Posts tagged ‘Penn State women’s volleyball’

Haleigh Washington Wants to Win, Have Fun, and Study Aristotle

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

When Haleigh Washington decided she wanted to play volleyball in college, she turned to her father for advice on where she should go. There was one rule: She wanted him to point her towards the best volleyball school in the country.

So Alecs Washington told his daughter about Penn State, which had just won its fourth straight national title. She completely believed her dad – “I didn’t do any research after that, I was horrible about it,” Washington recalls – and years later, Haleigh is a national champion, an All-Big Ten selection, and one of the leaders on a 2016 Nittany Lions squad that is once again expected to be among the best in the nation.

And while she is a leader for a team that wants to win another championship this fall, Washington is making sure that she’s having fun. In fact, she’s having so much fun that Onward State called her the most fun athlete at Penn State last year (this is an assessment with which Washington disagrees, because she thinks “every athlete that goes to Penn State is having a blast doing what they’re doing”).

That’s not to say the junior middle blocker doesn’t take volleyball seriously. When asked about Penn State’s uncharacteristic early exit from the 2015 NCAA tournament – the team was eliminated by Hawaii in the regional semifinals – Washington says that the bad outweighed the good for the team last year, specifically referencing a number of “little mistakes that didn’t click,” like inconsistency. Washington says that the team has worked to correct those smaller issues as it prepares for 2016.

But Washington’s definition of fun is somewhat unique. She doesn’t think having fun means goofing around or being light-hearted. Rather, Washington thinks fun stems from a place of loving what you’re doing.

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

“I think fun in the context of volleyball comes from loving the game,” Washington says. “Because it’s so much easier to have fun when you’re in love with what you’re doing, and when you don’t love what you’re doing it’s really hard to enjoy doing it.

“I love what I study, I love philosophy, my family’s incredible, my friends that I surround myself with just make it easy to enjoy being me,” she adds.

Off the court, Washington has fun by majoring in philosophy and psychology. She’s able to rip through her favorite philosophers with the same ease that she lists her goals for the volleyball team this season.

“I’m a sucker for Aristotle,” Washington says. “I’m a sucker for the ancient philosophers, I love them. I love Aristotle and I love Socrates, I love Aristotle’s ethics, most importantly, because it talks about happiness and I think that that’s a big thing, especially when you’re in the college years.”

Once her volleyball career ends, Washington wants to go to Columbia University for graduate school. But for now, she hopes to have a bit more fun on the court. Oh, and she wants to win as many games as possible, because that’s how she defines success.

“If I want to be successful, I want to win,” Washington says. “That’s what success is for me, is, like, when you win. And don’t get me wrong, you can have a successful team and not win…but that isn’t successful enough for me. I want to win.”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

August 24, 2016 at 9:51 am 2 comments

Our March/April Issue: Heading Your Way

We just got our office copies of the March/April issue, so those of you who live in the Mid-Atlantic states should be receiving yours shortly. I can guarantee it’ll stand out in your mailbox because of the cover–a stunning photo of a Rabari Indian girl, one of the images on the world’s last roll of Kodachrome film shot by Steve McCurry ’74. It reminded all of us of of McCurry’s famous Afghan girl photo.

Inside, you’ll find more McCurry photos from that last roll of Kodachrome, a profile of Bobby Braun ’87, who as NASA’s newly named chief technologist is responsible for trying to rejuvenate innovation in the space agency, and a piece on women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose, who just led the Nittany Lions to their fourth consecutive NCAA title.

The Rose piece was particularly fun for Ryan Jones, the other senior editor, and me. We talked to players, coaches, even Rose’s wife, trying to figure out exactly what makes him such a great coach. Both of us knew Rose is a character, so we weren’t surprised when every interview started with some version of this: “Wow, I’m not sure I can tell you the best Russ Rose stories.” Even with that caveat, I laughed so hard when I talked with Bonnie Bremner Pettigrew ’00 that our class notes editor, Julie Nelson, peeked into my office to see what was going on.

“Oh my God,” Pettigrew said at one point, “if you find out what makes him tick, you’ve got to let me know.”

We think we did. Check out the story, and let us know what you think.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 25, 2011 at 9:57 am 2 comments

The Best of The Penn Stater Blog, 2009

We on the staff of The Penn Stater magazine have been blogging for just a little more than a year, but we sure are having fun doing it, and we’re also enjoying the feedback we get from you. I thought you might be interested in a quick “year in review” look at 2009—the Penn Stater blog postings that proved to be the most popular in terms of number of page views.

