Letters: January / February 2024
cover of November/December '23 issue of Penn Stater Magazine featuring black and white photo of John Cappelletti with head Cappy for Heisman, photo by Penn State Archives


Cappy for Heisman

I appreciated the look back on John Cappelletti’s phenomenal 1973 season [“Unforgettable,” Nov./Dec., p. 30]. Cappy will always be in the pantheon of the many great running backs to come through Penn State, and his Heisman acceptance speech may be the most emotional in that trophy’s history. The sobriquet of “only Heisman winner in Penn State history” makes me think wistfully back to 1994, when Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins split the ticket and finished second and fourth respectively in voting. The two teammates’ incredible performances that year cannibalized the other’s in the Heisman vote. Although both deserved the Heisman, neither won it. Had Carter and Collins staggered their great seasons, there would likely be at least one more Heisman sitting in Happy Valley.

Don Leypoldt ’02 MBA Bus
Warrington, Pa.


I graduated a year before John Cappelletti. By coincidence, we had the same nickname; because I was the captain of several intramural sports teams for my dormitory house, everyone called me “Cappy,” short for captain.

In the fall of 1972, I was walking through Waring Hall when I waved to a friend from Thompson Hall. She waved back and said “Hi, Cappy.” The woman standing next to her said, rather excitedly, “Is that Cappelletti?” I was 5-foot-8 and weighed 160 pounds. This young lady thought I was the star running back for the Penn State football team!

Tom Witt ’73 Com
Middletown, Conn.


Your John Cappelletti cover reminded me of the January 1974 night I was a freshman walking back to Mifflin Hall. An event in the HUB appeared to be winding down, so a friend and I went inside to investigate. It was the football player awards dinner, with Jesse Owens as the guest speaker. I picked up a discarded program and joined a line of others offering congratulations. John graciously autographed the program and provided me with an unforgettable freshman memory. Thank you for the reminder.

David Johnston ’78 EMS, ’78 Lib


Loved the piece about John Cappelletti, the ’73 season, and the Heisman Trophy ceremony. I doubt there was a dry eye in the house when the movie Something for Joey showed what John said upon receiving that honor. Some years ago, I attended a charitable event and saw that among the items being offered for bidding was a Penn State football jersey with Cappelletti’s number. I bid on it and was lucky enough to get it—a prized possession.

Peter W. Hirsch ’57 Bus
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.


Music & Memories

photo of a man playing guitar by Marcos ChinI just received the November/December issue and, as I always do, dropped the rest of my mail to read it. The article “Get Back,” by David Fox [My Thoughts Exactly, p. 88], really took me back. I tailgated with my roommate Matt Stringfellow and my girlfriend Annette Hollister at a football game in 1979 where we set up our not-so-portable stereo system and a sign we got from the Phyrst advertising Back Seat Van Gogh. They were the best band in town at the time. Thanks to David for the great memories, and to the Penn Stater for bringing them back. Only wish we still had that ’70 Malibu. 

Dave Parmiter ’81 Eng
Newtown Square, Pa.


Nursing Appreciation

Monica Bet holding up Sept/Oct '23 issue of Penn Stater Magazine, courtesyI tossed the September/October Penn Stater into my carry-on bag as I rushed to the airport for my “trip of a lifetime.” A 45-day experience exploring Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and France was my reward for surviving the mental, physical, and emotional battle of COVID-19. As a proud Penn State Nursing alum, I was ecstatic to receive the issue featuring a cover story on nurses [“How Nurses Navigated the Pandemic,” p. 40]. Sitting in a small cafe in Venice, I immersed myself in the article that brought up so many memories of my own experiences with patients and families during the pandemic. The fears, the victories, the disappointments, and of course, the battles lost. For those not in the medical field, it was hard to comprehend exactly what nurses were up against, especially when so little was known about COVID-19. I can’t thank you enough for the poignant article expressing what nurses encountered during the last three years. While each of us has our own personal experiences with caring for patients during the pandemic, the words written throughout the article expressed what so many of us endured day after day for what seemed like an eternity.  

Monica Bet ’99 Nur
U.S. Virgin Islands


A Major Challenge

The article about the marching Blue Band’s drum major flip [What’s Up With That?”, Nov./Dec., p. 16] brought some sharp memories flooding back. My freshman year in the trombone rank was Jeff Robertson’s second year as drum major. Then, my senior year, Eric Felack became drum major. Eric was tall, and the bearskin would have made him over 7 feet tall. That’s a lot of human being to flip around in a short time. We shared a sociology class, and one day early in the term, he pulled me aside after class and warned me that he was not going to do a flip: “Rich, I practiced all summer, and darn near killed myself; I’m just too tall.” At the first home game, when he didn’t flip but threw up the mace, the crowd immediately booed him. My heart was heavy that afternoon. Eric was a great guy. He did not deserve to be booed. He somehow managed to put it aside and had a successful year as drum major.

Richard T. Miller ’76 Edu
Bethlehem, Pa.


Credit Due

There is an error in identification on page 68 of the most recent issue [Class Notes, Nov./Dec.]. You identify David Ketcham as a Wells Fargo associate. The individual who should have been identified is David Ketchen, a 1988 undergraduate and 1994 Ph.D. Although I am a proud Penn Stater, I would not be credited with the accomplishments of others. For the record, I retired in 2020 after teaching for 29 years at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. I now devote my energies to spoiling my four grandchildren. 

David Ketcham ’88 PhD Bus
Mapleville, R.I.


Teaming Up

I was delighted to learn about the new women’s athletics initiative, Teammates for Life, a program to support all 14 women’s athletics programs, help female student-athletes balance academics and athletics, and connect female athletes and alumni for mentorship and networking opportunities. Men’s lacrosse began a program with similar goals eight years ago. I have enjoyed serving as a mentor since I joined the program. Each year, dozens of lacrosse alumni serve as mentors, offering these student-athletes support throughout the year and networking guidance for internships and job opportunities. Initiatives such as Teammates for Life, combined with programs offered by the university’s career services, are vital resources for student-athletes during their college years and beyond. I trust that this new initiative at Penn State will enjoy the level of success that the Teammates for Life program has offered the men’s lacrosse program.

Charles Mitchell ’78 Lib
Parkton, Md.



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