Posts tagged ‘Rec Hall’
Ready for Rec Hall: Saturday marks the Nittany Lion basketball team’s long-awaited return to Rec Hall, the program’s home from 1929–96. Penn State faces Princeton in the “Return to Rec” game, which tips off Saturday at 2 p.m., and all but a handful of standing-room seats have been sold. Knowing what a sucker I am for cheap nostalgia, the folks over at the Penn State sports blog Black Shoes Diaries asked me to write about my memories of Rec Hall, where I had front-row seats in ’92-93 and ’93-94, which just happened to be the Lions’ first two seasons in the Big Ten. I was happy to oblige — you can read my BSD guest post here.
Mission to Mars: Rachel Worth, a PhD candidate in astronomy, is in the news for research findings that suggest the massive asteroid that scientists believe wiped out the dinosaurs might also have catapulted primitive life to Mars. As the lead author of a paper published in the journal Astrobiology, Worth writes that rocks big enough to support tiny life forms were likely ejected deep enough into space to reach Mars—and even the moons of Jupiter. (There’s apparently even a word, “panspermia,” to describe organisms that might hitchhike through space on such debris.) As Worth tells the BBC, “I’d be surprised if life hasn’t gotten to Mars.”
Kate the Great: Another day, another Penn State student-athlete recognized as the nation’s best. Today it’s Katie Slay, the senior middle hitter for the No. 2 women’s volleyball team, who has been honored as the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year. This honor comes just two days after all-Big Ten football player John Urschel ’12, ’13g was awarded the “academic Heisman.” Not too shabby. (Oh, and the women face Michigan State tomorrow night in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Good luck, Lions.)
Value for money: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has named Penn State one of its 100 Best Values in Public Colleges for 2013–14. The university comes in at No. 41 among public college values for out-of-state students and 53 for in-state students. The ratings consider admission rates, test scores, freshman retention rate, student-faculty ratios, and graduation rates, as well as cost criteria. You can find the complete list here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
From news to features, your daily dose of everything Penn State.
A healthy decision: Penn State has reversed course on its plans to fine faculty and staff who don’t provide personal health information and submit to screenings as part of the university’s new wellness plan. The story had become national news in recent weeks as faculty members and outside health care experts weighed in; the university’s decision to suspend a $100 monthly fine for noncompliance with the plan made the front page of the Business section of Thursday’s New York Times.
For one night in December, the rims will be rocking again in Rec Hall.
It’s long been rumored (and long been lobbied for by those of us with a particularly strong connection to the place), and on Wednesday, it became official: The Nittany Lions will host Princeton on Saturday, Dec. 14, in the gym the program called home for nearly seven decades. The announcement was made by athletic director Dave Joyner ’72, ’76g, who was flanked in the Bryce Jordan Center media room by current Nittany Lion coach Patrick Chambers and by Bruce Parkhill, the man who led Penn State to some of its finest moments in Rec Hall.
The return to the old building has been a long time coming. Chambers said they’ve been working on it for at least a year, figuring out the logistics of playing a basketball game in a building that is no longer set up for hoops. That means a portable floor being brought in and set up in the days before the game, figuring out ticketing allotments, and the smaller but no less vital details—Will there be enough parking? Will there be enough bathrooms?—familiar to anyone who remembers packing into Rec Hall for basketball back in the day. But they figured it out, and for Chambers, the motivation was simple.
“We listened to our fans,” Chambers said. “We listened to our alums. We listened to our former players. We heard you.”
For guys like me—a front-row season-ticket holder for two seasons in the mid ’90s—the nostalgic pull of Rec Hall is obvious. It was great to see Parkhill, who was so terrific to talk to last year for our feature on the ‘93 Penn State-Indiana game, at the podium and clearly excited about the game. But the real treat is seeing how people with little or no connection to Rec Hall as a hoop venue are just as excited. Andrew Jones ’11, the former Nittany Lion big man who returned to the program in June to work as a graduate assistant (and who played all his home games in the BJC), tweeted “I still can’t believe this game is happening!!! Bittersweet but awesome nonetheless.” And current students like Maddy Pryor and Darnell Brady, members of the Nittany Nation student supporters section, were at Wednesday’s press conference to unveil the “Return to Rec” banners. They can’t wait.
Neither can I. Now if only I can get my old seats back in the front row…
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The Nittany Lion basketball team is in Bloomington on Wednesday to take on No. 7 Indiana, which I’ll use as another excuse to expand on our feature on the ’93 Indiana-Penn State game that appears in our January/February issue.
As I’ve mentioned, I was in the front row for that game, as I was for nearly every game during the ’92-93 and ’93-94 seasons. We were right across from the visitor’s bench, standing—always standing, of course—about 18 inches from the court. For much of the tape from that ’93 game, I can see myself and my friends jumping, yelling, and occasionally getting held back by a student auxiliary officer. (What, I was gonna run across the court and tackle Bobby Knight?) What I remember almost as clearly as that game is what my friends and I did afterward.
