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Nittany Lions Deliver 2018 Schedule Posters

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football spanned State College Thursday evening, spreading out to distribute the newly released 2018 schedule poster. Dividing members of the team between downtown State College and Beaver Stadium Gate A, the Nittany Lions greeted fans, alumni and friends with about 5,000 rolled posters.

"We're headed downtown to hand out posters and give back to the community, talk to people and connect with fans," junior linebacker Cam Brown said moments before boarding the bus.

The iconic Penn State blue buses departed the Lasch Football Building around 6:30 p.m. dropping various members of the team off at their locations, including College and Beaver Avenues bustling with Arts Fest attendees.

Making their way through the streets, the Nittany Lions paused for pictures and autographs, passing out posters along the way.

The 2018 poster features a calendar-style look, placing opponent logos on game day dates with scripted reminders for known kick off times, various weekly events and themed games.

It's a welcome surprise for members of the team, who saw the poster in a team meeting before breaking to board the buses.

"It's different than the old posters," Brown said. "It's not as basic with the dates underneath. It's kind of - I don't want to say fully interactive, but it's really nice."

Summer Sound Bites
Lift for Life saw many veteran Nittany Lions talking about player-led practices providing ample time for position groups to learn and mentor each other. That's exactly what it's like for the offensive line.

"As a whole unit we're getting bigger, stronger, faster," sophomore Will Fries said. "We're all working on technique and building our chemistry. The young guys are stepping up pushing the older guys and the older guys are stepping up to teach the young guys. Everyone's working really well together." 

Both Penn State Penn State director of performance enhancement Dwight Galt and linebacker Koa Farmer made note of the speed and athleticism coming from the linebackers to date. Brown could only agree when asked about the group, especially with the addition of a few well-prepared freshmen.

"The young guys came in and they were ready to work and they are fast," Brown said. "The older guys, we've just gotten faster."

Penn State Hosts Lift for Life

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Nittany Lion letterman Scott Shirley received the call that his father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer during his time at Penn State, he and his family used every bit of the six months his father was given to live to travel the country visiting different doctors for options. Ultimately met with few options due to lack of funding for rare disease research and medications, Shirley turned toward his teammates for support. Read More

Penn State Hosts Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Nittany Lion letterman Scott Shirley received the call that his father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer during his time at Penn State, he and his family used every bit of the six months his father was given to live to travel the country visiting different doctors for options.

Ultimately met with few options due to lack of funding for rare disease research and medications, Shirley turned toward his teammates for support.

"This is the 16th year which is pretty wild," Shirley said on a bright Saturday afternoon at Holuba Hall. "I was just talking earlier, this was born out of Penn State, out of the culture at Penn State really, whenever I was facing some adversity with my dad's diagnosis with a rare disease and my teammates rallied around me and said we're Penn State football, let's do something."

Shirley is the executive director and founder of Uplifting Athletes, which over the course of its existence has grown into 22 chapters, all of which have combined for a credited $400 million economic impact. For Shirley though, without Penn State, there would be no Uplifting Athletes.

"To see where it has grown now it's awesome, and kind of a testament to the guys in this program, how it has been passed through the generations of guys who have come through and how serious we all take it," former Penn State Uplifting Athletes president Trace McSorley said.

Although the senior quarterback is no longer president, new co-presidents Ryan Bates and Steven Gonzalez are well aware of just how embedded the cause is within the fabric of the Penn State football program.

"Coming in as a freshman, I didn't really know what Lift for Life was or what it meant," Bates said. "Being a part of Penn State football, Lift for Life is what we do. It's part of our culture and it's part of who we are. Coming in this year, me and Steve [Gonzalez] taking on the role of being co-presidents, it means a lot."

Fans flocked to Penn State's Holuba Hall Saturday afternoon for the annual event, which featured all of the usual competitions, culminating in a few rounds of tug-of-war, before an autograph session for all in attendance.

Prior to getting started, a few Nittany Lions took time for a media session, offering an update on summer progress as Penn State heads toward training camp.

Summer Schedule
It's been a busy month of training for the Nittany Lions as McSorley noted the schedule features workouts with two additional player-led structured sessions per week. That's not counting any voluntary individual work too.

Balancing everything is key, while McSorley and the rest of the leaders from each position work together to identify what two player-led sessions will include. 

"A lot of it is me and the other guys on offense, talking with Miles [Sanders], Juwan [Johnson], asking what do you guys want to work on today, how do you want to approach it," McSorley said. "Then talking with guys on defense like Amani [Oruwariye], Nick [Scott], Koa [Farmer], asking them what they want to work on, do they want to get more 7-on-7 or 1-on-1, or just more individual drills and things like that."

The goal of course is hitting the ground running when it comes to training camp, as well as bringing the incoming freshmen up to speed as quickly as possible. For someone like Bates, it's a critical time for the newcomers to learn from the veterans ahead of their first training camp experience.

