January 20, 2021

JORDAN RULES: Jordan Fogarty heads up the ice during his career for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After graduating from Princeton last June, Fogarty headed to Europe to play pro hockey, joining Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division. Through his first 10 games with the club, forward Fogarty tallied 11 goals and eight assists. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University men’s hockey team saw its season halted last March by the pandemic after it had swept Dartmouth in an ECAC Hockey opening round playoff series, Jordan Fogarty was planning to move on from the sport.

“I was pretty well prepared to have that Dartmouth game be my final time lacing up the skates,” said forward Fogarty, who graduated from Princeton last June.

“I was applying to work in finance because I worked an internship over last summer.”

But after hitting the interview circuit, Fogarty decided that he wanted to get back on the ice and committed to play a post-graduate season at Long Island University while studying for an MBA.

With the specter of COVID-19 hanging over the college season, Fogarty checked out options to play pro hockey abroad and eventually signed with Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division.

“I got a really interesting offer in the summer to work as an internship with a Princeton hockey alum (Steve Shireffs ’99) at a credit management fund (Granite State Capital Management),” said Fogarty, an economics major who made the ECAC All-Academic Team three times. more

January 13, 2021

YOUNG LEADER: Chris Young fires a pitch in a 2005 game for the Texas Rangers. Young, a 2002 Princeton University alum who starred at basketball and baseball during his college career, was recently named as the executive vice president and general manager of the Rangers. After a 13-year playing career in the big leagues, Young had been working in the Major League Baseball front office for the last three years, most recently as senior vice president of on-field operations. (Photo provided by Texas Rangers)

By Justin Feil

One-tenth of the 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) general managers are Princeton University graduates after Chris Young was named the executive vice president and general manager of the Texas Rangers in early December.

The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year in baseball as well as basketball joined the ranks of Princeton alums turned general managers along with Mike Hazen (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Mike Chernoff (Cleveland Indians).

“I think it’s a tribute to one, the University, and two, Scott Bradley,” said Young, 41, a 2002 Princeton alum, referring to the longtime Tiger baseball head coach.

“What he has done over the years with his program, the influence that his players and thereby him have had on Major League Baseball is pretty significant. It really is a tribute to what a special person he is and I certainly would not be here without him.”

Young took a different path to his post than did Hazen and Chernoff, who headed into administration quickly after graduating from Princeton. The 6’10 right-hander Young spent 13 years in MLB before jumping right into the league’s front office for the last three years, most recently as senior vice president of on-field operations.  more

January 6, 2021

ACTION JACKSON: Jackson Cressey controls the puck in a game during his sophomore season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After completing his career by helping Princeton defeat Dartmouth in a first-round ECAC Hockey series last March before the rest of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cressey is looking to join the pro ranks. He signed with the Reading Royals of the ECHL but that deal fell through when its season was canceled due to COVID concerns. He is currently training in the Princeton area and looking to catch on with another pro organization. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jackson Cressey gained some valuable lessons in perseverance last winter during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

After Princeton started the campaign with a win and a tie at St. Cloud State, the Tigers went 1-11-3 in their next 15 games.

“It is tough to stay positive in a season like that, but we knew that we had a lot of talent on our team and it was just a matter of time,” said star forward Cressey, a 6’0, 180-pound native of West Vancouver, British Columbia.

Serving as an assistant captain for the squad, Cressey felt an extra responsibility to keep things positive.

“It was a huge honor to be an assistant captain at a prestigious school like Princeton,” said Cressey.

“Being a senior captain, I just tried to lead by example and hold everyone accountable. We had a lot of young guys with a lot of talent and we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page as much as possible.” more

December 30, 2020

MOMENT OF TRIUMPH: Princeton University wrestler Travis Stefanik celebrates after he topped Cornell’s Jonathan Loew 10-4 at 184 pounds to clinch victory in a 19-13 triumph by Princeton over the Big Red on February 9 at Jadwin Gym. The victory snapped Princeton’s 32-match losing streak to the Big Red and clinched the Tiger program’s first Ivy League title since 1986. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As 2020 headed into March, local sports teams were enjoying a memorable winter campaign.

Over at Princeton University, the wrestling team produced an historic breakthrough, edging Cornell 19-13 to snap a 32-match losing streak to the Big Red and earn the program’s first Ivy League title since 1986. The Tigers women’s hockey team made some history of its own, winning the program’s first-ever ECAC Hockey championship and posting a 26-6-1 record. At Jadwin Gym, Carla Berube made a stunning debut as the head coach of the Tiger women’s basketball program, guiding Princeton to a 26-1 overall record and a 14-0 Ivy campaign with the squad rising to No. 17 in national polls.

