Posts tagged ‘char morett’

So Long to My Favorite Chess Teacher

I’m writing this en route to Williamsport for the first stop on the second leg of the Penn State Coaches Caravan, with field hockey coach Char Morett ’79 and men’s volleyball coach Mark Pavlik joining Bill O’Brien on the bus. I’ll have more from the Caravan—on our blog, and on my Twitter feed—over the next couple of days.

Being on the first leg of the Caravan last week, I was mostly out of the loop for graduation weekend, and I’m already missing the energy that a town full of students brings. Like many of us in the Alumni Association, I’m lucky to occasionally get to know some current undergrads: interns, student leaders, Lion Ambassadors for whom the Hintz Family Alumni Center is a second home. Over the past year, my family and I have added “chess teacher” to that list.

James Bischoff ’13 graduated last week, and my 8-year-old son is still getting over it. James is outgoing president of the Penn State Chess Club, one of a handful of students who restarted the dormant club a few years ago. My son had developed an interest in the game playing with his grandfather, and since my wife and I aren’t players, we thought we’d try to get him lessons. Last fall, I emailed the chess club asking if anyone there gave lessons to kids; James replied, and nearly every Friday afternoon during the ’12-13 school year, he and my son sat at our kitchen table for an hour or more, working out the basics of the game.

I can’t say enough about this guy. James was a finance major, and I know he’ll do well in his chosen field, but I think he’d make a terrific teacher as well. He’s personable and patient, and he kept my son motivated with rewards for figuring out strategic puzzles, letting him “win” their matches just often enough, and rewarding him every couple of months with a new comic book. After their last session, James gave my son a trophy engraved with his name and the title “Chess Master;” my son gave him a copy of The Hobbit, which I trust he’ll read this summer…

We also started Spanish lessons this spring, and I’m excited that Suzy Peevey, our patient and trilingual tutor, will be back for her senior year next fall. It’s been a pleasure getting to know these impressive, conscientious Penn State students. I only wish we could keep them around for a few more years.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 7, 2013 at 10:09 am 1 comment

Blair Thomas Joins the Caravan in Drexel Hill

The second stop on the Penn State Coaches Caravan came Monday night in Drexel Hill, a short drive from downtown Philadelphia. Patrick Chambers and Char Morett were buzzing about being in front of a hometown crowd, while Bill O’Brien brought out the PowerPoint presentation he put together to outline his philosophy for the Penn State football program. (You never saw a crowd so interested in a PowerPoint.) It was a terrific night in front of 600 or so Penn Staters.

The evening featured one unexpected highlight: The presence of local product and Nittany Lion legend Blair Thomas, who took pictures and signed autographs for much of the evening.

We’re in Baltimore today for lunch, then on to D.C. tonight for dinner. Much more to come.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

May 1, 2012 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

Watching Bill O’Brien

I’m doing double-duty of sorts on this Penn State Coaches Caravan bus trip, which left State College bright and early Monday morning and continues on tonight in Drexel Hill, Pa. I’m doing this, obviously—blogging and tweeting when the WiFi cooperates to share the scene as Bill O’Brien and the other coaches on the trip get out and meet Penn Staters. But I’m also mindful of the O’Brien profile I’m working on for the July/August issue of The Penn Stater.

In watching him at a handful of press conferences, interviewing him one-on-one in his office a few weeks back, spending a few days with him this week on the bus, and in at least one other unlikely interaction I’ll share at some point, I’ve gotten a pretty good picture of how Bill O’Brien comes across. He is blunt, but he also can be very funny. He’s heard enough of the same questions dozens of times over the past few months, and you can tell which ones he doesn’t mind answering, and which he’d probably rather not hear again. But as me made clear at lunch Monday in Philly, he sees the value in answering them all.

He met with reporters for 15 minutes before the lunchtime gathering at the Doubletree on Broad Street, then took most of the questions (Char Morett and Patrick Chambers joined him onstage) from alumni after lunch. Throughout, O’Brien was on message—and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. His is not the sort of job in which one can focus only on one thing, and certainly recruiting and keeping tabs on his current team keep him busy enough. But he is clearly and impressively focused right now on converting the masses of Penn Staters to his cause. He insisted, as he will again and again, that academics matter. That integrity and respect will be words associated with the program as long as he’s in charge of it. And while he made no promises, he certainly talked about winning football games.

Bill O’Brien has been making a great first impression for four months now, and he looks likely to keep that up for the next couple of weeks. The games will come in the fall and results will largely determine how he’s received; for now, he’s doing all he can to show Penn Staters, in his always blunt, occasionally funny way, that he’s one of us. “I’m no longer an outsider,” he said Monday, talking about the welcome he and his family have received in Happy Valley. “I feel like a Penn Stater now.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm 5 comments

David Joyner’s First News Conference

David_JoynerDave Joyner began his first news conference as Penn State’s acting athletic director with an opening statement that sounded more like a mission statement:

“My mission here has begun,” said Joyner ’72, ’76g. “I’m gonna align our core values in intercollegiate athletics with the rest of the academic units. We have a noble purpose here at the University, and it doesn’t just stop in the classroom. It continues onto the athletic fields, which in my opinion are just another classroom where young people learn to be successful.

“Given that, I consider myself the dean of the ‘College of Intercollegiate Athletics.’”

At that point, he said he’d take questions, which was about the only moment of the morning that was typical.

The news conference was held in cavernous Schwab Auditorium, with ushers checking ID at the door and smooth jazz playing at a high volume before and after Joyner spoke. Field hockey coach Char Morett ’79 H&HD introduced Joyner ’72, ’76g reading his bio and ending by noting that she had known him for 25 years, through their Penn State and Olympic connections. (Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon, has been active in the United States Olympic Committee.) Only a handful of the regulars who cover Penn State football and athletics attended; the rest were on their way to Columbus for Saturday’s football game. (And there was no telephone hookup, so they could not call in to ask questions.)

So most of the questions were asked by national media, many of them investigative reporters. They were not (more…)

November 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm 1 comment

Penn State Gets Its Man — Again.

The men’s lacrosse team has announced its new coach, and based on his résumé, the hiring is a great one. Jeff Tambroni, who led Cornell to the NCAA Final Four in three of the past four seasons, is the man charged with leading the Nittany Lions to a place among the game’s elite. Tambroni replaces longtime Penn State coach Glenn Thiel ’66, who retired in May.

The hiring looks like a coup for the Lions, who lured a proven coach from a successful program to take over a team that finished just 2-11 last season; indeed, the move left many in the lacrosse world scratching their heads. But Tambroni says family ties explain it: He was an All-American at Hobart College, but his wife, former Cornell field hockey coach, Michelle Frates Tambroni ’91, was a field hockey standout for Penn State. (Michelle hopes to help Char Morett ’79 with the field hockey team in some capacity now that she’s back in town.) Regardless of the details, it’s another impressive hire for Penn State, who brought in respected Creighton soccer coach Bob Warming to replace Barry Gorman last month.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

June 20, 2010 at 8:48 am Leave a comment


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