Friday, February 26, 2021

Ahmed And JT3

The temperatures around here rose in the last few days to reach into the 50s, which, after the last few weeks, felt more like 80.

It's a sure sign that winter can't hang around forever.

TigerBlog doesn't mind riding his bike when it gets really cold. It's the snow and the ice that get in the way. Still, it's always better to ride when it's warmer, like it was this week.

He was out riding in the sunshine the other day when he saw someone jogging towards him. The closer he got, the more the jogger looked like one of TB's all-time absolute favorite Princeton athletes. 

Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be Ahmed El-Nokali. 

You remember Ahmed. He was a point guard for the men's basketball team and a member of the Class of 2002.

He came to Princeton from Chartiers Valley High School outside of Pittsburgh. It's the same high school that produced NBA player T.J. McConnell.

El-Nokali's breakout moment for Princeton basketball came in the famous comeback game at the Palestra his freshman year. After not playing at all in the first half, he was inserted by head coach Bill Carmody into the lineup for the second half. Princeton was 24 down at halftime by a 33-9 score and came back to win by one, 50-49. 

El-Nokali didn't come out at all in the second half of that game, and rarely came out at all after that. 

He was never a great scorer, but he was great at running a team. He played with a poker face, one that never changed no matter the situation and one that had a great calming effect on his teammates. 

His on-court persona was an extension of how he was off the court. Still today, he's just a very solid, very smart, very team-oriented, very, well, nice, guy.

TB has interviewed him at halftime of some Princeton games and had him on as a color commentator at other times. Much like Noah Savage, El-Nokali would have been a great TV announcer if he had tried to pursue it.

He was twice a second-team All-Ivy League selection, as a junior and senior. In that junior season, he was one of the main reasons why a rebuilt-on-the-fly Princeton team won the Ivy League championship and reached the NCAA tournament. 

The two key wins during that championship run were the games against Penn. In those two games, both Princeton wins, El-Nokali had this combined line: 31 points, two turnovers, 80 minutes. Not bad, right? He was also Princeton's leading scorer in both of those games.

The Princeton coach for his final two years at Princeton was John Thompson III, who would coach the Tigers for four years, winning three Ivy titles and taking the team to the NCAA twice and NIT once (a 66-65 loss at Louisville in El-Nokali's final career game). 

Thompson is a 1988 Princeton grad (he'd jokingly refer to the landing outside of the men's basketball office on the third floor of Jadwin Gym as "The Class of 1988 Lounge). He went on from Princeton to coach Georgetown, and he took the Hoyas to eight NCAA tournaments, including all the way to the Final Four in 2006-07.

He also won three Big East regular season championships and one Big East tournament championship, and his 278 wins with the Hoyas are second in program history, behind only his father.

Thompson is a rarity, the son of one Hall-of-Fame coach who played for a different Hall-of-Fame coach (Pete Carril, obviously) in college. TB has never found anyone else who has - unless he's overlooking someone obvious.

JT3 was the subject a feature story written by TB's colleague Elliott Carr as part of the Princeton Athletics Black History Month celebration. You can read it HERE.

As is the case with El-Nokali, TigerBlog can't think of a single bad thing to say about John Thompson III as well. He is an extraordinary person, one of the very finest TB has ever met.

You can read more about Thompson in Elliott's story. 

For all of JT3's accomplishments as a player and coach, that 2000-01 season is what stands out the most for TB. Thompson took a decimated Princeton team and led it to the league title and the NCAA tournament, all in his first season as a head coach.

TB will leave you today with one of his favorite moments from that season, which came after that first win, at the Palestra. 

Thompson was asked where the win ranked for him, and he responded with this: "Well, I have 11 now, and this is definitely in the top 10."

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Tiger Woods

Back when TigerBlog was in the newspaper business, there was no such thing as the internet.

What there was, at least in the newsroom, was the AP wire, which constantly updated with headlines all day and all night. It was the way to keep up with breaking news, or at least different headlines.

If your assignment that night was to work inside, doing layout and writing the short wraps, then you constantly checked the wire to see if the West Coast games had ended and the stories were posted. You couldn't go home until they were, even if it was well past midnight.

Ah, those were the days. 

If you happened to be in the newsroom during the day, the wire mostly updated with stories that were of little to no interest to TB. Every now and then, someone would react to having seen something completely unexpected, usually the passing of someone famous.

TB still remembers the time when his former colleague, the late, great Tony Persichilli, almost broke down in tears upon learning that the woman who played Aunt Bea on "The Andy Griffith Show" had died.

TigerBlog was sitting in front of one of the terminals on Nov. 7, 1991, in the afternoon. As he remembers, he was talking to his friend Charlie when the news came over the AP wire that Magic Johnson had announced he had test positive for HIV.

At the time, it was an incredibly huge story. It was at a time when there were few things in the world scarier than HIV, and to have someone like Magic Johnson test positive frightened so many people.

It also started many of those same people down the path of being educated about the disease, and in many ways, his announcement and the way he would handle it moving forward was a huge turning point in the fight against the disease.

When TB saw the news Tuesday of the car accident involving Tiger Woods, he thought back to that day in 1991, which is more 29 years ago already. What the heck, as Miss TigerBlog would say. 

Back then, there was the AP wire and some TV and radio talk shows and that was it. There was no 24-hour news cycle, no social media, no endless speculation and analysis when no information was available. 

As TB said, those were the days. 

Woods' accident set off immediately commentary from people in every medium, especially Twitter. There was the news, and then off everyone went, in an effort to be "first" to "break" something or to have the "hottest take."

These are different days.

It appears that Woods suffered very serious injuries to both of his legs, with multiple open fractures. His future as a professional golfer is very much in doubt, thought it appears he will be able to recover fully over time.

As an aside, back when Woods first burst on the golf scene, a local sportswriter wanted to try to give Class of 1952 Stadium at Princeton the nickname "Tiger Woods."

It seemed to make some degree of sense. The facility then was just the field that is now Sherrerd Field, which today is the home of the men's and women's lacrosse teams. Bedford Field, next door to Sherrerd, is the home of the field hockey team.

Back then, both teams played on what is now Sherrerd Field. The two fields together are considered the Class of 1952 Stadium complex. 

The fields are bordered by trees on several sides. Woods, as it were. And the Tigers play there. Tiger Woods. It fits.

It also never caught on. It was a good try though. It can be hard to come up with good nicknames, and it can be hard to get them to stick.

For three years, from 1996-98, TB tried to come up with a great nickname for Princeton's starting attack unit of Jon Hess, Chris Massey and Jesse Hubbard. He never could do it.

Even all these years later, he still has never come up with one.

Hess, Massey and Hubbard combined for 618 points in 60 career games. They started together on attack each of their last three seasons, after Hubbard had been a midfielder as a freshman. They are as good an attack unit that has ever played the game, and they were at their best in the postseason, when they had a ridiculous 121 points between them in just 11 games.

And yet, for all that, they have no great nickname. Not then. Not now. 

Oh well. 

Those three straight NCAA championships will have do for them. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Small World

Did you hear about Caleb Pendleton?

He's a freshman at Florida Atlantic University, a catcher on the Owls baseball team. He had his first two collegiate at-bats over the weekend, and did you see what happened?

Both of them were grand slams. In the same inning. 

How's that for a debut? Has anyone ever done anything like that before? How many players have ever been in that position before, to even come up to the plate twice in one inning with the bases loaded both times, let alone to hit two grand slams, let alone to do so in the first two at-bats of their career? 

If you listen to the announcer, you can hear his complete bewilderment that someone could actually have done what Pendleton did. And the best part is when he says "it's all downhill from here."

Will Pendleton ever hit another grand slam at FAU? What would you guess on that one?

TigerBlog didn't have to look up FAU's nickname, by the way. He's been to FAU. In fact, he has a picture of himself next to a giant bronze Owl in a courtyard across the street from the football stadium there. 

In fact, TigerBlog's book on Princeton women's athletic history began at Florida Atlantic, or at least about five minutes from there. That's where Merrily Dean Baker, who started the women's athletic program in 1970, lives.

And, as more than one person told TB, you can't write about Princeton women's athletic history without talking to Merrily Dean Baker first.

So TB went to Florida to speak with her. And Baker went to FAU to record some video about her role in Princeton history as well.

Among the many women TB has spoken with for the project is Tyler Lussi, who is the all-time leading scorer for Princeton soccer, men or women. Lussi, it turns out, wrote her senior thesis on the history of women's athletics, and she too heard the same thing, that she couldn't properly do so without starting with Merrily Dean Baker.

