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

August 19, 2020

EXECUTIVE DECISION: Craig Robinson speaking at the “Thrive: Empowering and Celebrating Princeton’s Black Alumni” conference last fall on campus. Robinson, a former Princeton men’s hoops standout, college coach, and NBA executive, was recently named as the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). (Photo by Denise J. Applewhite, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Having seen many sides of basketball over the last 40 years, Craig Robinson is getting a new view of the game as he was named the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) last month.

Robinson was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year for the Princeton University men’s hoops program in the early ’80s, an assistant college hoops coach at Northwestern from 2000-2006, and a head coach at Brown and Oregon State from 2006-14. Since leaving coaching, he has been a college basketball analyst for ESPN, a front office executive with the Milwaukee Bucks and then the New York Knicks, as well as general manager of the Knick’s G League Westchester Knicks.

“It’s really the first time I’ve been able to bring all of my experiences to bear on one particular job,” said Robinson, 58, who worked as a bond trader, investment banker, and executive in the corporate world after graduating from Princeton before making the move into college coaching. more

August 12, 2020

SEEING RED: Doug Davis shouts out instructions in a 2019 game during his tenure as the head coach of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team. Davis, a former Princeton University men’s hoops star who guided PDS to its first state Prep B title this past winter, is heading down Route 206 to take the helm of the Lawrenceville School boys’ hoops program. He will be succeeding longtime Big Red coach Ron Kane. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Doug Davis knows something about winning titles.

During his career with The Hun School boys’ basketball program, sharpshooting guard Davis helped the Raiders win state Prep A and Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships in 2007.

Going across town to Princeton for college, Davis started from day one with the Tigers and provided one of the greatest highlights in program history, draining a buzzer-beater to beat Harvard an Ivy League championship playoff game in 2011 during his junior season.

Getting into coaching, Davis started at the Berkshire School (Mass.) and then returned to the area to take the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program in 2018 and guided the Panthers to the state Prep B title this past winter.

Now, Davis is bringing his championship touch down Route 206 as he recently became the new head coach of the Lawrenceville School boys’ hoops program, succeeding longtime coach Ron Kane.

“I want to be at the top of this league again, that is definitely going to require some buy-in from the players but it is definitely doable with all of the resources that Lawrenceville has,” said Davis, reflecting on his vision for the program that posted a 6-19 record in the 2019-20 campaign.

“It is an amazing place to be. I truly believe that if we set our goals and sights on winning again, we can do it.” more

August 5, 2020

RED ALERT: James Proctor fires a pitch during his career with the Princeton University baseball team. Shortly after graduating from Princeton in June, Proctor signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Over his Tiger career, Proctor posted a 2-16 record in 28 starts with 133 strikeouts in 137 2/3 innings and a 5.88 ERA. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Jim Proctor made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers just over 60 years ago after being named the South Atlantic League’s most outstanding pitcher in 1959.

James Proctor always dreamed of the chance to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. The 2020 Princeton University graduate took a big step toward that goal when he signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds on June 15.

“I was really excited about that,” said Proctor, a 6’5, 215-pound native of St. Louis, Mo.

“I went over to his house after it happened and celebrated and talked. We talk about baseball all the time. He’s definitely my biggest inspiration to keep playing. That was something really cool to follow in his footsteps moving forward.”

Proctor’s grandfather played professionally for nine years mostly in the minor leagues and Negro League. Proctor knew at a young age of his grandfather’s success and wanted to mirror it.

“It was cool,” said Proctor. “It was something that initially piqued my interest in baseball. I just had to continue because I wanted to. I’ve always carried it with me knowing I can lean on him any time for advice with anything. It’s a different game now but there’s still a lot of things that translate into today’s game. To always having him to talk to about baseball because he went through the same things at a higher level than me — where I want to get to — just having someone in the family who’s been at the top level has been great.” more

July 29, 2020

STILL CHASING HIS DREAM: Donn Cabral clears a hurdle in a steeplechase race during a 2016 meet. Former Princeton University men’s track star Cabral ’12, who competed for the U.S. in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games, was planning to go after a third trip to the Olympics before the U.S. Olympic Track Trials and 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cabral placed eighth in each of his two previous Olympic appearances and is planning to continue training over the next year for one last shot at the Games. (Photo Courtesy of USA Track)

By Justin Feil

Donn Cabral returned to Princeton University in late May and ran on the weekend that would have featured Reunion festivities.

