Posts filed under ‘Other Penn State sports’
It’s a small irony that, while riding the bus on a Coaches Caravan trip that is understandably focused on football, I’m indulging in the chance to talk at length about soccer. That’s “football” to most of the rest of the world, of course, and as men’s soccer coach Bob Warming has jokingly reminded every Caravan crowd thus far, it remains the most popular sport on the planet. Warming knows as well as anyone that most Penn Staters are more interested in “American” football, and he’s okay with that. He knows his sport is on very solid footing in the States.
Certainly it’s in great shape in Happy Valley. In Warming and Erica Walsh—both of whom are on the bus this week and speaking at every Caravan stop—Penn State unquestionably has two of the best college coaches in America. Warming, a two-time national Coach of the Year during stints at Creighton and St. Louis, has led the Nittany Lions to the last two Big Ten regular season titles. Under Walsh, who doubles as an assistant coach with the U.S. women’s national team, the women won six straight Big Ten titles from 2007-2012.
As a regular at Jeffrey Field since my undergraduate days—for a lot of reasons, it remains one of my favorite spots on campus—I’d catch most of the men’s and women’s games even if the teams were mediocre. Happily, they’re terrific, and Warming and Walsh have a lot to do with that. Being able to pick their brains on this trip—even as James Franklin jokingly yells at us to take all the soccer talk to the other end of the bus—has only clarified why they’re both so good at what they do.
From Warming, it’s insights into the strangely adversarial relationship between Major League Soccer and the college game, and anecdotes about how soccer savvy today’s young players are about the international game. From Walsh, it’s insider knowledge about the challenges of the recruiting process and the workings of the national team set-up. From both of them, it’s good humor and an appreciation (or tolerance, at least) for a passionate soccer fan who can’t get enough of hearing all they know.
As cool as it’s been, I can say I haven’t been surprised. A couple of years ago, I sat in on a class for area soccer coaches looking to add a certificate to their resume: It started with an X’s and O’s session with Warming, who previewed that night’s game with Indiana, arguably the Lions’ biggest regular-season match. He detailed key matchups against the Hoosiers, told us certain players’ tendencies to keep an eye on, and explained the high-tech video system the program uses to fine-tune its scouting and game prep.
After watching the first half of the match at Jeffrey Field, we were joined in the bleachers by Walsh—she was in the midst of her own season, remember—who proceeded to give us an incredibly detailed halftime breakdown of what was and wasn’t working for each side. Based on her knowledge, you’d have thought she was coaching one of these teams, not running a top-10 women’s program of her own.
In both cases, these coaches gave generously of their time, showed off a remarkably thorough understanding of their sport, and conveyed that knowledge in a way that illuminated the game for all of us. Sitting across from them this week on the bus, I’ve been lucky to soak up more of that soccer intelligence. It’s been a blast.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It felt a lot like the past two years: Loyal Penn State fans turning out for an offseason football fix and a chance to meet the new coach.
It also felt very different. Different venue. Different coach. The start, once again, of a different era.
James Franklin took center stage Thursday night at Pegula Arena, where the third Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off within sight of Beaver Stadium. More than 400 fans turned out, and it appeared all who wanted to had the chance to take a quick picture with Franklin at the photo station on the upper concourse. Other coaches—Patrick Chambers, Bob Warming, Russ Rose, and a few members of Franklin’s new staff—mingled with the crowd over appetizers, before fans settled into their seats to see Franklin, Rose, and Warming speak from a chilly stage on the ice.
There are plenty of photos and video from the main event over at GoPSUSports, but we also kept an eye out for things fans might have missed. A few tidbits of note:
* The new coach and new president had what we believe was their first meeting Thursday at the pre-event reception. Eric Barron and his wife, Molly, popped in briefly and spent some time talking with Franklin (below), then made their way out—mostly unnoticed—before the coaches took the stage. Barron, the subject of the cover story in our May/June issue, officially takes over as Penn State president on May 12.
* As you’ve no doubt noticed, in nearly every posed photo since he arrived on campus (including the one at the top of this post), Franklin is holding up his index finger in a “No. 1” pose. Hoping to ask him how and why that became the thing he does when the Caravan hits the road next week.
* Roger Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g, our executive director, presented Franklin with a life membership Thursday night—meaning he’ll now be getting The Penn Stater at home. We expect an occasional letter, Coach.
The Caravan hits the road for real next Tuesday, and I’m excited to be back on the bus for a third year. I plan to have a bunch of updates over the next two weeks, both here and at The Football Letter Blog. If the past two years are any indication, I should come out of it with some great stories. Hope to see you on the road.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Space jam: It was a party yesterday afternoon at the HUB for the announcement of the Homecoming 2014 Honorary Grand Marshal. The lucky leader: Michael Paul, director of the Lunar Lion team. We told you all about Lunar Lion’s mission to the moon back in the fall (it was the cover story in our Nov./Dec. 2013 issue), and since then, the team has made huge strides, with 120 students now working on the project.
More than words: Here’s a feel-good story about a Penn State fencer who’s helping promote LGBT equality in college sports. Working with non-profit group Athlete Ally, Heather Nelson wants fellow athletes to understand the power of their words: “It can be hard to be an athlete who isn’t out to their team and be forced to listen to teammates make derogatory comments,” says Nelson. “It can drive you to feel less like you belong and less like a welcome member of the team.” Check out Athlete Ally’s Q&A with Nelson here.
