Lessons from crises: As president of Bank of New York Mellon and chairman of the Penn State Board of Trustees, Karen Peetz ’77 is familiar with crises. She reflects on both the financial crisis and the Sandusky scandal in a piece from today’s CNNMoney: Postcards blog and shares lessons learned from both ordeals. Among her remarks: “We have to show we understand that the world in which we operate has changed and that we embrace new ways of thinking and operating. In other words, we have to prove ourselves — prove ourselves worthy of trust.”
All the right moves: If you’ve got a couple free minutes, check out this video featuring a TedXPSU project from earlier this week. On Tuesday, the music school’s chamber orchestra set up shop in the HUB, and passersby were invited to conduct the group in a classical performance. Several students jumped right in—and delivered some surprisingly convincing performances.
More than hockey: We told you about ESPN‘s John Buccigross’s visit to Penn State a few weeks ago, when the famed sportscaster took in a men’s hockey game at Pegula. Buccigross talked more about his Penn State experience with the Centre County Gazette for this piece, posted this morning. A few of his favorite things about State College: Cafe 210, Damon’s mozzarella sticks, and the Pegula Ice Arena’s spacious urinals. Yes, you read that right.
Drop the bass: Ever found yourself wondering if Penn State has a student group for all the bass-fishing enthusiasts on campus? Well, here is your answer, courtesy of Onward State.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Perhaps I’m a bit biased, considering I interviewed the eight alums featured in the cover story, “What’s So Funny.” But then again, there’s really no possible way to include Ty Burrell ’97g, Keegan-Michael Key ’96g, and six other hilarious writers and performers in one story without laughing—a lot—in the process. I hope you enjoy reading the piece as much as I enjoyed working on it.
Another feature in the issue focuses on some interesting research from labor and employment relations professor Alan Derickson. In his new book, Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness, Derickson explores the roots of America’s obsession with sacrificing sleep for work. Senior editor Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g interviewed Derickson about our country’s “complicated relationship with sleep,” which goes back further than you might think.
In “Old Made New,” you’ll learn about some cool renovation projects in the works around University Park. Here in the office, we were wowed by the computer renderings of the HUB-Robeson Center expansion and the new South Halls, complete with sleek modular furniture and private bathrooms.
Other good stuff in the March/April issue: The details on a new, lifesaving “kidney swap” program at Penn State Hershey, a short feature on football coach James Franklin, and an introduction to Penn State’s new president, Eric Barron.
Have you received the latest issue? What do you think? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Maggie McCormick tallied an assist last week in a 14-7 loss to No. 2 Maryland, and there probably wasn’t a Penn State player more disappointed in the outcome. It was a stiff early test for a Nittany Lion lacrosse team with national championship aspirations; for McCormick, it was also a reminder of what could have been.
Just don’t think she has any regrets.
A junior attack and returning All-American, McCormick is a Maryland native who ultimately chose Penn State over the in-state powerhouse Terps, winners of 10 national championships in women’s lax. As you might guess, her college choice wasn’t an easy one. “You grow up in Maryland as a lacrosse player, watching them, and they’ve been elite for so many years, it would’ve been the easy choice,” McCormick told us in the preseason. “The decision was, I can go to Maryland, or I can take a risk, go to what in my opinion is a much better school, and try to make a difference in the program. It’s definitely worked out.”
McCormick is the student-athlete profile in our March/April issue, which Alumni Association members should start getting this week. As a sophomore last season, she totaled a team-high 87 points (50 goals, 37 assists), the most by a Nittany Lion in 25 years. Thanks to that offensive output, McCormick earned second-team All-America honors and led Penn State to the NCAA quarterfinals. With most of the team back this spring, hopes are high for an even deeper NCAA tournament run.
In choosing Penn State, McCormick wasn’t taking that much of a leap—the Lions are traditionally one of the sport’s elite programs, with a pair of NCAA titles and three USWLA championships from the pre-NCAA era. But the most recent of those came in 1989, while the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Princeton, and Virginia have dominated the college game since. McCormick came to Happy Valley to help Penn State reclaim its place among the national elite. She didn’t have to wait long for her chance.
As a freshman in 2012, McCormick found herself playing a huge role for second-year coach Missy Doherty, starting every game and posting a team-high 59 points. “It’s not something I expected,” McCormick says of her trial by fire. “Playing as a freshman, you realize you have a lot to learn, but Coach took a chance on me when I’m not sure many coaches would have. She put me in a position to make an immediate impact.”
