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PITTSBURGH - The 2014 Coaches Caravan capped off its first full week on the road with two stops in the western half of Pennsylvania.
Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus played host to the final lunch stop of the week. From there, the modified bus rolled north to Station Square in Pittsburgh for an evening reception. Take a look through highlights from the third day on the road for the 2014 Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 6 - Uniontown (Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus)
The Coaches Caravan bus departed Washington, D.C., just before 7 a.m. on Thursday for a scenic trek through the Appalachian Mountains en route to Uniontown for the sixth stop on the 17-event tour during May. Thursday's stop at the Penn State Fayette campus was the first for the Coaches Caravan in its three-year existence. The scenic campus is situated in a place with superb views in every direction.
"This is my first trip here, and this place is absolutely beautiful," women's soccer head coach Erica Walsh said.
Walsh, along with men's soccer head coach Bob Warming and football coach James Franklin again headlined the final day of the first week. Walsh captivated the audience with another rendition of her visualization story of taking a prospective student-athlete on a recruiting visit.
Coaches Walsh and Warming have spent portions of the bus rides from event to event educating him on college and professional soccer. Warming used it as a lighthearted joke with Penn State Fayette crowd.
"It has been so great to be on the bus to educate Coach Franklin about the most popular sport in the world - soccer," Warming said.
Having now been on the road for three days on the Coaches Caravan, Coach Franklin has gotten an opportunity to meet fans and supporters from several areas in Pennsylvania and surrounding region. Since the day he arrived in Happy Valley, the support has stood out to him. He is passionate towards the fan base and wants to meet as many folks as possible.
"It's great to get out around the state and connect with as many people as possible," Franklin said. "The support has been the most impressive thing for me. We need your support."
With two more weeks ahead, Franklin is eager to meet as many fans as possible. The tone of his message has been constant over the first week of the Caravan. He's thrilled to be the head coach of Penn State, and he wants to make the fan base proud of the football program.
Stop No. 7 - Pittsburgh (Sheraton Station Square)
The Caravan's first week on the road wrapped up in front of 450 fans in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Home to 56,000 alums in the greater metro area, the Steel City is home to some of Penn State's most loyal supporters. The room was filled with energy from the moment the doors opened prior to the reception at 6 p.m., and all three head coaches received a warm reception during their speeches.
Additionally, Pittsburgh area natives and assistant coaches Bob Shoop and Terry Smith joined Franklin, Walsh and Warming for the evening event. Shoop (Oakmont) and Smith (Aliquippa) recruited in the area during the day before shaking hands with countless Nittany Lion fans at the evening event. Nittany Lion great and former NFL quarterback Chuck Fusina was among the Pittsburgh area lettermen inside the Sheraton Station Square saying hello to Coach Franklin, as well.
All six stops this week featured passionate Penn State fans. The individuals sitting in the rooms listening to the coaches speak are among the undying supporters the University's athletic department has. However, Pittsburgh's rich history as a sports town, especially when it comes to football, always makes it an exciting evening event on the Coaches Caravan. Thursday's event was no exception.
The NIttany Lions will begin a four-game series with rival Pitt beginning in 2016 (Sept. 10) when the two teams meet at Heinz Field. The Penn State fan base in Pittsburgh is fired up for the team's return to the city, and it was clear on Thursday how excited the group is for the new era of the football program under the direction of Coach Franklin.
"This is your football program, not mine," Franklin said. "I am so proud to be your head coach."
Thursday was the final day for Coach Warming to be on the Caravan. The leader of the men's soccer program was terrific all week long. He was candid, lighthearted and passionate when it came to delivering a message to illustrate how much he loves Penn State and how much he enjoys the support of Nittany Nation.
The Coaches Caravan returns to the road on Tuesday for a stop in King of Prussia. Week two also includes a lunch stop in Philadelphia, dinner in Scranton, lunch in Northern New Jersey and an evening in New York City.
Day I - 165 miles
Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Total - 682 miles
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