow Wilson Prize winner – John Doar ’44 – who joined the Justice Department in the Eisenhower administration and worked closely with then-Attorney General Kennedy and future AG Nicholas Katzenbach ’43 throughout the South during the early 1960s. John Doar literally was a hero, interposing himself between confronting groups to deter bloodshed.  Along with Katzenbach, Doar walked young civil rights pioneers to the schoolhouse door, helping to ensure that segregationist barriers to education would be overcome.  These Tigers demonstrated that one can come from strata that would seem resistant to change and still contribute mightily to the process - Achieve/Serve/Lead.

But let’s take a somewhat more circuitous route.

There does appear to be a dynamic across a lot of nature that favors the emergence of change from the small or the marginal.  Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School received widespread attention years ago for his work “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.”  He cited several cases (he’s from HBS, after all) where disruptive technologies – generally arising from smaller versions of existing products and often dismissed as irrelevant – were able to evolve faster than their entrenched competitors and grow into formidable usurpers.  Two years ago, music historian Ted Gioia published “Music: A Subversive History.”  His thesis is well documented: for centuries, revolution in music has emerged from the social fringes, only to be repetitively assimilated by the entrenched classes – who then proceed to write their own version of history celebrating their accomplishments and ignoring the contributions of those who actually fomented the change.  Gioia’s first chapter is a dead giveaway: “The Origin of Music as a Force of Creative Destruction” (which is an eerie echo of economist Joseph Schumpeter’s use of the exact same term to describe “the process of industrial mutation”).

These changes tend to be abrupt, and mirror what Steve Stanley ’61 and others have described as “punctuated equilibrium” – a refutation of evolutionary gradualism.  Often it’s their very abruptness that causes severe dislocation, when in retrospect there often appears to be an undeniable inevitability to them.

With a tinge of regret, we need to begin our circuitous Princeton example with a couple of Yalies.  Andrew Dickson White and Daniel Coit Gilman were classmates, members of Skull and Bones and lifetime friends.  They both became educators: White was the co-founder and first president of Cornell, while Gilman followed an unhappy stint as the president of the University of California by becoming the first president of Johns Hopkins (Penn may refer to themselves as the Quakers, and Princeton’s upper campus was donated by Nathaniel FitzRandolph, a member of Princeton Monthly Meeting, but Ezra Cornell was born Quaker and continued as a member until he was “read out of Meeting” for marrying a Methodist, and Johns Hopkins – named after the two Quaker families of his lineage – was a devout Friend his entire life [when Dwight Eisenhower’s brother Milton was given an honor and introduced by the mayor of the Steel City as the president of “John Hopkins”, he responded by thanking the mayor and said what a delight it was to be here “in Pittburgh” – so this Ravens/Steelers thing apparently has some history]).  It is doubtful that White and Gilman realized that they were founding two collegiate lacrosse powerhouses. 

In addition to bringing a German research university focus to his new school, Gilman was also creating the modern graduate education.  Along the way, he started a secondary institution – the Country Day School.  Several years later, it became Gilman Country Day and then Gilman School.  In 1923, Edward W. Brown, who had graduated from Princeton that June, joined the Gilman faculty as a teacher and coach (football and lacrosse).  Ed Brown of Elizabeth, NJ was one of five children; he and his two brothers all attended Princeton, while both sisters married Princetonians (at one point, I counted 31 Browns and in-law Tigers).  He spent 17 years at Gilman before becoming the head of the Calvert School for the remaining 25 years of his career but made a lasting impression on Gilman – the football stadium bears his name. 

One of the innumerable Gilman boys to continue their education at Princeton returned after graduation to join the faculty and coach.  Like Ed Brown, Redmond Conyngham Stewart Finney ’51 had Orange and Black running through his veins; his grandfather was the legendary John M. T. Finney 1884 (for whom Finney Field as named [read TigerBlog’s write-up eleven years ago here]), and the alumni rolls are full of Dr. Finney’s descendants.  Reddy Finney was first-team All-America in both football and lacrosse and was captain of the wrestling team; he went on, like his grandfather, to serve the University as trustee.

Reddy Finney became an institution at Gilman, eventually serving as headmaster.  His connection to Gilman was no doubt aided by marriage – his wife Jean(nette) was Ed Brown’s daughter.  They made a formidable couple.  When Reddy died in 2019, his memorial at Gilman that September was held in the football stadium named after his father-in-law; the crowd was too large for any campus building.  Speakers reminisced about a multitude of ways in which Reddy contributed to the school (and also described the peril of sitting next to him at a wrestling match as he subconsciously contorted his body in exactly the ways he would have moved had he been on the mat!). 

