Back in August, after I posted some photos from a Penn State football practice, I got an email from Clint Mickel ’05, who does a little football photography of his own.
Clint is not one of the photojournalists who cover Penn State football for the news media. He’s just an alumnus (and former Lion Ambassador) who now works in marketing in Garwood, N.J., and has season tickets to the games at Beaver Stadium. He shoots with a Canon EOS 60D and a 70-300mm lens, and he has the other things that go into good photos as well: a good eye, patience, persistence, and the willingness to shoot in all kinds of weather.
He also has pretty good seats—in the first row along the corner of the north end zone.
“It’s a great seat for the outstanding views,” he adds, “but I constantly have photos of people’s backs as they walk in front of me to go to the concession stand.”
Anyway, I’ve been following Clint’s photographic efforts via his Flickr page over the course of the season, and now that the season’s over, I’ve pulled about a dozen of his photos that I thought you might enjoy. I’m sharing them with his permission—see the slide show below. In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter (@SupportPSU) or go to Flickr to check out the other stuff he photographs.
Tina Hay, editor
We had some pretty impressive fog here in Central Pennsylvania this morning. My friend Sue Baker, who works in the Eberly College of Science, took this photo on the mall on her way in to work. I thought it was a lovely image.
Tina Hay, editor
The students in Penn State’s Opera Theatre program are staging a production of the tragedy Dialogues of the Carmelites tonight and tomorrow at University Park—and, if last night’s dress rehearsal is any indication, it’ll give you chills.
It’s a 1957 work by a French composer, Francis Poulenc, and is set in the bloody French Revolution of the late 1700s. Blanche, the central character, is an anxious, fearful young woman who becomes a Carmelite nun in hopes of feeling safer in life—and ends up being anything but. As Ted Christopher, the head of the opera theatre program, described it to me last night: “Blanche felt the world closing in on her, so she joined a convent … where she found the world closing in on her even more.”
Blanche’s character is fictional, but the larger story, the martyrdom of 16 Carmelite nuns in 1794, is not.
It’s a dark, intense, provocative production, and the final scene—the nuns singing as, one by one, they head off to their deaths—is incredibly moving.
Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow (Nov. 15 and 16) in the Esber Recital Hall, part of Music Building I. Tickets are $4.99 for the general public; students pay $2. More information is here, and some photos I took at last night’s dress rehearsal are below.
Tina Hay, editor
Until September 2010, when Penn State announced that historic gift of $88 million from Kim and Terry Pegula ’73, ice hockey was a club sport, and it was played on a rink that had audience seating on one side only. (The folklore is that there simply hadn’t been enough money to build a facility with grandstands on both sides.) And while the Icers, under head coach Joe Battista ’83, were among the finest club teams in the country—winning six national club championships—the idea of upgrading to varsity status was just out of the question. Too expensive.
And then, maybe five years ago, in part because of a relationship formed between Battista and Pegula, rumors started swirling that the Icers’ dream might actually come true. Our senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 tells the tale of how the dream finally did come true in the cover story of our Sept./Oct. issue.
I have a clear memory of waiting to cross College Avenue over lunch hour one day a few years back and seeing Joe (who by then was a fundraiser for Penn State) stopped at the stoplight. He rolled down the window, we exchanged hellos, and I said, offhandedly, “What are you up to these days?” And he replied with a big grin, “I’m trying to get us a hockey arena!”
Today, less than three weeks after the opening of the 6,000-seat Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State announced that Battista—who came here as a freshman in 1978 and, except for a four-year stint after his graduation in 1983, has been associated with Penn State ever since—is leaving the university. Effective Nov. 8, he’ll step down from his current role as associate athletic director for the Pegula Ice Arena and hockey development in order to go work for Pegula’s company, East Management Services, as its vice president of hockey related businesses. (Pegula owns the Buffalo Sabres and is also developing two public rinks in Buffalo, among other hockey ventures.)
In the news release today, Battista talked about the Pegula Arena and the launching of men’s and women’s ice hockey as the culmination of a dream for him. ”While this dream has come true,” he said, “it is now time for me to set new goals and dream new dreams.”
Speaking on behalf of his wife, Heidi, and himself, he added: “We will continue to proudly support Penn State and wear the blue and white forever.”
Tina Hay, editor
This past summer, as we all started to get excited about the opening of the Pegula Ice Arena, I started to get even more excited about the prospect of photographing collegiate ice hockey.
I’ve written before about the challenges and rewards in photographing volleyball, wrestling, and a football practice. But, except for one time in the late 1970s when I took my now-antique Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic to a Johnstown Jets game at the War Memorial, I had never tried to shoot hockey.