That risk was rewarded, and with five goals and three assists in her first three games this season, McCormick continues to make her coach look prescient. Her own potential already realized, McCormick now is focused on making sure her team reaches its ceiling. “The Final Four—that’s the next progression for this team,” she says. “We need to make it to championship weekend, and I think we’ve all bought into that idea.”
Fresh off an 11-7 victory Tuesday over Duquesne—click here to watch the highlights, including McCormick’s three goals—the No. 8 Nittany Lions take their next step in the road to the Final Four this Saturday with a tough road game at UVA.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
National publicity for THON: If you somehow missed it, THON was featured on the ABC Evening News on Tuesday night as part of as segment called “America Strong.” You can watch the clip here and get the backstory in this Collegian story about the water polo team and Brittany Wagner, who’s been the team’s THON child since 2012.
Bars closing again: In the continuing effort to squelch State Patty’s Day, the “student-created holiday” that taxes local police and emergency services and basically is a headache for much of the State College community, more than 30 downtown businesses that serve alcohol will close or not serve it this weekend. According to this Centre Daily Times story, Penn State has spent at least $343,000 over the past two years to compensate bars for not serving alcohol.
Coach Hand, fighting child sex abuse: Offensive coach Herb Hand has gotten a lot of attention on campus for his frequent, personality-filled Twitter feed, but Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports takes a look at Hand’s more serious side. While at Vanderbilt, Hand volunteered with an organization called Our Kids, which advocates for and helps children who have experienced sexual abuse or neglect. So getting the chance to help a community heal from a child-sex abuse scandal was something Hand thought about. “I don’t believe in coincidence,” Hand told Feldman. “I’m certainly not a saint. But I have strong faith and I do believe God has a plan for everybody and they are supposed to be where they’re supposed to be.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Daydreaming, FTK: In case there was any doubt, staying awake—and standing up— for 46 hours is no small feat. A story from today’s York Dispatch proves just how mentally taxing THON can be on even the most dedicated dancers. Penn State York sophomore Mark Czaus explains how he was dreaming on the dance floor—despite being awake and on his feet. “I guess I was going in and out of consciousness,” he says. Yikes. Two days later, it sounds like Mark got a chance to rest up and recover, thanks to some understanding profs.
Also, if you tuned in to ABC World News last night and were disappointed to see that THON wasn’t featured, be sure to check out the show tonight: Onward State reports that the THON segment will air tonight during the 6:30 EST broadcast.
Chart of the matter: I’m a sucker for cool infographics—especially ones that share encouraging stats. Penn State Hershey tweeted out this link earlier today: It’s a neat interactive chart that shows how alcohol use among young people is declining, hitting a record low in 2013. Here’s hoping that bodes well for this weekend’s State Patty’s Day.
Full moon: Back in January, we told you about the Lunar Lion team’s efforts to raise money through crowdfunding site RocketHub.com. Just over a month later, Lunar Lion has raised a whopping $133,768 with help from notable donors, like Weebly co-founder David Rusenko ’07 and NFL linebacker Michael Mauti ’13.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Another record: THON 2014 wrapped up Sunday with $13,343,517.33 raised in the fight against pediatric cancer. There’s lots of great coverage today, including photos, video, and stories at Onward State and the Collegian, but our friends at the College of Communications shared a unique collection of images you might’ve missed: a collection of Instagram images (like the one above), taken by student journalists, of THON dancers, support staff, and families. The theme: “Who do you dance for?” Very cool stuff.
What a finish: David Taylor and Ed Ruth will go down as two of the best wrestlers in Penn Stater history. Our in-house wrasslin’ expert, Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g, was at Rec Hall Sunday to watch Taylor and Ruth in their final home matches in a dual meet against Clarion. How’d they do? Let’s just say both guys barely broke a sweat. Our editor, Tina Hay ’83, posted some great photos at that link, as well.