One of the most moving speakers was a current member of the school administration who had personally benefited from Reddy’s initiative to racially integrate this bastion of Baltimore society.  The city was both physically and culturally south of the Mason-Dixon line, and to expand its availability to groups historically left outside its walls was no insignificant development.  There was, as one would expect, a great deal of deep-seated resistance and the move required tremendous adroitness.  Reddy Finney was up to the task.

Maryland Public Television chronicled this development here: “A Path to Follow: The Reddy Finney Story.”  On this celebration of Martin Luther King, it is well worth taking an hour to witness how someone who had every reason to further the status quo responded instead to a higher calling.  Change tends to arise from below, so we should celebrate those who foment from a position of privilege.  Give that Tiger a well-deserved locomotive.




Friday, January 15, 2021

Jackie And Heidi

If you listened to the "First 50" podcast on yesterday, then you already know the answer to this trivia question:

There are only three women's basketball players in Princeton history who have averaged at least 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for their career. Can you name them? 

TigerBlog will spot you two of them.

One is Bella Alarie, and if you're any kind of Princeton fan, then you didn't need TB to give you that one. Another one is Niveen Rasheed.

Now Alarie and Rasheed have five Ivy League Player of the Year awards and seven first-team All-Ivy League selections between them. They were also both All-Americans at Princeton.

In fact, those two have combined for five of the seven Ivy League Player of the Year awards in program history. Bonus trivia question: who won the other two?

Alarie is Princeton's career leader in points with 1,703. Rasheed is fifth with 1,617. 

Were it not for injuries (and in Alarie's case, COVID), both would easily have surpassed 1,800 points. They would have both made a real run at 1,900. Getting to 2,000 would have been tough, but hey, if anyone could have done it, Rasheed and Alarie could have.

And, of course, when you think of Rasheed, you don't necessarily think about rebounding. You think about scoring obviously, and you think about getting out on the break, being a hounding defender and playing with the kind of ferocity that maybe no other Princeton women's basketball player has ever matched.

Then again, ferocity often leads to being the first one to the ball, and therefore to rebounds, so maybe it's not surprising.

So who was the third? 

That would be Jackie Jackson, of the Class of 1978. 

Jackson was one of the two guests on the podcast, along with her former teammate Heidi Nolte, who was one year behind Jackson at Princeton. You can listen to it HERE.

By the way, the picture of Nolte was taken at St. Andrew's in Scotland.

Jackson and Nolte talk about their days at Princeton and then how it impacted them in their careers and lives moving forward. They also talk about the connection between their generation and the current generation of women's basketball players.

And they talk about leadership in general. Both of them went on to careers where those lessons were extremely valuable.

As part of his current project of writing the history of women's athletics at Princeton, TigerBlog has been attempting to find the first black female letterwinner and first black female captain. 

Jackson, it turns out, was the first black woman to be a captain of a team at Princeton. It's something she mentions on the podcast that she wasn't aware of until TB let her know about it.

In addition, she is possibly the first black female letterwinner, having lettered in basketball first in 1975. TB isn't 100 percent sure of that yet, and in fact he welcomes anyone's input who would know definitively. 

One of TB's favorite parts of the women's basketball team's current run of success is the way that the modern day coaches and players have made a concerted effort to engage or reengage the pioneers of the program. A by-product of that is that some of the older players have been able to reconnect.

Jackson, for one, has within the last five years become close again with Margaret Meier, who shared the team captaincy with her in 1978. As a matter of fact, they also shared the von Kiensbusch Award as the to senior female athletes.

When TB talks to the 1970s basketball players, or any athletes for that matter, they all laughingly say something along the lines of: "We would have loved to have had some of the stuff that the kids today have, though we're thrilled that they have it."

Of course, they have that because there were the pioneering women in the first place. 

Two of them were featured on the "First 50" podcast this week. Their impact on Princeton women's basketball has been enormous. 

And hey, anytime you're mentioned in the same sentence as Niveen Rasheed and Bella Alarie, then it's clear that you were a great player. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Staying Onside

Is it "onside" kick or "onsides" kick?

TigerBlog remains confused on that one. That's okay. It's been decades of doing this, and he's still not 100 percent sure if it's "locker room" or "lockerroom."

For today's purposes, TB will go with "onside."

TB has always wondered why kicking teams try to bounce the ball off the turf on an onside kick and have it pop straight up, seemingly creating an opportunity to allow their players to run underneath it before it comes down again. Why not just drill the ball as hard as you can to create something of a line drive situation and hope the ball hits someone on the receiving team and bounces away. It's a situation that would seem to favor chaos, no?