On the high school scene, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team produced a comeback for the ages in the Mercer County Tournament final. Trailing six-time defending champion Hun 5-0 in the second period, PHS rallied to pull out a dramatic 7-5 win and earn the program’s first county crown since 2011. The Stuart Country Day School hoops team emerged as one of the best squads in New Jersey, winning its third straight state Prep B title and advancing to the MCT final for the first time in program history on the way to posting a 21-7 record. Featuring a gritty group of battle-tested veterans, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team went on the road and defeated Doane Academy 64-50 in the state Prep B final.

But then storm clouds rolled in on the horizon as the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading worldwide, putting the health of millions in jeopardy. The Ivy League sensed the danger before others, canceling its men’s and women’s basketball postseason tournaments on March 10. A day later, after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz of the NBA tested positive for the coronavirus, the sports world came to a halt across the globe. Within days, the NCAA canceled the winter and spring seasons with students across the country being sent home to shelter in place. The pro hockey and basketball leagues put their seasons on hold while Major League Baseball postponed opening day indefinitely. The New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) canceled the rest of the winter season right away and later pulled the plug on spring sports as well.

Stuck at home, college and high school athletes kept in contact with their teammates and coaches on their computers via the Zoom calls that became a way of life. Players devised creative ways of working out and maintaining team bonds as they waited to get back into action.

With masking up, social distancing, and frequent hand washing becoming daily staples, sports gingerly started to stick its toe back in the water observing those safety protocols. In New Jersey, a “Last Dance” high school baseball tournament was held in July to give the players, particularly graduating seniors, a final taste of diamond action.

On the pro level, leagues gradually returned to action with the NBA, NHL, and WNBA operating in so-called “bubbles” with athletes located at one site, getting frequently tested for COVID-19 and living under strict protocols. Big league baseball played a sharply limited schedule which went from late July to October with 60 games as opposed to the usual 162. Once the fall rolled around, the NFL and major college football did resume action on the gridiron. But with the pandemic still raging, there were a number of pauses, postponements, and cancellations, particularly at the college level.

Once again, the Ivy League, ever mindful of athletes’ safety, canceled its fall competition. In November, the league pulled the plug on its winter sports as well. more

December 23, 2020

WILL TO LEAD: Will Venable shows his focus during his career for the Princeton University baseball team. Venable, a 2005 Princeton alum who starred at both baseball and basketball during his college days, went on to enjoy a nine-year career in Major League Baseball. Staying in the game, Venable served as coach for the Chicago Cubs the last three seasons and was recently named as the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Will Venable interviewed for the Boston Red Sox manager job in late October barely one week before he celebrated his 38th birthday.

The 2005 Princeton University graduate was one of the nine top candidates for the spot that the Red Sox gave to Alex Cora on November 6. Cora added Venable as Boston bench coach on November 20 after three seasons coaching with the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s just an awesome opportunity,” said Venable. “I’m really excited. To be able to go from the Chicago Cubs with the history of that organization and the people I got to work with and learn from and the relationships I’ve built, to then go move to another amazing city with a franchise with an unbelievable history and another group of great people that I can learn from, I’m really excited. And the change in role and having more responsibility and another way to impact a club is all very exciting.”

Venable, who played basketball and baseball at Princeton, has been surprised by how quickly he has risen in the coaching ranks. After finishing his nine-year major league playing career – most of it with the San Diego Padres and then stints with the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers – he jumped into the other side of the game as special assistant to the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. He moved to first base coach the following year and last season moved over to third base coach for the Cubs, for whom he also interviewed for the managerial job.

“This whole thing, to be honest, is insane to me,” said Venable. “I grew up with my dad (former Major Leaguer Max Venable) playing and he coached right away after his playing career. I watched him coach for 20-plus years in the minor leagues and never get an opportunity and less than a year removed from my playing career I had a big-league job.” more

December 16, 2020

SHINING KNIGHT: Sean Gleeson fields questions at the Princeton University football media day in 2018 in his role as the offensive coordinator for the Tigers. Gleeson, who went on to serve as the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma State in 2019, has returned to New Jersey this fall to run the offense for the Rutgers University football team. With Gleeson employing his fast-paced attack, Rutgers is enjoying a revival. Coming off a 2019 season that saw the Scarlet Knights to 2-10 overall and 0-9 in Big Ten play, Rutgers is turning heads this fall with its potent offense. Playing only Big 10 games in 2020, the Scarlet Knights are 3-5 and averaging 27.4 points a game. Gleeson, for his part, has been nominated for the Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Bob Surace sought to become the head coach of the Princeton University football team a decade ago, he aspired to do more than just get the Tigers back on the winning track.