Lussi also has given TB one of the best quotes of the entire project when she mentioned how much her family had emphasized athletics when she was a kid and gave this as her family's unofficial motto: "three sports a day is the Lussi way."

If you recall yesterday, TigerBlog mentioned that Amie Knox, another all-time great Princeton athlete, worked for ABC Sports during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Knox, who lettered in field hockey, squash and tennis before winning the 1977 von Kienbusch Award, was working on the alpine skiing events in Lake Placid.

On the night of Feb. 22, she watched the USA-Soviet Union hockey game from the comfort of the TV truck.

Well, as it turns out, there was more to the story than that. 

TB got an email yesterday morning from Patrick Tewey, who has taken some unreal pictures for Princeton Athletics the last few years, including this one:

That was taken at halftime of Princeton's game at Harvard in 2018, during the undefeated season. It actually, as TB looks at it now could have been something out of "Game of Thrones."

Anyway, Tewey has relocated to Florida these days, where his considerable photography skills are being used to take pictures of birds and especially horses. 

Tewey reached out yesterday to let TB know that his wife's father was the producer for ABC Sports for that game. He also mentioned that his wife, who was seven at the time, was also there that night. 

Small world, no? 

TB also heard from his colleague Jess Deutsch, who said this about the 1980 Olympic hockey:

There are no words to describe how obsessed I was with the US Hockey team in 1980 which was fifth grade for me. I can remember everything about where I was,  clearer than most  ever other childhood memory, and I actually remember quite a lot. But that was beyond all imagination and thrill. I’m sure I was not alone in reliving it a million times in my mind… and I didn’t even watch hockey at all before that game.

And then there was this from Tim Kane:

He made a good choice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Miracle, Revisited

Yesterday was the 41st anniversary of the Miracle on Ice.

The actual one. 

If you are a little younger than TigerBlog, then it's a shame for you (other than the being young part), because you'll never see an event like that ever in your lifetime.

It's impossible. Sorry to have to break it to you.

It's not even possible to explain just what that two week run by the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team was like. Forget just the on-ice drama, which by itself was extraordinary.

It was more than a sporting event. It was an entire country that rallied around a hockey team of college kids, not a professional among them, that went out and toppled the mightiest of the mighty, the Soviet Union. 

Just seeing the "CCCP" on the front of the jersey was enough to spark fear in an opponent. To see the way a team with "USA" on the front of its jerseys took it to them was astonishing. It made every person in this country stop and take notice.

Here's something that will give you chills:


Great moments are born of great opportunity. Chills, right? 

Even now, thinking back on it, TigerBlog still can't believe the U.S. team won that game. It was extraordinary.

If you want more chills and have 12 minutes to invest, try this:


It was also a different world, with no social media, or no internet for that matter. Hey, the game wasn't even shown live on TV. 

TigerBlog has been to Lake Placid, the site of those Olympics. He went into the Olympic ice arena, albeit in the summer when it was empty, and it was still impossible not to be taken back. It was like no other experience TB has ever had in any venue.

Of course, Princeton men's hockey has had some of its biggest moments in that building, most recently the 2018 ECAC tournament championship, won in overtime 2-1 over Clarkson. The 1998 Tigers also won their ECAC title in Lake Placid, also in overtime, also against Clarkson. That time it was 5-4 in double overtime.

The game-winner in 1998 came from Syl Apps, less than a minute into the second OT. The game-winner in 2018 came from Max Becker 2:37 into the overtime, after Clarkson had tied the game with just 6.4 seconds left in regulation.

TB remembers watching the game and being stunned that the Knights, shut out for 59:53.6, actually tied the game. He thought that Clarkson had all the momentum heading into the overtime after that, but that's not how it played out.

As for the actual Miracle on Ice, it's one of those events where everyone remembers watching it or where they were. TB met a man in Lake Placid who, sadly, had given away his tickets for the game because he thought that the Soviets were going to dominate and he didn't want to be there to see it.

One Princeton alum who had an interesting view that day was Amie Knox, Class of 1977.

Knox was an associate producer for ABC Sports at the time, and she was working on the alpine skiing events. She was finished for the day when the hockey game began, and she ended up watching it in the production truck.

That's a pretty good story.  

Knox was one of the great early athletes in Princeton history, and she won the 1977 von Kienbusch Award as the top senior female athletes.

She's also one of just 17 women in Princeton history to letter in three different sports, in her case field hockey, squash and tennis. She and Emily Goodfellow are the only two women at Princeton to letter in three sports as an athlete their senior years.

Knox is one of the women featured in TB's upcoming book on the history of women's athletics at Princeton, which recently passed the 90,000-word mark. He's closing in on finishing it, which will start the editing and layout and printing process. 

TB has been able to share some of the stories he's done as part of the excerpts on the women's history page. The entire book is a big collection of those stories, and there have been some great ones to tell. 

If anything there are just too many, and he's just not going to be able to tell them all in one book, though he wishes he could.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Congratulations Kampy

TigerBlog saw two extraordinary photo galleries this week.

First, there was the Mars Rover "Perseverance." It was launched last July and then landed this week. 

Did you see the pictures from the surface of Mars? They were incredible.

That's Mars, everyone. 

Of course people over here on this planet have wondered if there is life on Mars. The rover, which apparently is the size of an average SUV, will attempt to answer that question.

It's not about finding little green Martians, like Bugs Bunny did. It's about seeing if there are now microbes on the planet, or if there is evidence that at one time there was.

It's all pretty amazing.

If you were looking for beautiful pictures from your home planet, there was the NHL's outdoor rink set up at Lake Tahoe.

How's that look?

TB isn't the only one who noticed. Actually, anyone who saw it had to be awed by the sights, and the television broadcast did a great job of showcasing the beauty that was everywhere.

Another person who noticed was Shelley Szwast, Princeton's photographer for men's and women's hockey and lacrosse. She tweeted this:

 Every outdoor NHL event has been special and unique in their own ways. They have been played in huge football stadiums, allowing the largest crowds the NHL has ever seen to attend the games. 

The first outdoor NHL game was played in 2003, when the Montreal Canadians played at Edmonton in the CFL stadium there. The event, played in below zero temperatures, drew 57,167.

The largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game was 104,173 at the Big House at the University of Michigan, both for a game between the Wolverines and Michigan State in 2010 and then four years later between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.

The games this weekend in Lake Tahoe had no stands. What they did have were unbelievable views of the lake and the snow-capped mountains behind it, punctuated by blue skies that just added to the colors. 

Of course, it may have been too blue and too beautiful, since the first game (between Colorado and Vegas) had to be stopped and pushed back until the sun went down. In the end, there would be a nine-hour break before the game was resumed, but hey, it was still a gorgeous setting.

Also, TB didn't realize that Lake Tahoe is only five miles away from Squaw Valley, California, which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

And while the subject is hockey, how about some congratulations to Princeton alum Jeff Kampersal?

Kampersal, a 1992 Princeton grad, is in his fourth year as the head coach of the women's hockey team at Penn State. He inherited a team that went 9-21-3 the year before he arrived.

Now? The Nittany Lions are 14-1-2 and ranked eighth nationally.

Beyond that, Penn State clinched its first College Hockey America regular-season championship this weekend.

Kampersal spent 21 years as the head women's hockey coach at Princeton, winning the ECAC Coach of the Year award three times. He has a career record of 377-306-87, and his 377 wins rank sixth all-time in women's hockey history.

He was also the first Princeton hockey player TB ever wrote about. That dates back to when Kampersal was a player himself for the Tigers, and Kurt Kehl, then in charge of the Office of Athletic Communications, asked TB to write a story about Kampersal for the football game program.

As TB recalls, he was paid for the story in food, as in lunch. 

Kampersals' replacement at Princeton was his long-time assistant Cara Morey, herself a great player at Brown. Morey led Princeton to its first ECAC tournament championship a year ago, when the Tigers went 26-6-1 and knocked off the top-ranked team in the country (Cornell) to win that ECAC title. 

Princeton was on a big roll heading into the NCAA tournament before it was postponed. 

Kampersal, of course, will always be a huge part of Princeton women's hockey history. And, in his next stop, he's apparently building something big with the Nittany Lions - something that another former Princeton hockey coach, Guy Gadowsky, has done on the men's side.

So congratulations to Jeff Kampersal on his first conference title at Penn State, and his team's first conference title for that matter. 

