Arguably the best weekend in September (or late August) every year is the first home football weekend. There’s nothing better than thousands of people coming to Happy Valley for the first time since the previous November to watch the Nittany Lions square off against a non-conference foe.
The first one of those is still a few weeks away, but this is a big weekend in State College, because it’s a different kind of football weekend. Penn State’s men’s and women’s soccer programs have their only doubleheaders of the 2015 season this Friday and Sunday. Tonight’s slate features a men’s match against San Francisco and a women’s match against Duke, while Navy and Arkansas will face the men and women, respectively, on Sunday. The action begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Both evenings should be spectacular, but not only because of the nice weather or the fact that the promotions for both games are amazing (on Friday alone, you get a scarf for going to the men’s game and this poster for the women’s game).
No, these nights will be entertaining because they will showcase two of the premier soccer teams in the nation. Currently, the women are ranked No. 4 in America on TopDrawerSoccer.com, while the men are slotted at 15th. This makes Penn State one of the only schools in America with two programs ranked in the top-15 of both polls.
The teams also features some of the premier talent in America. In addition to ranking teams, TopDrawSoccer.com has a ranking of the top-100 players in both the men’s and women’s game. It contends that Penn State has the eighth-best male player in the country in junior forward Connor Maloney, while there are five women in the top-100: senior forward/midfielder Raquel Rodriguez – who you can read about in our most recent issue of the magazine – comes in at 13th, sophomore midfielder Emily Ogle is 27th, sophomore forward Frannie Crouse is 61st, senior forward Mallory Weber is 67th, and sophomore defender Maddie Elliston is 71st.
It should be a fantastic weekend for the “other” kind of football in State College.
Former Penn State linebacker Tim Shaw ’06 is battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). One of the ways that Shaw, who you can read about in our September/October issue, wants to raise awareness for the disease is to bring back the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people dump buckets of freezing cold water onto their heads to help raise money – last summer, it raised $115 million in six weeks – and awareness for ALS.
According to For The Win, Shaw already knows who he wants to nominate: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Few people, Shaw believes, are in more of a position to bring the cause to the forefront of the public’s attention again than the NFL Commissioner. Goodell is the most powerful person in a sport that Shaw knows could have possibly given him — and other retired NFL players — the disease. Former players with ALS received money in the NFL’s settlement of concussion-related lawsuits and according to the CDC are four times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease.
Shaw, who also tweeted his request to Goodell, wants the NFL’s commissioner to show that he is sympathetic to the risks that football players take by playing a game that could impact their long-term physical and mental well-being. There’s no word on whether or not Goodell will accept, but he’s done the challenge before, so what’s the harm in doing it one more time?
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
When we spoke to Nate Lee early this summer, he was still trying to figure out his plans for the next few months. “I know on June 6, we report to Guam,” he was saying, “but I’m not sure when we head out after that.” It was hard to blame him: Between a spring and summer itinerary that included trips to Hong Kong and Singapore, and games against opponents from Turkmenistan and India, it would be hard for anyone to keep up.
Lee, a redshirt junior defender featured in our fresh-off-the-printer Sept./Oct. issue, spent his much of his spring and summer as part of the Guam National Soccer Team. Born and raised in Maryland, he and his family qualified for citizenship in the tiny U.S. island territory in the Western Pacific through his great grandparents. For most of their lives, that fact didn’t have much impact on Lee and his brothers, all of whom—Nate, former Nittany Lion Justin ’12, and ex-Maryland star Alex—are or were college soccer standouts. That changed when Guam announced it planned to field a team for World Cup qualifying matches. “They started to find a lot of connections to American players,” Nate says, “so they decided to build a team from there.”
After splitting a pair of exhibition matches last spring, the “Matao,” as the national side is called, hosted and won a pair of qualifying matches in June against Turkmenistan and India. They still have a long way to go until 2018, but for a country with no World Cup history, it was a pretty good start. For Lee and his brothers, it already qualifies as an unforgettable experience. “It’s still kind of mind-boggling how this all worked out,” he says.
Lee is back in State College now, where he’ll be one of the veteran leaders for a Penn State squad that went 13-6-1 last season and made the second round of the NCAA tournament. He was among the players who joined coach Bob Warming earlier this week for the team’s preseason media day; you can check out their thoughts below.
