Posts filed under ‘Penn State in the News’

Jen Ridgley Wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Ridgley (on right) after winning the Stanley Cup | Photo credit: Pittsburgh Penguins

Few Penn Staters have ever hoisted the Stanley Cup. (Ryan Lichtenfels ’00, manager of hockey operations with the Anaheim Ducks, was one Nittany Lion to earn a championship ring when the Ducks won in 2007.)

But when it was time for the Pittsburgh Penguins to gather around the 2016 Stanley Cup and pose with their new hardware in June, there was one female pictured among the elite group of hockey players on the ice: Jen Bullano Ridgley ’03, the senior director of communications for the team, for whom this championship was twice as nice, as she was also with the Pens when they won the Cup back in 2009. “I kind of felt like I grew up with these guys—the Crosbys, the Letangs, the Fleurys,” Ridgley said.

In her role, Ridgley is the link between the press and the players, which includes the endless task of managing interviews for superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. She’s the only female to hold this kind of position in the NHL, but that’s a nonissue: “I never considered that it would be a harder road because I was girl. I just wanted to be a part of the Penguins organization,” she said. “But you do have to have tough skin.”

Media access and outlets have both changed since she joined the Pens as a graduate intern back in 2005. Thanks to today’s culture of round-the-clock coverage, there’s very little of the team that you don’t see.

“During the playoffs [this year], we were doing six interviews before the puck even dropped before games,” she said, “And, post-game, we had nine interviews before we even opened the locker room to the general media.”

Shortly after their final win in San Jose, Calif., Crosby texted Ridgley to tell her that he was planning to shave his playoff beard—and Showtime wanted to film it for a documentary.

When the team touched down with the Cup in Pittsburgh, the first thing Ridgley did was pick up her husband and their daughter, Harper, for a celebratory barbecue at Mario Lemieux’s house. The following months were packed with parades, public events, hometown tours, plus more interviews and photo shoots. With the new season officially underway, Ridgley looks back on what was a crazy—but memorable—summer: “It’s the shortest offseason, and the busiest offseason, but it’s the one you hope for.”

Amy Downey, senior editor

October 28, 2016 at 1:22 pm 1 comment

A $25,000 Check for Grace Hayba

Grace Hayba is a longtime fan of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She’s written into it for years, and earlier this month, her persistence paid off when she won $25,000. Hayba, a rising sophomore at Penn State, received tickets to the show but didn’t know she’d have the opportunity to compete in a trivia segment.

“I had absolutely no idea that we were gonna end up meeting [DeGeneres] and talking to her,” Hayba said. “And playing ‘Know or Go’ was a total shock.

“All three of us were just under the assumption that we were gonna just be there for the taping,” Hayba continued.

The premise of the game, called “Know or Go to College,” is simple: Three members of the audience are put on top of a platform and DeGeneres asks them questions. If they get their question right, they move on to the next round, but if they get it wrong, they are eliminated and dropped down a trap door. The questions are designed to be tricky, but Hayba got both of hers right: “If you’re not a freshman, junior, or senior in college, what are you?” and “A lot of college students pull an all-nighter studying, if I pull my biceps femoris while I whip/nae nae, what part of my body is that?”

After both of her opponents were eliminated, Hayba was the last woman standing. She celebrated for a moment, but DeGeneres told Hayba that she had to come down, and the only way was to go through the trap door. “We sold the ladder,” DeGeneres joked.

While she couldn’t disclose exactly what happens when DeGeneres presses the button, Hayba said it wasn’t too bad.

“That millisecond where the doors dropped and I disappeared was absolutely terrifying,” Hayba said. “But it wasn’t harmful or hurtful in any way.”

All of the money Hayba received will go toward her education. A broadcast journalism major, Hayba comes from a long line of Penn Staters, as both of her parents (Pamela ’70 and Daniel ’79), her sister (Erin ’05), and one of her brothers (Benjamin ’13) are all alumni.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

May 23, 2016 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

The Olympic Aspirations of Tyler McCandless

via Facebook

via Facebook

Sports Illustrated dove into the life of Tyler McCandless ’10 ’15, a former Penn State track and field standout who is going to compete in Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. McCandless has the 31st-best time heading into trials, and with a qualifying time of 2:15:26, he’s right around eight minutes behind the top marathon runner in the nation.

If McCandless isn’t able to make it to Rio, he can always fall back on the Ph.D. that he recently received from Penn State. During the day, McCandless puts that degree to work as the Director of Development for, and the story says that “his current project is a statistical analysis of marathon finisher numbers.”

Definitely give the story a read, and of course, we wish Tyler the best of luck on Saturday.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 12, 2016 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Jordan Norwood’s Super Journey

It’s cliché to say that an athlete’s career seems like it was ripped from a movie, but in the case of Jordan Norwood ’08, his career has followed a very Hollywood-esque path.

Norwood was a lightly-recruited kid out of high school who went to his local college and eventually turned into one of the best receivers in school history. He then went unselected in the NFL Draft, and for his career, Norwood has been cut/waived more times (5) than he has found the end zone (once in 2011).

But Norwood kept persevering, and on Sunday night, we were all reminded of the dynamic player who suited up for the Nittany Lions from 2005 to 2008. Norwood set the Super Bowl record for the longest punt return with his 61-yard effort against Carolina. And of course, when the game was over, Norwood won his first Lombardi Trophy.

So from all of us at The Penn Stater, congratulations, Jordan. Here’s to hoping there are many more Super Bowls in your future.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 8, 2016 at 3:27 pm 1 comment

Rick Santorum Ends Another White House Run


CNN reported today that former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum ’80, ’86, who we profiled in our Nov./Dec. 2005 issue, has decided to end his most recent run at the presidency. This comes two days after Santorum polled at one percent during the Iowa Caucus, an event that he won when he ran back in 2012.

Santorum will officially announce that his campaign is suspended sometime tonight, likely during an appearance on Fox News at 7 p.m. It’s also expected that Santorum will throw his support behind a candidate at that time.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm 2 comments

Neha Gupta Lives B1G

You might remember Neha Gupta from our July/August ’15 issue. Now, her story is going beyond the pages of our magazine. Gupta is featured in a new advertisement for the Big Ten Network’s LiveB1G campaign, which “shines a light on the community of Big Ten students, faculty and alumni who are making a difference in the world through innovations in research, education and community service.” It touches on Gupta winning the 2014 International Children’s Peace Prize and the non-profit she founded, Empower Orphans. Eric Barron also appears in the video to praise Gupta’s work.

If you’re interested in reading about some of the other Nittany Lions who have been featured in this series, click here.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

January 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

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