The three-time NCAA All-American in steeplechase and two-time cross country All-America during his Princeton men’s track career might normally have been preparing for a shot at making his third United States Olympic team, but on this occasion it was just a chance to reconnect with former Tiger men’s cross country co-captain Brian Leung.

“I’m still very much plugged in with the people that I knew,” said Cabral, the American collegiate record holder in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:19.14).

“The most important thing for me is the inspiration I get from other friends from college who are doing really cool things and following what they love and putting their heart and soul into it and even just being willing and able to talk and open up and discuss our goals and shortcomings and our steps to improve through them. Princeton is still very much a part of my life. I was looking forward to getting to go to Reunions this year.”

Cabral has done some really cool things himself since graduating in 2012 and hopes to add one more big achievement before he retires from running professionally. more

July 22, 2020

FINAL SWING: Maya Walton displays her driving form during her career for the Princeton University women’s golf team. While Walton didn’t get to complete her senior season this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she graduated as one of the most decorated players in program history. She was Ivy League Player of the Year in 2018 and a three-time All-Ivy performer. Walton helped Princeton to Ivy League titles in her first two seasons and became the third Tiger player to earn an individual bid to the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, tying for fifth at the Athens Regional in 2017 to advance to the national competition. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Maya Walton was planning to peak when it mattered most in her senior season for the Princeton University women’s golf team.

In the 2019 fall season, Walton tied for second in the William and Mary Invitational and tied for fifth in the Princeton Invitational.

“I didn’t quite play exactly how I wanted,” said Walton, who hails from Austin, Texas.

“It was always trusting the process and trusting practice that eventually by the time Ivies came back around, my game would where I needed it to be.”

As she looked forward to the spring season and competing in the Ivy League Championships, Walton spent the winter honing her game, technically and mentally.

“It was more about consistency for me,” said Walton, who helped Princeton win the Ivy tournament in both 2017 and 2018.

“I did a lot of short game practice. I practiced what I could and then a lot of it was just mental game management and really trying to practice what I could indoors for the spring season. It is always kind of hard coming out of an offseason where you are a feel-based player but you live in New Jersey so you don’t really get to be outside.” more

July 15, 2020

SPRING IN HIS STEP: Princeton University football player Collin Eaddy scores a touchdown in a game last fall. Rising senior running back Eaddy will hope to be back in action this spring after the Ivy League decided that there will be no games this fall. The league added that there will be no competition until January 1 at the earliest and that the winter and spring sports calendars will be decided at a later date with the possibility that fall sports could take place in the spring. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments on March 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it drew some fire for the decision.

Many thought the league had jumped the gun and some of the players slated to play in the tourney signed a petition imploring Ivy administrators to change their mind and reinstate the event.

But it turned out that the Ivies were ahead of the curve as the sports world screeched to a halt across the globe days later.

Last Wednesday, the league made another controversial decision, becoming the first Division I conference to cancel all sports competition this fall.

Once again the Ivies appear to be a trendsetter as the Patriot League followed suit on Monday and canceled all fall competition while the Big 10 and Pacific 12 have limited all games this fall to conference contests only.

In announcing their position, the Ivy presidents made it clear that reaching such a conclusion was painful.

“These decisions are extremely difficult, particularly when they impact meaningful student-athlete experiences that so many value and cherish,” said the presidents, noting that fall training will be allowed for student athletes on campus with no games before January 1 at the earliest and that the winter and spring sports calendars will be decided at a later date with the possibility that fall sports could take place in the spring.

“With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall.” more

July 8, 2020

SAY HEY: Megan Donahey slaps the ball during her career with the Princeton University softball team. Star outfielder Donahey hit .346 this spring in a senior season abbreviated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Donahey ended up with a career batting average of .362, third-best in program history. (Photo by Michael Sudhalter, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Having proven to be a model of consistency during her first three seasons for the Princeton University softball team, Megan Donahey was primed to take things to a higher level this spring in her senior campaign.