Back in Snyder Hall that night, my fellow front-row residents—Greg Galli ’96, Guy Licata ’96, Doug Schoenly ’96, Rob Scott ’96, and Chad Weihrauch ’97—and I were an emotional mess. We felt like we needed to do something, and we finally settled on writing a letter to Bruce Parkhill expressing our support. (As Parkhill made clear when we spoke last year, we were hardly the only ones—he still has the dozens of letters he received from around the country in the weeks after the game.) I don’t remember what we wrote, but I remember the handwritten reply, on Penn State basketball letterhead, that we received via campus mail a few days later.
Pretty cool, huh?
But one of my favorite memories from this game is not actually my own. It comes from Loren Crispell ’00, who was a local eighth grader at the time and now works as the marketing manager for the Nittany Lion basketball program. I quote Loren in the story that appears in the magazine, but I didn’t have room to include this terrific story about how some of his friends ended up at the game:
I was born and raised in State College, and games at Rec Hall were events. Indiana coming to town was something that everybody had waited for. Everybody pointed to that game. You’d have the “General” in town, the history, all of it. That was something everybody anticipated from the moment we joined the Big Ten.
I went to Park Forest Middle School, and three or four of my friends got off the bus at school that morning and immediately turned and started walking toward campus. They were skipping school to go to Rec Hall. They went into the men’s room at Rec Hall, which was open then, and camped out all day in the stalls. They read magazines to pass the time, and they just waited. Once the doors opened for the game that night, they were in the building. To me, it just underscored how big that game was, how much people wanted to be part of that experience.
I remember I had a French test the next morning. My parents kept asking me if I was ready. I kept saying ‘Oui.’ Little did I know that game would occupy the whole night.
I’m pretty sure Loren’s out in Bloomington as I write this. Next time I see him, I’ll have to ask him how he did on that test.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It wasn’t like I remembered, back when I was an undergrad and they played actual basketball games in Rec Hall. But walking into the old gym Wednesday night for Penn State’s Hoops Madness event, I still felt something like nostalgia.
It felt pretty good.
Hoops Madness worked on a couple of levels, reminding old guys like me what a great building Rec Hall was (and might still be, someday…) for basketball, while hyping up students for the upcoming Nittany and Lady Lions seasons. Not much is expected of the men this season, but there’s plenty of excitement about new head coach Patrick Chambers and his high-energy style. The women, meanwhile, enter the 2011-12 season as favorites for the Big Ten title.
On Wednesday, the teams came together in front of a few thousand fans in Rec Hall, (more…)
Tim Frazier was looking for an example that would fully convey his new coach’s intensity. He wasn’t lacking for options.
“Coach is pure energy, all the time,” Frazier said Tuesday. “Even in free throw drills.”
That assessment certainly jibes with everything we’ve seen and heard from Patrick Chambers in the five months since he was named head coach of the Penn State men’s basketball program. Whether with fans, the media, or his players, Chambers seemingly is always intense—intensely positive about the program’s potential, and intensely focused on how he plans to maximize it.
Chambers and his players met the press Tuesday at the team’s preseason media day, where they explained how intensity and optimism might translate into wins.
Penn State comes into the 2011-12 season without four starters—and the overwhelming majority of its points, rebounds, and assists—from a team that last year reached the NCAA tournament. Outside consensus is that the Nittany Lions won’t be able to overcome those graduation losses—they’re a popular pick to finish dead last in the now-12-team Big 10. Frazier, a junior guard, is the only returning starter, and he knows his days as a supporting player are over.
“I don’t want to put it all on Tim Frazier,” Chambers said. “But (more…)
I went to Rec Hall on Saturday night to see the women’s volleyball team play top-ranked Nebraska—and to try my hand at photographing the match.
Last year I did a little shooting during an NCAA regional match in Rec Hall and wrote about how hard it is to shoot volleyball. It doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier since then.
I do have a better camera now than I did last December (a Nikon D7000 vs. my previous D90)—it shoots at a slightly faster “burst rate” and it does a better job at high ISOs like 2500 or 3200, which makes for faster shutter speeds and thus lets you freeze the action a bit better.
But it’s still a challenge—you have to anticipate where the action is going to be, and you have to take a lot of shots in hopes of getting a small handful of keepers. I can’t tell you how many bad shots I took, and how many different ways they’re bad: out of focus, a few seconds too late for the decisive hit, the ball is nowhere to be found in the frame, the players are caught in an awkward posture….
As just one example of “players are caught in an awkward posture,” here’s a charming scene of three Penn State players apparently engaged in some sort of new dance—or possibly a cult ritual?—during the match:
You really should click on it to see it bigger, to get the full effect of how bad it is. And I have dozens more where that came from.
