Teachers reflect on their time as students at PHS

Wilkinson:

When you attended Princeton High School, what sports did you play?

MW: I started out in the fall playing soccer, and I did that for three years and then I finished up in cross country my senior year, and then four years I wrestled in the winter, and then in the spring I didn’t do anything.

And which was your favorite of those sports?

MW: Wrestling.

What was your most memorable moment from wrestling in high school?

MW: My senior year, I made the state tournament, and it was held at Jadwin gymnasium, and a huge group of Princeton High School students came. And Princeton… [is] not a really sports school in general, so for that many kids to come was really nice for me.

Were there other wrestlers in the state tournament besides you from PHS?

MW: No, I was the only one. It was fun.

What kind of things did you do for wrestling in the off-season, if you were more concentrated on it?

MW: Wrestling was a way that I identified myself—it was what I was known as, so there was no such thing as an off-season. I wrestled year-round, every single day. It was just who I was.

Did you ever wrestle with clubs or organized teams?

MW: There [are] three different forms of wrestling: there’s what they do in high school, [what they do in] college, and then what they do in the Olympics, so I found out I was very good at what they did in the Olympics … I got to travel to 20 countries wrestling, so it’s been good for me.

When did that career start for you, when you started traveling and wrestling?

MW: College, and then I kept going through college and then after college, and I wrestled into my thirties.

So were you on the US National Team at that point?

MW: I was on [the] national team, but those days are long gone.

Do you have a proudest moment from those times?

MW: [My] proudest moment right now is watching my son wrestle, and I think he’s going to be better than me, so that’s fun.

Was gym class any different when you were a student at Princeton High School?

MW: Yeah, it was segregated. Males did physical education with males and females did physical education with females, and we never commingled. So it was a completely different environment.

And was it very serious?

MW: You would have thought you were on a high school sports team in gym class—it was very, very competitive. It was a different environment. We didn’t have the amount of choices in activities that you guys [do]; you either were a music person, a drama person, or an athlete.

 

photo: Nathan Drezner

photo: Nathan Drezner

Çakir:

Did you play sports in high school?

EC: I was a gym jock, so I went hard in gym, but in terms of extracurricular sports at the high school, they came to an unceremonious end the winter of my freshman year. So I was on the football team freshman year, and I got a little hurt in one of the practices and I sort of thought, Well, I don’t really like football that much, I really care more about basketball, and I don’t want to get injured during football season, [and then] miss basketball season. So I quit football, [but] then I didn’t make the freshman basketball team. So that was the end of my sports career at Princeton High School.

Do you have an anecdote, or a funny memory from gym?

EC: I remember during the presidential fitness thing, I would do pretty well in all of the categories except for the sit-and-reach, the flexibility one. My sit-and-reach score was I think a negative two—it was bad, it was awful. I don’t know if we had a thing to push then, [maybe] it was a ruler or something … Anyway, very, very stiff hammies. At the time Mr. Johnson was my gym coach, and I asked him if there was anything I could do to improve my flexibility, and he just looked down, shook his head and said, “Prayer.” That sort of stuck with me.

 

 

photo: Nathan Drezner

photo: Nathan Drezner

Rodriguez:

When you were at PHS what school sports did you do? Soccer was my main one all four years, and basketball for freshman through junior year.

Do you think playing soccer at PHS made you want to come back here to be a coach for the team?  It was definitely one of the positive experiences of PHS. Did I graduate from here and have plans of returning here? No, I did not. At some point during college, and when I got my first teaching job I said to myself: two places I would leave my first teaching job for [would be] Cranbury or Princeton and Cranbury is where I went [before I came to PHS], so somewhere along my path I did definitely want to come back here.

How are sports different at PHS now as compared to ten years ago? I think you guys now are spread way too thin and I think that you’re doing way [too] many activities and resume boosters.[You] don’t have the ability to commit the way that we committed. I wasn’t going from high school soccer practice to club lacrosse practice and club soccer practice—I was able to just dedicate August through November to high school soccer, and then pretty much the same for the basketball season. I played club soccer, but that happened more in spring when we were able to truly go 100 percent in that season and that moment. I don’t feel that you guys are able to do that anymore, and it’s a shame.

Are there any experiences that you take form your time in high school that has influenced how you coach? Well, Coach Hand just did a great job of just making sure that everything, whether it was a game or a practice, was 100-percent competitive and you were always bought in and that’s something that I’m definitely continuing; you know, practice the way that you play.

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