"The offensive line will work on kick sets, run blocking, we work on everything really," Bates said. "I think that's big for some of the freshmen. Some of the freshmen, they might have played tackle in high school and they are coming in playing guard, or playing guard and now tackle. It gives them the opportunity to pick up the little things. We teach them the proper kick set, proper footwork and everything and I think some of them take it for granted, but it's a big contribution to the progress going into camp."

Speaking of Freshmen ...
Penn State director of performance enhancement Dwight Galt noted that almost all of the incoming freshmen have impressed him with the kind of shape they are in upon arrival.

"This is a good class," Galt said. "These kids are serious. They've been well prepared, not only physically in the weight room and running but also for what it's going to take to be successful here. It's really been neat to train them."

Galt also called the progress Penn State's early enrollee's made this spring as simply phenomenal.

Looking at the Linebackers
When asked to assess the group, linebacker Koa Farmer didn't hold back, calling his unit the most athletic and explosive since he's been at Penn State.

"We have me, Cam [Brown], Jarvis [Miller], Dae'Lun [Darien], Micah [Parsons], I think we're just athletic," Farmer said. "The game of football is obviously changing but our unit, the linebacker unit is, since I've been here, even with Mike Hull and Brandon Bell and all those guys, to this day, we've been the most athletic unit. You'll see when we run on the field. It's going to look like we're moving like safeties."

Painting Pegula with Chuck Van Dyke

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ice has finally returned to the main rink at Pegula Ice Arena. With Pegula staffers scheduled to put the finishing touches on the ice throughout the weekend, the final product will be ready to go come Monday. Transforming the varsity rink is hardly a quick process, as the week-long agenda features carefully scheduled steps. One of the main individuals behind the entire operation though is Chuck Van Dyke. Read More

Painting Pegula with Chuck Van Dyke

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ice has finally returned to the main rink at Pegula Ice Arena. With Pegula staffers scheduled to put the finishing touches on the ice throughout the weekend, the final product will be ready to go come Monday. 

Transforming the varsity rink is hardly a quick process, as the week-long agenda features carefully scheduled steps. One of the main individuals behind the entire operation though is Chuck Van Dyke.

Most fans might instantly recognize the Penn State Zamboni driver often seen on game days gliding across the ice to loud chants of "Chuck, Chuck, Chuck" from the Roar Zone.

Not a man of many words but brimming with plenty of witty personality, Van Dyke has been a Penn State employee for nearly 10 years, working at both the Greenberg Ice Pavilion and Pegula Ice Arena. While he's often seen on the ice, there's all kinds of responsibilities in a typical day.

"It could be anything here," Van Dyke said. "It's not just coming in here doing ice work, you have maintenance and anything that needs to be done, we do it all here. If a seat breaks, we fix or anything really that need repaired or replaced."

Since arriving at Pegula, Van Dyke estimated he has probably been involved in painting and setting at least seven sheets of ice between the main and community rinks.

 The process generally begins the same way each time.

"We start by cooling down the ice," Van Dyke said. "Then we put a paper barrier around the edges to hold in the water. We put a line down the center with string to divide the rink up and then we just start misting water to get a thin layer of ice down."

The center line is set with white string while black strings are run pulled tight for circles, blue lines and end lines. After the lines are set, white paint is mixed and sprayed evenly before another misting of water to make a sheet of ice that seals the paint.

Next up is setting the lines, which no longer includes any actual paint, as blue and red lines are actually fabric inlays. After the inlays are set, it's back to misting fine layers.

Perhaps one of the most involved steps is painting the Penn State Athletics logo at center ice, which begins with a massive stencil.

"We've had that since Greenberg, somebody drew a picture of the lion logo and poked a whole bunch of little holes in it," Van Dyke said. "They take blue chalk and they make a little pattern on the ice and then you start painting."

For Van Dyke, it takes four or five painters to lay on the paint inside the carefully chalked lines before it's set with more thin layers of ice.

Once everything from ads and lines to logos are set and painted, the real icing begins.

"We get so many layers down and then we bring out a fire hose and it gets built up pretty quick then," Van Dyke said. "After it gets to about a half inch we'll bring the Zam out and start dumping water with the machines."

What seems like a complicated process is just another day at the office for Van Dyke, who used to be a truck driver before a friend of his encouraged him to apply for his current position.

"When I came here, I was like I wish I had come here years ago," Van Dyke said. "It's a lot of fun. The best job I've ever had in my life is driving Zamboni."

A Visit to the Hershey Children's Hospital

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football took Wednesday afternoon off from summer workouts and boarded buses headed to the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. A special visit that has now become an annual event, it's a day nearly every Nittany Lion looks forward to in the offseason. Read More

A Visit to the Hershey Children's Hospital

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HERSHEY, Pa. - Penn State football took Wednesday afternoon off from summer workouts and boarded buses headed to the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. A special visit that has now become an annual event, it's a day nearly every Nittany Lion looks forward to in the offseason.

"I love this visit. It's a great experience," two-time football THON dancer Charlie Shuman said. "It's one afternoon that we get to take off and come down here. It really ties into the THON experience when we get back at school. I think coming here is awesome."