If you do a search for "what is the NFL record for most consecutive weeks with an onside kick recovery," you'll find some interesting stuff.

You just won't find out what the record is for consecutive weeks with an onside kick recovery.

Princeton alum Stephen Carlson is currently sitting with an active streak of two straight weeks with such a stat. Has it happened three times?

Of course, the odds overwhelmingly favor the receiving team in onside kick situations. They always have, and they went way up when the NFL made a rule change that said that prevented players on the kicking team from getting a running start.

It was a safety rule, designed to limit high-speed collisions. It also gave the receiving team a huge advantage in a situation that was already difficult for the kickers.

In fact, there was even a rule proposal that said a team could opt to attempt a fourth-and-15 play from its own 25 instead of the onside kick. If it picked up the first down, the team would keep the ball where the play ended. If it didn't pick up the first down, the defensive team would likewise get the ball at the spot where the play ended.

It didn't pass obviously. It would be an interesting change to the game, though. 

As that is not the rule, the Pittsburgh Steelers had no choice but to attempt onside kicks the last two weeks as they trailed the Cleveland Browns but scored late touchdowns. And on both occasions, Carlson was there for the recovery.

And don't confuse the idea that the odds favor the receiving team with the idea that it's easy to recover an onside kick. Far from it.

When you factor in that in the overwhelming number of cases, the play comes at the end of a close game with the outcome often on the line on the play. For the last two weeks for Carlson, you can factor in really cold weather, which makes grabbing the ball even more difficult.

And yet in both instances, he did so cleanly and held on.

Carlson grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers' fan. In his two years in the NFL with the Browns, Carlson has now had two onside kick recoveries and a touchdown reception against the Steelers.

The first recovery helped get Cleveland into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The second recovery sealed the Browns' first playoff win since 1994. 

Can he stretch the streak to three straight? 

That would  be wildly impressive. To do so, a lot of things have to fall into place for Cleveland.

The Browns play the third of the four games this weekend in the divisional round. It starts off Saturday with the Rams at the Packers (Princeton alum John Lovett is on the Green Bay injured reserve list) at 4:35 and then follows with the Ravens at the Bills at 8:15. 

TB checked the weather for both of those sites, and it will be cold but not brutally cold and there won't be snow. 

The last game of the weekend will be Sunday night at 6:30, when Tampa Bay is at New Orleans.

And that leaves the Browns' game Sunday at 3. 

Cleveland is at Kansas City, the top seed and the defending Super Bowl champ. For Carlson to recover an onside kick, Cleveland would have to have a late lead again and then KC would have to score late (assuming the Chiefs don't try a surprise onside kick during the early part of the game).

It seems unlikely, but then again it seemed unlikely against Pittsburgh last week too, and look what happened in that one. 

Either way, Carlson has recovered an onside kick in two straight games.

There can't be a lot of people who have ever done that before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hockey Stuff

TigerBlog likes a good headline. 

He's certainly written enough of them in his life. He appreciates when they're done well.

They take creativity and a clever use of words to really be good. The best ones are either tremendous plays on words or headlines that derive from the picture that is used with the story as much as the story itself.

Then there are the others, the ones that completely write themselves. Just straightforward. No need to be creative, because the headline itself is just too wild to have to embellish.

This would be the case in a headline TB saw the other day. He will simply mention it word-for-word:

"FM Radio Signal Found Coming From Jupiter Moon."

What the heck? 

The story goes on to talk about how it's no cause for concern about the pending invasion force from Jupiter and that it's simply caused by electrons that oscillate at a lower rate than they spin. It would be so much cooler if it really was caused by aliens on Jupiter's moon who were listening to 1970s Classic Rock, no? 

Or maybe some Easy Listening? Lite hits from the ’70s? The Carpenters? Barry Manilow? 

Or even better, maybe they were all bickering, the young aliens and the old aliens. The young ones wanted to keep it on Top 40 pop. Justin Bieber. Ariana Grande. 

Or possibly there's a station there that plays an endless loop of Train's "Drops of Jupiter" and "The Age Of Aquarius" from Hair: "When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars."

Rockin' aliens living in the suburbs of Jupiter has nothing to do with Princeton men's hockey, so TB won't even try to come up with a good segue. He'll just jump right into it.

There were three new men's hockey stories in the last few days.

First, there was the news that former Tiger Tommy Davis has been named an assistant coach. He previously had been the volunteer assistant and the operations director.

