Extra Point: Two of a Kind, Senior Divers Brown, Zambrowicz Share Academic Honor

Randi Brown ’14 and Rachel Zambrowicz ’14 met five years ago, while visiting Princeton as recruits for the diving team. After arriving on campus as freshmen, they became best friends. They trained together, competed together, ate nearly every meal together, and studied together. They even chose the same major, ecology and evolutionary biology.

“Since we were always together, the team always joked that we were the same person,” Brown laughed. “They would get us confused.”

A few days before Commencement, Brown and Zambrowicz were linked once again: The two shared the Class of 1916 Cup, given to the senior athlete with the highest academic standing. …

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Extra Point: Faster, Higher, Stronger, Healthier: Expanding the Boundaries of Training

Are you getting enough sleep? Did you eat a good breakfast this morning? Don’t you think it would be a good idea to put down the phone for a while?

Princeton students expect to hear those questions from their parents. If they’re varsity athletes, they may be hearing them from their coaches, too.

It’s not that the coaches are out to nag — far from it. The demands of Princeton pull student-athletes in many directions, from problem sets to parties to extra work in the weight room, and coaches want to help students balance those competing demands. In the words of Peter Farrell, longtime women’s track and cross country coach and a stickler for healthy sleep habits, “Coaches who come to Princeton have to realize that you’re not coaching in a vacuum.” …

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New Leader for Athletics: Marcoux ’91, a standout in ice hockey, selected to succeed Walters ’67

Twenty-three years after leaving the ice in her final game at Princeton, Mollie Marcoux ’91 still loves to compete. She coaches her three children in youth sports, and during the season, she joked, “I spend half my life thinking about mite hockey.”

Beginning this summer, Marcoux (pronounced Mar-KOO) will have 38 more teams to think about as she takes over as Princeton’s new director of athletics. The longtime executive at Chelsea Piers Management will be the first woman to lead the department — a distinction that she said she is proud to have, but not one that was top-of-mind when she interviewed for the job.

In fact, Marcoux said that she had been so focused on launching and managing the Connecticut sports complex of Manhattan-based Chelsea Piers that she had not given serious thought to leaving the company. But after meeting with Princeton’s search committee and spending time on campus, she realized the uncommon perks of the job. “Having the opportunity, every day, to engage with Princeton’s talented student-athletes and help them reach their goals is something that I never imagined,” she said. …

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Extra Point: Sharing Skills, Rowers Add New Athletes to the Boathouse Community

There are no boats and no water at the Crash P, the rowing program’s annual ergometer regatta. Inside Shea Rowing Center, scores of athletes test themselves against the clock on a long line of rowing machines. But with more than 200 cheering fans and team members perched just behind the action, the event provides an intense, race-like atmosphere.

This March, the field included a fresh group of rowers: 20 children and young adults with intellectual disabilities who participated in a series of Special Olympics clinics led by Princeton coaches and students. Coach Greg Hughes ’96 had a hint of hesitation when he introduced his new crew, wondering if the crowd might be intimidating, but he soon saw there was no reason to worry: “They totally ate it up. There was no fear or anxiety in any of those kids — they’re real competitors. It was awesome to see.”

Since November, the Special Olympics athletes had been training each Sunday, a rest day for the Tiger crews. David Mackasey ’14, whose mother is a special-education teacher in his native Montreal, was among the regular volunteers. A member of the varsity heavyweight crew, he said he enjoyed the chance to switch roles and be a coach for an hour or two each week. Teaching technique required time and patience, but before long, the newcomers picked up the basics and began measuring their progress, shaving seconds from their erg times.

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Extra Point: Penn Tops Princeton in Final Game, Ending Tigers’ Ivy Title Streak

Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was attitude — Princeton, in the words of head coach Courtney Banghart, approached the game with humility instead of “the swag that champions have.” Whatever the reason, when the women’s basketball team needed to play its best in a winner-take-all Ivy League finale against Penn March 11, its performance fell short.

The normally crisp Tigers looked clumsy, turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, and Penn capitalized, taking a 13-point lead. Princeton’s offense rebounded in the second half, but each time the Tigers inched closer, the Quakers replied with a basket or two. Penn won comfortably, 80–64, earning the Ivy title and the league’s NCAA Tournament bid. Princeton (20–8) settled for a trip to the Women’s NIT.

The disappointment was obvious as the Tigers left the court to applause from the largest student cheering section they’d seen this year. Even the fast-talking, relentlessly upbeat Banghart was subdued. But the coach who built Princeton into a four-time Ivy champion found a silver lining in the loss.

“This was a really great environment for women’s basketball in the Ivy League, so we celebrate that,” she said. “We want good teams in our league.” …

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Extra Point: Making the Impossible Look Routine: For Wrestlers, a Reversal of Fortune

Wrestling coach Chris Ayres believes in the motivational power of storytelling. In February, his team provided a tale that he plans to use for as long as he’s coaching.

At Boston University Feb. 8, the Tigers trailed 20–3 with four matches to go. To win, they would need to sweep the remaining weights and pick up extra points for pins or major decisions. Ayres juggled his lineup, moving wrestlers to higher weight classes, and they responded with two wins and a pin, narrowing the gap to 20–17.

That placed the spotlight on Abram Ayala ’16, a 197-pounder bumped up to heavyweight, who would be facing one of the Terriers’ strongest competitors. Ayala fell behind early but rallied to take control. A win would have tied the team score, 20–20, but Princeton needed to win by at least seven points to gain a tiebreaker edge. With time running out, Ayala chose a different route, cradling his opponent and turning him on his back for the pin. …

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Extra Point: Freshman Tennis Star Takes a Southern Route to Princeton

In her early teens, Alanna Wolff ’17 was a promising junior tennis player, eager to improve. Before entering eighth grade, she and her parents made a bold decision: She would leave her home in Perth Amboy, N.J., and move with her mother to South Florida, where she could train four to six hours a day with top coaches. Wolff also decided to leave school, choosing instead a home-schooling routine guided by her mom and a private tutor.

Five years later, Wolff is back in New Jersey as a freshman on the women’s tennis team. She’s traded sun-drenched clay courts for the subterranean hard courts of Jadwin Gym, and her training has been trimmed to about three hours a day, including conditioning. But Wolff said she’s still improving — and thrilled to be part of a team.

“There was always an underlying tension [in junior tennis] because you were fighting to get to that college you wanted or fighting to get to the pro tour,” she said. “Here, you’re all fighting for one goal: to win Ivies.”

Wolff’s path to Princeton may be atypical, but it is becoming more common in Ivy League women’s tennis, where at least half of the teams include players who were home-schooled or attended online high schools to accommodate the training and travel associated with their sport. …

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