Surace, a 1990 Princeton alum and former star offensive lineman in his college days, looked to follow the example of legendary Tiger men’s basketball coach Pete Carril.

“I admire Pete Carril as much as anybody in my time at Princeton as a student, as an alum, as a coach,” said Surace, who took over the Tiger program starting with the 2010 season.

“You look at Pete Carril’s tree and how many branches it has as other people have had success and done well. When you think of Pete Carril you think of the sweater and the cigar but you also think of the Princeton offense. I remember in my interview I was asked about scheme and I talked about offense. I wanted to do something with a creative staff that was going to be known as the Princeton offense, doing it at a high speed with a beautiful system and all of those things.”

Installing an innovative no-huddle, hurry-up offense, Surace has guided the Princeton program to Ivy League titles in 2013, 2016, and 2018, setting a slew of program and league offensive records in the process, including an Ivy best of 470 points in going 10-0 in 2018. more

ON POINT: Marcus Schroeder makes a point during a game earlier his month is his role as the associate head coach of the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball program. Schroeder, a 2010 Princeton University alum and former star point guard for the Tigers, is in his 10th season at Saint Mary’s, having climbed up the ranks from graduate assistant to director of basketball operations, to assistant coach to his current position. (Photo by Tod Fierner, Saint Mary’s Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Marcus Schroeder was a high school senior committed to playing for the Princeton University men’s basketball team when he got asked what he’d be doing in 15 years.

“Coaching college basketball,” answered Schroeder.

That was during the 2005-06 school year, and now 15 years later Schroeder has become one of the most highly respected young college coaches in the country. After a year away from the game following his 2010 graduation from Princeton, he returned close to home to join Saint Mary’s College, where this year he was elevated to associate head coach.

“In my head, I had it going a little bit in high school,” said Schroeder.  more

December 9, 2020

MAKING HIS MARK: Richmond Aririguzoh, right, battles in the paint against a Columbia defender last March during his senior season for the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Two-time All-Ivy League center Aririguzoh recently started his pro hoops career, playing for Horsens IC in Denmark’s top league. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Richmond Aririguzoh was happy to give up working as a COVID-19 contact tracer to begin his professional basketball career in Denmark.

“You have people that don’t want to talk,” said Aririguzoh, a former men’s hoops standout for Princeton University who graduated in June.

“They don’t want to let people know that they’re positive, they want to keep doing what they’re doing and go to work. A lot of it was getting to me. I have a lot of respect for people doing contact tracing. I’m glad I did it that long, but I think it was time for me to make my exit.”

Aririguzoh hadn’t played a game since his collegiate career and the Tiger men’s season abruptly ended in mid-March before the start of the Ivy League tournament.

After finishing the brunt of his ecology and evolutionary biology major work, Aririguzoh began taking the steps to further his playing career. He worked out, he hired an agent – the agent of another Princeton graduate Judson Wallace ’05 – and he relied on his new agent to contact prospective teams. After flirting with several opportunities, he settled on Horsens IC in Denmark’s top league.

“I was growing restless,” said Aririguzoh, who averaged 12.0 points and 7.4 rebounds a game in his senior season, helping the Tigers go 14-13 overall and 9-5, earning a spot in the league postseason tourney. more

December 2, 2020

TAKING OFF: Claire Donovan gets ready to hit the ball in a 2019 game during her sophomore season for the Princeton University field hockey team. Deciding to take the year off from school and defer her junior year at Princeton, Donovan has served as an assistant coach for the Princeton Day School field hockey team and taken on a side gig as a delivery driver for DoorDash. (Photo provided by Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

This fall, Claire Donovan got an early taste of life outside the Princeton University bubble and the family feeling surrounding the Tiger field hockey program.

Deciding to take the year off from school and defer her junior year at Princeton, Donovan, a back/midfielder for the Tigers, has served as an assistant coach for the Princeton Day School field hockey team and taken on a side gig as a delivery driver for DoorDash.

“In the beginning it was difficult, I was not ready to be thrown into the real world,” said Donovan, one of six Tiger field hockey players who decided to not enroll in school for the 2020-21 session.

“I am definitely learning a lot of lessons, it is a good little tease into the real world.”

Donavan’s decision to delay her junior year at Princeton came down to academics as much as athletics.

“Towards the end of the summer, we started realizing that field hockey wasn’t looking too good,” said Donovan.