From the release (read it in full HERE):

"I am thrilled to have Tommy join our coaching staff full-time," said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty. "He is a bright hockey mind who knows first-hand what it takes to succeed and grow as a student-athlete at Princeton. His passion for Princeton and Princeton Hockey is strong, and he will be a tremendous resource for our team."

The second story wasn't really a story but a podcast. This one was with Fogarty and Chas Dorman, the OAC men's hockey contact. 

Among the subjects were the hiring of Davis and preparations for the upcoming return to campus. You can listen to it HERE.

The most recent story was a recap of the Princeton men's hockey players in the professional ranks. You can read that one HERE.

There were three Princeton alums who were vying for NHL opening night roster spots. Eric Robinson is back with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Taylor Fedun is back with the Dallas Stars. Both of them played in the playoffs a year ago, and Fedun's team made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

Actually, it wasn't a year ago. It was just a few months ago, after the COVID-interrupted season resulted in a stoppage, a resumption in August and the Stanley Cup finals in late September.

The third Princeton alum in an NHL camp was Josh Teves, the defenseman from the Class of 2019. Teves, who was with Vancouver, was sent to the AHL team in Utica.

Beyond those three, there are a bunch of others who are on teams around the country and the world, including Jordan Fogarty, the head coach's son, who led his Swedish team in goals and points before that league suspended games because of COVID.

The 2018 run by the Princeton men's hockey team to the ECAC championship was one of the most exciting moments any Princeton team has put together in the last 10 years or so. It continued the "crazy eights" of Princeton hockey, which has seen the Tigers win the ECAC title in 1998, 2008 and 2018.

Two of Princeton's all-time best players have gone from that team to the NHL and now to Europe, with hopefully a return to the NHL in the offing. 

Max Veronneau is playing in the Swedish Hockey League, and Ryan Kuffner is playing in Germany.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Interviewing Aikman

TigerBlog met Troy Aikman once.

It was in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room after a Monday night game at old Giants Stadium against the Giants. TB was there to write a feature story on Jason Garrett, the former Princeton Bushnell Cup winner who was then Aikman's backup quarterback.

Dallas won the game relatively easily, as TB recalls. Then it was off to the locker room to talk to Garrett and some of his teammates.

First TB spoke to Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, even though he didn't set out to. In fact, TB was standing in the hallway outside the locker room waiting for it to open, and Jones came up to him, introduced himself and asked who he was and why he was there.

TB responded that he was from Princeton Athletics and that he had come to talk to Garrett for a feature story. Jones immediately went into a good five minutes about Jason, how much he liked him, how valuable he was to the team as the backup quarterback.

Perhaps TB should have asked him if he realized that Garrett would be his head coach for 10 years in the not too distant future.

After that experience, the door opened. The first person TB asked about Garrett was Emmett Smith, the Hall of Fame running back. Smith was talking to TB as he put his suit back on.

Keep in mind, Smith made slightly more than $56 million in his NFL career. So what happened while he was speaking with TB?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a $20 bill. He got a big smile on his face and said "Hey, I didn't know I had $20 in there."

Next up was Aikman, who was coming back into the locker room  from the media room. The first thing TB noticed about him was that he was a much bigger physical presence than he appears on TV.

Aikman stands 6-4, which, combined with his strong build made him seem to TB more like the size of a 1990s Ivy League offensive lineman. He also had very large hands and a very firm handshake.

He, like Smith, had no obligation to talk to TB. There were probably people waiting for both of them, so it was pretty nice that they took a few minutes to be interviewed.

They both seemed like good guys. Either that, or they just really liked Garrrett, about whom they both spoke glowingly.

TB always thinks back to the time he interviewed Aikman and how approachable he was each time he sees him on TV. Aikman did the game Saturday between the Rams and the Seahawks, and TB was struck by something he said during the game.

He said that he'd played against Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White and that Aaron Donald, the current Rams' lineman, is the best defensive player he's ever seen. If TB could interview Aikman again, he'd ask him if he actually believes that.

Taylor and White, by the way, are the two best defensive players TB has ever watched. He's never seen anyone else who is even close to them.

TB has done enough radio to know the value of making a provocative statement like that. Does Aikman really mean that? 

As for the rest of the playoff weekend, TB was right in what he wrote Friday. He watched less of the six NFL playoff games this weekend than he would have the eight first-round NCAA tournament men's lacrosse games in a normal year. Still, what he did see was good.

He saw almost none of the Bills win over the Colts. 

