June 2017 Archives
PARK, Pa. - Penn State treated fans to a surprise announcement Thursday afternoon
revealing its generations of greatness game against Indiana, set for September
30 in Beaver Stadium, taking both subtle and carefully executed approach to
breaking the news.
With throwback uniforms as the centerpiece of the exciting announcement, it's something head coach James Franklin had already been talking about since he arrived at Penn State. Those early talks began with Brad "Spider" Caldwell, Penn State's former longtime football equipment manager who returned to Penn State after a brief retirement. Those talks about tradition and how to honor a proud history in a unique way.
As the talks materialized, Penn State partnered with assistant athletic director of equipment services Jay Takach and assistant marketing athletic director Brad Keen, among just a few of close group who worked together and all kept quiet as plans developed across a lengthy period of time.
Come Thursday morning, Franklin and his staff met with the team at 7:45 a.m. where generations of greatness uniform model wide receiver Josh McPhearson (who also had to keep it under his hat for a significant period of time) burst through the squad rooms doors to send the team in a frenzy at the first sight of a precisely planned uniform that proudly weaves Penn State's proud past through the fabric of its bright future - it's generations of greatness.
"That's what we're built on here at Penn State: the past, the present and where we're going in the future." pic.twitter.com/xjp9WjsMcA-- Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) June 15, 2017
"I think it's something that does two things," Franklin said. "It really shows and reinforces all the tremendous history and tradition that we have here, and our uniform - as iconic as it is and how it has not changed much over time, there have been some subtle things. And we can honor those things and kind of tell this unbelievable story that we have here at Penn State of our history, and what better way to do it with this uniform."
Spanning through the generations wasn't actually the original concept for construction, but as any great design is born, there are changes and developments among usual additions and subtractions.
Working in tandem with Nike, Penn State originally began drawing inspiration from 1959, the year Penn State earned its third bowl bid in program history on the way to its first postseason victory in the inaugural Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia, shutting out Alabama 7-0.
As Takach also noted though, the concept quickly expanded well beyond a single season.
"It started as just a throwback with what we wanted to do and then as we started to look at the different timeframes and the history of Penn State Football we landed on a couple of things," Takach said. "Nike kind of found the jersey numbers when they were doing some research but we always knew that there was a stripe on the pants, the number on the helmet, the sleeve trim, those concepts were always there in the history so once we started doing the research we decided as it's called, generations of greatness, so versus throwing back to any one particular era, we tried to incorporate a number of different timelines in there."
For an aesthetic starting place, Penn State didn't have to do a tremendous amount of research to find a visual, all thanks to Caldwell of course.
"When Spider and I first talked about this three years ago, all these things were downstairs," Franklin said. "So when I asked Spider, he brought up the helmet with the gray face mask. He already had it. The numbers on the helmet, he already had it. The striped pants were downstairs. Brand new. Bought."
At first a little unsure of the gray facemask, which the Nittany Lions sported from 1959-86, Franklin saw it and found it pretty sharp, also enjoying the numbered helmets, which were originally in place from 1959-61 and later on from 1967-74.
As Franklin also noted though, the white cleats were the final piece to tie the concept together, one particular element that Franklin noted was probably the most exciting to the team bright and early this morning.
Once greenlit, Takach got to work, secretly sizing and ordering, with new jersey and pant materials to take into consideration, both design pieces also under his desk for about four of five months.
Now proudly displayed for all to see, the planning for September 30, 2017 is still ongoing.
For Keen, the fun has merely just begun, with ideas of vintage inspired video boards, student section props, advertisements and field elements all beginning to swirl.
"We've got the ultimate throwback uniform," Keen said. "Everyone does a throwback uniform, but we're going to have the ultimate throwback game. So now I'm going to start to figure out how we can incorporate some vintage throwback elements into our gameday atmosphere and into our gameday experience."
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the state capitol today for an afternoon of recognition, celebrating Nittany Lion conference champion student-athletes and head coaches following a record-setting 2016-17 season both in competition and in the classroom.
Joined by select head coaches and staff members as well as student-athletes, the group toured through the Pennsylvania House and Senate, stopping in for lunch with Sen. Jake Corman in his office. Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate before remarks from Corman, welcoming the group to the state's capitol following a few early proceedings.
Penn State then made its way to the floor of the Pennsylvania House, which holds all 203 members, including Pennsylvania's Rep. Mike Hanna, Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, Rep. Rich Irvin and Rep. Scott Conklin, who read a resolution to again welcome and congratulate the Nittany Lions on an all-around successful season, one that drew a standing ovation from the members on the floor.
"I want to congratulate the teams for not only what they do on the field but what they do in the community, the outreach they give, the coaches who oversee them," Conklin said.
Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour only echoed the all-around success in her remarks in the main rotunda later in the afternoon, noting that the individuals surrounding her representing a combined 2016-17 total of nine conference titles, among a few other crowns, are only one part of the story.
Penn State was recently slated fourth in the first spring update of the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a year that saw seven Nittany Lion squads earn Big Ten Championships or tournament titles in seven sports, the most of any league institution and the third-highest total in school history.
As head coach Cael Sanderson brought instantaneous cheers from the floor of the Pennsylvania house upon his introduction, the room was reminded of Nittany Lion wrestling team's stunning second consecutive NCAA Wrestling Championship, marking its sixth in the last seven years, with five individuals earning NCAA titles along the way.