He's always been one of the nice guys.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Playing In The Snow

TigerBlog's friend Todd said something the other day that seems to speak for pretty much everyone in the Princeton metropolitan area.

He said he's looking forward to seeing the grass on his lawn again some day.

It's certainly been awhile since that's been the case, what with the relentless snowfalls that have come one after the other the last few weeks. It actually reached nearly 50 degrees here Tuesday, and there may have been just the slightest hint of grass in some small patches of melting snow.

That was replaced yesterday, when the next storm passed through, leaving snow and a little ice on top. 

The plowers in TB's neighborhood decided to create a snow bank outside his house, and it's stacked up about eight to 10 feet or so at the end of his driveway.

It's going to be awhile before the grass is visible again. It's going to be a very long while until the last of the snow has completely melted. 

All of the snow reminded TigerBlog of one of his all-time favorite Princeton Athletics pictures:

The player in the photo is Sam Bonafede, who was the men's lacrosse face-off man and a freshman at the time the game was played. It was actually the second game of the 2015 season, a game played on Feb. 21, 2015, or six years ago Sunday.

Princeton won the game 14-12. TB's headline was this:

MacDonald, Currier Star As Princeton Skis?, Sleds?, Skates? Past Hofstra

Here was his first sentence in his story:
The only thing more beautiful than the peacefully falling snow on Sherrerd Field Saturday afternoon was the way the Princeton men's lacrosse team clicked on offense in the third quarter.

That's not bad, right?  

It was one of those days where nobody could really believe the game was going to be played and then once it was, it was awesome. TB is quite sure there isn't a player from the game who doesn't remember how much fun it was in retrospect.

He's not sure he can say the same thing about the very small number of fans who were in attendance:


Bonafede, by the way, is headed to huge things in his life. He's one of those people where that was clear from Day 1 when he arrived on campus.

In fact, he's in his final year of law school at the University of Chicago. He's already worked as a judicial intern for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, and he's the editor of the University of Chicago Legal Forum.

TB once wrote this about Bonafede, during the team's 2016 trip to Portugal, after the team had spent some time at a local orphanage:
"Bono," as they call him, could be the perfect Princeton ambassador, always upbeat, always supportive. He's the kind of kid you look at and know that he's going to make a real difference in the decades to come.

Meanwhile, back in the snow, TB remembers a few other snowy Princeton events. There have been some football games. Some soccer. Somewhere buried on his computer TB has a great video of the women's soccer players at a practice/pickup game in a driving snowstorm.

There have been other lacrosse games, men's and women's, that have been played in snow, though not quite like the Hofstra game six years ago. The first Ivy League tournament championship game for men's lacrosse was played in snow in Ithaca - on Mothers' Day 2010.

TigerBlog's favorite Princeton Athletics snow pictures besides the one of Bonafede are the ones from Heps cross country in 2011, when a blizzard fell on the West Windsor course on Oct. 29. You can actually take your pick of any picture that was taken that day.

The other one is of David Patterson, the 1995 Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League Player of the Year as a linebacker on the outright Ivy League championship football team. Patterson is still Princeton's career leader in tackles, and he was an outright tackling machine, if a bit undersized by today's standards. 

Is he the best defensive player TB has seen at Princeton? He doesn't want to jump to any quick conclusions on that, so he'll get back to you next week with that.

Anyway, the 1993 game at Dartmouth, in addition to being a great on-field game and a great duel between the Big Green's Jay Fiedler and Princeton's Keith Elias, was one of the strangest weather games TB has ever seen (it also is, oddly enough, the last time he's seen Princeton play football at Dartmouth).

It was sunny to start the game. It snowed during the second quarter, to the point where the field was covered. By the end of the game it was sunny again, with no sign of snow.

In the second quarter, though, a picture of Patterson was taken that still all these years later looks tremendous. TB waited two years to use it on the cover of the media guide.

Here it is (thanks to TB's colleague Greg Paczkowski for going into TB's office and sending him the picture):

Now that's a great picture. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Following Up

So TigerBlog has a few follow ups from yesterday's story about the 1922 football team photo.

First, the 1922 Princeton football team started its season with games against Johns Hopkins, Virginia and Colgate. Weirdly, those were three of the first four teams Princeton played in men's lacrosse a year ago.

Second, the 1922 team played eight games, winning all eight, but only two of those eight games were decided by more than 10 points. Those were the 30-0 win over Johns Hopkins and 26-0 win over Maryland. Of the other six games, Princeton won four by seven points or fewer.

Nearly 100 years later, the 21-18 win at Chicago, then the No. 1 team in the country, is the game that leaps out when the subject of the "Team Of Destiny" comes up. The season ended with a 3-0 victory over Yale, though, in a game that featured not one - as in the win over Chicago - but two goal line stands by the Tigers.

The Yale game ended when Princeton was up 3-0 and faced with a fourth down on its own 13. Yale's best hope at that point was for a punt and a fair catch, which would then be followed by a free kick. This is perhaps the rarest and most obscure rule in football, but a team that calls for a fair catch is entitled to a free kick from the spot of the fair catch. If the free kick goes through the uprights, it's a field goal, for three points.

Back in the early days of football, it was a very common play. In the 1922 Princeton-Yale game, the Tigers didn't risk the punt and instead had the punter run around behind the line while the final seconds ticked off. 

Third, Don Griffin made one of the stops on that goal line stand. As TB wrote yesterday, Griffin would go on to start the Alumni Association. In fact, in one of the most amazing things TB has ever heard, Don Griffin knew at least one member of ever class going all the way back to 1858.

Today, the University annually awards the Donald Griffin Management Award in his honor.

Fourth, the captain of the 1922 team was Melville Dickenson. It would be 27 years later that Melville Dickenson Jr. would win the Roper Trophy as the outstanding Princeton senior male athlete after playing football, hockey and lacrosse for the Tigers.

To all of that, TigerBlog learned yesterday that there is actually a connection between the 1922 team and the 2018 undefeated Princeton team. It includes the Griffin family, for that matter. 

Don Griffin was one of the key members of that 1922 Team of Destiny. His son Jim, Class of 1956, was a soccer and baseball player for the Tigers. Jim's wife Barbara, who would be Don's daughter-in-law, hired John Lovett - the two-time Bushnell Cup winner as Princeton's quarterback - to work on her family farm bailing hay.

TigerBlog has never bailed hay. It sounds sort of strenuous, of course, and it's not hard to imagine that Lovett was very good at it.

So, to sum up, you have the daughter-in-law of an important member of the 1922 team who hired the quarterback of the 2018 team to bail hay. 

Princeton Athletics has dozens of those sorts of random connections. Having the opportunity to see these connections is one of the best things about being here.

For instance, the latest "First 50" podcast is being released today. The guests on the podcast with Mollie Marcoux Samaan are Deborah Saint-Phard, Class of 1987 and a former Olympic shot putter, and Tiana Wooldridge, Class of 2015 and a three-time All-Ivy League women's volleyball player. 

Both are doctors today. Woolridge, who is doing her residency in pediatrics, mentioned one of her mentors on the call. 

What did Saint-Phard say?

"That's my cousin," she said. 

Of course. Just another random Princeton connection.

Before the recording of the podcast, Saint-Phard and Woolridge didn't know each other. For that matter, they hadn't even heard of each other.

After? It was like they were old friends. 

That's what Princeton Athletics can do. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Who Are These Guys?

TigerBlog's original title at Princeton was Manager of Sports Media Relations.

He's had a lot of titles since then. In fact he wishes he could research the Princeton University record for most titles in one career. He has to be among the all-time leaders.

In fact, he's had nine titles at Princeton:

* Manager of Sports Media Relations
* Assistant Director of Athletic Public Relations For Media Relations
* Assistant Director of Athletic Communications
* Interim Director of Athletic Communications
* Director of Athletic Communications
* Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications
* Associate Director of Athletics for Communications
* Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Communications
* Senior Communications Director/Historian

That's pretty good. Maybe he needs one more. After all, how many Princeton employees have ever reached double figures? 

Interestingly, none of his titles has ever included the words "sports information." 

Before he came to Princeton, there had been others who had been the traditional sports information director. That title disappeared in the 1980s. 

TB has always had a love/hate relationship with the title "sports information director." On the one hand, he's very much in the business of sports information, and he's been in that business for several decades, back to a time when almost everyone in the business had that title. 

On the other hand, he's always felt that the term "sports information director" is a bit outdated, a throwback to a time when sports information meant preparing game notes, writing releases, doing media guides and setting up interviews, as opposed to creating all of the original content that is now the staple of athletic communications.