“Everyone was super optimistic about this year,” said Donahey, who batted .377 as a freshman, .328 as a sophomore, and .385 as a junior.

“We were coming off a tough season, we had lots of injuries late in the season but we were really confident in this squad. The six freshman were just so awesome and we had a really, really good team culture this year.”

With Donahey hitting .346 in the first eight games of the 2020 campaign as Princeton got off to a 4-4 start, that optimism seemed justified.

“For the eight games that we played, they went super well,” said the 5’4 Donahey, a native of Phoenix, Ariz.

“Typically we peak later in the season. We actually did really well in the pre-Ivy season. There wasn’t just one way that we won the games. Sometimes the pitchers would pitch super well and then other times the offense would have an explosion and do really well and we would win the game that way. It just seemed like all facets of the game were working at different times to make us do really well.”

But as Princeton was getting ready for its annual Florida trip in mid-March, the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Donahey and her fellow seniors ruing what might have been. more

July 1, 2020

RETURN FLIGHT: Joe Scott makes a point to a player during the 2006-07 season in his last campaign as the head coach of the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Scott, a 1987 Princeton alum and former star guard for the Tigers, went on to serve as the head coach at the University of Denver from 2007-16 and then had stints as assistant coach at Holy Cross (2016-18) and the University of Georgia (2018-20), was recently named as the head coach of the Air Force men’s hoops program. It marks his second stint with the Falcons as he coached the Air Force from 2000-04. (Photo by NJ SportAction)

By Justin Feil

Making a return flight, Joe Scott is preparing for his second stint as the Air Force Academy men’s basketball head coach.

It is the Princeton University alum’s first head coaching job since 2016, not that he had ever left the game.

“The main thing how I went through it is I’m a coach,” said Scott, 54, who worked as an assistant coach at Holy Cross (2016-18) and at the University of Georgia (2018-20) during that period.

“I’ve always been a coach and I approached it that way. I kept coaching. I felt that continuing to coach and being around 18-22-year-olds and helping them improve and helping them grow, that was the way to become a head coach again. I’m fortunate. What I’m really glad about is I did it that way. People take time off, but I’m glad I did it that way. I was at two different places, and the last four years I’m going to really use in my time here at Air Force. I learned so much in the last four years.”

Scott has been a head coach for 16 of his 29 years in coaching. The 1987 Princeton graduate played for Pete Carril and then headed to Notre Dame Law School and practiced law for a New Jersey firm, Ribis, Graham, & Carter. Scott found his way back to the basketball court, starting out as an assistant at Monmouth before joining the staff of the legendary Carril and then serving as an assistant to Bill Carmody when Carril retired. In taking the Air Force post, Scott joins other Princeton alumni Chris Mooney (Richmond), Mike Brennan (American), and Mitch Henderson (Princeton) as Division I head coaches. Scott also added former Tigers player and coach Sydney Johnson to his Air Force staff. more

June 24, 2020

HELD BACK: The Princeton University football team gets ready to take the field last September for its season opener against Butler. The Tigers won that game 49-7 and went on to go 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League. In March, the Tigers started spring practice looking to build momentum going into the 2020 campaign. But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy spring season was canceled and Princeton spent the last few months of school working virtually. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton University football team, its annual spring practices help build the foundation for the upcoming season.

The 12 sessions spread over a month give returning players a chance to step up and show their development, allow coaches a chance to tinker with schemes and lineups, and help the squad collectively develop chemistry.

But as Princeton got ready to hit the field for its first spring session in early March, head coach Bob Surace was keeping track of COVID-19 and preparing to deal with a new reality.

“I just wanted to make sure that we had a plan in case we need to go to virtual school and they shut us down,” said Surace who guided Princeton to an overall record of 8-2 (5-2 Ivy League) in 2019.

“I had some ideas and we met as a staff and the other coaches came up with some other ideas on how to work through the next few months until June.”

With the students sent home for virtual learning and all spring sports activities getting canceled, Surace and his coaches had to modify their approach.

