PARK, Pa. - Penn State treated fans to a surprise announcement Thursday afternoon
revealing its generations of greatness game against Indiana, set for September
30 in Beaver Stadium, taking both subtle and carefully executed approach to
breaking the news.
With throwback uniforms as the centerpiece of the exciting announcement, it's something head coach James Franklin had already been talking about since he arrived at Penn State. Those early talks began with Brad "Spider" Caldwell, Penn State's former longtime football equipment manager who returned to Penn State after a brief retirement. Those talks about tradition and how to honor a proud history in a unique way.
As the talks materialized, Penn State partnered with assistant athletic director of equipment services Jay Takach and assistant marketing athletic director Brad Keen, among just a few of close group who worked together and all kept quiet as plans developed across a lengthy period of time.
Come Thursday morning, Franklin and his staff met with the team at 7:45 a.m. where generations of greatness uniform model wide receiver Josh McPhearson (who also had to keep it under his hat for a significant period of time) burst through the squad rooms doors to send the team in a frenzy at the first sight of a precisely planned uniform that proudly weaves Penn State's proud past through the fabric of its bright future - it's generations of greatness.
"That's what we're built on here at Penn State: the past, the present and where we're going in the future." pic.twitter.com/xjp9WjsMcA-- Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) June 15, 2017
"I think it's something that does two things," Franklin said. "It really shows and reinforces all the tremendous history and tradition that we have here, and our uniform - as iconic as it is and how it has not changed much over time, there have been some subtle things. And we can honor those things and kind of tell this unbelievable story that we have here at Penn State of our history, and what better way to do it with this uniform."
Spanning through the generations wasn't actually the original concept for construction, but as any great design is born, there are changes and developments among usual additions and subtractions.
Working in tandem with Nike, Penn State originally began drawing inspiration from 1959, the year Penn State earned its third bowl bid in program history on the way to its first postseason victory in the inaugural Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia, shutting out Alabama 7-0.
As Takach also noted though, the concept quickly expanded well beyond a single season.
"It started as just a throwback with what we wanted to do and then as we started to look at the different timeframes and the history of Penn State Football we landed on a couple of things," Takach said. "Nike kind of found the jersey numbers when they were doing some research but we always knew that there was a stripe on the pants, the number on the helmet, the sleeve trim, those concepts were always there in the history so once we started doing the research we decided as it's called, generations of greatness, so versus throwing back to any one particular era, we tried to incorporate a number of different timelines in there."
For an aesthetic starting place, Penn State didn't have to do a tremendous amount of research to find a visual, all thanks to Caldwell of course.
"When Spider and I first talked about this three years ago, all these things were downstairs," Franklin said. "So when I asked Spider, he brought up the helmet with the gray face mask. He already had it. The numbers on the helmet, he already had it. The striped pants were downstairs. Brand new. Bought."
At first a little unsure of the gray facemask, which the Nittany Lions sported from 1959-86, Franklin saw it and found it pretty sharp, also enjoying the numbered helmets, which were originally in place from 1959-61 and later on from 1967-74.
As Franklin also noted though, the white cleats were the final piece to tie the concept together, one particular element that Franklin noted was probably the most exciting to the team bright and early this morning.
Once greenlit, Takach got to work, secretly sizing and ordering, with new jersey and pant materials to take into consideration, both design pieces also under his desk for about four of five months.
Now proudly displayed for all to see, the planning for September 30, 2017 is still ongoing.
For Keen, the fun has merely just begun, with ideas of vintage inspired video boards, student section props, advertisements and field elements all beginning to swirl.
"We've got the ultimate throwback uniform," Keen said. "Everyone does a throwback uniform, but we're going to have the ultimate throwback game. So now I'm going to start to figure out how we can incorporate some vintage throwback elements into our gameday atmosphere and into our gameday experience."
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the state capitol today for an afternoon of recognition, celebrating Nittany Lion conference champion student-athletes and head coaches following a record-setting 2016-17 season both in competition and in the classroom.
Joined by select head coaches and staff members as well as student-athletes, the group toured through the Pennsylvania House and Senate, stopping in for lunch with Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate before remarks from Corman, welcoming the group to the state's capitol following a few early proceedings.
Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania House, which holds all 203 members, including Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, Rep. Rich Irvin and Rep. Scott Conklin, who read a resolution to again welcome and congratulate the Nittany Lions on an all-around successful season, one that drew a standing ovation from the members on the floor.
