VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day IV Roundup
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PECKVILLE, Pa. - The second day of leg two on the road with the Penn State Coaches Caravan featured a trip through downtown Philadelphia and a packed house in Scranton on Wednesday.
Philly natives James Franklin, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh highlighted Wednesday's lunch stop. Additionally, four-time defending NCAA wrestling champion head coach Cael Sanderson joined the cast of coaches for Wednesday's event. Take a look at some highlights.
Stop No. 9 - Philadelphia (The Rittenhouse Hotel)
Wednesday's lunch took place in the heart of downtown Philadelphia at The Rittenhouse Hotel. More than 250 fans filled the ballroom to greet the four coaches during an excellent lunch event. Franklin, Morett and Walsh had a little extra bounce in their step after the Philly natives took a drive down Broad Street en route to Center City for the lunch.
Wednesday's crowd was superb, and the group gave all four coaches a standing ovation after they spoke. Like the gathering in King of Prussia on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia supporters of Penn State Athletics are a diehard group of fans.
Walsh has been a tough act to follow during her two weeks on the Caravan. Her campus tour speech is filled with details and beaming with pride. Whether it was Bob Warming, Morett or Sanderson, every coach who has stepped to the podium following Walsh has remarked about her tremendous description of the Penn State campus. Sanderson had his first crack at following the leader of Penn State women's soccer for the first time on Wednesday.
"That's tough to follow. I just want to have lunch," Sanderson joked.
Fresh off the program's fourth-straight NCAA title, Sanderson has an endless supply of things to talk about. But that's not his style. Sanderson deflects the attention off of himself to talk about the positive energy surrounding the football program and how the football program serves as the engine for the health of the athletic department.
"They have the vision, the passion and the pride. We are in very good hands," Sanderson said of Franklin and the football staff.
He went on to urge the crowd to buy football season tickets now.
"Get your tickets now because when they get going, you're not going to be able to get them in a few years," Sanderson said.
Franklin talks about the state of pride in Penn State each time he addresses a caravan crowd. That could not be more apparent during the first nine stops during the past couple weeks. The fan base is excited for what's ahead. And the fellow coaches in the department are just as excited.
"There are so many things to be excited about," Morett said.
Morett finished off her stint on the Coaches Caravan in Philly. She will now hit the recruiting trail. From Philly, the Fullington bus rolled north towards Scranton.
Stop No. 10 - Scranton (Fiorelli Catering)
Day two of the second week wrapped up in front of the Caravan's largest crowd in Peckville, Pa. (Outside of Scranton). Nearly 900 Penn State fans crammed into the ballroom at Fiorelli Catering to welcome a great group from the Penn State Athletics family during the local alumni chapter's 36th annual event. The list of attendees included Northeast Pennsylvania products and current Nittany Lions Eugene Lewis, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Brian Tomasetti and the voice of the Nittany Lions, Steve Jones.
Prior to dinner, Coach Franklin met a throng of fans that lined up more than 90 minutes prior to when the program began at 7:30 p.m. Fan after fan walked up to Franklin for an opportunity to shake hands and take photos for nearly an hour. Some offered advice. Some told stories. Some even offered gifts.
Walsh and Sanderson both spoke prior to Franklin, energizing the room packed with Nittany Lion supporters. But it was Franklin who got the room buzzing during an informal auction for game tickets to select Nittany Lion games in the fall and season tickets. Franklin triggered a bidding war with the microphone that led to two fans battling up to $8,000 for a pair of season tickets. When the final bid was announced as the winner, the room erupted with approval and rose to its feet.
"In this room, I feel like I'm already in Beaver Stadium. You can't move for all of the people," Sanderson said when describing the atmosphere.
Franklin's remarks were passionate and filled with energy as he closed out the evening's lineup of speakers. While highlighting his vision for the football program, Franklin reminded the Scranton crowd of what is important in the quest to become the top program.
"Success is about doing all of the little things better than everybody else in the country," Franklin said.
Throughout all three speeches, the crowd of nearly 900 was glued to the speaker at the podium. Walsh, Sanderson and Franklin all deserve a great deal of credit for their delivery on Wednesday night.
Simply put, the Scranton crowd was again tremendous for the third-straight year during the Caravan.
Before boarding the bus bound for the next stop in New Jersey, the Coaches Caravan crew paid a visit to 2012 Nittany Lion alum Eric Shrive's new restaurant - The Vault Tap Room & Restaurant - located in West Scranton.
Thursday's events will take place in Northern New Jersey and New York City before the Caravan heads back to State College.
Day I - 165 miles
Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles
Total - 1,102 miles
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