Coaches Caravan: Day IV - Williamsport and Allentown

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Week two of the Penn State Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday before a sold out crowd of nearly 300 fans in Williamsport and 350 in the Lehigh Valley.

The modified Fullington Bus rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot shortly after 9:30 a.m. en route to the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus in Williamsport.  Head coaches Bill O'Brien, Charlene Morett and Mark Pavlik delivered passionate speeches to an enthusiastic group of Penn State fans and alums on Tuesday at lunch.  Take a look through some highlights on day four.

Stop VII - Williamsport (Penn College of Technology)
Week two began with a great Coaches Caravan stop inside the auditorium on the Penn College of Technology campus.  O'Brien, Morett and Pavlik headlined the event with speeches to thank the Penn State fans for their support.

Morett, who will enter her 27th season at the helm of the Nittany Lion field hockey team in the fall, opened the panel of speakers at the luncheon.  The 2012 Big Ten Coach of the Year told the crowd that she walked onto the Penn State campus in 1975 as a freshman, and instantly, she knew what type of a special place it was.

On the field of play, Morett has been a superb leader of the field hockey program, leading the Nittany Lions to six Big Ten titles, six Big Ten postseason titles and five of her teams have reached the NCAA semifinals.  But off the field, the Philadelphia native has been a tremendous ambassador for the University.

"What makes an event like this special is to come out and see some great old friends and to make some great new friends," Morett said.

Pavlik, who just returned from Penn State's 28th trip (15th straight) the NCAA men's volleyball semifinals, echoed Morett's comments about being in front of a great group of enthusiastic Penn State supporters.  Pavlik just finished his 19th season as a head coach in Happy Valley.

"When I go to work every morning, I have to pinch myself," Pavlik said of the opportunity he has.

The Western Pennsylvania native added that there is something special about Penn State's support system everywhere he goes.  That being said, Pavlik noted how the fans play a direct, one-team role when the department's teams are competing on the road.

"To have a good crowd on the road, there's no better feeling," Pavlik said.

O'Brien was the final head coach to speak in Williamsport.  He opened his speech by introducing Williamsport native Jamie Van Fleet, who was a graduate of the Nittany Lion football program.  Van Fleet was unable to play in 2012 due to injury, but played a key role for the Nittany Lions on the sidelines, serving as a defensive mentor assisting the coaching staff.

Heading into his second season as a head coach, O'Brien joked with Morett and Pavlik that he only has 26 more seasons to catch up with the Lion field hockey leader.  As has been the case at every stop, though, O'Brien's message focused on the support of the fans and how much it means to the football program, athletic department and the University.

"Every time you go to a speaking engagement (like this one), you know the room will be filled with passionate fans," O'Brien said.


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VIDEO: Williamsport Press Conference with Coaches O'Brien, Morett and Pavlik



Stop VIII: Allentown (Holiday Inn Conference Lehigh Valley)

Following the sold out luncheon, the Caravan bus traveled south through Pennsylvania for an evening stop on the western edge of the Lehigh Valley.  O'Brien, Morett and Pavlik spoke to a dinner crowd outside of Allentown.

Part of what makes the Coaches Caravan unique for the fans in attendance is how each stop usually features a different story from the head coaches speaking.  The head coaches often tell stories about their teams or time at Penn State.

On Tuesday night, O'Brien opened his speech by sharing about an event that took place in Happy Valley shortly after the NCAA announced its sanctions against the football program.  Former Nittany Lions Tom Donchez and Mike Guman, both former Nittany Lion greats from nearby Bethlehem, were in the crowd.  Seeing those two prior to the evening event, it triggered O'Brien to talk about the support from the Penn State Letterman's Club.

Just days after the announcement of the sanctions, O'Brien said that 500 lettermen from all over the country attended a meeting in Holuba Hall on very short notice to talk about what it meant to play football at Penn State.  While it was a story O'Brien wanted to share with the crowd about the lettermen, it provided a living, breathing example of what he has talked about for the duration of the Caravan.

The support system surrounding Penn State is special.

Morett spoke about on Tuesday night.  And so did Pavlik.

"Char is right, you can feel the energy when you walk into a room like this," O'Brien said.

Penn Staters are a unique group with unwavering support, no matter what the circumstances are.  The head coaches feel fortunate to have the type of network behind them.

"Don't underestimate the power you have to help mold our students and student-athletes," Pavlik told the crowd.

"We have an amazing product we get to sell year in and year out at Penn State," Morett said.

Now more than ever, as O'Brien has said at each of the eight stops on the Coaches Caravan, the Penn State support system needs to be strong as the athletic programs continue to move forward in a positive direction.

Following a great evening program, all three coaches received a standing ovation as the event closed.  The Caravan moves on to New York City on Wednesday for a lunch stop before traveling to Scranton for a dinner event.
    


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VIDEO: Allentown Press Conference with Coach O'Brien



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
Caravan Total -
792 miles



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


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