Posts tagged ‘Nittany Lion mascot’

It’s Here: The July/August Issue

JA Cover orig text.inddActually, it’s not here — in our office, anyway. But the July/August issue has already made its way to plenty of readers’ mailboxes, even though our office copies aren’t due for another couple days.

If you’ve received your copy, we hope the cover got your attention. As Tina explained last week, our new art director, Marc Kauffman, enlisted the help of photo illustrator Aaron Goodman to create some cool designs featuring the Nittany Lion mascot for our cover story. Marc did some digging in the University archives and found tons of great photos of Nittany Lions past. (Be sure to check out the lion of the early 1960s, which we all agreed is the, uh, strangest iteration of the suit.)

For another feature, senior editor Lori Shontz ’91 traveled to Cuba on an Alumni Association trip back in March. As part of the cultural exchange—leisure trips to Cuba are forbidden for American visitors—Lori learned a lot about the country and its culture, including some contradictions that baffled even her Cuban tour guides. Lori tends to downplay her photography skills, but you’ll see that she captured some fantastic photos along the way, too.

Also in this issue: a profile of author David Morrell ’67g, ’70g, who’s written more than 30 thriller novels over the course of his career, including First Blood, on which the movie Rambo was based. In the feature, he sheds some light on the inspiration behind his latest novel, Murder as a Fine Art.

Other good stuff you’ll find in the July/August magazine: a profile of Nittany Lion offensive lineman John Urschel ’12, ’13g, who’s working toward his second master’s degree in mathematics; a recap of May’s Board of Trustees election, with a look at the three new members; and my thoughts on completing (OK, surviving) “Murph,” a CrossFit workout to honor Lt. Michael Murphy ’98.

Let us know what you think of the new issue. Comment below or email

Mary Murphy, associate editor 


June 24, 2013 at 10:33 am 2 comments

Penn State Inspiring Sixth Graders in SEC Country

Fiscus' students show their Penn State pride.

Annie Fiscus ’10 always knew what she would do when she finished high school. “I literally grew up knowing I’d go to Penn State,” she says.

Sure, part of that was because her father, Clifford ’78, was the Nittany Lion Mascot, and their house was full of Penn State T-shirts and other memorabilia. But part of it was because she came from the kind of background in which college wasn’t a lofty dream. It was a given.

That’s the kind of atmosphere she’s trying to create in her classroom at the KIPP Delta College Preparatory School in Helena, Ark. Fiscus, who’s participating in the Teach for America program at the charter school, part of a national network, figured that one way to make college feel inevitable for her sixth-graders is to make her alma mater seem real.

So she gave out Penn State magnets, stickers, pens, pencils, and other trinkets as prizes. In February, her parents bought 60 Penn State T-shirts, one for every student, and each one earned his or her shirt with strong performances on tests. And all of her worksheets include inspirational quotes from Joe Paterno.

“We talk about Penn State all the time,” she says. “By the time they get to high school, they’re going to plan on college just as I planned on Penn State. Even if no one else in their families went to college, they’re going to think they’re going to go. That’s half the battle.

“If they don’t know and aren’t excited about it, they’re not going to go. If, from Day One, they talk about the college they want to go to … how powerful is that?”

The approach sounds a lot like the one used by Meredith McCraw, a kindergarten teacher in Texas. Pretty cool way to motivate young kids, huh?

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Nittany Lion Documentary Makes Debut

As if the super-cool ESPN Magazine feature on the Nittany Lion weren’t enough, here comes another in-depth look at the mascot, Heart of the Lion. The documentary, which will premiere at 8 tonight on WPSU (Channel 3 in State College), traces the mascot’s history back to 1939 and follows eight students as they try out for the role. Jerry Sawyer, who produced the documentary for Penn State Public Broadcasting, says in this media release, “It was such a great experience to work on putting this show together, and a real treat to meet 15 of the former mascots and see how very humble and Penn State proud they all still are.”

The Alumni Association was the lead sponsor for the production of Heart of the Lion. If you miss the show tonight, the documentary will air again throughout the winter. Check your local listings for more information.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

December 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Great Story on the Lion Mascot

This week’s issue of ESPN Magazine has a great piece on college mascots, centered almost entirely on our own Nittany Lion mascot. The writer, Larry Smith, followed current mascot Clint Gyory around during Homecoming weekend and wrote a terrific article, accompanied by excellent photos by John Loomis. He talks about the hilarious skit that got Gyory the job, about what kind of shape the lion suit is in after a football game (says Gyory: “It smells like death”), and about some of the rules of being a mascot (never stop moving, never talk, never take off your head).

A fact I didn’t know: The Lion suit is machine washable.

Here’s a little more:

The suit is stored in the Lion’s Den—also known as the basement of the house Clint shares with four roommates—next to a boom box, cases of ramen noodles and a freezer stuffed with chicken wings. Four backup Lion suits hang next to it, all stored out of sight. “You don’t let people see it, get in it, play with it,” he says. “You keep the suit safe.”

The article isn’t available online unless you pay to become an “ESPN Insider,” but you should be able to pick up a hard copy at your local newsstand. The date on the magazine is Nov. 30, so it should be available for a few more days, I think. It’s the one with Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson on the cover.

Tina Hay, editor

November 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm 3 comments

But Where is His Head???

lion suitI had to make a stop at the drycleaner yesterday and was amused to see this item on a hanger, waiting to be picked up.

While the clerk was in the back, trying to find my stuff, I snapped a photo with my iPhone.

I posted the photo to my Facebook page and immediately got some fun responses, like:

“Somewhere, there is a very naked Nittany Lion….”


“Where is his HEAD???”

I also thought you might enjoy seeing a photo of the receipt. In the “quantity” and “description” sections, it simply says: “1 nittany lion.” And, yes, the head was supposed to be included. They’d better find it in time for kickoff on Sept. 5.

Balfurd tag close-up

Tina Hay, editor

August 22, 2009 at 9:27 am Leave a comment

A Few Photos from Reunion Weekend

I thought I’d share a (very) small handful of photos I took at the All-Class Luncheon on Saturday—just one of dozens of activities that are part of our Traditional Reunion Weekend.

As the luncheon got underway, the Nittany Lion mascot waited outside the banquet hall at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, ready to make his appearance….

IMG_0663 sm lion

…and shortly after he got on stage, the lion took off his head and turned out to be none other than President Spanier, who made some welcoming remarks to the attendees.

IMG_0686 sm Spanier

After the luncheon, there were some giveaways, culminating in the big prize: a football-weekend package including two nights’ hotel stay and two seats in the Alumni Association’s skybox for the Iowa game. Here, Alumni Association president David Han ’88, ’05g assists while Todd Blackledge ’83 (who was honored as a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus this weekend) drew the winner.

IMG_0695 sm Han + Blackledge

The winner of the football-weekend package was Geraldine Valone ’58 of Buffalo, N.Y., and Blackledge went out into the crowd to congratulate her personally. Pretty cool.

The luncheon closed with some great stuff from members of the Penn State Glee Club:

IMG_0706 sm glee club

And afterward, the 800 or so attendees headed outside and piled onto big blue school buses for campus tours.

IMG_0726 busload

As happened last year, there were so many people wanting to take the bus tours that we ran out of guides, so I got pressed into service. I didn’t have the standard “Lion Ambassadors Bus Tour Script”—I didn’t have any script. I just winged it. Heck, I’ve lived in State College for 33 years; I know the names of most of the campus buildings by now. And the alumni themselves helped me out with the names of the fraternities on Burrowes Road (not my long suit).

We all had a great time.

Tina Hay, editor

June 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm 1 comment

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