This has been especially true during the pandemic, by the way, since that content has done so much to maintain the connections that Princeton Athletes has created and had continued to show just how important the athletic experience has been and continues to be. 

As he has said many, many times, the shift in the athletic communications business away from being a media relations organization to a media relations outfit completely changed everything in this business. It also kept TB in it and in fact the challenge to constantly evolve creatively made every year a new adventure. 

Had things never changed, it's highly unlikely that TB would have gotten past two titles, let alone all the way to nine .

Having the word "historian" in your title is somewhat unique, TB supposes. There aren't too many historians out there.

TB was an American history major in college. The other American history majors all became lawyers, he assumes. He became an actual historian.

As the historian, TB often receives fairly random emails either asking really interesting historical questions (some he can answer, some he can't) or sending along historical information that he either already knows or didn't know and usually finds fascinating.

Each week, he receives emails that fall into one of those two categories.

For instance, someone sent him a team picture of the 1922 football team, the national championship "Team Of Destiny," a nickname given to those Tigers by famed sportswriter Grantland Rice. Here is the photo:

The question was whether or not TigerBlog could be any help in identifying the players in the picture.

By the way, if you're not familiar with the 1922 Team of Destiny, the Tigers went 8-0 that year under head coach Bill Roper. The big game was the 21-18 win over Amos Alonzo Stagg's University of Chicago team, who had been heavily favored not only to win that game but also the national title. 

Princeton won that game on a goal-line stand in the final seconds. One of the biggest plays was made by a player named Don Griffin. 

After his playing career at Princeton, Griffin would go on to be one of Princeton's most loyal alums, and in fact he was the one credited with starting the alumni association.

His son Jim would play soccer and baseball at Princeton and graduate in the Class of 1955. Don Griffin's granddaughter Cynthia Griffin (now Cynthia Griffin Ferris) was in the Class of 1986.

Cynthia was a three-sport letterwinner at Princeton, one of 17 women who have won three letters. Her sports were field hockey, hockey and lacrosse. Her uniform number in all three was No. 8.

To answer the original question of who is who in the picture, TB reached out to Griffin Ferris to see if she knows. He'll let you know what he finds out.

Hey, it's just another day for the historian.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Like A Pomegranate

Here are two songs that pretty much anyone TigerBlog's age likes:

* "Something," by the Beatles
* "Something In The Way She Moves," by James Taylor

Here's something that TigerBlog learned Sunday that he never even considered, though it seems fairly obvious.

The first line of both songs is the same. 

"Something in the way she moves. Attracts me like no other lover." That's the song by the Beatles. "Something in the way she moves. Looks my way and calls my name." That's the song by James Taylor.

What TB learned Sunday is that it's no coincidence that the two songs have the same first line.

James Taylor wrote his song first. George Harrison, who wrote "Something," swiped it for his song. The version by the Beatles made it to No. 1 as a single. 

Here's what it says on Wikipedia (so it must be true):
Harrison had expanded the opening of this song to "Something in the way she moves / Attracts me like a pomegranate," using the word "pomegranate" simply as a place-holder until better words could be found. Taylor has stated that "I never thought for a second that George intended to do that. I don't think he intentionally ripped anything off, and all music is borrowed from other music. So completely I let it pass." Taylor also acknowledged that the ending of "Something in the Way She Moves" was taken from the Beatles' song "I Feel Fine." 

For the record, TB is not a fan of pomegranates.

James Taylor wrote his song in 1968. The Beatles recorded theirs a year later, on the "Abbey Road" album. 

James Taylor's song was on an album called "James Taylor," which is sort of like someone named TigerBlog who write a blog called "TigerBlog," or something like that. The album was released on Dec. 6, 1968, to be exact.

That was a Friday. The next day, the Princeton men's basketball team played Duke in the second game of a doubleheader at, of all places, Madison Square Garden. The opener, by the way, was Columbia against NYU (the Lions won 69-68 in case you were wondering, or even if you weren't). 

Columbia and Princeton had tied for the Ivy League championship the year before, and the Lions - led by the great Jim McMillian - won the playoff game to get to the NCAA tournament 92-74. The 1967-68 season was Pete Carril's first at Princeton.

The 1968-69 season saw Columbia go 20-4 overall, but two of those four losses were to Princeton. The Tigers, 19-7 overall, went 14-0 in the Ivy League, marking the first time any Tiger team had done so. Even the great Bill Bradley teams of the mid-1960s or the 1967 team that won two NCAA games weren't perfect in the league.

The first of Carril's 11 NCAA appearances ended with a 72-63 loss to St. John's in Raleigh, N.C.

The Tigers played a brutal non-league schedule in the 1968-69 season, with Villanova, Duke and Maryland right out of the gate and later on games against teams like UCLA and North Carolina. Also interestingly, the season didn't start until Dec. 3 back then.

The game against Duke on Dec. 7 was one of those tough non-league games, and one of the seven losses ultimately. The Blue Devils, ranked 16th heading into the game, knocked off Princeton 81-62 after the Tigers had led 35-31 at the half.

As for Carril, TB read a postgame story about the game, and he could almost hear the coach's saying his quotes, such as: 1) "I wish we had him" about a Duke guard, 2) "Every time they took out a 6-8 guy, they brought in a 6-10 guy to replace him," 3) "We had too many guys standing around" and 4) "He shot 7 for 18. We need him to be 12 for 18." 

It doesn't take too much imagination to see the grimaced expressions on his face during the game as well.

John Hummer and Geoff Petrie scored 19 each for Princeton, and Chris Thomforde had 12. 

All five Duke starters were in double figures., including 12 from a player named Fred Lind.

And why is that important?

Well, it just so happens that Fred Lind, who scored 12 points for Duke against Princeton in the 1968 game in the Garden, is the father of two-time Olympic gold medal rower Caroline Lind, one of the greatest - if not the greatest - female athlete in Princeton history. 

How do you like them pomegranates?

Monday, February 15, 2021

1,000 Times Two, Twice

So TigerBlog has been watching a show that pretty much everyone he knows has already 1) seen and 2) raved about.

The show? 

"Game of Thrones."

He tried it once before and didn't make it past the first 10 minutes of the first episode. This time, he's gotten into it quite a bit. In fact, he's all the way through the first six seasons.

To be honest, he wouldn't put it in the top 25 of his all-time favorite shows, the way so many others would. He would say that its strength is in the imagination of the person who created it, and by doing so created an entire world and even different languages within that world.

And what is the language the Dothraki speak? It's an actual made-up language of 1,700 words. Now that's attention to detail.

The show is incredibly gory. It's almost like someone decided to have an egg timer, and when the sand ran out, someone gets stabbed through the skull. 

On the other hand, the battle scenes are incredibly well choreographed. They're astonishing, actually. TB watches them an wonders how they ever filmed them.

There is very good character development, and the show clearly takes chances and does the unexpected. There are beautiful scenes of natural beauty. The winter scenes make you feel the actual cold.

Maybe the expectations were too high, given what everyone has said about it. There are also a few too many characters to keep them all straight, and it gets very confusing at time. That said, he is glad he's watching it, and he wants to see how it all turns out.

Also, general rule of thumb so far - don't mess with Cersei Lannister or Daeneyrs Targareyen. It won't end well for you. 

One of the people who recommended it to him is John Mack, the 2000 Roper Trophy winner after a Princeton career that saw him win 10 Heptagonal titles. He swears by the show.

Mack also pointed TB to a tweet Saturday from Georgetown's Director of Athletics Lee Reed:

Reed is right. You don't see that too often.

At Princeton, though, it's happened twice for the women's basketball team.

First, it was Kate Thirolf and Maggie Langlas, who both did so in 1999, in Hawaii of all places. Then, four years later, Maureen Lane and Allison Cahill both did it, this time at Yale.

That's twice that two Princeton women's basketball players reached 1,000 career points in the same game, in a four-year span.

That information should be familiar to you, as TB has mentioned it several times before. As Reed's tweet suggests, it's a rarity that it happens, so it really sticks out when it does. And to have it happen twice is extraordinary.

TB most recently wrote about it this past fall, when he was writing a "Going Back" series here. If you recall that, TB took events that happened before the word "blog" even existed and wrote about them as if he had been writing TigerBlog when they had.

He did some games he'd attended. He did others that went back pretty far, all the way to the first football game, for that matter.

He did this for a few weeks and then bailed on it, since it wasn't clicking the way he wanted for some reason.