"I want to congratulate the teams for not only what they do on the field but what they do in the community, the outreach they give, the coaches who oversee them," Conklin said.
Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour only echoed the all-around success in her remarks in the main rotunda later in the afternoon, noting that the individuals surrounding her representing a combined 2016-17 total of nine conference titles, among a few other crowns, are only one part of the story.
Penn State was recently slated fourth in the first spring update of the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a year that saw seven Nittany Lion squads earn Big Ten Championships or tournament titles in seven sports, the most of any league institution and the third-highest total in school history.
As head coach Cael Sanderson brought instantaneous cheers from the floor of the Pennsylvania house upon his introduction, the room was reminded of Nittany Lion wrestling team's stunning second consecutive NCAA Wrestling Championship, marking its sixth in the last seven years, with five individuals earning NCAA titles along the way.
As Barbour pointed out though, the impact of the Blue and White extends much further than excellence in competition.
Nearly a month ago, a school record 114 Penn State student-athletes graduated, bringing the 2016-17 total to 142, with more students on track to cross the stage in August. Penn State also revealed its 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate this year, which stands just one point below its all-time program mark.
"Penn State student-athletes, not unlike their student colleagues and their servant hearts, have dedicated themselves to service," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes served over 6,200 hours of community engagement this last year. This comprehensive excellence is embraced by our Penn State and Pennsylvania community. It's truly Penn State's point of difference. It has historically motivated a state and a community, connected passionately to each and every one of our programs and each and every one of our student-athletes who wear the Blue and White."
Representative of just a small piece of a variety of community engagement close to Penn State student-athletes is THON, a beloved annual event that encompasses the entire university and Happy Valley community.
Led by the efforts of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board, SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON in 2017, which ranked third among the 400-plus general organizations represented. Surging past a fundraising goal of $50,000, the 2017 figure is SAAB's second-largest total in the history of the organization, adding to a career total of $680,000, all for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, with four Penn State student-athletes joining the 703 dancers on the floor this year.
Among those dancers this year was women's soccer's Megan Schafer, a Big Ten Champion from Langhorne, who joined the group today for her second trip to state capitol, but first as a Nittany Lion.
"A couple of years ago I got recognized for winning a state championship, so I think it's pretty cool coming back at the collegiate level to get recognized for our hard work all season," Schafer said. "I think it's really cool everything that people put together just to recognize us today."
Prior to Penn State, Schafer scored the overtime game-winner to lead Neshaminy high school (also the alma mater of Penn State head football coach James Franklin) to a Pennsylvania state title.
The entire group of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes were treated to a personal meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, who stopped by the steps of the main rotunda to greet the champions before heading back to Happy Valley.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball officially kicked off its annual Coaches vs. Cancer - Penn State Golf Tournament Thursday evening, opening the weekend with a Sponsor/Captain Reception at the Hawbaker Pavilion.
Head coach Patrick Chambers and former standout Nittany Lion and current New Orleans Pelican Tim Frazier both took time to meet with members of the media ahead of the festivities.
Pairing up with the Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer chapter for its 21st consecutive season, the annual event is a tradition that Chambers holds especially close, proudly adding on to an already impactful legacy in each passing year.
"I'm especially proud of this year and what the committee has done and the sponsors and the volunteers, because last year was such a big year, the 20-year mark - you kind of think we're going to dip off and I don't really see that," Chambers said. "As a matter of fact, I think we're going to surpass $3 million."
Having raised more than $2.7 million to date, the CVC-Penn State chapter stands as one of the most successful fundraising chapters, but more than dollars and cents, Chambers tied this year's event, which happens to also kick off on the day of his 10th wedding anniversary, to gratitude.
"We have pillars of excellence and it's my fifth pillar, gratitude, and it's just something where I want to find joy in this," Chambers said. "We've had some tough stretches but I think you have to go through those tough stretches to get where you want to go."
Perhaps no better representation of gratitude and perseverance in the presence of challenges is Frazier, a two-time All-Big Ten selection who earned two degrees from Penn State and went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft before finally re-signing with the Pelicans in late July 2016 after originally being signed for the remainder of the 2015-16 at the end of March 2016.
"His journey getting to the NBA was not easy," Chambers said. "A lot of no's, a lot of 10-day contracts, a lot of we're not going to re-sign you, to trade, then back to the D-league, then going with New Orleans to finish the season and getting a deal."