“I told them this was a time for empathetic leadership, the players are going to have a shock to the system,” said Surace. more

June 17, 2020

BELIEVELAND: Kevin Davidson talks to a coach on the sideline last year last fall during his senior season for the Princeton University football team. Getting his chance to start last fall after three years as a reserve, Davidson emerged as a star, completing 209-of-313 passes for 2,569 yards and 20 touchdowns to help Princeton go 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League. In April, he signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and is currently preparing for training camp as he looks to make the team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kevin Davidson always believed that he was headed for the NFL even though many scoffed at that ambition during his first three years with the Princeton University football program.

Through his junior campaign at Princeton, Davidson, a 6’4, 225-pound quarterback from Danville, Calif., had made one start and had a grand total of 61 passing attempts in 19 appearances and didn’t seem to be on track to the pros.

“I got laughed at a lot on campus, both by my friends and other people, they are like you are crazy, who do you think you are, some backup that is going to go to the NFL,” said Davidson.

“I have been working for this my whole life and I know where I am at. I might not have gotten the opportunities at Princeton that I thought at first but I never lost belief and my vision for myself. It has been a thing for me ever since high school freshman year.”

Playing behind Chad Kanoff and John Lovett, who both ended up on NFL practice squads after their Tiger careers, Davidson got his opportunity to start last fall and made the most of it, completing 209-of-313 passes for 2,569 yards and 20 touchdowns to help Princeton go 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League. more

June 10, 2020

MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University men’s golf star Evan Quinn displays his driving form. Quinn, who graduated from Princeton earlier this month, enjoyed a stellar career for the Tigers. As a junior, Quinn helped Princeton win the 2019 Ivy League tournament, earning All-Ivy honors in the process. He was also a two-time PING All-Northeast Region selection. In his final campaign, Quinn produced a solid fall season, leading Princeton in three of four stroke-play events that it competed in the early stages of the 2019-20 season which saw the spring portion of the schedule canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Evan Quinn was good enough at cross country for Morristown High School to run in college but he gave it up to pour his competitive energy into golf when he came to Princeton University.

“I made a brief reappearance at the Turkey Trot this year,” said Quinn, a captain for the Princeton men’s golf team in his senior year before graduating earlier this month.

“My brother is on the varsity cross country team now so he’s in good shape. I did that, but that’s pretty much the extent of my running career since high school.”

Quinn has always been competitive in any sport in which he has participated and has typically experienced both individual and team success. He started to cultivate his golf game by the second grade, although he also played soccer and ran. In high school, he was Morris County cross country champion as a senior in a school-record 15:53 over the 5,000-meter course to lead the team to victory, and finished 11th at the 2015 Meet of Champions. After that race, he turned to golf full-time. He won the NJSIAA North 1-2, Group 4 sectional individual championship and led Morristown to the team title. Quinn had won the Group 3 sectional the previous two years.  more

June 3, 2020

STANDING TALL: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Steph Neatby guards the crease this winter during her senior season with the Tigers. Senior Neatby came up big for Princeton in the ECAC Hockey title game at top-ranked Cornell, making 31 saves as Princeton rallied for a 3-2 overtime win in the March 8 contest. That turned out to be Neatby’s last appearance for the Tigers as the NCAA tournament was canceled days later due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Neatby will be continuing her hockey career, having signed a contract to play with Swedish professional club Linkoping HC. She will be joined on the squad by classmate and star forward Carly Bullock. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was a rough start for Steph Neatby as the Princeton University women’s hockey team played at top-ranked Cornell in the ECAC Hockey championship game in early March.

With senior goalie Neatby yielding two goals in the first 2:49 of the contest, the No. 6 Tigers fell behind 2-0 and appeared to be in for a long afternoon against a team that had already defeated them twice handily in regular season play.

“We had a TV timeout after the first five minutes; I went to the bench and I always talk to my goalie partners and Rachel [McQuigge] turns to me and I was like ‘oh God, what do I do,’ ” said Neatby, 6’0 native of Toronto, Ontario.

“She said it can’t get any worse and I was oh you are right. She calmed me down and I thought I might as well just go for it. Then I went back in the first period and they almost scored three more but I would make the save.”

Neatby kept on making saves, ending up with 31 as Princeton rallied for a 3-2 win in overtime, earning the program’s first-ever ECACH title.