Still, he does think about what it might have been like to have had a blog to write for his entire time covering sports. More than that, he thinks about what it would be like to have an archive of blogs going back a few decades, instead of just the 12 years or so. 

He uses the blog archive a great deal to remind him of things he's written or to look up facts. Or, sometimes, it's just good to go back a year, or five years, or 10 years or whatever to see what the story was that day.

Also, it's good to know when he's repeating himself. Sometimes, if it's been a few years, he's okay retelling a story.

Or, if it's compelling, or becomes newsworthy again, like in the case of the basketball teammates who reached 1,000 points together. 

Congratulations to the two Georgetown players who did so (Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett).

The four Princeton women's players would like to welcome you to their club.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Lorin Maurer, Remembered


TigerBlog cannot begin to express properly what he felt the minute he read the email that said that Lorin Maurer had died.

It's not possible, even now, 12 years later, to fully explain it.

Maybe the only time that comes close is 9/11, when he looked up at the clear blue sky on a pristine morning and felt something that was more confusion than anything else, like his brain couldn't process the notion that an airplane had flown into the World Trade Center on such a morning.

That's the best way to describe what he felt when he first saw that Lorin was gone, actually.  

It was confusion, extreme confusion, that resulted in an initial inability to fathom the news. His brain read the words in the email that Gary Walters had sent around and rejected them as impossible.

No chance. 

He read it again. And again. Each time, he had the same reaction. This was not possible.

Just like 9/11, though, it was true. Lorin was gone.

For those who don't know, Lorin Maurer was Princeton's Athletic Friends' Group coordinator prior to her death on this day 12 years ago. There are fewer and fewer people each year at Princeton who do know that, and probably fewer than 20 percent of the people who work in the Department of Athletics now worked with Lorin.

Lorin Maurer was a few weeks past her 30th birthday when she died. She was one of 49 people on a flight from Newark to Buffalo that crashed in icy weather, killing a 50th person on the ground as well.

Lorin was going to Buffalo for the wedding of her boyfriend's brother. It was all so normal. 

She was 30 and in love. Her own wedding couldn't have been that far off. 

Before she left for the airport, she was in a meeting that included TigerBlog. She was antsy, TB recalls, in the way that most people who need to catch a flight are antsy.

Maybe the fact that she was antsy left TB a bit surprised that she still hadn't left yet when he saw her again. It was probably 30 minutes or so later. 

At the time TB's office was on the Jadwin mezzanine. Lorin had been down the hallway a bit, and when she walked past TB's door, she stopped, smiled, didn't speak a word and kept going.

He never saw her again.

Who was Lorin, to those who never met her? She was a sweet young woman. She liked to have fun. She was very close with her family. She gave maximum effort at her job.

She had great friends in the athletic department, people with whom she was much closer than she was with TB. 

Mostly, she just brought a lot of positive energy to Princeton and to the people in her life. Her job required her to interact with members of Friends Groups from all different generations, and they all seemed to like her a lot.

TB remembers one day when he saw Lorin in the lobby of Jadwin, putting table clothes on tables. Why? There was an event coming up soon, and whoever was supposed to put the table clothes on the tables hadn't done it. 

As a result, it fell to her. That's part of the job. Did she complain? Nope. She just took care of it, laughing about it.

When TB goes back to the last time he saw her, it's her smile that he remembers the most. She was always smiling. 

And then she kept going down the hallway.

TB gave it no thought until he saw the email the next morning. Lorin Maurer was dead? It had to be a different Lorin Maurer, right?

It couldn't have been the Lorin Maurer he had just seen the day before. He read the email over and over. He watched TV all morning, hoping for some different outcome of the news.

By that night Princeton had home basketball. The news media descended on Jadwin, looking to speak with people who knew her. It was surreal. 

She should have been at a wedding in Buffalo, not on the news.

She was so alive, so happy, so young, so vibrant And then she was gone.

It didn't make sense then. It doesn't make sense now.

Thursday, February 11, 2021


TigerBlog isn't sure why Princeton baseball coach Scott Bradley took so long to create a Twitter account.

TB does know that Bradley is off to a fantastic start in the 280-character world.

Bradley's Twitter feed goes back about three weeks, and yet he's already one of the best people TB follows. His tweets go from his experiences as a Major League Baseball player to his basic philosophies, and sometimes a combination of both.

Here are two examples:

 And this one:

There's more of that, but not a lot more right now on his feed. Presumably much more is on the way. He's clearly off to a great start.

Those are both great tweets.

The first one takes you inside the world of Major League Baseball. It's a grind, with game after game after game. The players need to be physically on top of their games at all times, and the mental toll is also great. 

Plus, simply reading the tweet, you can picture what it would be like to be a Major Leaguer, watching the opponent take BP, long before the first pitch. And then doing it again and again and again and again as the season goes along. 

The second one especially resonates with TigerBlog, having raised two kids. He's developed a philosophy of parenting that can be summed up in three words: "Figure it out." As in, whatever your somewhat grown children ask you, tell them to "figure it out." Anytime you think you're helping them, you're actually not.

One of the best experiences TB has had in all his time at Princeton was his trip with the baseball team to the 2016 NCAA regional in Lafayette, Louisiana. The opportunity to travel with the team and see how Scott Bradley runs his program was awesome.

You can find him on Twitter at @coachbradley9.

And while he's on the subject of baseball today (and what else would you want to talk about with about 20 feet of snow piled up everywhere?), TB would like to send out his congratulations to John Sadak.

If you're a Princeton basketball fan, the name John Sadak takes you back to his days as the play-by-play voice of the Tigers, first the women's team and then the men's. TigerBlog was his first partner for Princeton men's basketball, but he was replaced (TB was the one who did the replacing) with Noah Savage.

Sadak and Savage immediately clicked and were a great team, especially since Savage is much better than TB was. Savage and his current Princeton partner, Derek Jones, are equally a great team, and both have made their way onto ESPN for college basketball games.

As for Sadak, he left Princeton to pursue a full-time Major League Baseball play-by-play job. Along the way he has done a lot of college football and basketball on television, as well as NFL football on the radio. 

The news came out last week that Sadak had been hired to be the Cincinnati Reds television play-by-play man. It's the culmination of a process that speaks to what you need to do in the announcing world, which is basically start with whatever on-air work you can get and go from there.

The National League now features two former Princeton men's basketball play-by-play announcers, with Sadak and Tom McCarthy, the Phillies TV voice.

Like McCarthy with the Phils, Sadak will get TB to root for the Reds. 

Also like McCarthy, Sadak, TB is pretty sure, will always cherish his days with Princeton basketball.

Congratulations to John Sadak, a Princeton alum in his own way. 

It couldn't have happened to a better announcer - and person.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

More BHM

There are three defensemen who have come through the Princeton men's lacrosse program who are immediately identifiable with an offensive player on an opposing team because of their epic head-to-head matchups.

All six of the players involved, by the way, were first-team All-Americans at some point of their careers.

First, there is George Baughan. You can't think of Baughan, a current Tiger, without thinking about Cornell's Jeff Teat. 

Then there is Chad Wiedmaier. When you mention Chad Wiedmaier, TigerBlog's first though is of how he battled another Cornell all-time great, Rob Pannell.

More than any other, though, the association of Princeton defenseman and opposing attackman is strongest when it comes to, well, TB doesn't have to tell you if you're been following the Tigers for the last 25 years.

It's definitely Damien Davis against Syracuse's Mikey Powell. 

Now those were classics.

Looking back on it, there were days were Davis had the better of it (holding Powell without a point while scoring a goal himself in an 11-10 Princeton win at the Carrier Dome in 2003) and days were Powell got the better of it (four goals, three assists in an NCAA tournament win). 

Mostly, they battled each other in ways where both had the moments of success, most clearly in the 2001 NCAA championship game.

Powell had two goals and two assists in that one, including the game-tying goal with 16 seconds left to force overtime. Davis stripped Powell of the ball in the overtime, and even before that he was all over the field as the Tigers stood up to the Orange juggernaut that had handed Princeton three straight lopsided losses prior to the final.

TigerBlog, who mentioned yesterday that he wrote a piece about Deborah Saint-Phard for the upcoming women's history book and that the piece will be available this week as part of the Black History Month celebration, caught up with Davis last week to write his story as well. 