Much like Penn State's newest mantra to #ClimbWithUs, Frazier has already been on the climb for quite some time. Through the ups and downs and the grind of uncertainty, Frazier has maintained a level head, ultimately focused on achieving his lifelong dream, having already battled through injuries and adversity during his time in the Blue and White.
"Just like coach said, there are going to be obstacles in the way but you have to continue to push through it and I was able to do that and look at me now, I know people would not have thought that when I was 145 pounds when I came to Penn State I'd be playing for the Pelicans," Frazier said.
In 65 games with New Orleans in 2016-17, Frazier averaged 7.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, but he's not finished. With work to be done in all areas and plans to get bigger and stronger, Frazier will continue on the climb, working toward securing another contract to further his NBA dream.
For now though, Frazier is embracing a bit of what Chambers is currently trying to teach his young group, that's loaded with some already proven potential headed into the 2017-18 season.
"I think in college I was so set on, I want to make it to the NBA, I want to make it to the NBA and now I'm going to enjoy it, enjoy every piece, never take a day for granted and I try to do that every day," Frazier said. "In every workout, every day just reading, beating people, what can you say, I'm in the best game there is in the world there is right now. I'm just taking in everything in and one day at a time."
In his first time back on campus, Frazier is looking forward to meeting and spending time with Penn State's newest Nittany Lions, sharing a little piece of his side of the story.
Approximately 300 golfers and 60 groups are set to tee off beginning at 7 a.m. Friday morning in the Penn State Golf Tournament concluding with an awards dinner in Beaver Stadium's Mount Nittany Club.
Mass. - A bitter loss in the NCAA national semifinals isn't the type of ending
that anyone would want to close out a season, a historic one nonetheless.
Perhaps more than the sting of the loss or the sight of the scoreboard though, is the character and determination of those who were instrumental in making it all happen.
"It definitely didn't go our way today," head coach Missy Doherty said, reflecting on a 20-10 NCAA semifinal loss to top-seeded Maryland. "I'm so proud of our players to get us here and the season that we had was just awesome."
Penn State shot out to a 7-0 start to open the year, with a trio of wins coming against top 20 teams. By Big Ten time, the Nittany Lions went 5-1 with their only conference loss coming by way of a close 16-14 setback against the Terps, merely weeks ago.
As the NCAA postseason arrived, Penn State had reset from a loss in the Big Ten Tournament, scoring an NCAA Tournament-record 19 goals against JMU in the second round. The Nittany Lions then gritted out a 14-12 win against Princeton in the quarterfinals to earn a repeat trip to the NCAA national semifinals, marking the first time PSU has made back-to-back appearances in nearly 30 years.
As the wins continued to stack up, a new Nittany Lion emerged with a career day, or key contribution on seemingly every occasion, only helping to bolster Penn State's final tally in the win column to 17, marking the most victories in a single season since 1989.
Embedded in the foundation of every successful season though is the character of a team's veteran leaders, something the Nittany Lions surely have no shortage of this year.
"When you first take over a program, you want the players to buy into what you maybe can do, and then as soon as you start doing those things you're able to recruit with what's going on at the current time," Doherty said.
With both buy in and production as the result of the now senior class, for Doherty, the class embraced the vision and then set out to make it a reality.
"To see all of those guys really contribute greatly both on and off the field has been a huge reason why we're in these matches and in the mix," Doherty said.
For First Team IWLCA All-American senior Steph Lazo, each opportunity to make strides toward the vision has been a point of reflection all week.
"Our first year we lose in the first round," Lazo said. "Second year, my sophomore year, we were Big Ten champs. And then last year we go to the final four, this year we go to the final four."
Perhaps one of the most prolific seniors in Nittany Lion history, Lazo concluded her final game in the Blue and White with a pair of points against the Terrapins, scooping up her own rebound for a lone goal in the second half. She ends her career ranked seventh on the Penn State all-time list with 211 points.
Along with fellow seniors in defenders Abby Smucker and Erika Spilker as well as goalkeeper Cat Rainone just to name a few, it's the entire senior class responsible for paving the way.
"I told them, I'm like, you have to keep knocking on the door before you can go through it, and we don't do that without the leadership of our seniors," Doherty said.
Although leaving behind a proud legacy both on and off the field, for Lazo, what's still to come for Penn State is certainly promising.
"We have fought all season ever since we stepped on campus in August, the future looks super bright, and I couldn't be more proud," Lazo said.