In fact, he was in his car for the final quarter, which allowed him to listen to a pair of announcers with really strong Princeton connections - former Tiger men's and women's basketball play-by-play man John Sadak and former Princeton lineman Ross Tucker, both of whom have made it big in broadcasting.

TB wasn't really all that invested in who won. He supposes he's happy for Buffalo fans and former Princeton assistant coach and current Bills' assistant Jim Salgado. 

Mostly he was rooting for the radio announcers.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Carlson Wins

The highlight of the entire Super Wild Card weekend in the NFL came at 11:35 last night.

This was at that end of a 31 or so hours of football, a stretch that for the first time saw six playoff games played in one weekend. And yes, there were a lot of great moments and great plays, but if you're a Princeton fan, then the highlight was the one TigerBlog just referenced.

It was not that far away from midnight last night when Princeton alum Stephen Carlson recovered an onside kick against the Pittsburgh Steelers to seal a 48-37 win for the Cleveland Browns. 

It was a great ending to a huge night for the Browns, who won in their first playoff game in 18 years. 

It wasn't just a win. It was a win over their hated rival, a team that had completely dominated the Browns in Pittsburgh.

In fact, Cleveland had lost 17 straight times in Pittsburgh and had not won in Heinz Field since 2003 prior to the game last night. That 2003 win, by the way, was the only previous win by the Browns in the stadium.

Speaking of Heinz Field, when TigerBlog wrote about Carlson last week, he mentioned what Carlson said about how he'd grown up a Steelers fan and now was going to be running out onto the Heinz Field turf for an NFL playoff game after having been to so many games there as a kid.

He'd done it in the regular season before, but last night was for the playoffs. It had to be amazing for him, especially when you add into that the fact that it was Cleveland's first playoff game in 18 years. 

It turned out to be quite a night for Carlson and his teammates.

Nobody really gave the Browns much of a chance heading into this one, even after last week's game, when Cleveland defeated the Steelers 24-22 in Cleveland. That game was the one that got the Browns into the playoffs, and it was sealed with little over a minute to play when Carlson recovered an onsides kick.

That game was a bit different, though, since Pittsburgh was resting several of its starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who most certainly played last night. Roethlisberger completed an astounding 47 of 68 passes for 501 yards and four touchdowns, setting an NFL record for completions in a game (regular season or playoffs). 

He'd also throw four interceptions, though, and the entire tone of the game was set on the first play, when a bad snap went over Roethlisberger's head and rolled into the end zone, where Cleveland recovered for a touchdown.

In a blink, it was 7-0 Browns. In a few more blinks, it was 28-0 Browns.

Pittsburgh would make something of a game of it, especially in the third quarter, but Cleveland would answer whenever it needed to. Pittsburgh's last score came just under the two-minute warning, and it was Carlson who gobbled up the onside kick to again seal it.

This was a classic win for the 2020 season. 

Cleveland won despite hardly having been able to practice due to positive COVID tests, including from head coach Kevin Stefanski, who watched the game at home on TV. The Browns were also very shorthanded on the offensive line due to COVID, and there were also two other offensive coaches who were out. 

Despite that, the Browns overcame and advanced.

Okay, maybe calling Carlson's recovery the highlight of the weekend is a bit of a stretch. Still, it was great to see him continue to contribute, and to do so in a playoff game that meant so much to a city that had waited a long time for a night like last night.  

Next up is a trip to top-seeded Kansas City, the defending Super Bowl champ. It'll be another week for Cleveland to get healthy and maybe even get to practice.

And it'll be another weekend for Carlson to play. 

As part of the story that TB wrote last week, he mentioned that in the last three years Carlson's football resume has included 1) a 10-0 season at Princeton, 2) a rookie season in the NFL that included a touchdown reception - against the Steelers no less and now 3) an NFL playoff appearance. 

To that you can include a playoff win, one that was sealed once again by Stephen Carlson.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Princeton In The Playoffs

For the first time (at least TigerBlog is pretty sure of that), there will be six NFL playoff games in one weekend.

You have the expanded Wild Card round kicking off, with three games tomorrow and three more Sunday. 

It makes TB wonder how many people will watch every minute of all six games. Will anyone? What percentage of those six games would an average serious football fan watch? 

Is having six games necessarily better than four? Is there a saturation point? With football it certainly has always seemed that the general public has gone with a philosophy of "if some is good, more must be better."

Now that he's asked the question about how many people will watch all of the six NFL games this weekend, he has a second question: How many people usually watch more of the opening weekend of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament (eight games) than they will of the six NFL games?

He's guessing that number isn't very big.