Davis started every game of his four-year career at Princeton before graduating in 2003, and TigerBlog was at every one of those games. There aren't many players who have come through the program who played harder and at a higher level every single time he stepped on the field the way Damien Davis did. It was that combination, plus the way he was such a first-class representative of the program at all times, that made him one of TB's favorite players he's seen.

When TB caught up with him last week, the two talked about his days coming up through the Gilman School in Baltimore, his years at Princeton, how he has been involved in bringing lacrosse to kids in the inner-city of Baltimore and how he's doing professionally.

It's always good to talk to him.

You can read the story TB wrote HERE. Fittingly, the main picture is from the 2001 final, with Davis with the ball and Powell behind him, trying to chase him down.

TigerBlog was happy with it. He wasn't ready, though, for something that he would come to read a few days later. 

The story ran Monday. It was sent out on Princeton's social media channels as usual.

Then TB saw a quote tweet that really gave incredible context to what the most important part of the story was. You can see that here:

TB has no idea who Brian is. He has no idea what Brian's lacrosse background is. 

He does know that what Brian said is very powerful. 

When Davis was coming up, there were not many black players, and certainly not many black players on his level. The ability to inspire comes in many forms, and it's easy to overlook the idea that there are kids out there who are looking for someone who looks like they do. 

Ashleigh Johnson, the Olympic gold medal water polo player, said something similar to TB when he interviewed her about her role in Princeton women's athletic history. 

As TB said, it's easy to overlook the importance of having someone who looks like you. If they can do it, you can do it.

That's what Black History Month is all about, the people who came through the doors so that other generations could see that it was possible for them as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

RIP George Shultz

TigerBlog's first Super Bowl prediction was Kansas City 35, Tampa Bay 17.

He was off by only a whole lot. In fact, since TB said Kansas City would win by 18 and in fact Tampa Bay won by 22, he was way, way, way off.

In an effort to make better predictions, TB will do next year's after the game is over, for greater accuracy.

In the days before the Super Bowl, TigerBlog saw a story that ranked the first 54 Super Bowls in order of how good the game was. The worst was the one between San Francisco and San Diego 26 years ago. San Francisco won 49-26 in a game that wasn't even remotely close.

Back then TB was in the newspaper business, and he wrote that it was an important Super Bowl because no Super Bowl could ever be worse. It's highly probably that the game Sunday found a way to actually do the unthinkable and be worse than the Niners-Chargers game.

It was ever in doubt. The excitement that Pat Mahomes always brings was negated by a makeshift offensive line and a bad foot. Tom Brady was good, but he got a lot of help from his defense and some timely help from the refs (again).

The most amazing part of the game was that Brady, at the age of 43, was able to take a franchise that had one winning season in the last 10 years and was coming off records of 7-9, 5-11 and 5-11 and win the Super Bowl in Year 1.

That's seven Super Bowl wins for Brady, who won six at a place that had never won one before and then won another at a place that had been an afterthought for a long time. Hmmmm. What does that remind TB of (hint - Bill Tierney)?

TB's other prediction for the game did come true. The commercials were pretty universally awful,

Why do these companies spend all of that money on their spots and then have nobody say "hey, this really is bad?" The only ones that are any good are the ones that don't have someone who could be considered a "celebrity." Seriously, when was the last good commercial that had a celebrity in it?

Maybe they spend so much money on the celebrity and the production that they have no money left for a writer?

Anyway, that's the end of the football season.

On the day of the Super Bowl, the news came that George Shultz had passed away at the age of 100.

Here is the first sentence from his obituary:

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a titan of American academia, business and diplomacy who spent most of the 1980s trying to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and forging a course for peace in the Middle East, has died. He was 100.

George Shultz lived an extraordinary life. He served in the cabinet of two Presidents of the United States, first as Labor Secretary and Treasury Secretary under Richard Nixon and then later under Ronald Reagan as one of the greatest Secretaries of State this country has seen.

He was an artillery captain in the Marine Corps during World War II. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from MIT, and his career also included time as a professor at MIT, the University of Chicago and Stanford. 

As much as anything, he was a loyal Princetonian. 

This was from University President Christopher L. Eisgruber:
When George Shultz ’42 passed away this weekend, not long after celebrating his 100th birthday, Princeton lost an alumnus who brilliantly exemplified this University’s ideals of learning, integrity, and service to the nation and humanity.   

A member of the Class of 1942, Shultz was a blocking back in the single-wing offense for the Tiger football team, until injuries ended his career. Even then he stayed with the program, helping coach the freshman team his senior year.

Legend had it that Shultz was such a devoted Princeton football player that he had a tattoo of Tiger on his butt. This was, according to one story TB read about Shultz, confirmed by his wife.

James Baker, another Princetonian who followed Shultz as Secretary of State, joked at Shultz' 90th birthday that he would do anything for him other than "kiss the Tiger."

That's great stuff.

With Shultz' passing, this country has lost another member of "the greatest generation." 

Princeton, and Princeton football, lost a giant of an alum.

HERE is the full obit for George Shultz.


Monday, February 8, 2021

Black History Month

Welp, it was another Sunday and another snowstorm in the Princeton area.

This wasn't quite like last week, when about two feet of snow fell. This was more like five or six inches or so, and it was the fluffy kind, as opposed to the icy kind.

Still, it's enough already with the snow. And TigerBlog's weather app has more little snowflakes next to Tuesady, Thursday, Saturday and the following Tuesday. What that turns into, who knows, but hey, that's just a lot of winter.

That doesn't even include the fact that the temperatures are going to be plummeting all week. 

Oh, and you know what's really annoying? When you're shoveling the driveway and you get it all done, and then all of the sudden the plow comes down the street and the next thing you know there's a large snow bank between you and the road again.

Of course, it's February, so maybe it shouldn't be all that surprising. It's just that last winter featured no snow at all, and TigerBlog sort of liked it that way.

In addition to being the heart of snow season, apparently, February is also Black History Month. 

Princeton Athletics is in the middle of its celebration. There have been social media posts and recognitions of the contributions of Princeton's black athletes and coaches, and there are plenty more to come as the rest of February rolls along.

TB has contributed to the content with some feature stories. On the women's side, there are four pieces, one for each week of the month. 

The first of those ran last week. The subject was Jackie Jackson, who was a women's basketball player in the 1970s. Jackson was the first black woman to be a captain of a Princeton women's team, and TB is almost 100 percent sure that she was also the first black woman to win a varsity letter.

This week's story will be about Deborah Saint-Phard, the Olympic shot putter who was in the Class of 1987. Saint-Phard is a doctor in Colorado these days. 

TB sent her the piece he wrote to do some fact-checking, and she ended up reading it back to him while they were on the phone. At one point there's a quote from her in which TB added "she said while laughing." As she was reading it back to him, she started laughing again. 

It was a good affirmation that she had laughed the first time.

Saint-Phard is one of the women TB has spoken to during his research for the book he's writing about Princeton women's athletic history. He'd of course heard of her and knew a bit about her accomplishments, but he had never met her and knew nothing about her personally.

That's been one of the two best parts of the project. There's been the part about telling the stories, which has been awesome. And there's the part about meeting people who previously had just been names in record books, which has been equally awesome.

Saint-Phard has been one of his favorites. Her story is tremendous, with the way her family fled the Haitian dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier when she was a baby and then all of the travels she had along the way as a kid.

There was her career at Princeton and the special relationship she had with men's track and field coach Fred Samara, who coached her as well. There was the way she reconnected with her native country and ended up on the Haitian Olympic team for the 1988 Games.

There's even the story that made her laugh when she told it to TB the first time and when she read it back to him the second time. That's the story of how she became the Haitian flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies.

You'll have to read it for yourself later this week.

Saint-Phard went to medical school while training for the Olympic Games and World Championships (she finished in the top 20 in both). She has gone on to be a champion for girls and women in athletics, focusing her care on sports medicine for females.

She's also become more acutely aware of issues related to race and equality, especially as they relate to health care, and even more so in a COVID world. Even something as simple as taking the vaccine was something that she wanted to do as publicly as possibly, in light of historical situations where black people were not able to trust the government's health care policies or where those policies were negatively impacting black people.

Building trust, she said, is incredibly important. 

She even wrote about it in an article that was published in Inside Higher Ed, which you can read HERE.

The article is entitled "At the Intersection of Burnout, COVID and Systemic Racism." 

It's a fascinating piece, written by a fascinating woman, physician and Princeton alum. Being able to tell her story, and all of the others has been an honor for TB.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Girls And Women in Sports

The Super Bowl is Sunday. 

It's the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game is in Tampa, which makes the Bucs the first team ever to play the Super Bowl on their home field.