1. “P.J. Maierhofer: Blue Sapphire, Crown Jewel”

My goodness, do Penn Staters ever love P.J. Maeirhofer! This entry by senior editor Ryan Jones on the nation’s top collegiate twirler was, by far, our most-read blog post of the year. It includes a link to a downloadable PDF of a story we did on P.J. in the magazine four years ago.

2. “Buzzing the Stadium”

… in which I take my camera up in a helicopter for a little aerial tour of University Park. It was a cloudy, dreary day, not great for photography, but when it comes to campus photos, people just can’t get enough. (Astoundingly, my Flickr photo set from that helicopter ride has had more than 100,000 views!)

3. “Penn State’s ‘Men of ’47,’ In Print and Online”

Ryan Jones talks about our November-December 2009 cover story, which told of the Penn State football teams of 1946 and 1947 that helped break the color barrier in college football—and may have inspired the “We Are … Penn State” cheer. This entry also includes a link to a PDF of that article.

4. “Fun With the Women’s Volleyball Team”

A behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for our March-April 2009 cover story on the women’s volleyball team, which had just won its second national title. Includes a short video clip from the photo shoot.

5. “What Might Have Been”

Back in 1982, the Big East came within one vote of inviting Penn State to join the conference. Eight years later the Lions joined the Big Ten instead, and the rest, well, is history.

Enjoy! Stick with us in 2010 and we’ll bring you lots more where these came from.

Tina Hay, editor

January 4, 2010 at 11:46 am 1 comment

Women’s Volleyball: This Photo Says it All

Mike Carlson, shooting for the Associated Press, got this image last night of the Penn State women’s volleyball team celebrating its third straight national championship.

It was an amazing come-from-behind win: The top-ranked Nittany Lions lost the first two sets of their match with second-ranked Texas and were on the brink of seeing their 101-match unbeaten streak—not to mention their dreams of a threepeat—come to a sudden end. But they came back to win the next two sets to even the match, then won a dramatic, back-and-forth fifth set for the title. has some stories and a good video recap. Be sure to check out the fan in the video who’s standing behind Karch Kiraly and Beth Mowins, wearing a Joe Paterno mask and holding up three fingers to celebrate the threepeat. (I have no idea who he is, but I like his enthusiasm.)

But my favorite part of the video is at the very end, when Megan Hodge slams home the championship point and the players on the sideline rush the court and slide into the pile. If anyone knows of a video clip that shows more of that, let me know—I could watch that moment 50 times and not get tired of it.

Tina Hay, editor

December 20, 2009 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

The Women’s Volleyball Team Inches Closer…

…to an unprecedented third straight NCAA championship. The Nittany Lion women put a little scare into their fans last night in the NCAA semifinals, losing the first set to Hawaii, but they came back to win the match, 23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-18. It was the team’s 101st consecutive win and head coach Russ Rose’s 1000th career win, but more importantly, it puts Penn State in the national title match Saturday night.

One of our most popular blog posts of the past year was one involving these amazing athletes. We took readers behind the scenes at a photo shoot last January for our March-April 2009 issue. Not surprisingly, that posting—called “Fun With the Women’s Volleyball Team”—is getting a lot of hits again lately, and if you’ve never seen it, you might want to check it out. It includes a short video clip from the photo shoot.

Tomorrow night’s final pits No. 1 Penn State (37-0) against No. 2 Texas (29-1). It’ll be televised nationally on ESPN2 starting at 8 p.m.

You can read coverage of last night’s win at and at the Tampa Tribune (the NCAAs are at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa this year). And you can also follow the Penn State team’s adventures on Twitter.

Tina Hay, editor

December 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

Another Profile of Russ Rose

Congrats to the Penn State women’s volleyball team, who beat Florida last night and California tonight to advance to the NCAA semifinals. Looks like their hopes for an unprecedented third straight national title are very much alive. The win tonight was Penn State’s 100th straight—and the 999th career victory for head coach Russ Rose.

Speaking of Rose, the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled him yesterday, taking a look at his no-nonsense style:

Rose, with his salt-and-pepper hair and admitted “smart-ass” attitude, seems to have all the right stuff. He’s brutally honest—and will tell you that himself—and tries not to recruit women who are overly sensitive.

“I look at it as, they’re not my girlfriends so I don’t care if they’re mad at me for pointing out things they need to do to be a better player or a better teammate or a better daughter and sometimes a better girlfriend,” Rose said. “I don’t have a problem saying what needs to be said.”

Rose was also the subject of a profile on the front page of the New York Times sports section last Tuesday. Some great visibility this week for a very deserving team.

Tina Hay, editor

P.S. One of our most popular blog entries to date is “Fun with the Women’s Volleyball Team,” from our photo shoot last January that led to our March-April cover story on women’s volleyball. Check it out if you haven’t already.

December 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment

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