Okay, here's another question: Which would you rather attend, a Super Bowl or the World Cup final? How about the Olympics? Or, for that matter, if you could go to any sporting event at all anywhere in the world, what would it be?

If TB could go to any sporting event, only one, he'd probably pick the World Cup final. He's been to a World Cup qualifier (El Salvador at Costa Rica) and that was maybe the craziest athletic event he's ever seen live. 

Imagine what the final would be like? The Olympics would be fun also, but he'd want to go see all the "other" events rather than the more mainstream TV ones.

Meanwhile, back at the 2021 NFL playoffs, here are the six games:


Indianapolis at Buffalo - 1
LA Rams at Seattle - 4:40
Tampa Bay at Washington - 8:15

Baltimore at Tennessee - 1
Chicago at New Orleans - 4:40
Cleveland at Pittsburgh - 8:15

Of those six games, there is some Princeton football connection to four of them. There's a fifth connection in the playoffs, to the NFC's No. 1 seed (and therefore bye recipient) Green Bay.

Going chronologically, Jim Salgado, a former Tiger assistant coach, is now an assistant coach with the Buffalo Bills. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Salgado is also great on Twitter. Follow him here: @coachsalgado.

There is no Princeton football connection to the other two games Saturday, unless you count the fact that BrotherBlog lives in Seattle and TB has given him some "Princeton" gear through the years. 

For Sunday, the Tigers have you covered in two of the three games. 

Ravens' president Dick Cass is a member of the Class of 1968. According to his official bio on the Ravens' website, "A knee injury, coupled with surgery, kept him from athletics his first two years…Played rugby as a junior and senior…Graduated from Yale Law School in 1971."

Ah, but before you root for Baltimore because of Cass, there's also former Tiger Luke Steckel, an assistant coach with the Titans, Baltimore's opponent. Steckel, a member of the Class of 2007, was a linebacker and captain on the 2006 Ivy League championship team, which went 9-1. He is in his eighth year on the Titans' staff. 

Next up? 

Jesper Horsted, the record-setting receiver from the undefeated 2018 team, has spent his second NFL season on the Chicago practice squad. A year ago, while on the active roster, he caught a touchdown pass on Thanksgiving Day against Detroit. 

And that brings you to the last game of the weekend, the one featuring Stephen Carlson of the Cleveland Browns, who was the other starting wide receiver in 2018. 

Carlson is a tight end with the Browns these days, as well as a valuable contributor on special teams. In fact, a week ago, in the game to get the Browns into the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, Carlson recovered an onside kick with a little over a minute to go to preserve a 24-22 win.

TigerBlog spoke to Carlson earlier this week about the recovery, the upcoming game, his professional career, what it's been like to be in the NFL in the COVID season and what the team's success means to the city. 

You can read that story HERE.

It has not been an easy week for Cleveland, as positive COVID tests have affected the coaching staff and a few of the players. Still, it's the playoffs, so you take your best shot and see what happens. Certainly Carlson has worked hard enough to get into this position.

The final Princetonian in the playoff will be John Lovett, who had established himself as an important part of the Packer offense before an knee injury ended his season. Lovett already has one Super Bowl ring, last year from Kansas City.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Called For Traveling

TigerBlog has a show to recommend to you.

It's called "Offspring." It's on Netflix. There are seven seasons worth.

It's an Australian show, set in Melbourne, centered around the Proudman family. There's Darcy, the father, and Geraldine, the mother, and their grown kids Billie, Nina and Jimmy.

It's a great show. There's a nice balance between humor and seriousness, and the characters are well-developed so that nothing ever seems to be contrived. Maybe the closest show he can compare it to is "Parenthood," but "Offspring" is better.

TB has recommended it to a few people, and everyone he has told about it has loved it.

You can include in that group Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan, by the way. 

TB reached the end of the seventh season last week. Since then, he's looked for something new, and he thinks he's found it. He's finally going to watch "Game of Thrones" to see what all the fuss is about. He's made it to Episode 4 of Season 1 so far.

That's your TV update for now. 

Just check out "Offspring." You'll be glad. 

TigerBlog has never been to Australia. He'd love to be there one day; he's just not sure he wants to spend that much time on an airplane to fly there.

If you've made that trip, is it just brutal?

TB does get to work with an Australian. His colleague Elliott Carr is from Down Under (TB will have to ask him what native Australians think of that term), which gives him the honor of being both the first Aussie in the Office of Athletic Communications and at around 6-6 or so also the tallest person ever to work in the office. 