TigerBlog's prediction for the game: Kansas City 35, Tampa Bay 17. 

His other prediction: None of the commercials will be great.

He'll see Sunday if he's right about either one of those guesses and will get back to you Monday.

And that's enough Super Bowl talk for today. There are more important things to discuss anyway.

For starter, this week featured National Girls and Women In Sports Day. It was the 35th anniversary of the day, which celebrates achievement and participation in sports for girls and women. 

More than that, it encourages that participation. And there are few things better for girls and women than to participate in athletics.

Princeton's usual celebration of National Girls and Women In Sports Day has featured what TB has always found to be an extraordinary sight in the back of Jadwin Gym, with Princeton's women varsity teams surrounded by an army of little kids during what is essentially a clinic. This is followed by a women's basketball game.

Each year that TB has watched it, he's been amazed - and unable not to smile - at the sheer joy that the little kids (mostly girls, but with some boys mixed in) have at being that close to college athletes and being able to participate in the sports that they play.

Actually, it's always been a question for him about who is smiling more - the kids or the athletes.

Either way, there are lots of smiles. And it's just a truly wonderful scene.

This year, of course, has also marked the 50th anniversary of women's athletics at Princeton. TigerBlog, as he has mentioned, it writing a book on those first 50 years.

When women's athletics started at Princeton, Title IX was still just about two years away from being passed into law. There was nothing at all that required equality of opportunity other than a sense of fair play, and that was something that wasn't always associated with girls sports back then.

As TB has spoken with the women who competed for Princeton in the 1970s, he's been happy to hear that most of them have spoken positively about the assistance (or at least lack of resistance) they got from their male counterparts.

Those weren't easy times to be a female athlete though. It took a lot of fortitude to build these programs and create these future opportunities.

One thing that has really resonated with TB is the way that so many of those early women athletes and coaches realized that their success helped the overall process of coeducation tremendously. Without their success, and the high profile that went along with it, women at Princeton would have probably faced a tougher road. 

Those early athletes, and the subsequent passage of Title IX, really set the foundation for the decades of Princeton women athletes who have followed.

TB has sort of pointed to the early 1980s as the birth of the modern era for women's athletics at Princeton. Certainly by the 1990s it was really starting to roll along.

What's most important, though, is the way that opportunities for girls to play sports have increased. When TB talks to most of the early women athletes, their athletic careers either began because they happened to live in a place that afforded them the opportunity (especially suburban Philadelphia) or were delayed because there simply were no teams for them to play with.

Even moving a few decades down the road, there are still a few stories that started with "my older brother and his friends were playing and they let me play because they needed more kids" or something like that.

Today girls sports opportunities are plentiful. In fact, there are travel teams and club teams and strength coaches and everything else that makes up the youth sports culture.

And maybe it's too much too soon, like it is on the boys side as well. But it's still a chance to play.

From that comes so many positives.  

TB has seen it with his own daughter, one of those little kids who used to love to go to the clinic in Jadwin each year and who now is a Princeton varsity athlete herself. 

Her own story is one of how participating in sports helped grow her as entire person. It gave her confidence. It helped build work ethic. It taught her the value of working as a team. 

It gave her self-confidence. 

These are lessons that have served her so well as a Princeton engineering student, and not just as an athlete.

Now multiply that experience out to all of the girls out there who got to play and who continue to pull from those experiences.

The ones who opened those doors all those years ago deserve a huge thank you.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Rock On

TigerBlog was recently asked a pretty interesting question.

Could he name a musical artist who was originally part of a group and then went on to have a solo career after leaving the group and had his or her best music at that point. The question wasn't asking for someone who went on to have a very successful solo career. It was asking about someone who went on to make the best music after leaving the group.

He's struggled to come up a good answer.

John Lennon, for instance, had some great music after The Beatles broke up, but hey, they were The Beatles. The bar was set pretty high. 

Phil Collins had his most successful music after he left Genesis, but hey, it's Phil Collins.

Just kidding. Just kidding. Phil Collins actually isn't a terrible answer. He did have some pretty good solo stuff.

By the way, did you know Phil Collins might actually have done his best work before he ever even heard of Genesis? When he was 13, he played the Artful Dodger on the West End in "Oliver."

So who else could be a good answer to the question?

If you're looking at a more modern artist, there's Beyonce (Destiny's Child), Gwen Stefani (No Doubt) and Justin Timberlake (N'Sync). It might not shock you to know that TB doesn't really know much of either of their music.

Michael Jackson? He's close, but the Jackson 5 songs were either as good or in some cases better than his solo songs. Nothing Simon ever did by himself approached what he did with Garfunkel.

This is a tough one. He's certainly open to any and all suggestions. There has to be someone really, really obvious TB is overlooking, right?

While he gives it more thought, TigerBlog also did some research on what he mentioned about Susie Scanlon.

If you recall, TB recently wrote a piece for the women's history book about Scanlan and fellow Princeton alum Maya Lawrence, who were teammates on the 2012 U.S. Olympic women's epee fencing team that won a bronze medal at the London Olympics.

Scanlan took two years off to train for the Olympics before returning to Princeton in the 2012-13 academic year. She was a key part of the Tigers 2013 NCAA championship co-ed fencing team (and an individual runner up).

How many athletes have ever come back to Princeton to compete for the Tigers after having won an Olympic medal? And how many of those went on to win an NCAA championship afterwards?

To clarify, Caroline Lind won an NCAA championship as an undergrad and then two Olympic medals (both golds, in rowing). TB is looking for the other order. Olympic medal first. Then NCAA title.  

To answer the first question, Princeton has had 113 athletes who have competed in the Olympic Games. Of those 113, there have been 36 who competed as either undergraduates or, in a few cases, before they even enrolled at Princeton. 

Not all of those athletes competed for Princeton, however. For instance, there was Joey Cheek, who won four medals (two golds) in speed skating at the 2006 Winter Games and then graduated from Princeton in the Class of 2011.

In the first modern Olympics in Paris in 1896 alone, Princeton had four members of the Class of 1897 who competed in track and field, winning a combined seven medals.

Since then only two athletes would win gold medals and then compete at Princeton. Those two are Bill Bradley (basketball) and Ashleigh Johnson (water polo).

Only Susie Scanlan, among Princeton athletes, has ever won an Olympic medal and then come back to Princeton and won an NCAA championship.

Scanlan didn't get to that remarkable status accidentally. It took an incredible amount of hard work and self-sacrifice to make it happen. As she told TB her story, Scanlan talked about injuries, discipline, intense training regimens and endless travel to reach the top of the fencing world.

Today she is a Ph.D. student in economics studying at Columbia. She is, of course, no ordinary Ph.D. student.

Given how far back Princeton Athletics go, and given all of the incredible successes that Tiger athletes have had, to be the only one to have accomplished something is amazing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Snow Running

So yesterday was Groundhog Day.

In honor of the occasion, TigerBlog would like to quote himself:

TigerBlog understands that not every movie made is trying to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. In that vein, he's never understood the complete disdain so many people have for the movie "Groundhog Day."

TB saw it in the movies when it came out in 1993, and he's seen it about a thousand times since. It's a perfectly harmless, funny, at times charming, certainly inoffensive movie, and yet there are so many people who flat out hate it.

As an aside, TigerBlog was always confused as a kid by Groundhog Day, as six weeks after Feb. 2 takes you to March 16 (or March 15 in a leap year), which is still winter. He never quite understood the whole "six more weeks of winter" thing. Shouldn't it be more like 10 more weeks of winter if the point is that figuratively speaking spring will be late to arrive?

TB was crushed to learn the whole thing is a sham, at least according to a story he read:The ceremony is largely that: Phil's prediction is determined ahead of time by the Inner Circle, a group who dons top hats and tuxedos and decides in advance what the groundhog will predict.

Still, what could be better than Groundhog Day, a small-town tradition that has such a great little Americana feel to it. Something wholesome, something that hasn't been ruined by commercialism or lack of civility or any of the other ills of contemporary society.

As Phil Connors said: This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.

Sound familiar? TigerBlog has written that before on Groundhog Day. And before that. And before that.

You  know, like the movie. Get it? Subtle, yes.

Before the movie came out, Groundhog Day was all about anticipating spring. Since then, it's become a reference to something that happens over and over and over - you know, like the way Phil kept living the same day over and over. Maybe that's the biggest tribute to the movie, the way it changed an entire meaning of something.