To get ready for the Penn State games, I did what I always do to educate myself on such things: I went to Google. (Full disclosure: I own exactly one share of Google stock.) I searched “how to photograph ice hockey” and found an enormous amount of advice. Some of the best came from a guy by the name of Don Smith, who is the team photographer for the San Jose Sharks and whose article on the subject was especially helpful.
Among the advice that stood out for me:
All that ice. The game is played on a virtually all-white surface, which can mess up your camera’s exposure metering, but on the other hand, it helps illuminate the players’ faces. It’s way better than, say, wrestling, where the action often takes place on a dark mat.
Need for speed. Hockey is one of the fastest-moving of all sports and thus one of the toughest to photograph. It requires you to set your camera’s ISO to at least 800 to 1000 and use shutter speeds no slower than 1/400 of a second. Luckily, the Pegula Arena is exceptionally well-lit, and in the two games I’ve shot so far, I’ve been able to use shutter speeds as high as 1/1250 or even 1/2500 of a second.
Keep shooting. As is true in virtually every sport, the secret to getting a few good photos is to take a lot of photos. Or, as one guy online said: “Don’t hesitate to shoot a ton of frames; by sheer blind luck some will be great.”
At the men’s opener against Army, I shot nearly 300 images and ended up with about 20 that I thought were half decent. At the women’s game against New Hampshire this past Saturday night, I took about 185 images—and identified seven that I like. My ratio might improve as I get more experience, but still, that’s just the nature of photography.
Watch the knees. This was an interesting tip: If you’re trying to get photos of the action in front of the goal, train your camera on the goalie and wait for his or her knees to flex—a sign that the puck is headed their way—then start shooting like crazy. I tried to remember that on Saturday night, and sure enough, I was able to get a shot of a goal being scored. Unfortunately, it was a goal for UNH:
Through the looking glass? The plexiglass that protects fans from flying pucks can really be annoying to a photographer: It can cost you at least an f-stop in exposure, and the scuff marks and hand prints can mar your photos. Some photographers take a rag with them to the games and do what they can to clean off their little section of the glass.
Luckily, the people who designed the Pegula Arena included a few portholes for photographers to stick their camera lenses through. Two of the portholes are reserved for Sports Information photographers Mark Selders and Steve Manuel ’84, ’92, but that leaves one or two for the media photographers to take turns with.
Part of the reason I went to the women’s game this past Saturday night (and not, for example, the rematch on Sunday afternoon) was that I figured Mark and Steve would be out in Columbus shooting the football game. Likewise, I assumed that few, if any, news media would cover a women’s hockey game scheduled opposite that football game. I was right: I had the Pegula portholes to myself all night.
I suspect that those portholes will become more important as the season goes on. Take a look at how scuffed the glass has become after just a few games:
Below are a couple more of the photos I got on Saturday night. Here’s a scrum in front of the UNH goal (note the Penn State chipmunk on the puck):
And here’s a shot of some action along the near-side boards:
That’s sophomore forward Micayla Catanzariti trying to dig out the loose puck.
You can see that the stands were, unfortunately, pretty empty on Saturday night—there’s a big discrepancy in attendance so far between the men’s games and the women’s games, and being up against the Ohio State game obviously made it worse. Official attendance was listed at 493. But it was a great game: The two teams traded goals all night, until UNH finally pulled away and won 8-5.
I’m looking forward to lots more hockey in that magnificent arena throughout the season and in the years to come.
Tina Hay, editor
P.S. If I’m not mistaken, somewhere around my house I have a few photos from that Jets game I shot, including one or two of the Carlson brothers, the Johnstown players who served as the model for the nerdy, goon-squad Hanson brothers in the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot. Someday if I run across them, I’ll post them.
The amazing thing about Penn State’s first-ever Division 1 hockey game in the brand-new Pegula Ice Arena was how it felt so amazing and yet, at the same time, perfectly normal.
From the cars jamming University Drive, to the thousands of people streaming into the arena, to the roars of the crowd, to the rowdy student section pounding on the glass after every goal … somehow it all felt as if Penn State had been playing big-time hockey in a 6,000-seat arena forever. As if hockey just belongs here.
And the Nittany Lions made sure they opened the new era with a win, defeating Army 4-1.
I got to the arena about 45 minutes before the game and spent some time just wandering around with my camera to see what I could see—and to try to figure out where everything was. I happened to be on the top level just as they were getting underway; here’s a short video clip I shot with my iPhone of the Penn State players taking the ice:
Someone clearly put a lot of thought and time into the whole game-day experience—the videos, the lights, the music, even the ads on the light boards ringing the arena. And they did a terrific job. Here again, it was as if big exuberant hockey extravaganzas are just what we do around here.
Below are some photos I took throughout the evening of the action on—and off—the ice.