Lee and the Nittany Lions, ranked 23rd in the national preseason poll, open their 2015 campaign this Friday afternoon in a home match against San Francisco. It’s part of a double-header with the sixth-ranked women’s team, who host Duke in the late game. Should be a great night in a perfect setting for futbol.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Alumni association members should be getting our Sept./Oct. issue any day now. On the cover is Caroline Bowman ’10—otherwise known as Elphaba the witch in Broadway’s Wicked. Photographer Michael Lavine captured the actress in her New York dressing room before the show—and before her nightly coating of green body paint. In “The Great (Blue and) White Way,” senior editor Ryan Jones caught up with Bowman and other theater alums making names for themselves on Broadway and beyond.
Also featured in this issue: Former Nittany Lion and NFL linebacker Tim Shaw ’06 opens up about his battle with ALS.
You’ll also find a collection of campus memories from the class of 1965. Find out what happened when a student tried stealing a case of beer out of the gymnastics coach’s garage, along with other college hijinks, in “Fraternity Dogs & Elevator Tricks.” (Artist Scotty Reifsnyder did an awesome job illustrating these stories.)
More highlights: A look at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which featured a number of Penn Staters, including two members of the all-conquering U.S. team; an interview with Jay Paterno ’91 about a new namesake beer; and a conversation with “career student” Jesse Scott ’03a, ’06, ’10g, who has been taking classes for 14 years.
Let us know what you think of the Sept./Oct. issue by commenting below or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Downey, senior editor
Keegan-Michael Key ’86g, who we profiled in our Jan./Feb. ’07 issue, will act as the 2015 Homecoming Grand Marshal. The decision to bring in the star/co-creator of the Comedy Central hit Key and Peele was announced at Sunday night’s Be A Part From The Start event at Rec Hall. A video released by the Homecoming committee featured one of Penn State’s most famous fictional alumni—Hingle McCringleberry, a character Key played in Key and Peele‘s famous East-West College Bowl skit—announcing the decision.
Key rose to fame as a cast member of the sketch comedy show MadTV, which he joined in 2004 and left when the show ended in 2009. Since then, he has made a name for himself on the small screen with appearances on shows like Gary Unmarried, Parks and Recreation, Playing House, and of course, Key and Peele. Key has also had roles in movies such as Role Models and The Lego Movie, and in 2015, he performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as Luther, a character originally created on Key and Peele whose job is to act as President Obama’s “anger translator.”
Homecoming 2015 will take place the week of October 4, with the annual Homecoming Parade occurring on October 9 at 6 p.m.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
I had breakfast this morning at the Au Bon Pain in Kern Building, a fairly unremarkable way to start a Monday—or a brand new semester for that matter. But it was significant in at least one way: For the next four weeks, I’m going to be eating my way across the University Park campus. This is not an experiment in trying to recreate my “Freshman 15” from the fall of 1991, but rather the start of a month-long reporting project on the state of campus dining, which is set to run in our Nov./Dec. issue.
If you’re an alum from 10 or 20 or 40 years ago, and you’ve been back to campus any time recently, you’ve probably been struck by the changes in campus dining options. You also probably don’t know the half of it. With that in mind, I–with occasional help from my magazine colleagues—will attempt to eat at each and every spot on campus over the next month. That means every dining hall (many of which you wouldn’t recognize if you graduated before 2010 or so) and every retail establishment, from the recently renovated HUB to options that range from the Business Building to the Pattee & Paterno Libraries. Stay tuned for regular web updates over the next few weeks, and keep an eye out for the finished product in our Nov./Dec. issue.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Batman, Superman, Captain America, and Spider-Man all probably have a lot on their plates. Fortunately for the children at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the four superheroes were able to take some time out of their busy schedules of fighting crime to pay a visit on Wednesday afternoon.
The quartet of protagonists—who in real life are window washers, according to Lancaster Online—made their entrance in typical superhero fashion: by rappelling down the side of the building. At the bottom were a group of obviously excited children with their families—and the Nittany Lion, who decided to throw on a cape and join in the fun. For more on the visit, check out the Penn State Medicine blog.
Bill DiFilippo, Online Editor