“I keep talking about it, for us and the men’s team, luckily we were the teams that got to end on wins,” said Neatby, noting that the Tiger men’s team swept Dartmouth in the opening round of the ECACH playoffs that same weekend. more

May 27, 2020

HEADING TO EUROPE: Carly Bullock controls the puck in a game this winter during her senior season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team. With Bullock scoring a team-high 30 goals on the year, the Tigers won the ECAC Hockey tournament for the first time in program history and boasted a 26-6-1 record heading into the NCAA tournament. Princeton was deprived of a chance to make a run for a national title as the tourney was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bullock will get a chance to continue her hockey career as she recently signed a contract to play with Swedish professional club Linkoping HC. She will be joined on the squad by classmate and star goalie Steph Neatby. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Carly Bullock and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s hockey team believed that they were national title contenders as the squad headed into mid-March.

With senior star forward Bullock having scored a goal to help Princeton rally to a 3-2 overtime win at No. 1 Cornell on March 8 in the ECAC Hockey championship game, she sensed that the Tigers could go all the way in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

“We were playing some of our best hockey, we had just beaten the No. 1 team in the championship game,” said Bullock, a native of Eden Prairie, Minn., noting that it was the first-ever ECACH title for the program.

“We have been a really close team all year but around the playoffs we just hit a new level. We were just having so much fun and I think that really translates to things on ice. We were singing and dancing between periods.”

But the fun stopped days later when all college winter and spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With the Tigers getting ready to play at Northeastern in the NCAA quarterfinals, the abrupt end to the postseason run was hard to process for a team that had gone 26-6-1, setting a program record for most wins in a season. more

May 20, 2020

BATTLING BACK: Princeton University baseball player Chris Davis displays his batting form in a game last spring. After dealing with a series of injuries early in his career, outfielder Davis emerged as a key contributor for the Tigers, hitting .281 in 2019 as a junior and leading the Tigers in slugging percentage with a .407 mark. With his final season getting cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis is headed to Duke University as a graduate student in its Fuqua School of Business and will be playing for the Blue Devil baseball program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Resilient gets thrown around a lot in these uncertain times, but few befit the adjective better than Chris Davis.

The Princeton University senior baseball star will graduate this June after having his final season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, the third season he has missed out on in his career. He’s been through a lot in the last five years, yet still has his sights on playing pro ball.

“He’s just as resilient a young man as we have ever had,” said Scott Bradley, the Tigers head coach the last 23 years. “It’s incredible what he’s done.”

Davis, a 5’9, 175-pound outfielder from Avon, Conn., was set back by a shoulder problem in his first year at Princeton, a life-threatening freak injury the next year, and now after two promising seasons, his final campaign was erased by precautions taken by the Ivy League and NCAA due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Losing a baseball season doesn’t match some of the loss and hardship some of the people across the world have had,” said Davis. “It’s crazy how much it has escalated with the reasons I’ve missed seasons.”

Returning from the first two years off to enjoy strong seasons, Davis is looking forward to his next opportunity on the diamond that will come next year as a graduate student in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. This spring, he had been hoping to build on a 2019 season that saw him start every game, batting .281 and leading the Tigers with a .407 slugging percentage as well as 16 extra-base hits. He had a hit and two walks this year in seven games as the Tigers went 0-7 before the remainder of the season was canceled. more

May 13, 2020

CORY STORY: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Annie Cory heads up the field in a game this spring. Senior midfielder and tri-captain Cory tallied four goals and picked up eight ground balls to help Princeton go 3-2 overall and 1-0 Ivy League before its season was canceled in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Annie Cory is putting the best spin she can on the cancellation of the Princeton University women’s lacrosse 2020 season.

It’s the second straight spring that the Tiger senior midfielder has had to deal with misfortune.

“For me personally, last year I wasn’t on the field and I think I experienced the greatest growth — maybe not as a lacrosse player — but as a person and as a leader even when I wasn’t on the field,” said Cory.

“That’s the mentality that I’m trying to bring to this. I can’t be on the field, but how can I use this time period to experience growth as a person, as a leader, as a teammate? Although it’s not ideal, and I think everyone would agree, whether it’s a high school sports player or a professional sports player, and all the college athletes, we’d much rather be on the field growing in that way, but if we can’t do that we have to figure out some other ways to be productive and be positive about this time. That’s the approach I’ve taken.”
Cory tore her ACL one week into preseason as Princeton was preparing for its first scrimmage. She did not play in a single scrimmage or game in 2019, but showed her true colors in a tough time.

