“Coach Bill Carmody used to say, ‘The character you show on the court or field
is the same as the character you show off it.’ This quote always resonated with me.”
—Chris Young ’02, former Major League Baseball pitcher
The Princeton character — exemplified by Athletics’ mission to “Achieve, Serve, and Lead” — was in force online, via mobile, and on and off the playing fields on Nov. 27, with alumni, parents, friends, and fans uniting to set new records during the University’s fifth annual Tiger Athletics Give Day (TAGD). In just 24 hours, more than 8,600 donors contributed a total of $2.7 million — surpassing last year’s dollar mark by 12 percent.
Every Princeton student-athlete benefits from the Giving Tuesday support, which helps fund initiatives such as locker room upgrades and out-of-region team travel. Moreover, #TAGD gifts provide the backing that helps Princeton athletes excel: Princeton won 11 Ivy League championships during the 2017-18 school year, and five fall 2018 teams claimed league titles, including the football team — which completed its first perfect season since 1964.
“I’ve been associated with Princeton for 32 years and every teammate and classmate I know loved their experience,” says Bob Surace ’90, the Charles W. Caldwell Jr. ’25 Head Coach of Football. “The friendships with my teammates are stronger than ever. We come back to Reunions, events, family celebrations, and we talk about making an incredible experience even better for the current athletes.”
Playing for Princeton’s teams unites Tigers across generations, and creates a connection that for some is like family. In the cases of Bob Surace and Chris Young, who met their spouses — Lisa and Liz, respectively — as undergraduates, that is literally true. “We bleed orange and black in our family,” says Lisa Surace ’92, a four-year standout on the women’s soccer team. “I've met some of the most incredible women and best friends ever on the soccer field. We have a bond that lasts — even if we don't see each other for years, we can pick up immediately and I still feel so close to them.”
It’s that spirit of camaraderie that keeps the orange flame burning. “After an early morning workout, Coach Julie Shackford would always yell, ‘You’ve done more today than most people!’” says Liz Young ’02, an All-Ivy soccer standout. “My teammates and I still text it to each other from time to time, and it always makes me smile.”
LESSONS FOR LIFE
The voices of dedicated coaches still resonate for many alumni. Two-time Ivy League Basketball Player of the Year Craig Robinson ’83 remembers his former coach Pete Carril saying, “Everything matters.” Swimmer Doug Lennox ’74 recalls the late Bill Farley, who would tell him, “Trust in your training; you are right where you need to be.”
Lennox’s son, former Olympian and current Princeton assistant swimming coach Doug Lennox ’09, remembers the emotional rally cry of Coach Rob Orr before the Tigers’ 2006 upset of Harvard. “Gentlemen: You might give in and your body might give out… but you can never give up. Let’s go, Tigers!”
SHAPING THE FUTURE
For Leslie Robinson ’18, Princeton was always going to be part of her family. She followed in her father Craig’s footsteps, but when she blazed her own trail on the Jadwin hardwood, captaining the Tigers to an Ivy League title, she became part of something even bigger.
“The one thing about playing at Princeton is the family you make through the entire experience with past, current, and future players,” she says. “So it is important to me to give back to Princeton Athletics because it is a chance for me to give back to the people who shaped me and to help shape those that come after me.”
Robinson and her former Tiger teammates can thank trailblazers like Victoria Bjorklund ’73, a fellow basketball player from a generation that overcame skepticism and sexism to lay the foundation for champion female athletes after Princeton opened its doors to women. “I want today's athletes to have it so much better than we did in 1971,” she says. It’s the reason she and her husband, former New York Jets running back Hank Bjorklund ’72, still answer the call. “Playing football and baseball at Princeton changed my life for the better,” he says.
In the 154 years since Princeton’s first intercollegiate competition, when the baseball team bested Williams, 27-16, in 1864, the Princeton character has been sustained by the dedication of its athletes and inspired by the contributions of loyal alumni and friends from every era.
“The life experience Princeton gave me is far greater than anything I can ever give, but I realize it was made possible by the contributions of many others before me,” says Chris Young ’02. “I hope to pay it forward the same way.”
Missed TAGD18 and still want to support Tiger Athletics? Please visit https://makeagift.princeton.edu/Athletics/MakeAGift to support the team of your choice.