As Barbour pointed out though, the impact of the Blue and White extends much further than excellence in competition.
Nearly a month ago, a school record 114 Penn State student-athletes graduated, bringing the 2016-17 total to 142, with more students on track to cross the stage in August. Penn State also revealed its 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate this year, which stands just one point below its all-time program mark.
"Penn State student-athletes, not unlike their student colleagues and their servant hearts, have dedicated themselves to service," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes served over 6,200 hours of community engagement this last year. This comprehensive excellence is embraced by our Penn State and Pennsylvania community. It's truly Penn State's point of difference. It has historically motivated a state and a community, connected passionately to each and every one of our programs and each and every one of our student-athletes who wear the Blue and White."
Representative of just a small piece of a variety of community engagement close to Penn State student-athletes is THON, a beloved annual event that encompasses the entire university and Happy Valley community.
Led by the efforts of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board, SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON in 2017, which ranked third among the 400-plus general organizations represented. Surging past a fundraising goal of $50,000, the 2017 figure is SAAB's second-largest total in the history of the organization, adding to a career total of $680,000, all for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, with four Penn State student-athletes joining the 703 dancers on the floor this year.
Among those dancers this year was women's soccer's Megan Schafer, a Big Ten Champion from Langhorne, who joined the group today for her second trip to state capitol, but first as a Nittany Lion.
"A couple of years ago I got recognized for winning a state championship, so I think it's pretty cool coming back at the collegiate level to get recognized for our hard work all season," Schafer said. "I think it's really cool everything that people put together just to recognize us today."
Prior to Penn State, Schafer scored the overtime game-winner to lead Neshaminy high school (also the alma mater of Penn State head football coach James Franklin) to a Pennsylvania state title.
The entire group of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes were treated to a personal meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf, who stopped by the steps of the main rotunda to greet the champions before heading back to Happy Valley.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball officially kicked off its annual Coaches vs. Cancer - Penn State Golf Tournament Thursday evening, opening the weekend with a Sponsor/Captain Reception at the Hawbaker Pavilion.
Head coach Patrick Chambers and former standout Nittany Lion and current New Orleans Pelican Tim Frazier both took time to meet with members of the media ahead of the festivities.
Pairing up with the Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer chapter for its 21st consecutive season, the annual event is a tradition that Chambers holds especially close, proudly adding on to an already impactful legacy in each passing year.
"I'm especially proud of this year and what the committee has done and the sponsors and the volunteers, because last year was such a big year, the 20-year mark - you kind of think we're going to dip off and I don't really see that," Chambers said. "As a matter of fact, I think we're going to surpass $3 million."
Having raised more than $2.7 million to date, the CVC-Penn State chapter stands as one of the most successful fundraising chapters, but more than dollars and cents, Chambers tied this year's event, which happens to also kick off on the day of his 10th wedding anniversary, to gratitude.
"We have pillars of excellence and it's my fifth pillar, gratitude, and it's just something where I want to find joy in this," Chambers said. "We've had some tough stretches but I think you have to go through those tough stretches to get where you want to go."
Perhaps no better representation of gratitude and perseverance in the presence of challenges is Frazier, a two-time All-Big Ten selection who earned two degrees from Penn State and went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft before finally re-signing with the Pelicans in late July 2016 after originally being signed for the remainder of the 2015-16 at the end of March 2016.
"His journey getting to the NBA was not easy," Chambers said. "A lot of no's, a lot of 10-day contracts, a lot of we're not going to re-sign you, to trade, then back to the D-league, then going with New Orleans to finish the season and getting a deal."
Much like Penn State's newest mantra to #ClimbWithUs, Frazier has already been on the climb for quite some time. Through the ups and downs and the grind of uncertainty, Frazier has maintained a level head, ultimately focused on achieving his lifelong dream, having already battled through injuries and adversity during his time in the Blue and White.
"Just like coach said, there are going to be obstacles in the way but you have to continue to push through it and I was able to do that and look at me now, I know people would not have thought that when I was 145 pounds when I came to Penn State I'd be playing for the Pelicans," Frazier said.
In 65 games with New Orleans in 2016-17, Frazier averaged 7.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, but he's not finished. With work to be done in all areas and plans to get bigger and stronger, Frazier will continue on the climb, working toward securing another contract to further his NBA dream.
For now though, Frazier is embracing a bit of what Chambers is currently trying to teach his young group, that's loaded with some already proven potential headed into the 2017-18 season.
"I think in college I was so set on, I want to make it to the NBA, I want to make it to the NBA and now I'm going to enjoy it, enjoy every piece, never take a day for granted and I try to do that every day," Frazier said. "In every workout, every day just reading, beating people, what can you say, I'm in the best game there is in the world there is right now. I'm just taking in everything in and one day at a time."
In his first time back on campus, Frazier is looking forward to meeting and spending time with Penn State's newest Nittany Lions, sharing a little piece of his side of the story.
Approximately 300 golfers and 60 groups are set to tee off beginning at 7 a.m. Friday morning in the Penn State Golf Tournament concluding with an awards dinner in Beaver Stadium's Mount Nittany Club.
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