“The thing I loved about Annie is regardless of whether she was on field or during the time she was injured and couldn’t play, she was all in,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer. more

May 6, 2020

WINGING IT: Bella Alarie depicted in the uniform of the Dallas Wings of the WNBA. After a superb senior season for the Princeton University women’s basketball team which saw Alarie help the Tigers go 26-1, she was chosen by the Wings as the fifth pick in the first round of the 2020 WNBA Draft in mid-April. (Photo by Jarrod Allison/Dallas Wings)

By Justin Feil

Bella Alarie woke up on April 17 and tried to go about her usual day with breakfast at her home in Bethesda, Md., time with her parents and two younger brothers, and some academic work.

Although her thesis was due in just one week, it wasn’t foremost on the mind of the Princeton University senior star forward who by that midday was feeling anxious about the upcoming WNBA draft.

“It was definitely not a productive thesis day,” said Alarie. “It was very hectic and there was a lot to get done. I had my family to help me out and get ready. I was so excited for 7 o’clock to come, I felt like it was taking so long and the day was going so slow. I was so excited when it got to 7 o’clock. It was a lot of mixed emotions honestly with excitement and nerves and all that. The whole day, it wasn’t exactly what I imagined my draft day would look like, but all the emotions I would have felt on a stage in New York, they were all the same.”

Alarie was thrilled to be chosen fifth overall by the Dallas Wings, matching the highest selection ever of an Ivy League player, equaling that of Harvard’s Allison Feaster, who was picked fifth by the Los Angeles Sparks 22 years earlier.

“I’m super proud of myself and happy; that’s a huge accomplishment,” said Alarie.

“I’m really grateful that I was selected that high and they believed in me. And to come out of the Ivy League, there haven’t been a lot, but I do have great players to look up to from Princeton like Leslie Robinson and Blake Dietrich who have had WNBA experience. It’s a huge honor. I definitely take it seriously because I do want to represent Princeton and the Ivy League as best I can and it’s been like 20 years since we’ve had a first-round pick out of our league. I have a lot of honor and pride and I want to make the most of it. It’s really special and it’s a testament to all the coaches and teammates and all the development and time they put into making me better. You can’t do it alone.” more

April 29, 2020

POINT COUNTERPOINT: Star point guard Blake Dietrick, left, triggered the 2014-15 Princeton University women’s basketball team to a 31-1 record in a senior campaign that saw her get named as the Ivy League Player of the Year while junior guard Carlie Littlefield was a first-team All-Ivy performer this winter as the Tigers went 26-1. (Photos by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University women’s basketball team was left with a number of what-ifs following the cancellation of the NCAA tournament in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a postscript to an historic season that saw Princeton dominate the Ivy League and barge its way into the Top 25, there is a lingering hypothetical what-if.

In the same vein as water cooler debates over which storied NBA teams could have beaten the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, the subject of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, strong opinions are sparked by the question of how would the 2019-20 Tigers team fare against the 2014-15 Princeton team in a matchup of the two best seasons in program history.

Former Princeton players and coaches — rather reluctantly — compared their teams, always with the caveat that they were each other’s biggest fans, not rivals in any way.

“I really wish this year’s team could’ve made their run in the tourney,” said Annie Tarakchian, who starred for the 2015 team before graduating in 2016 and returning to her home state of California. “We were all so looking forward to that and gearing up to go wherever the games were seeded.” more

April 22, 2020

LAST DANCE: Members of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew enjoy the moment in front of their boathouse on March 12 after they held a spirited last row in their final practice of the season. Before competing against each other in a speed order, the rowers shared their thoughts, reflecting on what they gained from a season halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

By Bill Alden

On the afternoon of March 11, Greg Hughes spent practice with his Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing team by discussing the shattering announcement released earlier that day regarding the Ivy League’s decision to cancel spring sports due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That was a hard conversation, somebody asked me what I said and I said I don’t really know what I said,” said Princeton head coach Hughes.