Among a deep group of returners, Penn State sophomore Madison Carter and juniors Katie O'Donnell and Maggie Gallagher highlighted Friday's NCAA national semifinal outing. O'Donnell led the way with four goals while Gallagher finished with three to match a career-high mark.
Carter chipped in one goal and grabbed seven draw controls, etching her name into the Penn State record book as the fourth Nittany Lion in program history to score 70 or more goals in a single season.
Drawing from the positives from a year for the ages, the Nittany Lions will look to take the good with the bad today, but certainly there's every reason to head home to Happy Valley proud.
"I love our players, and I love being part of the group, not just on the field but off the field," Doherty said. "They're great students, and they're great people, and they have such great character. I just want the best for them."
Reach Arielle Sargent at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent
Penn State women's lacrosse is officially on location, with Wednesday's travel
day seeing the Nittany Lions arrive safe and sound in Boston ahead of Friday's
NCAA national semifinal matchup at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxboro.
Surrounded by Penn State coaches, staff and student-athletes, the Nittany Lions departed East Area Locker Room around 2 p.m. only to be met with the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd, sending the group off to the airport in style.
Penn State flew charter to Bedford, Massachusetts before hopping on the bus to arrive at the hotel, situated right in the heart of the city.
Earlier this week, head coach Missy Doherty as well as Nittany Lions Erika Spilker, Madison Carter and Maggie Gallagher all met with the media to preview Penn State second consecutive trip to the NCAA national semifinals.
Making a back-to-back appearance in the final field of four remaining teams for the first time in nearly 30 years, Penn State is battle tested and poised to make the most out of this year's opportunity.
Penn State punched its ticket to the NCAA national semifinals with a tough 14-12 win against Princeton last weekend in the NCAA quarterfinals. For Doherty though, grinding out a gutsy NCAA Tournament win against the Tigers, having to embrace the feeling of both emotional and physical levels of the tight game is tremendous preparation headed into Friday evening.
Friday's matchup presents a familiar challenge as the fifth-seeded Nittany Lions prep for top-seeded Maryland, a perennial NCAA national semifinal contender having made it in each of the last nine consecutive season.
During the regular season matchup it was the Terps who pulled away in the second half for a 16-14 win. Regular season familiarity though, isn't something that Doherty considers as giving the Nittany Lions a major advantage.
"I think when you get into that situation, you can see it in the tournament this year, everybody is beating everybody, you never know which game so you really have to be focused on yourself," Doherty said. "Regardless of who we are playing, we need to be ready to play but it's always exciting, we know the tradition of Maryland and we're certainly ready to bring our best and establish our own traditions."
Penn State is well underway in establishing those traditions with Madison Carter topping the Nittany Lion sophomore single-season record list with 69 goals to surpass a record last set in 1983. Carter's tally is second to junior Katie O'Donnell, who has 61 on the year and senior Steph Lazo, ranked third on the squad with 45 goals.
Perhaps what's made Penn State so exciting to watch this year though, is in the element of surprise, with new Nittany Lions stepping up with major contributions in at clutch moments.
Particularly evident in last week's win, freshman Maria Auth highlighted the outing with a career-day, scoring four goals to go along with an assist.
"She played fearless and came in and made huge plays and I'm so happy for her that she stepped up for the team," Doherty said. "That's what this championship journey is all about, that next person being ready to step up."
Looking toward Maryland, Doherty noted postgame last week that Princeton and the Terps have similarities in that that they too have a plethora of offensive options.
"Maryland has a lot of scorers it is their strength and certainly approach is more of a team approach it can't be one person stopping one girl on that team, it has to be really everybody keyed into what's going on," Doherty said.
With the top-ranked scoring offense nationally, Maryland is averaging 16.96 goals per game.
Draw controls will also be key for the Nittany Lions, as Carter also noted postgame last week that possession is key to generating offensive opportunities.
"It's definitely going to be a battle, Maryland is really great at getting the draw too so it's going to be a grind out there," Carter said.
Outside of Maryland though, Penn State is also making time to savor the moment along the way.
"Like Missy said, it's all about being in the moment and kind of taking in every experience," Spilker said. "We have the banquet, we have pregame practices and those kinds of things, so it's just taking in every moment, getting excited for that and then moving on to the game and being in the moment there."
Fourth-seeded Penn State and top-seeded Maryland meet Friday at 5 p.m. in Gillette Stadium, with the matchup streaming live on ESPN3.
Reach Arielle at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent
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