Upon stepping off the buses, the Penn State energy is palpable as the team is greeted by smiling hospital staffers before splitting into small groups. While some groups spread out to visit individual families in their rooms, members of the team also passed through a high-five tunnel into the Tree House Cafe.

"This has kind of become a tradition for us," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "We started this in year one and wasn't really sure how it was going to go and it's turned out to be a win-win. It's turned out to be a positive, I hope for the kids in the hospital and I know it's been a positive for our program."

Surrounding families and patients with smiles, the Nittany Lions spent the afternoon simply spending time and having fun.

"It's just the reactions, when you walk into a kid's room and they are huge Penn State football fan and their eyes light up," Shuman said. "You sit there talking for three minutes but you know it made their day and they had such a positive experience. That's what really makes it."

In just a short stretch of time, it's these moments that allow families facing unthinkable challenges to take a break from the fight for an uplifting smile.

"Really it's ultimately about coming here and trying to make a difference in these families that have real challenges," Franklin said. "I think sometimes we think the morning workouts or the afternoon workouts, running in the heat at 94 degrees, schoolwork, or all the other responsibilities - I think our guys spend time focused on how hard their situation is and then you come here and you say my situation is not hard. These are real challenges." 

For senior Nick Scott, it's a humbling experience, one that true to Franklin's message, brings on a different type of perspective.

"We  have a lot of respect for them and their fight," Scott said. "Anytime we can come to an event like this and put smiles on kid's faces, it's phenomenal. Their smiles are very uplifting. The things they fight through on a day to day basis and they are still able to smile and make us feel welcome. It's just motivating and it brings joy to all of our hearts because they do go through a lot. We just have the utmost respect and love for these kids." 

Scott, who danced for 46 hours this year for the first time at THON 2018, also credits his first Penn State football visit to the Hershey Children's Hospital as the spark in his decision to participate in the world's largest student run philanthropy.

"I actually talked about these kids at Hershey hospital when I was doing interviews at THON," Scott said. "Just thinking of them, their sacrifice and persistence, it's something that keeps me going forward whether I'm running springs on the field and remembering what the kids here are going through, or standing for 46 hours without sleep. Those are minor tasks compared to what some kids see on a day to day basis." 

One final group picture closed out the afternoon before the Nittany Lions hopped back on the bus to head home.

As the team headed toward the buses, a few players stopped along the way for one final group hug with 5-year-old Devin Pulaski. 

"You guys are all my best friends," Pulaski said.

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Penn State Visits the State Capitol

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A pair of Penn State championship teams visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol Tuesday afternoon for a recognition celebrating a year of standout accomplishments.Read More

Penn State Visits the State Capitol

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - A pair of Penn State championship teams visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol Tuesday afternoon for a recognition celebrating a year of standout accomplishments. 

Representing the NCAA national champion Penn State wrestling team, All-Americans Nick Nevills and two-time Hodge Trophy winner Zain Retherford joined head coach Cael Sanderson. Penn State men's basketball NIT Champions John Harrar and Lamar Stevens also joined head coach Patrick Chambers for the trip.  

The day began in the Pennsylvania House as the group made its way to the floor on a busy day. Led by Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff and Rep. Scott Conklin, the three read aloud an uncontested resolution congratulating both Nittany Lion squads on historic seasons.

Passing through the bustling halls of the national historic landmark, the Nittany Lions arrived at the Governor's Reception room next. Following a few photos, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf greeted the room to welcome the Nittany Lion champions. 

"My favorite part of today was meeting the Governor and seeing how much detail goes into the Capitol building," Harrar said. "It's really neat seeing all the architecture from the early 1900s."

As Governor Wolf made his way throughout the room visiting with each Nittany Lion, it was a first time experience for all.

"It was amazing to meet the governor, it was my first time meeting him," Chambers said. "It was exciting for me and my players and again, exciting for Penn State basketball to be here on this stage to meet so many prominent people and so many great leaders who help us in what we're trying to accomplish in the world today."

Penn State closed out the afternoon in the Pennsylvania Senate with a lunch hosted by Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Corman welcomed the Nittany Lions before a steady stream of senators popped in and out of the room to greet the group. 

"Today has been such an awesome day," Nevills said. "I'm hoping we get to continue to do this in the future with the success coach Cael and the coaching staff has helped us to and it would be nice to come back again."

Making its second consecutive trip to the Pennsylvania State Capitol for recognition, the Nittany Lions saw a total of 21 Penn State teams compete in either NCAA competition or a bowl game in 2017-18. The Nittany Lions recently closed out the 2017-18 Penn State athletic season with a standout showing at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Nittany Lion junior Isaiah Harris became the seventh individual national champion of the year with his first career title in the men's 800-meter run.

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Nittany Lions Ready for NCAA Championships

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By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a single day separates Penn State track and field from the start of its NCAA outdoor championships campaign in Eugene, Oregon. For 12 Nittany Lions, it's one final chance to close out their outdoor season on the grandest stage, surrounded by passionate support at the historic venue. Read More

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