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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Coaches Caravan bus rolled south for day two of the first travel leg on Wednesday morning for stops at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
A sold out crowd of more than 230 enthusiastic fans greeted a cast of Penn State coaches, which included James Franklin, Erica Walsh and Bob Warming, in Baltimore. Take a look through highlights from the second full day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 4 - Baltimore (Marriott Inner Harbor)
Wednesday's lunch stop in Baltimore marked the third-straight sold out crowd during the initial leg of the 2014 Coaches Caravan. On the heels of Tuesday's announcement that the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is headed to the area (Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.) in 2017, the Penn State fans in the room were excited about what is ahead as the conference's footprint extends to the East Coast.
"It's so great to be in your area," Walsh said.
The 2014-'15 athletic season marks the first with Maryland as a member of the Big Ten. That being said, the 12,000 Penn State alums in the Baltimore area are thrilled to have Penn State's teams competing in Maryland on an annual basis. The Nittany Lion football team is slated to return to Baltimore on Oct. 24, 2015 when it will take on Maryland inside M&T Bank Stadium.
Coach Franklin lived on and off in Maryland for eight years, a place he calls home.
"It's awesome to be back," Franklin said.
In all, 10 players currently on the football roster or 2014 signees are from Maryland. For the men's and women's soccer programs, the story is much of the same. Walsh highlighted former Nittany Lion great and U.S. National Team standout Ali Krieger and former All-American and current National Women's Soccer League member Christine Nairn, who are both from the local area. Warming's men's soccer team has three members from Maryland on it.
Like day one on the Caravan, each coach explained how the loyal supporters of Penn State play such an instrumental role in the success of the athletic programs. Without the unrivaled support of the fan base, Penn State Athletics would not be what it is today. That's what makes the Coaches Caravan a special three weeks. It gives the coaches a chance to say thank you and provide some insight on what makes the programs tick.
"Penn State is a remarkable place for learning as a student," Warming said. "And it's a remarkable place to learn as a coach."
"Success is about being able to do the little things better than anyone else," Franklin said.
The day ended with a lighthearted question for all three coaches on the stage. A fan asked which flavor of ice cream at Berkey Creamery is their favorite. Coach Walsh said that she likes to stick with vanilla. Coach Warming likes strawberry. Coach Franklin's answer was a bit different.
"My mission is to taste every flavor," Franklin said.
Stop No. 5 - Washington, D.C. (Marriott Wardman Park)
A crowd of more than 425 fans greeted the Penn State coaches in the nation's capital on Wednesday night. The Washington, D.C., metro area is home to more than 25,000 alums. Like the Baltimore event, the individuals in attendance were fired up to see Penn State teams making annual trips to the area with Maryland joining the Big Ten.
Coach Walsh opened the evening speeches with her great visualization story of a recruiting visit. Before getting into the step-by-step process of recruiting, she had a joke for the attentive D.C. crowd.
"They usually put the key note speaker last, but we are switching things up on the Caravan," Walsh said.
Warming followed a standing ovation for Walsh with a speech to highlight his passion for Penn State and appreciation of the fans. Additionally, he informed the crowd of the exponential growth of soccer around the country. The leader of Penn State soccer spent much of the one-hour reception before the program began talking with fans about the sport.
"I love this crowd. I've talked more soccer at this stop than any other we've been to," Warming said.
Warming, who was a member of the search committee to hire the new football coach in January, introduced Coach Franklin as one of the finest men that he has ever met. Franklin then took the microphone in front of the room to a rousing cheer.
Franklin told the crowd how excited he is about the direction things are headed, largely because of the high-quality human beings that are on the team right now. Following the individual meetings with every player on the roster in the past two weeks, Franklin said he has been incredibly impressed with the student-athletes since he took the job.
"We are in a really good place right now," Franklin said. "They are really excited about the direction we are heading in."
As the fourth program drew to a close, Coach Franklin encouraged the group to return each Saturday in the fall. He was genuinely happy to be in Maryland and D.C. on Wednesday to meet another group of passionate fans.
"I include Maryland and D.C. as part of our state in the Penn State family," Franklin said.
The Caravan heads to Penn State Fayette in Uniontown and Pittsburgh on Thursday to wrap up week one of the traveling events.
Day I - 165 miles
Day II - 130 miles
Total - 295 miles
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