Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Jeff Ingold Story

Remember last week when TigerBlog said he was working on a feature story for this week?

Well, HERE is the story. If you're a fan of the show "Ted Lasso," then you'll enjoy this. If you're not a fan, then first go out and watch the show and then read the story.

It was former men's lacrosse player Tom Barnds who told TigerBlog that his four-year roommate at Princeton was the Emmy Award-winning executive producer of the comedy, which airs on AppleTV. This was after TB wrote last week how much he loves the show.

Barnds' roommate for all four years at Princeton was Jeff Ingold, the captain of the 1990 men's squash team, as well as a member of the 1989 Ivy League championship team. TB connected with Ingold through Barnds, who has two sons on the current men's lacrosse team. Ingold gave TB the background on how an idea becomes a TV show, and a hit show at that.

Ingold also talked about how he and Barnds actually grew up together in Birmingham, Mich., even turning a double play in Little League when they were eight years old. Ingold has been in California since graduation, going first for the warm weather but quickly getting into the entertainment business.

He worked his way up to become the Head of Comedy at NBC, which is a big deal in television. The list of shows that he has worked on includes: “Will & Grace,” “The Office,” “Community,” “Scrubs,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock. It was a fascinating to hear about how it all comes together.  

It was even more fascinating to listen to Barnds talk about how his friend would watch Thursday night comedies when they were at Princeton with a very discerning and analytical eye, focusing on what worked and didn't work. It was then that Barnds realized that Ingold was headed to a career in entertainment.

TB's favorite part, though, was when Ingold talked about his Princeton experience, including how much he enjoyed playing for Bob Callahan, the longtime men's squash coach who passed away in 2015 from brain cancer at the age of 59.

Talking about Callahan is always emotional for TigerBlog, who knew him for a long time and who absolutely loved him. Having one of his former players talk about him was very special indeed.

It's hard to explain Bob Callahan in 2021 terms. Maybe he was just a bit old-fashioned, a coach who embodied a word that these days isn't used too much anymore: sportsmanship. 

How to best describe him? He was just a really sweet man, a great family man, a legendary squash coach and just a wonderful person to be around. He was caring and empathetic, and universally well-loved.

Ingold and Callahan have a few common traits, beginning with humility. Callahan would never in a million years have said anything boastful about his success, instead giving all of the credit to his players. It would never have entered his mind. He also handled losing with incredible grace.

For his part, Ingold repeatedly insisted that he deserves little credit for the success of "Ted Lasso." Instead, he is adamant that the show is driven by Jason Sudeikis, who plays the title character, and by Bill Lawrence, Ingold's partner in their production company.

Another commonality between player and coach is that their senses of humor would best be described as "dry." Callahan had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. Ingold's sense of humor apparently is the same.

How does TB know that? He was told first by Barnds, and that was confirmed by Brett Goldstein. If you watch the show, you know who Goldstein is. He plays Roy Kent, and for those who know who Roy Kent is, TB needs to say nothing else.

It was great to talk to Ingold and get to know him a bit, especially since TB can't wait for the start of Season 3 of the show. And it was also great to talk a little about Bob Callahan. 

Also like his coach, Ingold comes across as simply a good guy. 

Maybe that's the best thing that can be said about them both.

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