“There were tears, it was emotional. I think the hardest emotions were for the seniors. It took a lot more time to digest that and they still are processing it.”

A day later, the team’s final practice of 2020 turned into a moving and joyous day of rowing and reflection.

After Hughes notified his athletes they would get one last day on the water, he sensed it would prove to be a memorable session.

“The guys were pumped, they were so excited,” said Hughes. “What was really neat about that was when we met up and ran our normal warmup, you could see the energy. People truly embraced this opportunity.” more

SPEAKING OUT: Noah Savage provides analysis courtside as part of the ESPN college basketball broadcasting team during the 2018-19 season. Savage, a former Princeton University men’s hoops star who also works as a color commentator on Tiger broadcasts, recently contracted COVID-19 and recovered from the virus after a two-week battle.

By Bill Alden

Noah Savage has gone through a tough 2020 health-wise.

The former Princeton University men’s basketball star and current color commentator on Tiger hoops and ESPN broadcasts has suffered a broken thumb, a stomach flu, and Rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of damaged skeletal muscle, in the first few months of the year.

But on March 15, those ailments paled in comparison when Savage learned the scary news that he been caught up in the coronavirus pandemic, finding out that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Living in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, Savage was not surprised that he was diagnosed with the virus after feeling ill in early March.

“I had that persistent cough that wasn’t like a productive cough; the urge to cough was there all the time but nothing was happening,” said Savage, 34, who suffers from asthma.

“I work in pharmaceutical sales in New York, I go to offices to see people. I have all of the symptoms, I checked all of the boxes. I am not interacting with the patients but I walk in the waiting room and then I meet with the doctor. Then I started feeling chest tightness all the time that I haven’t had since my asthma. I used to use an inhaler every day when I played and now I really don’t use it. I had to start using it again for the first time in five years. This was worrisome so I called up my doctor.” more

April 15, 2020

STORMY MONDAY: Princeton University wrestler Quincy Monday, top, controls a foe during a match this winter. Although the 2019-20 season ended prematurely in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, sophomore Monday made a lot of progress, going 23-4 at 157 pounds and getting seeded fifth for the NCAA Championships. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

One day at practice this season, Princeton University wrestling head coach Chris Ayres mused out loud in amazement to his team, rattling off the opponent rankings faced by one of his charges.

The wrestler in question, Quincy Monday, battled a gauntlet of foes ranked at No. 7, No. 4, No. 6, No. 10, No. 9, and No. 20.

Undeterred by that challenge, Monday beat them all during a sophomore year that thrust him into the top five nationally for most of the year and helped push the Tigers team to new heights. He helped Princeton dethrone Cornell for the Ivy League crown to earn the program’s first league title since 1986 and put himself squarely in the picture for a national title at 157 pounds.

“It felt like we were setting new records every week we competed,” said Monday. “It was really exciting to be a part of something like that. It felt like we had momentum building up every week. We were always making headlines. It was fun to be a part of.”

Monday enjoyed a great debut season last winter that saw him earn first-team All-Ivy League as the only Princeton wrestler to go unbeaten in the conference, finish third in the EIWA, and qualify for the NCAA Championships.  more

By Bill Alden

While the NCAA announced in late March that member schools could extend an extra year of eligibility to all spring sport athletes, Princeton University has decided that it will not allow student athletes who withdraw from school this spring to get that additional season.

As reported in the Daily Princetonian on April 9, Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan ’91 sent an email that day to spring sport athletes advising them of the University’s position on the issue.

In her email to the athletes, Samaan noted that “due to the University’s strong belief that all students should remain in school now more than ever, Princeton has decided that it will not approve the necessary waivers for students who withdraw from the Spring ’20 semester to use their 5th year of eligibility at Princeton.”

The Ivy League had previously announced that it would not be changing its policy that prevents graduate students from competing in athletic events, thereby limiting athletes to four years of undergraduate athletics.

Ivy schools learned last Thursday that “withdraw and re-enroll” eligibility would be an institutional decision, with Yale and Princeton administrations electing to disallow a loophole that would have created an option for Ivy seniors to play during the spring of 2021 semester through withdrawing from school now and returning next year with the necessary waivers. more