“The spring online classes were not great, I was not a fan of them. Once I realized that we might be having Zoom classes again in the fall, my family thought that it might not be worth it to pay tuition to do online classes. That played a large part in my decision.” more

RAISING ARIZONA: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh, right, battles in the paint against Lafayette in a 72-65 loss to the Leopards on November 13, 2019. Two weeks later, Aririguzoh grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds as the Tigers fell 67-65 to Arizona State. While the defeat left the Tigers at 0-5, they built on their performance that night to go 10-4 in their next 14 games on the way to a 14-13 campaign and a spot in the Ivy League postseason tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Remy Martin is a fine French cognac, known worldwide for its smoothness.

But two nights before last Thanksgiving, another Remy Martin, the star guard for the Arizona State University men’s basketball team, produced a vintage performance at Jadwin Gym as the Sun Devils battled Princeton.

The 6’0, 175-pound Martin put on a dazzling display in the November 26 contest, electrifying a Jadwin throng of 2,727 that included Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr., the father of Bobby Hurley, the ASU head coach.

Slashing to the basket, draining pull-up jumpers, and hitting from long distance, Martin poured in 33 points, including a 23-point outburst in the second half.

Despite Martin’s heroics, Princeton, which brought a 0-4 record into the evening, was undeterred. With senior center Richmond Aririguzoh dominating in the paint with 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, the Tigers overcame a 46-39 second half deficit to lead 60-54 with 6:19 remaining in regulation. more

November 25, 2020

LENDING A HAND: Princeton University wrestler Lenny Merkin greets Sebby the Sloth, a mascot that he created, in the Utah Salt Flats. Bringing Sebby along for the ride, senior Merkin placed third at the U.S. Senior Nationals in the 67 kilogram (148-pounds) Greco-Roman competition in October. Earlier this month, he made the semifinals in the 67 kg Greco-Roman class at the UWW(United World Wrestling) U23 and Junior Nationals. (Photo provided by Lenny Merkin)

By Justin Feil

When Lenny Merkin headed to Coralville, Iowa, for the wrestling U.S. Senior Nationals last month, he took with him Sebby the Sloth, a mascot that the Princeton University senior created.

“It’s this stuffed animal I carry around to training and tournaments and it ended up taking off internationally,” said Merkin, who maintains Instagram and Twitter accounts for Sebby.

“It blew up and now it’s turning into a side project where I’m trying to use it to grow wrestling and spread the word. I’ve been able to lean on that since I do most of my travels solo. I’ve been able to have this stuffed animal to lean on if I don’t have anyone else.”

Merkin is the rare Princeton wrestler who favors the Greco-Roman style over the college format of folkstyle. In Greco-Roman, one can only do takedowns by attacking an opponent’s upper body with leg attacks being prohibited. In both folkstyle and freestyle, a wrestler can do takedowns by either shooting or throwing.

“Since I got into Princeton, I told the coaches that my goal is to be an asset to the team, but when I have the chance to compete in Greco-Roman, I want to do so and I want to be able to have an opportunity to have an Olympic team, something you can’t do with folkstyle unfortunately,” said Merkin, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was a four-time New York prep states champion at Poly Prep. more

November 18, 2020

LOST WINTER: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh goes up for a lay-up in a 2019 game against Penn before a throng at Jadwin Gym. There won’t be any crowds at Jadwin this season as the Ivy League Council of Presidents said last Thursday that they have canceled winter sports for league schools during the 2020-21 season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Normally by mid-November, fans would have already been flocking to Jadwin Gym and Hobey Baker Rink to take in Princeton University basketball and hockey games.

As of last November 17th, there had been three hoops games played at Jadwin and five hockey games at Baker in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign.

But these aren’t normal times, and last Thursday the Ivy League Council of Presidents canceled winter sports for league schools during the 2020-21 campaign, thereby leaving Jadwin and Baker empty this season along with Dillon Gym, DeNunzio Pool, the Stan Sieja Fencing Room, and the Jadwin Squash Courts, among other venues.

In addition, the presidents announced that the league will not conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester. Lastly, competition for spring sports is postponed through at least the end of February 2021.

In reaching the decision, which was unanimous, the presidents said that “regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics
competition in a safe manner.”

While Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson was disappointed when he learned of the decision, it didn’t come as a surprise. more

November 11, 2020

EYEING THE OLYMPICS: Princeton University wrestling star Matt Kolodzik sizes up a Rutgers foe during a 2016 bout. Kolodzik, who completed his Princeton career this past winter by helping the Tigers win their first Ivy League title since 1986, was later named as a co-recipient, along with lacrosse superstar Michael Sowers, of the Roper Award, given to the top senior male athlete at the school. Kolodzik is turning his focus to making the U.S. team for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Last month, Kolodzik finished sixth in the 65-kilogram (143-pound) freestyle competition at the U.S. Senior Nationals in Iowa. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As 2020 approached, Matt Kolodzik was focusing on making the U.S. wrestling squad for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The Princeton University star had deferred his senior season with the Tigers to train with the NJRTC, a shared Regional Training Center between Rutgers and Princeton wrestling with the end goal to produce Olympians.

