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Coaches Caravan Kicks Off in Reading and Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The 12-stop Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off on Monday before enthusiastic crowds of more than 225 in a sold out event in Reading and more than 400 during an evening stop in downtown Philadelphia.

The Penn State themed Fullington Trailways bus pulled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot at 8:10 a.m. en route to the Penn State Berks Campus.  Take a look through some highlights on day one, which included an evening stop downtown Philadelphia, of the six-day caravan.

Stop I - Reading (Penn State Berks)
Head coaches Bill O'Brien and Patrick Chambers headlined the initial stop on Monday morning to begin leg one of the second Coaches Caravan.  Both head coaches participated in a media session on the Penn State Berks campus before addressing a sold out crowd.

"The band is back together," Chambers joked as he opened his speech.

VIDEO: Reading Press Conference with Coach O'Brien and Coach Chambers

During the morning bus ride, Chambers and O'Brien shared stories and coaching insight during the entire two-plus hour trek to Reading on Monday morning.  The two leaders have a great relationship, and both are excited to be back on the road for the Coaches Caravan.  At the first stop, the duo moved around the entire gymnasium at Penn State Berks, walking from table to table as the crowd at its lunch to shake hands and say hello to all of the Penn State fans.

After introductions and a brief video, Chambers took the microphone first during the formal lunch program.  Always passionate, the leader of Nittany Lion basketball delivered a powerful speech about the progress the Lions made on the hardwood despite facing adversity in 2012-13.

Chambers told the capacity crowd that All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier is nearly back to 100 percent and looking ahead to what will be an exciting fall with the Big Ten's top two leading scorers from last season - D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall - back, along with the conference's second-leading rebounder - Ross Travis - in 2013-14. 

"There is a buzz about Penn State," Chambers said.  "People want Penn State basketball to be good...I wish the season started tomorrow."

Chambers, who hails from Newtown Square, shared stories of his childhood trips to the Reading area and updated the crowd about Reading native Donovon Jack.

O'Brien then took the microphone and told the crowd that Chambers is a tough act to follow because of his energy and passion with everything he does.  But both head coaches spoke with great enthusiasm about not on their own programs, but Penn State University during Monday's lunch.

Heading into his second season at the helm of the Nittany Lion football program, O'Brien took Monday morning as an opportunity to thank the Penn State fans for their support of the football program.  He delivered a direct message to the crowd in the room that their support of the Penn State athletic department has never been more important.

"We wanted to come out and show our appreciation for everything you do," O'Brien said.  "We need your support more than ever and we need to be unified."

While he provided an update on the 2013 team as it heads into the summer, O'Brien's message was to thank the fans for their continued commitment to support Penn State in everything it does on the field and in the classroom.

"A full Beaver Stadium and a full BJC is a statement about a whole lot more than just football and basketball," O'Brien said.

Stop II: Philadelphia (Hyatt at The Bellevue)
The Coaches Caravan bus drove 65 miles south east to stop No. 2 of the caravan on South Broad Street in downtown Philadelphia.  Coach O'Brien and Coach Chambers participated in a press conference prior to the dinner program inside the Hyatt at The Bellevue.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference with Coach O'Brien and Coach Chambers

From the moment they walked into the Grand Ballroom inside the second floor of the historic Hyatt, Chambers and O'Brien were fired up to address a crowd of more than 400 Penn State fans and alums on Tuesday night.

"It is so great to be back in Philadelphia," Chambers said.  "What a great place to be right here on Broad Street; it feels like home.  It's great to be here."

The Philadelphia product addressed the enthusiastic group first with an energetic and rousing speech about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude regardless of what circumstances a team faces.  Chambers received several ovations during his speech as he remarked about his team's fight and ability to continuing pushing forward.

After detailing the returning talent on the hoops squad, Chambers told the hometown crowd that he borrowed a line from O'Brien's playbook for the upcoming season, and he said to look for the 2013-14 Nittany Lions to run some "NASCAR"-paced offense.  As he wrapped up his speech, Chambers earned a well-deserved standing ovation.

"It's always great to come back to the City of Brotherly Love, especially with Coach Chambers," O'Brien said as he stepped to the microphone.

The leader of Penn State Football again delivered a straightforward, impassioned speech to the Caravan crowd. O'Brien said that there is no more important time than now for Penn State fans.

"The success of our students is why we are here," O'Brien said.

Both Chambers and O'Brien share the same vision on the importance of thanking the Penn State fans for their unwavering support.  And both will continue to express the importance of the Nittany Lion community joining together to support the University and athletic program they love.

"You win as one team," O'Brien said.  "That's what it is going to take to rise above what we are up against."

Both coaches did a tremendous job engaging the audience with energetic speaking presentations.  Fans who do not have plans to attend one of the 10 remaining sessions on the Coaches Caravan, register today.  You will not be disappointed with what you hear and see.

The Caravan rolls into Baltimore for lunch and Washington, D.C. for dinner on Wednesday.  Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington and three-time defending NCAA champion head coach Cael Sanderson join the Caravan on Wednesday.

Miles Covered on Day One -
203 miles

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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