Thursday, April 8, 2021

Recruiting The Class Of 1992

TigerBlog loves the new "Tiger Hero" series that has launched on and social media.

The series is showcasing different Princeton Athletics alums who have gone into careers in medicine. It is specifically focusing on how COVID has impacted them and their work.

The latest piece features Dan Slatalla, Class of 1992. Dr. Slatalla is an anesthesiologist at a hospital outside of Boston. 

Back in his college days, Slatalla was a member of the men's hockey team. He'd been drafted out of Deerfield, and he went on to have a successful career as a forward at Princeton. The highlight may have been a weekend his senior year when he scored the game-winning goal on consecutive nights in wins at RPI and Union.

TigerBlog found a great story in the Daily Princetonian archives from 1988 about various incoming recruits for a variety of sports, including Slatalla and the rest of the men's hockey Class of 1992. It focused on four sports - football, men's basketball, baseball and men's lacrosse.

Among the highlights of the story were the mention that players like Matt Eastwick, Chris Marquardt  and Jimmy Lane might make an immediate impact for Pete Carril, as would George Leftwich, who was listed as 6-3. Was Leftwich really 6-3? 

As you probably know, that class made more than a considerable impact for Carril. And that group doesn't include Sean Jackson, who would join the team a year later after playing at Ohio as a freshman.

Leftwich became one of TB's all-time favorite players. He played with a perfect poker face, and he kept the offense running flawlessly. He never tired, going 40 minutes most nights, and, most importantly, he almost never, ever turned the ball over. In the 1989 game against Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, in fact, Leftwich went 40 minutes and had one turnover.

The football recruits included Leon Newsome, Chris Theiss and Chad Roghair, among others. The best line about the football team referenced how someone in the group of recruits might replace the "steady" Bob Surace when he graduated.

The baseball story mentioned Sean Sullivan, who would become a three-time All-EIBL shortstop. The EIBL was the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League, which until 1992 featured the eight Ivy schools and Army and Navy. 

There was also Peter Noone, a great utility player who would also be an All-EIBL pick. It also mentioned Ted Remig, a first baseman/outfielder who was the younger brother of Brad Remig, the team's leading hitter who was another All-EIBL pick twice.

Would Ted Remig become a standout baseball player? His destiny instead was to become the manager of the men's basketball team, and become one of the larger personalities that TB has met (and another all-time favorite) in his time at Princeton. 

As for men's lacrosse, little did anyone know at the time, but that class was the famous class where Bill Tierney promised them that they'd win an NCAA championship before they graduated. This came from a coach who had gone 2-13 in his first year at Princeton, a team whose last winning record had been 15 years earlier.

So what happened? That class did in fact improve each year, going 6-8 in 1989 and then reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time a year later. After a triple-overtime loss in the quarterfinals in 1991, those Tigers did in fact fulfill the destiny that Tierney said was theirs, winning the NCAA title 10-9 in overtime against Syracuse on Memorial Day 1992.

The recruiting story referenced, for one, "John" Tortolani, whose given first name is "Paul" and who actually is known as "Justin." When he graduated he was the all-time leading goal scorer at Princeton with 120. Tortolani, like Slatalla, has gone on to become a doctor.

Others mentioned in the story included Greg Waller, Ed Calkins, David Gaines and Mike Manzo. It did not mention Mike Mariano, who would be a two-time All-American. Another "Tiger Hero" in that class was ER doctor Evan Garfein.

The Class of 1992 came to Princeton right around the time that TB started covering the Tigers full time. The names in that story are among the earliest group of athletes at Princeton whom TB met and wrote about.

Seeing that story certainly took him back. 

Those were great, great times.

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