But with Princeton 149-pounder Matt D’Angelo getting injured and winning an NCAA individual title as another path to the Olympic Trials, Kolodzik returned to the mat for the Tigers and helped the program make history.

After winning by a technical fall over Andrew Garr of Columbia in his 2020 debut on February 8, Kolodzik came back the next day to defeat Hunter Richard 4-2 as Princeton edged Cornell 19-13 to end a 32-match losing streak to the Big Red and clinch the program’s first Ivy League title since 1986.

“Being on the bench with the team, there is nothing like it,” said Kolodzik, reflecting on the triumph over Cornell. more

November 4, 2020

LIGHTNING STRIKE: Jeff Halpern holds the Stanley Cup after helping to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning to the title last month as the team topped the Dallas Stars in the finals. Former Princeton University men’s hockey star Halpern ’99 started coaching in the Tampa Bay organization after a 14-year playing career in the NHL. He was promoted to the Lightning as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season. (Photo provided by Jeff Halpern)

By Bill Alden

During his career with the Princeton University men’s hockey team in the late 1990s, Jeff Halpern got to lift a championship trophy.

High-scoring forward Halpern ’99 helped Princeton win the ECAC Hockey Championship in 1998 as the Tigers posted a 5-4 win over Clarkson in double overtime in the final at Lake Placid, N.Y.

After concluding his Tiger career a year later, Halpern went on to enjoy a 14-year run in the NHL but never experienced a championship campaign.

Turning to coaching, Halpern joined the Tampa Bay organization and was promoted to the Lightning as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

Last month, Halpern got to grasp the ultimate trophy in hockey, the Stanley Cup, after helping to guide Tampa Bay to the title as the Lightning defeated the Stars in the finals in six games in a series held in the NHL bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

For Halpern, getting to experience that moment is something he will never forget.

“I had a chance to lift it up,” said Halpern. “I have told people you have watched a movie your whole life like The Godfather and, all of a sudden, you are in the movie with the actors and with the scenery. It is a very surreal feeling to think of yourself in that moment.”

Halpern’s time at Princeton was a key stop on his path to that Hollywood ending.

“The biggest thing is the friendships I made with teammates; we spent a lot of time at the rink at practice and games,” said Halpern, a 6’0, 200-pound native of Potomac, Md. who tallied 142 points on 60 goals and 82 assists in his Tiger career and is the fifth-leading scorer in program history.

“One of the biggest things for my development was that we graduated eight or nine seniors after my freshman year, so going into my sophomore year I had the chance to play in almost every situation and play a lot of minutes. That was a really good chance to not just play at a high level in college but to get a big role.” more

October 28, 2020

DREAM JOB: Blake Dietrick puts up a shot in a 2015 game during her senior season with the Princeton University women’s basketball team. Signing with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA, point guard Dietrick emerged as a key reserve for the squad as it played in a pandemic-shortened 22-game season that was held in a bubble in Bradenton, Fla. She had career highs with 5.9 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. Showing her outside shooting prowess, Dietrick finished eighth in the league in three-point shooting at 44.8 percent from beyond the arc, setting a franchise record for three-point shooting percentage. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Blake Dietrick has few chances to attend the Princeton University women’s basketball games.

The former Tiger point guard made one last year, and it may have launched a breakout year in the WNBA.

Dietrick flew to Boston on her break from Lointek Gernika Bizkaia in Spain and went directly to see Princeton play at Harvard. She texted Nicki Collen, the head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, on the way to the game and when she arrived Collen was already there to scout Princeton senior Bella Alarie among others.

“It almost felt like a sign,” said Dietrick, a 2015 Princeton graduate who ended her Tiger career fourth in three-pointers made (210), fourth in three-point shooting percentage (.395), fourth in assists (346), and 12th in scoring (1,233 points).

“I sent that message and the next minute she’s there, and we’re talking and hanging out and catching up. She’s an incredible person as well. I wanted to hear about her family and her girls play lacrosse and about things that matter to me. It all really aligned perfectly.”

While Dietrick didn’t try to oversell herself, she did make it known that she wanted to return to Atlanta, where she played sparingly for Collen in 2018. When the WNBA had to adjust its plans for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Atlanta lost two of its guards Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes, the Dream reached out to bring in Dietrick.