I have a feeling that Penn Staters will be enjoying this new arena—and the student-athletes who compete in it—for many years to come.
Tina Hay, editor
With the Nittany Lions opening their first Division 1 hockey season in the brand-new Pegula Ice Arena tonight, a thought occurred to us: Can the lion mascot skate?
So we put in a call to Curtis White, adviser to the Nittany Lion mascot and the cheerleaders, and asked him a few questions about what they’ll be doing at hockey games. Here’s what we learned.
Will the lion and cheerleaders be involved in ice hockey games at Pegula?
They’ll be there tonight. In terms of “stunting,” it’s not like a football game, so we can only do minor things. But, for example, we’re hoping to have the lion and a couple of cheerleaders run out onto the ice carrying the big “We Are Penn State” flags at the beginning of the game.
When you say “run out,” you actually mean “skate out,” right?
Right. They’ll be on skates.
Can the lion ice skate?
He can skate. He already had some skating ability, but he also took some ice skating lessons this summer near his home in Delaware, and he’s been working with someone up here that the ice hockey folks suggested.
Was skating part of tryouts for mascot candidates in the past?
No, not at all.
Will it be in the future?
Yes, that what we’re looking at doing. I don’t want to eliminate someone based on skating ability, but if they can skate, it’ll be a plus.
There aren’t many stoppages of play in ice hockey, just the intermissions. What can the lion and cheerleaders do at a hockey game?
This first game, we’re just going to feel it out. I contacted other schools that use cheerleaders at hockey games, and they gave us suggestions. The band will be there too, and we’ll feed off that. The lion might go out on the ice at some point and skate around a bit, but no skits yet. We’ll see how things go at the first game, and then see what we can do to make things better as the season goes on.
Where will the band and cheerleaders sit?
We’ll be in the middle of the student section.
Will we see the Lion driving the Zamboni?
He might not drive the Zamboni. But you might see him get dumped out of it. There’s a space inside the Zamboni where he can go in and hide, and during the club team’s games, he’d go in there and then get dumped out on the ice. The fans loved it.
Tina Hay, editor
We do it every Homecoming weekend—we call it the Alumni Zone, and we invite all interested alumni. I’ll be there, and so will a lot of other Alumni Association staff, as well as several hundred Penn State alumni and their families who have already RSVPed to say they plan to attend.
I went to the A-Zone last year for the first time, and had a blast. There’s lots of food, lots of stuff for the kids to do, and lots of music—including the Alumni Blue Band. The Lion mascot is there, roaming around, happily posing for photos. There are celebrity guests too; this year they include former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson ’04, ’06, Homecoming grand marshal John Amaechi ’94, former Lady Lion basketball standout Kelly Mazzante ’04, and coaches Patrick Chambers, Guy Gadowsky, Charlene Morett ’79, Mark Pavlik ’82, and Russ Rose.
You can get a feel for the fun by looking at some of the photos from last year, and you can check out the menu, the celebrities list, and the activities offered by going here. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Multi Sport Facility, below the stadium. Alumni Association members pay a discounted admission charge, but all alumni and friends are welcome. Hope to see you on Saturday.
Tina Hay, editor
Penn State students and others were treated to a free, intimate performance by the St. Lawrence String Quartet last night in the Hintz Family Alumni Center.
The SLSQ is in town for a concert in Schwab Auditorium tonight and, as part of the Center for the Performing Arts’ Classical Music Project, has also done some smaller events this week to help make classical music more accessible to students. Yesterday, for example, the quartet did a “dorm concert” in Atherton Hall for Schreyer Honors College students, and last night they played in our own Robb Hall.
The room was set up in a theatre-in-the-round format, with the quartet right in the middle and many of the audience members just a few feet away. The performers dressed as casually as the audience did, and violinist Geoff Nuttall took time before each piece to talk about the music they were about to play. At the end, members of the quartet answered questions from the audience.
Last night’s event was the first in a series of three ”Classical Coffeehouses” organized by the Blue & White Society (the Alumni Association’s student members) and the Center for the Performing Arts. Pianist Jeremy Denk will perform in Robb Hall on Jan. 28, and Cantus, an all-male vocal ensemble, gives a concert there on March 31.
Below are a few images from last night’s performance.
Tina Hay, editor
There’s nothing that can get you much closer to nature than holding a tiny bird in your hand—or a large one, for that matter—and a number of Penn State students are getting an opportunity to do just that. Volunteer Nick Kerlin ’71 is overseeing bird-banding sessions again this fall at the Arboretum, where students can get experience in the process of catching, banding, assessing, and releasing a variety of wild birds.
(That’s not Nick in the photo; it’s an unidentified student, setting free a newly banded chickadee last Saturday.)