For Penn State basketball, Wednesday night was all about the kids.
No, it wasn’t about the Nittany Lions’ highly-regarded recruiting class. Rather, it was about the children who participated in Growing the Game, the youth outdoor basketball league that formed because of a partnership between Penn State basketball and Centre Region Parks and Recreation.
The entire team made its way to Circleville Park on Wednesday for the boys championship games and wanted to get a message across to those in attendance.
“We’re here,” junior guard Shep Garner said. “We like coming out and supporting the community and let the little kids know that we’re fans, too. It’s not that they’re just our fans, we’re their fans, too. We want to come out and support as much as we can.”
Wednesday night resonated on a personal level with head coach Pat Chambers. He played basketball in environments like this when he was younger – outdoor courts on hot summer days – so this made him feel nostalgic.
“This is the way I learned how to play, in the parks,” Chambers said. “It taught me how to be tough, it taught me how to grow up like a man.”
Of course, there was some talk of the 2016-17 Nittany Lions. There is a ton of hype around the program, partly because of the returning talent it possesses (Garner was 14th in the Big Ten in scoring last year and ended the season on fire, while sophomore guard Josh Reaves established himself as one of the league’s peskiest defenders), and partly because of the guys who will suit up in the blue and white for the first time this fall.
There are the freshmen – Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Joe Hampton, and Nazeer Bostick. The foursome makes up the best recruiting class in school history and the fourth-best class in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports. While they haven’t been on campus for long, Garner praised them for “meshing” and “buying in.”
There’s also a pair of players who were with the program last year but didn’t get the chance to play. Mike Watkins, a center out of Philadelphia, took an academic redshirt, while redshirt junior point guard Terrence Samuel sat out after transferring from UConn.
Neither guy has played a competitive basketball game since 2014, which is something that Chambers notices in the way they’ve played this summer.
“They just cannot wait to get on the floor and put that Penn State uniform on,” Chambers said. “Terrence worked really hard, Mike worked really hard, and they wanna see where their hard work is gonna take them and take this team.”
But on Wednesday, the future of Penn State hoops took a backseat to being a part of the community. Chambers mentioned that programs like this show that there is “a hunger for good basketball” in Happy Valley, while Garner was just excited to be around people playing the game.
“Any time you see a whole bunch of kids playing basketball,” Garner said, “I want to be a part of it.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
There may come a day where we write about Ava Terosky as a Penn State alumna who is revered for her work in software engineering or photography.
For now, Ava—the 9-year-old daughter of two alums, Jeff ’95 and Aimee LaPointe Terosky ’95—is one of the best young chefs in America. She recently won a cooking contest which gave her the opportunity to go to the White House and have lunch with Michelle Obama and 55 other chefs between the ages of 8 and 12.
Her winning dishes were a spinach and mushroom omelette and a fruit and yogurt parfait, both shaped like dogs in honor of the Obama family’s two Portuguese water dogs. Part of the inspiration for the way she presented her dishes came from the food she prepares for her younger sister, a picky eater who is more compelled to eat Ava’s cooking when it looks like an animal.
When asked if she was surprised by the fact that her dish won, Ava (who also recently cooked with famed Philly chef Marc Vetri) told Billy Penn “I knew I was going to win, I just knew it.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
In our July/August 2016 issue, “A Lasting Impact” raises some questions about the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. In that feature, we talked to pediatrician Harry Bramley ’99r (right), medical director of the Penn State Hershey Concussion Program, about the safety measures you can take after—or even before—a blow to the head. (You can find the original Q&A, “Off the Field,” on p. 42.) Below is an extended interview with Dr. Bramley offering more valuable advice for parents, players, and patients alike.
How often do you see patients? Depending on the season, I personally see 25 to 50 patients with mild brain injuries each week. But not all are from sport-related concussions: some are there because of motor vehicle accidents or diseases like meningitis. I also see patients on the whole spectrum of age, but focus mainly on children, adolescents, and young adults.
Any common concerns? A common question is the risk of early onset dementia or chronic traumatic encephalopathy following concussion. The likelihood is rare for most people. For the vast majority, they are fine and live a normal life.