“Seattle did offer me a spot at training camp,” said Dietrick. “I turned it down because I didn’t think there was a place on their roster.”

Signing with Atlanta, the 5’10 Dietrick went on to enjoy her finest of four seasons in the WNBA. In their pandemic shortened 22-game season, she played more minutes than ever – triple her highest previous average, even started four games, and she finished eighth in the league in three-point shooting at 44.8 percent from beyond the arc, setting a franchise record for three-point shooting percentage. She had career highs with 5.9 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. Dietrick explained that the improvements came with the new chances. more

October 21, 2020

MISSING THE GAME: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace shows his game face during the 2018 campaign. With the Ivy League having canceled the 2020 fall sports season due to COVID-19 concerns, Surace is dealing without having football for the first time in his memory. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bob Surace struggled to keep his emotions in check this July as he spoke virtually to members of the Princeton University football program in the wake of the Ivy League announcing it was canceling the 2020 fall sports season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“When we found out that we weren’t playing, I got on a call with the parents, players, and coaches and I started breaking up, I was in tears,” said Princeton head coach Surace ’90, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the program.

“My dad was a coach. I haven’t had a fall without football since I can literally remember. I have been on a sideline with my dad. I have been a player. I have been a coach. You are talking almost 50 years.”

In dealing with the crazy year that is 2020, Surace has developed a daily routine to keep him on track.

“I try to keep a really strict schedule,” said Surace. “I think it takes time to figure that out but literally, starting in May or so, I got into that routine. We are only allowed eight hours in the office during the week but almost everything I am doing, I can do from home.” more

TOUGH TO BEAR: Ian Franzoni sprints upfield in 2019 action during his senior season with the Hun School football team. Star running back Franzoni rushed for 1,178 yards and 12 touchdowns and made 12 receptions for 322 yards and four touchdowns in his final campaign for the Raiders. He committed to attend Brown University and play for its football program. With COVID-19 concerns leading the Ivy League to cancel its fall sports schedule, Franzoni is waiting to make his debut for the Bears. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Under normal circumstances, Ian Franzoni would have been looking forward to enjoying a homecoming last Saturday as the Brown University football team had been slated to play at Princeton.

But with COVID-19 concerns leading the Ivy League to cancel its 2020 fall sports schedule, former Hun School star running back and Brown freshman football commit Franzoni never left home in Robbinsville.

While Franzoni may have to wait a while to play for Brown, deciding to attend the school and join its football program didn’t take long.

“The schools that I were big on were the service academies; I had cousins who played at Navy so I was big on them,” said Franzoni, noting that Brown freshmen are currently scheduled to arrive on campus in January. more

October 14, 2020

GOING PRO: Jose Morales goes in for a layup against Columbia on March 6 in his senior season for the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Point guard Morales, a former Hun School standout who scored 261 points in his career with Princeton, is heading to play in the Spanish pro league for Agrupacion Deportiva (AD) Cantbasket 04 in Santander, Cantabria. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Jose Morales won’t be needing more leg room on his flight to Spain this month.

Few fellow passengers would guess that the 5’9, 170-pound Princeton University graduate is heading there to start his professional basketball career, but he is following his heart.

“That’s one thing I’ve wanted to do basically my whole life,” said Morales, a former Hun School standout who scored 261 points in his career with the Princeton men’s hoops program.

“You grow up and everybody has a dream, everybody has certain jobs they want. For me, it was always being a pro basketball player. So to finally be able to do that was super exciting.”

Last month, Morales signed a deal with Agrupacion Deportiva (AD) Cantbasket 04. The team plays out of Santander, Cantabria, in Spain. They play in the Liga Espanola de Baloncesto Aficionado (EBA), which is scheduled to begin in October and runs through May.  more

October 7, 2020

ON PACE: Eric Robinson, left, battles a foe in action for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. Former Princeton University men’s hockey star Robinson ’18 tallied seven goals and five assists on 50 regular season games and then added a goal in postseason play as the Blue Jackets topped the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 3-2 in a best-of-five Qualifying Round Series and then lost 4-1 to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in an Eastern Conference First Round Series. (Photo provided courtesy of Columbus Blue Jackets)

By Justin Feil

Eric Robinson has gone back to training as he prepares for his third full season of NHL action.

The 2018 Princeton University graduate enters the next few months build-up to training camp with a bigger sense of confidence following an encouraging, albeit unusual, 2019-20 campaign.