TB thought he offered that to you each year for Groundhog Day. Instead, this is the first time he's done so since 2017. 

Why didn't he do it the last three years? 

Well, the last two years it's because Feb. 2 fell on the weekend. In 2018, Feb. 2 was a Friday, but TB wrote that day a piece that turned out to be one of his favorites. 

It was about how Princeton was playing Yale in basketball that night, with the men in New Jersey and the women in Connecticut. TB went to the women's game, so the first half of the story was about how he needed to find a fill-in to work with Patrick McCarthy on the radio for the men's game. As it turned out, he recruited Patrick's father, Tom, who was Princeton's men's basketball and football play-by-play man early in his long and wildly successful career. 

Having Tom and Patrick have a chance to do a game together was pretty special.

TB, for his part, went to the women's game because TigerBlog Jr., who was then a junior at Sacred Heart, was the public address announcer for the Yale women and TB wanted to see how he did. It was also a special night for him (even if Yale won that game).

Also, speaking of things that happen over and over and over again, there's women's cross country coach Brad Hunt. As TB wrote last week, it appears that Hunt has run at least three miles a day, every day, without missing a day, for 15 years. That's more than 5,500 days.

There was a coaches' Zoom meeting Monday, during the storm, and Mollie Marcoux Samaan asked Hunt if on days like that he ran inside on a treamdmill. Nope, Hunt said. He's outdoors, no matter what.

In fact, he said that running outside in the snow is some of the best running there is. 

That's amazing stuff. That takes a lot of mental fortitude and toughness.

TB is very, very impressed. 

Anyway, yesterday was Groundhog Day. Ol' Punxsutawney Phil apparently saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. As TB said above, that also means an early spring, right? 

It's all very confusing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Scanlan And Lawrence

TigerBlog Jr.'s first day of high school his freshman year was technically considered a "snow day." 

It actually was a hurricane that caused a postponement, but starting off your high school career with something to be considered a snow day has to be a rarity. TigerBlog told his son it was a sign of good luck.

Perhaps the same thing applies to the start of the "spring" semester at Princeton, which began yesterday with during a genuine major snowstorm in Princeton the last few days. Perhaps it's good luck. 

TB certainly hopes so for all Princeton students. Good luck to every one of you this semester.

TigerBlog prefers when the temperature reaches into the 90s to winter. Even a fan of summer like that, though, can appreciate the beauty of nature that is a major snowstorm.

In fact, TB loves to watch the snow fall, the heavy kind that blankets the ground and leaves nothing around other than sheets and sheets of endless pulchritude in every direction. It's amazingly peaceful to see it, especially when it finally stops and the sun reappears, glistening in all directions.

It's everything else about the snow that's a pain in the butt.

It's the shoveling, though even that can be fun. Mostly, there are two things that TB can't stand about snowstorms: 1) eventually it turns brown and muddy and slushy and gets all over everything and 2) it keeps the ground covered as a reminder that spring is not necessarily right around the corner quite yet.

One of TB's favorite days is when the snow finally disappears, without a trace to be found anywhere. That's when you know the warmer weather is on the way.

TB has spent his entire life in this general area, living essentially in a 50-mile radium (even less if you don't count the first two years of his life in Queens) of Jadwin Gym. As such, he long ago became used to the weather here in the winter.

It's cold. It snows every now and then. It gets warmer.

It's hardly a world of brutal winters. As TB said last week, former NHL player John Scott said that 12 inches of snow in Traverse City, Mich., was hardly a big deal.

TB remembers a few massive blizzards, including from when he was a kid, through his days at Princeton. There haven't been that many of them.

He does not understand how people can live their whole lives in places that get brutal amounts of snow and ridiculously long winters.

As you are probably aware, TB is writing a book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton.

The most recent piece he completed was about former Princeton fencers Susie Scanlan and Maya Lawrence. The two were never Princeton teammates, with graduating years separated by more than a decade, but they were teammates on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, winning a bronze medal together in women's team epee.

Scanlan grew up in Minnesota. This was her quote about winters in Princeton versus winters in St. Paul:

"My first winter here," she says, "it got to March and April and I said 'that's it?'"

That's good stuff.

TB had never spoken to Lawrence or Scanlan before he interviewed them for the book. As it turned out, their stories are wildly compelling, and TB loved telling it. In fact, it became one of his favorite chapters of the entire project.

That's been one of his favorite things about this book. Actually, his favorite. It's been the ability to take people whose accomplishments he'd long been familiar with and get a chance to hear the human stories behind those accomplishments. It's been a lot of fun. 

In the case of Scanlan and Lawrence, both of them had to overcome major injuries and setbacks. The world of international fencing is a fairly unique entity, and they both told about the physical and emotional toll it took on them to get to where they did.

Scanlan is part of an extremely small class of Princeton athletes. She came back to compete as a Tiger undergraduate after winning an Olympic medal. Not a lot of Princeton athletes can make that claim.

She can make another claim - she won an NCAA championship (the 2013 national team championship) after she won an Olympic medal.

Forget Princeton. How many athletes anywhere can say that?

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Late Great John Chaney

Perhaps the worst call TigerBlog has ever seen in a basketball game came on Dec. 20, 2004.

The game was between Princeton and Temple in Philadelphia. Princeton trailed by two as the final seconds were winding down. 

Will Venable drove to the basket and put a shot up that was off the window and on its way in, forcing overtime. Then it was swatted away.

Then none of the three officials called the most obvious and easiest goaltending call of all time. No overtime. 

Final score: Temple 48, Princeton 46.

What the heck?

TB will say this: Making that call on that court that night would not have sat well with the home team's coach. Maybe he was just too intimidating a figure to have the whistle blow there?

The winning coach that night was John Chaney, the Hall-of-Famer who turned Temple into a nationally prominent program, especially during a glorious 1987-88 season that saw the Owls reach the No. 1 spot in the national rankings.

Chaney passed away Friday, a few days past his 89th birthday. That game against Princeton in 2004 was the 1,000th of his career.

One of the great things about working in sports, like TB has for more than 30 years, is that you get to see different sides of people you normally only see on TV. Some of them make radically different impressions in person than they do through the media, either for the positive or the negative.

There are figures in sports that TB would have sworn were jerks who turned out to be really nice when he actually met them. There are others who come across as being good guys who clearly aren't when you see them up close.

Then there's the other group, a far, far smaller one. That's the group of people who are such towering figures that when you meet them, you're only emotion is awe.

That was John Chaney. 

There aren't too many people TB has been around in all his time in the sports world who were more simply awesome than John Chaney. Perhaps he needs to define what he means a bit more.

What TB is saying is that there are certain figures who seem to larger than life on TV and then are even more so when you actually meet them. Even John Thompson II didn't bring out the awe in TB the way Chaney did, largely because TB's close relationship with John Thompson III made his father a bit more approachable.


TB covered a bunch of Temple games when Chaney coached there. He's interviewed him one-on-one and written about him. 

In all that time, he never felt 100 percent relaxed or comfortable around him. It was like being in the presence of a general if you were in the Army. You wanted everything to be buttoned up and shined up, for fear of disappointing the commander.

Chaney was part of what TB would consider to be the most glorious era of Eastern college basketball, and it was driven by the coaches, men who were as much a part of the school's identity as anyone. There were men like Thompson at Georgetown and Rollie Massimino at Villanova and Lou Carnesecca at St. John's and Jim Boeheim (who's shockingly still there) at Syracuse. 

There were others too, at schools who weren't the Big East. People like Speedy Morris at La Salle, for instance.

Two men who were very much part of that were Chaney at Temple and Pete Carril at Princeton.

Interestingly, they never coached against each other. The 1982-83 season was Chaney's first at Temple, after coming over from Cheyney State. His last season was 2005-06.

Prior to that non-goaltending call night in Philly (Joe Scott was the Tiger coach that night), Princeton hadn't played Temple since the 1974-75 season, when Carril was at Princeton. Carril was 2-0 against Temple.

Chaney was 2-0 against Princeton, with the win in 2004 and then another one a year later, in his final season.

TB read a great deal about Chaney after his death from people who knew him a lot better than he did. Pretty much everyone agrees with TB's assessment.

This was a giant of a man, one who did so much for college basketball, for Philadelphia basketball, for opening up educational opportunities, for having such an incredible impact for the better on those who played for him. He was exactly what Princeton wants from its own coaches - he was a coach/teacher/leader/role model.

TB offers condolences to his family and to all of those who were close to him.

John Chaney was, as TB said, awesome.