Watching the joy in an athlete’s face after a big win is one of the best things about sports. This was on display last week after Penn State’s field hockey team took down Iowa, 3-2. All three goals were scored by freshman midfielder/forward Aurelia Meijer, including the game-winner as time expired.
Afterward, Meijer – a native of South Africa and the first international player in program history – did an interview with the Big Ten Network. Meijer had a smile on her face as she broke down each of her three goals in detail. She also talked about her brief time at Penn State, which led to the BTN announcer calling her “a breath of fresh air.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
Our just-published Nov/Dec issue includes a feature on life aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with more than a dozen Penn State alumni among the crew. When reached by phone over the summer, a few members of the Roosevelt (most of whom are pictured to the right) shared stories of life at sea, the camaraderie among the group of alums and how to keep busy when you’re stationed in the middle of the ocean.
Says Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Kuhns ’12:
“You go outside and you see blue and you see the same blue that you saw three months ago and then you see the same blue that you’re going to see two months from now. You kind of accept it.”
The group is led by Capt. Craig Clapperton ’89, the commander of the carrier, and Capt. Fred Pyle ’90, the commodore of the carrier strike group. The two have known each other since their days at Penn State as ROTC classmates. Clapperton took command in July, about a year after Pyle arrived aboard the ship.
“I knew right away what the situation was. Our staterooms initially were right next to each other here on the ship and we were already planning out Penn State football games and making sure that those were the only games that we showed on TV on the ship.”
It’s easy to follow the experiences of the Roosevelt and its crew – the ship’s public affairs office maintains a robust presence on Facebook and Twitter, and also publishes a blog that includes an electronic version of the crew’s newspaper distributed on board three times a week.
B.J. Reyes, associate editor
As the 2015-16 NBA season prepares to tip-off Tuesday night, the league is mourning the loss of Minnesota Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, who died Sunday of cancer at age 60. Two Penn Staters with NBA ties and a connection to Saunders are Doug West, the new coach at Penn State Altoona, and Calvin Booth ’98, who recently was promoted within the Timberwolves’ front office to director of player personnel.
West, an Altoona native who starred at Villanova from 1985-89, was a second-round draft pick of the Timberwolves in 1989 and played for Saunders in his final years with the team from 1995-98.
Back in August, we caught up with West for a story in our upcoming Nov./Dec. issue. Among the topics were the coaches he learned from throughout his 12-year playing career and subsequent time as a coach and mentor, including Saunders. Said West:
“I think Flip was a great technician. As far as offense, I think I’m pretty good on the offensive side of the game. He taught me a lot about the offensive side of the game—play designs, calling plays, options to plays, and counters to plays—that was second to none. He was one of the best coaches I played for.”
You can read more on West and his expectations for his upcoming debut season in the new issue.
Booth joined the Timberwolves in June 2013 as a scout and director of player programs. He previously worked as a scout, both pro and collegiate, with the New Orleans Hornets during the 2011-12 season.
In our latest cover story [“Props to the Lion,” p. 40] we pored over two-dozen props and accessories of the Penn State mascot. There were a few more items that we couldn’t quite fit into the feature, and because their stories are simply way too fun to leave out, here they are.
Arguably the biggest prop of the, well, lion’s share is the Michigan State Spartan chariot. Michael Valania ’15 and his roommate built it by collecting pallet boards from loading docks around campus. Because of its size, it’s parked in the cheerleading locker room at Beaver Stadium.
The Lions have also been known to wear special gear for wet weather. “I remember being upset during rainy games because it made it so much harder to move around,” says James Sheep ’08. “A wet lion suit adds like 25-30 pounds—it feels super heavy. After the game, I’d take off the suit and wring all of the water out of it.” Sheep did have a little fun with the forecast at one game, stepping out on the field in a ducky inner tube and an umbrella hat—the latter of which the current Lion wore in this year’s rainy game against the University of Buffalo.
Sometimes, ribbons are pinned onto the mascot to support a cause, like a gold one during the annual football game that supports THON, pink at various sporting events during breast cancer awareness month, and blue for the blue-outs at Beaver Stadium in the fight against child abuse.
But perhaps the biggest treasure that’s passed down to the new Nittany Lion is some heeded advice. Says Rob Nellis ’13: “Enjoy it. Because when you’re serious about it, you can get caught up in the stress of things. And the more you actually enjoy it, the better reaction from the crowd.”
In digging through the stash of props, we did come across three items that we still don’t know the stories behind: Some slack of rope, a blue Hawaiian shirt, and this somewhat scary Brutus Buckeye mask, which is actually made from the skin of an old soccer ball. Any ideas?
Amy Downey, senior editor
Alumni Association members should be getting our Nov./Dec. issue any day now. You’ll see that we take a peek inside the Nittany Lion’s closet and uncover some pretty fun props and accessories that have been passed down over the years. From a pink-and-black scarf reserved for Homecoming to a homemade Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket worn around Halloween, we got exclusive access to the stash of props, along with the stories behind them. Learn about the two-dozen items starting on p. 40.
The magazine also includes a rare look aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt where 15 Penn Staters, including two captains and one commodore, spent six months in the Persian Gulf.
Senior editor Ryan Jones embarks on a month-long culinary quest across University Park in “A Moveable Feast” and digs into what it’s really like to eat on campus these days. You’ll be surprised to learn about the quantity—and quality—of options available. (Honey-glazed parsnips, anyone?) Don’t miss Aaron Meshon’s fun illustration of campus eateries on p. 28.
You’ll also find a Q&A with Blue Band director Greg Drane ’06, who recently wrapped up five straight home football games; a story about Penn State Altoona’s new basketball coach (and former Minnesota Timberwolves forward) Doug West; and a conversation with renowned author Joan Chittister ’71 about her latest books.
Let us know what you think of the Nov./Dec. issue by commenting below or emailing us at email@example.com.
Amy Downey, senior editor
Penn State boasts one of the premier forensic science programs in America. Our May/June 2006 issue looked at the program, which began offering courses that spring, through a staged murder at Spruce Cottage on Penn State’s campus. Students are asked to perform a variety of tasks while instructors look on, giving them experience analyzing a crime scene. Once everything is examined, the students put together a full report on what they believe happened and close the “case.”
In the real world, other professionals, such as the police and the district attorney, would be in charge of the arrest and trial, so the forensic science students’ work on this case is mostly over. Besides, soon they will have a new case to solve: A mannequin is set to meet an untimely death by gunfire next Monday.
This issue also pays homage to the Nittany Lion Inn’s 75th birthday, which occurred that May. There’s a story on Bennett Levin ’61, ’65g, a member of the Lexington Group in Transportation History and the owner of several refurbished train cars, along with a feature on Eddie Wagner ’41, who lost his life during World War II. In 1960, Penn State honored Wagner by naming the school’s ROTC building after him.
Do you have a copy of the issue? If so, we’d love to see it. Feel free to post it on our Facebook wall, or send a tweet to @PennStaterMag.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
In 1936, a huge flood hit Clearfield, Pa. Ray Walker ’35, a recent graduate at the time and the founder of the Bradford Coal Company, lived nearby and rescued people who were impacted by the flood with the help of a rowboat. Now 103, Walker recently sat down to discuss those memories and others with his son, C. Alan Walker ’68g, for WPSU’s Story Corps project. The pair also talked about Ray’s career in the coal business and how he began working with coal as a student.
If you’d like to listen to listen to the discussion between the Walkers, along with the rest of the fascinating stories from WPSU’s Story Corps, head here.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor