Photo Gallery - DuBois and Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The six-day, 12-stop Penn State Coaches Caravan, which covered 1,471 miles with events in three states and the District of Columbia, wrapped up with visits in DuBois (lunch) and Pittsburgh (dinner) on Thursday.
In all, 4,345 fans and alums attended Coaches Caravan events during the past two weeks.
Nittany Lion men's hockey coach Guy Gadowsky joined Bill O'Brien and Mark Pavlik for the final day of the caravan tour. Gadowsky, who will enter his second Division I season at the helm of the men's hockey program gave the fans in DuBois and Pittsburgh a glimpse of what is ahead at Pegula Ice Arena when it opens in the fall. Take a look through some highlights on the final day of the Caravan.
Stop XI - DuBois (Penn State DuBois)
The Penn State-themed Caravan bus traveled 60 miles to DuBois on Thursday morning for the closest stop to State College on the 12-stop tour. O'Brien, Gadowsky and Pavlik spoke to a lunch crowd of 170 on the Penn State DuBois campus.
On the heels of the Big Ten announcing its first men's hockey schedule for the 2013-14 season, Gadowsky shared his thoughts on what will be an exciting second year of competition at the Division I level for the Nittany Lions.
The leader of Penn State men's hockey told the crowd that the program is eagerly anticipating a move into its new home - Pegula Ice Arena - in early September before playing its first game in the state-of-the-art facility on Oct. 11. The Nittany Lions will then play their first Big Ten competition games on Dec. 6-7 at Wisconsin.
"I think what is coming with the Big Ten is really exciting for college hockey and Penn State," Gadowsky said.
Gadowsky also showed the fans a short video presentation that gave the room a virtual representation of what a finished Pegula Ice Arena will look like in the fall.
Coach O'Brien followed Gadowsky and the video presentation, and like the entire room of fans, was excited about what he saw.
"Did that video get you jacked up about Penn State Hockey, or what?" O'Brien said.
All three head coaches included remarks about the toughness of the fans and student-athletes hailing from the surrounding areas to DuBois. All of the fans in the room were among the core supporters of Penn State's athletic teams, something Gadowsky said was crucial to his team's success.
"The reason why we had the success we had everywhere we would go is because everywhere we have phenomenal support," said Gadowsky.
O'Brien ended the 11th stop with parting words that echoed what Gadowsky and Pavlik both said to the room about the importance of the continued support moving forward.
"If you leave here with one thing, it should be that we really appreciate what you do for us," O'Brien said.
VIDEO: DuBois Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien and Gadowsky
Stop XII: Pittsburgh (Sheraton Station Square)
The Caravan bus made the two-hour drive through Western Pennsylvania to the final stop of the six-day tour at Pittsburgh's Station Square. With more than 27,000 Penn State alums in Allegheny County, more than any other county in the world, a night in Pittsburgh was a great way to cap off the 2013 Caravan.
O'Brien, Gadowsky and Pavlik addressed a crowd of nearly 375 attendees inside the Sheraton Station Square on the banks of the Monongahela River. Pavlik, who hails from 40 miles east of Pittsburgh in Derry, took the microphone first and shared his passion for Pittsburgh and what it meant to be a head coach at Penn State.
"I'm just a kid from Derry living the dream," Pavlik said.
Gadowsky spoke about the great anticipation for the upcoming start to Big Ten men's hockey competition, and he again showed a video of Pegula Ice Arena. Gadowsky told the crowd that Penn State Hockey will strive to encourage the best hockey players Pittsburgh has to offer to attend school in Happy Valley.
A natural when it comes to public speaking, Gadowsky drew a large round of applause when he sat down after the fans saw firsthand what it will be like to attend a hockey game in Pegula Ice Arena.
"It's going to be a phenomenal place to watch hockey games," said Gadowsky.
The theme of the 2013 Coaches Caravan focused on fan support. At all 12 stops, Coach O'Brien thanked the fans for their continued support of Penn State. That was no different on Thursday night as he spoke for more than 20 minutes in Pittsburgh, spending much of the that time thanking the Penn State loyalists for everything they do for not just Penn State Football, but all of Penn State Athletics.
His message was well received at every stop on the tour, and the fans certainly showed their appreciation with standing ovation after standing ovation for the leader of Penn State Football.
All in all, the Coaches Caravan was again a resounding success with outstanding crowds at all 12 stops around Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia. A big thank you to the more than 4,000 loyal Penn Staters who attended stops in 2013.
VIDEO: Pittsburgh Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien and Gadowsky
Miles Covered on Day One - 203 miles
Miles Covered on Day Two - 147 miles
Miles Covered on Day Three - 254 miles
Miles Covered on Day Four - 188 miles
Miles Covered on Day Five - 377 miles
Miles Covered on Day Six - 302 miles
Caravan Final Total - 1,471 miles
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