“It’s so big in sports and hockey,” said Robinson. “You can feel and it and see it when you’re not confident and you’re playing tight and you’re thinking when you get the puck rather than just playing and reacting. It’s everything. Relaxing a bit and realizing I have a few games under my belt and I belong and can relax and just play. It’s huge for your game. That’s the biggest takeaway going into next year that I can be a little more relaxed and focus on just playing.”

Robinson signed a two-year deal in 2018 with the Columbus Blue Jackets at the close of his senior season with Princeton. He played a game in the 2017-18 season weeks after the end of his college career, then appeared in 13 games in 2018-19 before playing 50 games this season plus his first playoffs.

“It’s something you dream of – first to play in the NHL, and then growing up watching hockey and playing hockey, you know how intense the NHL playoffs are,” said Robinson, a 6’2, 201-pound native of Bellmawr, N.J.

“It was really cool to be a part of it. We wanted to go further and that’s the goal for the future and years to come, to go further and keep experiencing more. It’s a different intensity and every mistake can be costly and every play, you have to be dialed in at a different level.”

Robinson’s speed stands out when he plays, and the Blue Jackets see it as a valuable tool that will only get more dangerous as his shooting and puck-handling develop. He scored his first career playoff goal in the third period of Game 3 in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Eastern Conference First Round Series. After winning their best-of-five Qualifying Round series over Toronto in five games, Columbus ended up falling 4-1 to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning in the best-of-seven series, the team that they knocked out with a first-round upset a year ago. more

September 30, 2020

STRAIGHT ARROW: Tom Schreiber prepares to unload the ball in action for the Archers Lacrosse Club of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). Former Princeton University men’s lacrosse star midfielder Schreiber ’14 helped the Archers LC reach the semis of the PLL Championship series this summer. Tallying 16 points on 12 goals and four assists in the competition, Schreiber was named as Gait Brothers Award as the league’s top midfielder. He also contributes to the PLL off the field, working as an analyst for the league. (Photo provided courtesy of the PLL)

By Bill Alden

Tom Schreiber has made a big impact on and off the field in helping the fledgling Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) get off the ground.

As the PLL started in 2019 with 14-week tour-based schedule taking place in 12 major-market cities, former Princeton University star midfielder Schreiber ’14 started working as an analyst for the league, focusing on player relations. On the field, Schreiber sparked the offense for the Archers Lacrosse Club squad, tallying 39 points on 15 one-point goals, a pair of two-point goals, and 20 assists.

This summer, Schreiber and the PLL thrived through the COVID-19 pandemic as the league conducted its season in a bubble, holding in a PLL Championship Series in Herriman, Utah, from July 25-August 9.

“We were there for three weeks, which is a long time,” said Schreiber, a 5’11, 205-pound native of East Meadow, N.Y.

“On the back of a pandemic where you are really not socializing with anyone and for us, part of the pre-travel process for COVID was that you had to self-quarantine for 14 days. I know that everybody took that pretty seriously so we were just starving for some social interaction. It was actually fun.”

The Archers LC players had fun out in Utah, reconnecting with each other and welcoming some fresh faces to the squad. more

September 23, 2020

FAMILY BUSINESS: Jake Boone takes a big cut in a 2019 game during his sophomore season for the Princeton University baseball team. Foregoing his senior season for Princeton, star shortstop Boone recently signed a contract with the Washington Nationals to join the pro ranks. Over his Tiger career, Boone played in 72 games in two-plus seasons, hitting .250 with 71 hits, 31 runs, and 24 RBIs. Boone is adding the latest chapter to his family’s illustrious pro baseball history, whose line of Major League players includes his father (Bret), uncle (Aaron), grandfather (Bob), and great-grandfather (Ray). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Jake Boone had every intention of returning for his senior season with the Princeton University baseball team in 2020-21 before turning professional.

Instead, he accelerated the process to fulfilling his lifelong dream when he signed with the Washington Nationals in August.

“Obviously it’s something I’ve worked for my whole life,” said Boone, reflecting on joining the National League franchise.

“To have a club give me an opportunity like the Nationals, I couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait to start working and start continuing toward my dream. This is just another step. I’m excited.”

Boone is continuing to take classes that began August 31. It’s looking unlikely that any minor league baseball will take place before next spring, and Boone is training for that chance and hoping to stay on academic track with Princeton’s virtual classes. Past Tiger players who left early would finish their degrees in two fall semesters after missing a spring semester.