Groovy movie: Well, this is… interesting. Ripped! is a psychedelic, sci-fi, musical film about a British rock group in space. Film profs Rob Bingaman and Maura Shea co-created the film, which premiered last night at the State Theatre. Penn State students and alums make up the entire cast and crew. Trust me — the trailer is worth your 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Consent decree challenged: Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court may have opened the door to a challenge of the consent decree, the basis for the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State, in a ruling today in the NCAA’s challenge to a bill written by state Sen. Jake Corman that would require the $60 million fine to be spent entirely on child-abuse programs in Pennsylvania. This Patriot-News story will give you the basics, and you can click here to read the decision yourself.
BOT election starts tomorrow: The election for three alumni seats on the Board of Trustees begins tomorrow, Thursday, April 10, and runs through 9 a.m. Thursday, May 8. Before you cast your ballot, learn about the 31 candidates with our Three Questions project.
A creative thank-you: Men’s hockey coach Guy Gadowsky released this video to thank the team’s alumni for their support. And, yeah, that’s a cool gesture. But what will really keep you watching is Gadowsky showing off his juggling prowess. I couldn’t look away. I’m off to work on my hand-eye coordination.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Hail to the victors: Penn State lined up against No. 12 Michigan on Thursday in the first ever Big Ten hockey tournament game, and for the third time in five meetings this season, the Nittany Lions came out on top. It took 52 saves from goalie Matthew Skoff, a breakaway goal from Taylor Holstrom, a spinning puck kicked off the goal line—with about a millimeter to spare—by Eric Scheid, and a 93rd-minute goal by freshman Zach Saar, but the Lions advanced with a 2-1, double-overtime win. You can see all the highlights below:
Penn State is set to face Wisconsin in the tournament semifinals at 3 p.m. today.
Dynasty building: The top-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team stands in first place after Thursday’s opening day at the NCAA championship meet in Oklahoma City. The meet continues Friday and wraps up Saturday night, when coach Cael Sanderson’s squad will be looking to clinch its fourth straight national title. Meanwhile, the men’s and women’s fencing teams—ranked 1st and 5th nationally—enter the NCAA Championships in Columbus today looking to add the program’s 13th overall national title. And the Lady Lion basketball team, a No. 3 seed, opens NCAA tournament play at home Sunday against Wichita State.
A hazing death? The suicide of a Penn State Altoona freshman has become national news as police investigate a possible connection to fraternity hazing. Marquise Braham died Friday in Long Island, and the Altoona chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa has been suspended by the campus pending an investigation.
Change is constant: In the latest in a series previewing spring football practice, Mike Poorman ’82 of StateCollege.com focuses on redshirt junior Anthony Alosi, one of the few Lions to be suiting up for their fourth spring practice—meaning, of course, that’s he’s done so for three head coaches. It’s a cool perspective, and a reminder of how just much change the veterans on this team have witnessed during their careers.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Senior moment: On Thursday, the men’s basketball team fell to Minnesota, 63-56, in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. It might have been the final game for Tim Frazier, the senior guard who is Penn State’s career assist leader, and just the second player in Big Ten history to reach 1,000 points, 600 assists, and 500 rebounds. Here’s hoping Frazier and his teammates get at least one more chance this season—there are rumors the Lions will host a CBI tournament game next week. In the meantime, you can still vote for Frazier for the national Senior Class Award.
Speaking of seniors… It’s not too late to vote for John Urschel ’12, ’13g for the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.
OK, just one more senior: The Centre Daily Times has a cool feature on Mike McDonagh, the lone senior on the Nittany Lion hockey team. He’ll suit up for the last time at Pegula Arena this weekend when the Lions host Ohio State, tonight and Saturday, in their final regular-season games.
The green lobby: There’s an interesting piece over at Slate today about the seemingly unlikely political pairing of conservative politicians and marijuana legalization lobbyists. The idea is that those lobbyists are reaching out to fiscal conservatives and libertarians who, in the words of Slate’s headline writer, “hate taxes more than they hate drugs.” Reading it, I wasn’t surprised to see the name of Rob Kampia ’93, head of the Marijuana Policy Project, long one of the nation’s most prominent lobbyists for marijuana decriminalization. The MPP has had a hand in changing laws around the country in recent years, and history may well remember Kampia as playing a huge role in the growing acceptance of legal weed in America.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Spring breakers: While some of their peers are lounging poolside this week, members of the Penn State women’s soccer team are spending spring break in the Dominican Republic, volunteering at youth soccer clinics and teaching English to local kids. @PennStateWSOC tweeted some great photos (like the one above) of the ladies in action this morning.
Making the ranks: Yet another impressive ranking from U.S. News & World Report to tell you about — this time for Penn State’s graduate programs, 14 of which were ranked in the top 10 in their respective categories. Grad programs in geology and technical/vocational education each nabbed the top spot in their categories; environmental sciences and geochemistry programs came in at No. 2; and the higher education administration program made the No. 3 spot. Check out Penn State News’ coverage to see the other grad programs on the list.
Getting animated: In the March/April issue of the magazine, we told you about Keegan-Michael Key ’96g and his growing fanbase (including a certain Barack Obama) and some exciting projects the Key & Peele star has in the works, including an upcoming Judd Apatow flick. Well, add one more to that list: A popular sketch from Key & Peele, in which the title characters play TSA agents/aspiring comedians, is being developed into an animated series. Do yourself a favor and watch the clip that started it all.
Mary Murphy, associate editor