What symptoms do you look at? The four major ones are: physical symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, or problems with balance; sleep, or, more specifically, trouble falling or staying asleep; emotional disturbance such as anger, depression, anxiety; and cognitive dysfunction including concentration, memory, and processing speed. We find out the ongoing issues that they deal with from month to month, then come up with a treatment plan starting with what symptoms tend to be the most troublesome for the patient.
Does age matter? It appears that the younger individual is more vulnerable when it comes to a concussion. They take longer to get better versus high school, versus college, versus professional athletes. The symptoms of a middle school kid seem to linger on longer, which might be because of a developing brain.
How do you feel about return-to-learn guidelines? We have a certified teacher in our clinic who meets with the families and is part of the team putting together a return-to-learn strategy. So maybe the patient goes from half days to full days, or maybe limited to one exam a day and reduced homework assignments. Return-to-learn, for us, is bigger or as big as a return-to-sport focus. That’s the first thing we have to do and move forward from there.
Amy Downey, senior editor
Penn State basketball fans may recall Tom Hovasse ’89, who suited up at forward for the Nittany Lions from 1985 to 1989 and averaged 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over his career.
Hovasse will be in Rio for the Olympic Games this year. Since he’s a little past his playing days, he’ll instead go as an assistant coach with Japan’s women’s national team. After playing in Japan for several years during his pro career, Hovasse returned to the country in 2008, when he became the head coach of a professional team. Then, in July of 2015, Hovasse joined the national team as an assistant.
While it will be a tough task knocking off the United States – the No. 1 team in the world and winners of the last five Olympic gold medals – Japan has a relatively favorable draw in group play, so medaling isn’t that crazy of a thought for the No. 16 team in the world. Japan has played well recently, beating two top-10 teams (fifth-ranked Czech Republic and eighth-ranked China) during the lead-up to the Games.
Bill DiFilippo, online editor
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts rolls into town this week. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the annual summer celebration of people, music, food, and, of course, art.
Our July/August 2016 issue featured a retrospective on the commemorative posters that have come to symbolize the spirit of the festival and the man who has been designing them continuously since 1974: Lanny Sommese, professor emeritus of graphic design in the College of Arts and Architecture. This year’s poster, pictured above, is only the third time in his 42 years of working with the festival that Sommese chose a horizontal design, and for the first time, it will be made available in black and white so people can color their own poster and post it to social media.
“Oh my god! Everybody loves it,” Sommese said when we caught up with him this week. “It’s what the people like and that’s important. I think I made the right choice in doing it.”
As for how long he thinks he’ll continue designing the poster, the 73-year-old Sommese doesn’t have an answer for that. “I certainly plan on doing it this coming year,” he says. “People ask me that all the time and I say I have no idea. It’ll be when I’m too old, I can’t do it, or I run out of ideas, which I never do.”
How long would he like to keep doing it? “As long as I can. I love doing it.”
The 2016 Arts Festival runs July 14-17. For more on Sommese and his posters, see our July/August 2016 issue.
B.J. Reyes, associate editor
For 17-year-old Taylor Guelich, whom we featured in our July/August issue, it’s been a bit of a banner summer. Some background: She could be the youngest student to ever enroll at Penn State — she was just 15 years old as a freshman — and is planning to have both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architectural engineering by age 20.
It should be no surprise, then, that Guelich doesn’t have a typical teenage summer job: she’s currently interning with the university’s office of physical plant, where she’s visiting job sites around campus and learning about project management. And, just yesterday, she was recognized by the Centre County Board of Commissioners for her academic achievements. (Read more about her award in the Centre Daily Times.)
With the fall semester a little more than a month away, Guelich says that she’s “really, really excited” for her junior year, explaining that she’ll take classes in each of the four architectural engineering tracks (structural, building mechanical, electrical/lighting, and construction management) and declare her discipline by the end of the school year.
She adds: “It’s actually incredible to think I’m halfway through college.” We agree.
Amy Downey, senior editor