Vol. LXII, No. 7
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)
CENTURY CLUB: Jon Solomon, the editor of the princetonbasketball.com website, holds court during a recent radio interview at Jadwin Gym. Solomon recently covered his 100th straight Princeton mens hoops Ivy contest for the website.
As a high school kid hanging around Princeton University mens basketball games at Jadwin Gym in the 1980s, Jon Solomon became intrigued with the so-called 14-Club.
That club didnt have anything to do with a Princeton player or some local post-game entertainment.
Instead, it referred to the duo of Steve Cohen and John Rounds who prided themselves on going to all 14 of Princetons Ivy League games season to season.
Solomon eventually headed to Chicago where he graduated from Northwestern University in 1995. Three years later, Solomon started the princetonbasketball.com website in an attempt to provide fans with the best on-line source of PU basketball news.
Returning to the Princeton area in 2000 to run the site within miles of Jadwin, Solomon procured a press pass. In February 2001, he covered Princetons Ivy League opener against Cornell.
Taking a page out of the 14-Club playbook, Solomon decided to cover every Princeton Ivy League contest that season. Finding that such a commitment both enhanced his website and made his weekends memorable, Solomon hasnt missed a Princeton Ivy League contest since that 2001 game.
While the Tigers struggled last weekend in losing to Cornell on Friday and then fell at Columbia a night later, Solomon added to his streak, making it up to 103 with the trip to Manhattan on Saturday night.
Although Solomon would have preferred to see the Tigers prevail, the outcome of the games has little effect on his weekend.
I walk out of the gym undefeated every night, said Solomon, 34, who is typically accompanied by his wife, Nicole, and his parents at Princeton games home and away.
Some weekends, the basketball is the least interesting part of the trip. The conversations we have or the places we eat are sometimes the best part of the weekend.
At first, Solomon had some doubts as to whether he could make it through one full Ivy campaign.
I decided Id try to go to all the games, said Solomon, whose first date with his wife took place at that Cornell game.
Once I did it, I realized it was doable. Its a bit arduous but no more arduous than a lot of things I do in my life.
Solomon acknowledges that the drama of that first season which saw John Thompson III take the helm unexpectedly and then lead the Tigers to an improbable Ivy title hooked him.
While one can run into some nasty winter weather traveling on the Atlantic seaboard on February and March, Solomon has been lucky in that regard.
I got stuck in a blizzard on the way back from Holy Cross (a non-league game) a few years ago, said Solomon, who also covers most of Princetons non-conference contests, having set a new travel standard when he covered the teams appearance in the EA Sports Maui Invitational last November.
In the 2006 trip to Harvard and Dartmouth, we got snowed in at Hanover. There was a good Mexican place nearby so that wasnt bad.
When Princeton hosted Dartmouth on February 1 that extended Solomons streak to 100 and prompted him to reflect on the undertaking.
It means that I have been doing what I do for a while, said Solomon, who also works as a management consultant for the WPRB radio station and is known for his marathon 24-hour Christmas Eve radio show which he has now done 20 straight years.
I believe I am pretty good at what I do, I like the idea of being a beat reporter, being a source of insight and a frame of reference. I like being this constant, Im better able to put things into context.
Solomons constant presence at Tiger games has helped his website provide far richer content on the PU basketball scene.
It has helped the website incredibly, said Solomon, who launched a companion site, Georgetown Basketball News, when Coach Thompson headed to D.C. and followed the Hoyas to the NCAA Final Four last March.
We have a couple of hundred subscribers now that it is membership-based. I provide audio of the post-game press conference. On the road, Im often the only member of the visiting media so people have come to rely on this service.
For Solomon, building relationships with people he has met on the road with the Tigers has been a major perk of his streak.
I also like getting to know the extended Princeton basketball family, from the guy who runs the buzzer at the home games to the coaches and the players, said Solomon, noting that another member of the Tiger basketball family, PU Athletic Communications Director, Jerry Price, once made it to 165 straight Princeton Ivy contests.
There are also professors associated with the program and Ive gotten to know them. I also enjoy meeting up with certain writers in other Ivy sites that I see once a year.
Solomon has enjoyed coming so far from the days when he looked up the 14-Club.
If you had told me when I was hanging out at Jadwin at age 14 that in 20 years Id be interviewing Bill Bradley and going to the Final Four and being the person people turned to in order to get information about the program, Id say you were kidding, said Solomon.
Its no joke to say that Solomons efforts have been a serious boon to the Princeton basketball fan.
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