I did get one or two good shots at the net; shockingly, most of them feature Deja McClendon, a ferocious hitter and last year’s national freshman of the year. She’s in the photo at the top of this page, and she’s also the one over there on the right. She finished the night with 18 kills, more than any other player on the court.
But trying to get good action shots was getting stressful, and I had had enough stress watching that danged football game with Illinois. So I turned my camera to some of the other stuff going during the match.
Luckily, it was the weekend before Halloween, so some of the students came in costume. So I thought I’d show you a little sampling of who was in attendance.
First, we had one of the Teletubbies, and his buddy, Uncle Sam:
We also had a weird assortment that included Gumby, Pokey, Captain America, and some vaguely Middle Eastern guy with a shepherd’s crook:
The innocent-looking Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man:
And two of my favorites, Mario and Luigi:
There was one other guy I thought you needed to see. He’s the guy in the photo at the right, and I don’t think this is a Halloween costume for him—I think this is regular attire for him at volleyball games. He’s a Nebraska fan who showed up at the game in a corn-cob hat.
(Here again, click on the photo to get the full effect.)
I did not realize that when we let Nebraska into the Big Ten, they would be bringing corn-cob hats with them. But there you are.
You can see more photos from Saturday night’s match on our Facebook page.
Oh, and the outcome of the match? The Nittany Lions upset Nebraska, three sets to one. Nice.
Tina Hay, editor
He was only on stage Thursday for 22 minutes, but that was plenty of time for Barack Obama to cover all the bases required for a president visiting Penn State.
Joe Paterno reference? Check. “I just met this guy,” Obama said shortly after he took the stage at Rec Hall,” I hadn’t heard of him before, but apparently he coaches your football team…”
Pointing out his own Penn State connection? Check. Obama mentioned Lt. Col. Sam Price ’95, an Air Force officer charged today with “carrying the football,” aka the nuclear launch codes the president keeps near at all times, just in case.
Giving the crowd a reason to cheer? Check. In fairness, Obama didn’t have to try all that hard to get the crowd on his side — based on his reception, the president (check our Facebook page for more photos) is still wildly popular with younger voters, who made up a sizable chunk of the 3,000 audience members in the Rec Hall stands. But the president made sure he connected with Penn Staters of all ages, and with current students in particular, by emphasizing far-reaching — and, in his words, vital — goals in his brief time at University Park.
“The reason I wanted to come here, (more…)
So we’re camped out on the east end of the floor at Rec Hall, along with dozens of (or maybe a hundred?) media members, a few hundred invited guests, and about 3,000 additional folks in the stands. And while I can’t say for sure it’s the hottest ticket of the week on campus — “Weezyville” seems to be a pretty big deal — I can say the excitement level for a visit from the President of the United State is pretty high.
Barack Obama is scheduled to land at University Park Airport sometime after 11 this morning, after which he’ll tour a few campus labs (including, apparently, the engineering buildings that surround the Hintz Family Alumni Center, which explains why those of us in the Alumni Association aren’t allowed in our offices until this afternoon), and then head over to Rec Hall for a speech focused on energy innovation. The theme ties in with the “Winning the Future” mantra Obama introduced last week in his State of the Union address; Penn State earned the visit in large part due to its lead role in the Philadelphia Energy Innovation Hub, for which it recently received hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funding.
It’s worth acknowledging that, for a lot of people in the old gym today (which by the way looks terrific after recent renovations), the specifics of Obama’s speech may be less compelling than the simple fact that the leader of the free world is on our campus. According to our friends in Public Information, Obama is the ninth U.S. president to visit Penn State, a run that started when Dwight Eisenhower dropped in for his brother Milton’s 1950 inauguration as University president. Obama of course, was on campus in 2008, when he was a senator campaigning for the job he now holds.
Our editor Tina Hay, senior editor Lori Shontz and I got here around 9 a.m. to go through security, although Tina, who doubles as our crack staff photographer, actually showed up at 4:45 to hold a spot for her camera equipment. Thank goodness for the wireless service in Rec Hall, as there’s otherwise not much to do until the president shows up (and it’s looking like he might be running late to boot). It looks like you’ll be able to watch his speech live on the Big Ten Network, and we’ll post again this afternoon to let you know how that goes.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I had a chance to try my hand at photographing wrestling on Sunday—at one of the biggest duals ever in Rec Hall. Top-ranked Penn State lost to three-time national champion Iowa before a crowd of 6,686, and while I was disappointed in the outcome, I had a great time shooting the action.
I’ve tried photographing other sports before (including women’s volleyball back in December), but I had never shot wrestling. So, after securing a media pass for Sunday’s match, I started doing some homework. I Googled “how to photograph wrestling.” I called (more…)