Posts tagged ‘hockey’

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

Twenty Years On, Still Perfect

I think I’m finally over my jet lag from five terrific days in Dublin, and just in time: There’s a home opener to be ready for.

The Nittany Lions’ meeting with Akron is notable for a few reasons, not least that it’s James Franklin’s home debut. But as both a 1995 grad and the guy who spent untold hours on the phone this past spring and summer with members of the ’94 Lions, I can tell you I’m almost as excited about the reunion of Penn State’s last undefeated team as I am about the game itself.

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Carter, Collins, and Brady, three of the stars of the unstoppable ’94 offense.

Alumni Association members by now should have their copies of our Sept./Oct. issue, which features that great shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 on the cover, and, inside, an oral history on that team’s epic comeback win at Illinois. While the magazine piece focuses on the Illinois game—well, really the whole trip to Champaign, a surreal experience that the players, coaches, and managers recount in the issue—it’s just an excerpt from our much larger oral history of the ’94 Lions, tracking that squad from raw recruits into arguably the greatest offensive team in college football history. I spoke to nearly 30 guys for that one, and it was very much a labor of love. If you haven’t already, you can find the entire piece over at The Football Letter Blog.

The reunion is well timed not only with the 20th anniversary of that team, but with the emergence of true sophomore Christian Hackenberg as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Hackenberg’s record performance against UCF in the season opener, following his terrific freshman season, has some people wondering (prematurely) how he ranks with the best QBs in program history. Well, the guy who tops that list, Kerry Collins ’94, is expected back this weekend, as are arguably—key word here—the best running back (Carter), receiver (Bobby Engram ’95), tight end (Kyle Brady ’95) and offensive line in school history. There are lots of worth guys in the argument at all those positions, but the fact that so many guys from that one team are in the discussion tells you just how phenomenal that team was.

For so many reasons, it’s impossible to compare this year’s team—still limited by sanctions, and with a brand new coaching staff—to Joe Paterno’s veteran, talent-laden ’94 squad. But based on some of the things I heard repeated time and time again by Carter, Collins, Engram, Brady and nearly everyone else I spoke to from the ’94 squad, there’s plenty that this year’s Lions would be well to mimic: Work hard, put aside egos, never doubt what you’re capable of, and never miss a chance to laugh. Solid advice for any football team—and, I suppose, for life in general.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

 

September 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm 3 comments

Gadowsky is the Guy for Nittany Lion Hockey

The last thing I wanted to do was bum out Penn State’s new hockey coach.

I was in the room Monday for the introduction of Guy Gadowsky, the new — and first — head coach of Penn State’s Division 1 men’s hockey team. My question, which ended up being the last of the afternoon, was whether Gadowsky was mindful of the high expectations for the program, and whether — at a campus where a third-year wrestling coach just won a national championship — he might want to temper those expectations.

“You’re killing my buzz,” Gadowsky said.

The coach was joking, and in truth, I’m not sure anything could’ve dampened Gadowsky’s mood Monday afternoon. The man who rebuilt struggling programs at Princeton and Alaska-Fairbanks has been tasked with building the Penn State program virtually from scratch—and he couldn’t have been more confident about succeeding.

“I don’t look at it like we’re building from scratch,” Gadowsky said. “We’ve got a great tradition here. The club tradition is phenomenal. We’ve got (more…)

April 26, 2011 at 12:03 am Leave a comment


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