The first OAC Zoom call of the new year happened Tuesday afternoon. There was business to discuss, but as always, there was plenty of time for catching up and just seeing where the conversation went.

One direction it went to was the Giants-Eagles game from the other night. TB works with a serious Philadelphia sports fan, one Warren Croxton. He's serious. Very, very serious. 

At one point during the call, TB had to remind Warren that his beloved Eagles had recently won the only Super Bowl in franchise history and that Warren is obsessed with "41-33," the final score of that game.

Another subject was traveling with the various teams.

There have been a lot of great parts of working at Princeton through the years for TigerBlog. The best one, obviously, has been the opportunity to work with such great young people, to see them mature during their time at Princeton and then to hear from them as they go down the paths of their careers.

Some of the other top things? Working with the coaches TB has had the chance to work with, of course. 

And the winning. That's always fun. 

Somewhere up there, though, you can add the travel. 

Working at Princeton has given TB a chance to travel the country and the world, for that matter, often going to places that he otherwise never might have had the chance to see, explore and learn about. 

He's mentioned this many times before, but he's seen Princeton teams compete in eight different time zones. There have been the four in the Continental United States, as well as Hawaii, the Atlantic time zone when Princeton played a men's basketball game against Ohio in Nova Scotia and then two different European time zones, where he saw the men's lacrosse team play on international trips (granted those games were only exhibitions).

When he was the men's basketball contact, he used to love to check the schedule as it came out, or as it was being put together, to see what new places he would be going to that coming season. As he said on the OAC call the other day, that includes two separate trips to Iowa State and one to Green Bay, including leaving the hotel in the Lambeau Field parking lot early on the Sunday morning of a home game for the Packers and seeing how jammed it already was, even on a cold December morning.

There have been a bunch of other places. Milwaukee. East Lansing. Champaign, Ill. Indianapolis. Muncie, also in Indiana. New Orleans twice. El Paso. Fresno. Lawrence, Kansas. And so many others - including Honolulu and Miami.

And that was just men's basketball. One of his favorite spots of all was Lafayette, Louisiana, with the baseball team for an NCAA regional.

Each of those trips has a story, and not just because of the games. TB remembers them all, mostly for the hospitality of the people he'd meet along the way. 

These days, when he sees one of those venues on TV, he can't help but smile at the memories.

Like he said, he's been lucky to be here for as long as he has, and there have been a lot of great aspects to working here.

The travel? That's been a lot of fun. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Puck Chasers

When TigerBlog first started doing this (writing this blog every day, that is), he was asked what he was going to do in the summer.

He figured he'd come up with something. Maybe rerun earlier entries. Maybe only go three days a week. 

If worse came to worse, though, he figured he could always just tell funny Pete Carril stories. 

He certainly has plenty of them, that's for sure. Here are two of them:

1) There was the time that TigerBlog was sitting in the middle seat on an airplane, one row behind Carril, who was in the middle in front of him. To Carril's left was then-assistant coach Bill Carmody. To Carril's right was an older gentleman; Carril was probably around 65 at the time.

Anyway, Carril was working on a crossword puzzle, and the old man kept looking down at the newspaper Carril had, mumbling "21 down is such-and-such; 40 across is this." Each time he did it, Carril just nodded at the man and smiled. Finally, when he went to do it again, Carril said, in classic fashion: "Yo, Pops, when I want your help, I'll ask for it."

2) When told one of his players had made the all-tournament team at an in-season tournament, Carril's response was? "So did the guy he was guarding."

Okay, so TB may have told those before, but they're classics.

When he has no idea what to write about these days, he goes to the Daily Princetonian archives and looks back to this day in history. For instance, today he goes back 100 years.

That would be Jan. 6, 1921. 

There wasn't any huge athletic news that day, other than the fact that there was no ice in Buffalo over the holidays, which cancelled the hockey team's trip there. The best part of the story was that the hockey team was not referred to as the hockey team or just "hockey" but instead as "the puck chasers."

That's a great nickname.

Hockey at Princeton was already more than 20 years old by 1921. What it had that season that it never had before was an actual head coach, as opposed to a captain who ran the team. 

That first head coach was named Russell Ellis, who would lead the Tigers to a 4-4 record (the games in Buffalo never got rescheduled). As of Jan. 6, 1921, though, Ellis hadn't been hired. In fact, according to the story, no coach had been yet, though there was a promise of one in the near future.

Also by 1921, Princeton had won three national championships in hockey, including in 1912 and 1914, when the star was Hobey Baker, for whom the Princeton home rink, and the trophy for the best player in college hockey each year, is currently named. 