“If it was in-person, that’s probably how I would have done it – fall semester, fall semester – that’s the typical route,” said Boone.  more

September 16, 2020

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Grace Barbara boots the ball upfield in a game last fall during her sophomore season for the Princeton University women’s soccer team. After assuming a reserve role in her first two years for the Tigers, former Princeton Day School standout Barbara was poised to battle for a starting spot this fall. But with the Ivy League canceling the 2020 fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara is going to have wait a little longer for her shot to be a starter. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Grace Barbara is learning a lot about patience during her career with the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

After playing just about every minute during her three seasons for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team as a star goalie, Barbara played in just two games for a half each in her first college season in 2018 and then got into two contests last fall, playing a full game in one appearance and a half in the other.

With star goalie Natalie Grossi, the Ivy League career leader in shutouts, having graduated this past June, Barbara was poised to battle for the starting role as a junior.

But with the Ivy League canceling the 2020 fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara is going to have wait a little longer for her shot to take charge in goal.

“Obviously I was very disappointed, but I completely understand that the University believes that is best and the Ivy League does as a collective group,” said Barbara, an ecology and evolutionary biology major who is hoping to go to medical school and took a class on pandemics this spring. more

September 9, 2020

ICE BREAKER: Sarah Filler controls the puck in a game this past winter during her sophomore season with the Princeton University women’s hockey team. Having accumulated 114 points on 44 goals and 70 assists in her first two seasons with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, star forward Fillier is more than halfway to breaking the Princeton career assists (122) and points (218) records held by Katherine J. Issel ’95. This summer, Fillier was named to train with Team Canada through its National Women’s Development Camp, which is being held virtually. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sarah Fillier just turned 20 this past June, but she is already on track to achieving a pair of ambitious goals in her ice hockey career.

Having accumulated 114 points on 44 goals and 70 assists in her first two seasons with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, star forward Fillier is more than halfway to breaking the Princeton career assists (122) and points (218) records held by Katherine J. Issel ’95.

“I always plan to have a better season that the last one,” said the 5’4 Fillier, a native of Georgetown, Ontario who tallied 22 goals and 35 assists in each of her campaigns with the Tigers.

“I think the type of player that I am, you take points into that consideration and with that in mind, it would be great to be able to break records and set records.”

While Fillier didn’t increase her point total in her second season, she felt was a better player with a year of college experience under her belt.

“As a sophomore, I definitely had more confidence in the league for sure,” said Fillier, whose honors this winter included making American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) second-team All-America, first-team All-ECAC Hockey, first-team All-Ivy League and second-team All-USCHO.

“I had been playing with Maggie [Connors] and Carly [Bullock] for a year and knowing how to handle school.” more

September 2, 2020

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: Maggie Connors fires the puck up the ice this past winter during her sophomore season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team. Star forward Connors tallied 22 goals and 25 assists in 2019-20 to help Princeton go 26-6-1 and win the program’s first-ever ECAC Hockey title. This summer, Connors is training with Team Canada through its National Women’s Development Camp, which is being held virtually throughout the summer. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Maggie Connors will never forget the final game of her sophomore season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

Star forward Connors contributed an assist as Princeton rallied from a 2-0 deficit to stun top-ranked Cornell 3-2 in overtime on March 8, earning the program’s first-ever ECAC Hockey title in the process.

“That game was probably my favorite game that I have played for Princeton so far,” said Connors, a 5’6 native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador in Canada.

“It was incredible, I look back and we just fed off the energy in that building. We were so focused and so competitive. We were working so hard and we just had so much fun at the same time because we had never been there. There were no strings attached because we hadn’t even been to the ECAC final before. We had literally nothing to lose, it was definitely a thriller of a game.” more

August 26, 2020

PREMIER ATTRACTION: Ryan Ambler looks for an opening in action for the Archers of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). Former Princeton University men’s lax standout Ambler ’16 starred for the Archers as they advanced to the semifinals of the recently held PLL Championship Series. Midfielder Ambler ended up with nine points on four goals and five assists in the PLL competition. (Photo provided courtesy of PLL)

By Justin Feil

Ryan Ambler aims to make the most of his chances.

The 2016 Princeton University graduate had not made a shot as the Archers LC went into overtime against the Chrome LC in their Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Championship Series group game July 30.

“I was in somewhat of a shooting slump,” said Ambler, a 6’2, 190-pound native of Abington, Pa., who tallied 168 points in his Princeton career on 76 goals and 92 assists.

“The ball just wouldn’t go in. It was our third game. That night I’d hit the pipe, I’d hit the goalie three or four times. In my head, I was hoping just one of these falls. You kind of get in that rhythm where you wonder, when is this ball going to drop? It all happened so quickly. I have to give credit to guys like Tom Schreiber, another Princeton guy, and Grant Ament. They’re fantastic passers.” more