Board bets: Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated a pair of alumni to fill the Board of Trustees posts currently held by Ira Lubert ’73 and Alvin Clemens ’59. The nominees are Cliff Benson ’71, an executive with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres who was instrumental in securing the nine-figure gift from Terry Pegula ’73 that allowed for the creation of Division I hockey at Penn State; and Todd Rucci ’92, a football letterman and former director of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
‘Eers to Scrap: Tom Bradley will be back on the sidelines this fall. A longtime member of Joe Paterno’s staff, Bradley ’78 was hired by West Virginia on Friday to be the Mountaineers’ senior associate head coach. Bradley, who had worked as a radio analyst the past two years, served as the Nittany Lions’ interim head coach for the final four games of the 2011 season.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Much to his surprise, David Taylor began to cry. He was standing behind the bleachers at Rec Hall with his family Sunday afternoon, watching his teammate, fellow fifth-year senior Ed Ruth, walk out to be honored before their last wrestling match in Rec Hall, and suddenly it hit him. All the hours of work. All the Nittany Lions have accomplished in their four years on the mat. All the people who had supported and sacrificed for him.
Taylor has wrestled a lot of big matches, and he’s got two huge tournaments remaining in his college career—Big Tens and nationals. But he found himself getting keyed up for his final match as he walked onto the mat to be honored by the crowd. He still had tears in his eyes. Said Taylor, “I haven’t been that excited to wrestle in a long time, to be honest with you.”
By the time Taylor actually wrestled, about an hour later, he was so keyed up that he started before the whistle. The referee issued a caution, and Taylor waited a fraction of a second before he went back to work. He pinned Clarion 165-pounder Michael Pavasko in only 11 seconds, the second-fastest pin in Penn State history.
“Sometimes when you’re wrestling, you don’t even know what’s going on until the match is over,” Taylor said. “That 11-second flurry … before I knew it, the match was over.”
As he has for four years, Ruth matched Taylor—both in result and in excitement. Ruth needed a little longer to get his cradle locked up, and Clarion 184-pounder Dustin Conti managed to wriggle out of Ruth’s grasp just a little, but not enough. Ruth won by fall, too. By comparison, his match took forever—1 minute, 5 seconds.
It was a fitting Rec Hall finale for the duo. Each is already a three-time All-American. Ruth has two NCAA titles; Taylor, a three-time finalist, has one. Taylor has 49 career falls, second on Penn State’s all-time list. Ruth is a notch behind Taylor in third place all-time, with 45 falls. Neither ever lost a dual-meet match, either.
Even their coach, who knows a thing or two both about what it takes to excel and how to entertain wrestling fans, took the time afterward to marvel—just a bit—at their overlapping careers.
“I’m just like the people in the stands—I just enjoy watching them wrestle,” Cael Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of great wrestlers, but not a lot of great wrestlers as fun to watch as those two. Just like anybody else, I appreciate the way they compete. Both of them have been very consistent, using every second of the match to score points with very rare, few exceptions to that throughout their career.
“That’s what makes them great. That’s why people will be talking about these two forever.”
They’ll be talking about Sanderson, too, who has turned Penn State from a traditionally strong program into a powerhouse, winning the past three NCAA titles. He couldn’t have done it without Taylor, who had committed to Iowa State when Sanderson coached there but got a release to follow Sanderson to Penn State, or without Ruth, who had been recruited by former coach Troy Sunderland and who swears he didn’t even know who Sanderson was (“the guy whose name is on my shoes …”) but decided, of course, to stay.
One of the great parts of their final Rec Hall post-match media appearance was how each stayed in character.
Taylor, an earnest perfectionist who’s always made an effort to get the crowd into matches, got emotional again as he recounted his day and stressed how many people he need to thank. Ruth, a free spirit who weathered a suspension earlier this season for DUI, declined to expound on his emotions—“I can’t say it any better than he just did,” he said, looking toward Taylor—but later thanked the media for having “welcoming eyes.”
And Sanderson? He appreciated what had happened, but he wanted more. He thought Taylor’s pin took only five or six seconds; the call was a little late because the official had to get the right angle. He thought the four pins in a row—Taylor, 174-pounder Matt Brown, Ruth, and 197-pounder Morgan MacIntosh—was fine, but noted that the Nittany Lions need four pins in a row at Big Tens and NCAAs, too. And he pointed out that Taylor and Ruth still have room for improvement.
“They both need to continue to make progress if they’re going to win Olympic gold medals,” he said. “That never ends. And they both have that mentality.”
After what Penn State wrestling fans have seen for the past four years, who could doubt that?
(Photo gallery below by Tina Hay.)
Lori Shontz, senior editor