Baker, by the way, once played all 73 minutes of an overtime game against Harvard.

There were other stories in the paper that day.

There was a review of the eight games the basketball team played over the holidays, going 5-3. The losses came to Cornell and two teams that are now Division III - Chicago and Wittenberg. Of course, on that same trip, Princeton also defeated Syracuse, Cincinnati and Ohio State. 

The Syracuse game was described this way: "On the following night the team met the strong Syracuse quintet, who were handily defeated 27 to 21. The men showed the result of the previous evening's experience, and their excellent team work was very encouraging. The passing and shooting improved, and a fighting spirit was noticeable."

That by the way is still a winning formula today, though 27-21 these days means a close game in the first half, not a "handily defeated" opponent.

Lastly, there was also a story about a call for students to compete on the track and field team. It had this headline: 

"Men With Or Without Experience Are Urged To Report And Be Coached."

That sounds more like a military recruitment. 

Anyway, that's a brief stroll through the Daily Princetonian of 100 years ago today. 

When the hockey team returns to playing, TB promises to refer to it as "the puck chasers" as often as he can.




Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Carlson To The Playoffs

It was 9:45 yesterday morning when TigerBlog got an alert that the weekly senior staff meeting would be starting in 15 minutes.

It was the first meeting of the new year. Each year during this time, everyone in Jadwin Gym - and in offices everywhere, presumably - co-workers would greet each other with 1) "happy new year" and 2) "how was your holiday?" 

TB has always wondered how long into the new year do you still have to greet people with "happy new year?" Certainly on the first work day, but how about after that? 

Had there been an in-person work day yesterday, then the gathering in the Office of Athletic Communications would have almost certainly have included some discussion of what in the world Eagles' coach Doug Pederson was thinking Sunday night in what became a 20-14 loss to Washington.

Why not take the very short field goal to tie it at 17-17 instead of going for it on fourth-and-goal from the four? And why take Jalen Hurts out in favor of Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter if you were trying to win the game, as Pederson said afterwards?

There was no excuse for that. Yes, Hurts wasn't playing really well, but the Eagles don't have any dominant franchise question greater than whether or not Hurts is the answer moving forward.

Wouldn't seeing how he pushes through a tough night in what was a somewhat big game, even if the Eagles had already been eliminated? Wasn't that more important than seeing what Sudfeld can do?

So what is the answer? Why did Pederson seemingly give up?

It wasn't like a loss had that huge of an impact on the draft. The Eagles will pick sixth. Had they won the game, they would have picked ninth. It seems like a big difference, but there's no guarantee at all that the sixth pick will be better than the ninth, even if it's Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

So why do it? Does he hate the Giants?

Had the Eagles won that game, then the Giants would have made the playoffs. They were eliminated when Washington won.

On the other hand, the Giants were really eliminated when they started out the year 0-5, and a team that finished 6-10 can't really complain about getting robbed of a postseason shot.

TB grew up a Giants fan, but he was ready to turn his back on the team when Princeton alum Marc Ross was let go after helping build two Super Bowl championship teams. The hiring of another Princetonian, Jason Garrett, as its offensive coordinator this year certainly helped make it possible to root for the team again.

Hopefully Garrett, the longtime Dallas head coach, gets another shot to run his own team at some point, if that's what he wants (and TB saw a story yesterday that suggests that Garrett is in the running for the Chargers head coaching job). In the meantime, the Giants seem to be pointed in the right direction, and Garrett can help take them the next step forward.

Speaking of teams that have taken a step forward, there are the Cleveland Browns, who ended the longest NFL playoff drought with a 24-22 win over Pittsburgh Sunday. Cleveland reached the postseason for the first time since 2002.

Princeton's Stephen Carlson made one of the biggest plays of the day for the Browns when he recovered the onside kick after the Steelers touchdown and missed two-point conversion late in the game.

By the way, recovering an onsides kick in the NFL takes a certain degree of courage. How would you like to be on the bottom of that pile?

Carlson also had a special teams tackle in the game.

His reward for his work this season is a spot in the playoffs. The Browns will be at Pittsburgh for a rematch in the Sunday night game, which will be the sixth and final one in two days this weekend. If you think that the playoffs will go back to six teams per conference in the future, TB would have to disagree with that.

Pittsburgh, by the way, won't be resting anyone for that game like it did Sunday.

It's a great opportunity for Carlson. It gives you someone to root for in the playoffs. 

Or two someones, as you can root for Green Bay as well, with another former Tiger, John Lovett, on injured reserve. Lovett won a Super Bowl ring last year with Kansas City.