Posts tagged ‘November/December 2015’

The Nittany Lion’s Extra Props

In our latest cover story [“Props to the Lion,” p. 40] we pored over two-dozen props and accessories of the Penn State mascot. There were a few more items that we couldn’t quite fit into the feature, and because their stories are simply way too fun to leave out, here they are.

Arguably the biggest prop of the, well, lion’s share is the Michigan State Spartan chariot. Michael Valania ’15 and his roommate built it by collecting pallet boards from loading docks around campus. Because of its size, it’s parked in the cheerleading locker room at Beaver Stadium.

The Lions have also been known to wear special gear for wet weather. “I remember being upset during rainy games because it made it so much harder to move around,” says James Sheep ’08. “A wet lion suit adds like 25-30 pounds—it feels super heavy. After the game, I’d take off the suit and wring all of the water out of it.” Sheep did have a little fun with the forecast at one game, stepping out on the field in a ducky inner tube and an umbrella hat—the latter of which the current Lion wore in this year’s rainy game against the University of Buffalo.


Photo by Nick Sloff ’92

Sometimes, ribbons are pinned onto the mascot to support a cause, like a gold one during the annual football game that supports THON, pink at various sporting events during breast cancer awareness month, and blue for the blue-outs at Beaver Stadium in the fight against child abuse.

But perhaps the biggest treasure that’s passed down to the new Nittany Lion is some heeded advice. Says Rob Nellis ’13: “Enjoy it. Because when you’re serious about it, you can get caught up in the stress of things. And the more you actually enjoy it, the better reaction from the crowd.”

In digging through the stash of props, we did come across three items that we still don’t know the stories behind: Some slack of rope, a blue Hawaiian shirt, and this somewhat scary Brutus Buckeye mask, which is actually made from the skin of an old soccer ball. Any ideas?

Amy Downey, senior editor 

October 26, 2015 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

Inside Our November/December 2015 Issue

coverAlumni Association members should be getting our Nov./Dec. issue any day now. You’ll see that we take a peek inside the Nittany Lion’s closet and uncover some pretty fun props and accessories that have been passed down over the years. From a pink-and-black scarf reserved for Homecoming to a homemade Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket worn around Halloween, we got exclusive access to the stash of props, along with the stories behind them. Learn about the two-dozen items starting on p. 40.

The magazine also includes a rare look aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt where 15 Penn Staters, including two captains and one commodore, spent six months in the Persian Gulf.

Senior editor Ryan Jones embarks on a month-long culinary quest across University Park in “A Moveable Feast” and digs into what it’s really like to eat on campus these days. You’ll be surprised to learn about the quantity—and quality—of options available. (Honey-glazed parsnips, anyone?) Don’t miss Aaron Meshon’s fun illustration of campus eateries on p. 28.

You’ll also find a Q&A with Blue Band director Greg Drane ’06, who recently wrapped up five straight home football games; a story about Penn State Altoona’s new basketball coach (and former Minnesota Timberwolves forward) Doug West; and a conversation with renowned author Joan Chittister ’71 about her latest books.

Let us know what you think of the Nov./Dec. issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

October 26, 2015 at 11:16 am 6 comments

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