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Lady Lions Excited for THON

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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Lady Lions enter a rare week off from play and the opportunity to have some fun off the court this weekend with Penn State's 46-hour long dance-marathon THON looming, this Friday to Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's campus. 

THON, which is student-run and raises money to fight childhood cancer, has what is called "athlete hour" every year in which student-athletes get to energize the crowd with performances on stage. Because THON falls during the basketball season, the Lady Lions are not always able to participate, but the last few years the schedule has fallen perfectly and allowed the team to participate in this life-altering event. 

"The energy that THON brings to the building is incredible and thankfully we're not on the road this year," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Our kids get to experience this and be a part of athlete hour and be a part of the whole weekend. I know they are excited to participate and just feel the energy of the whole weekend." 

In 2017 the Lady Lions showed off their moves in front of a packed Bryce Jordan Center, highlighted by solo moves by then freshman Siyeh Frazier. Sarah McMurtry also showed off, with the worm dance move in front of her teammates.

"All the students of different backgrounds I think is what got me going so much," Frazier said. "Regardless of race or what was going on today we were able to all come together and celebrate and do something great for a great cause. I'm not really an outgoing person and I wouldn't do that on a regular basis so I guess I was so into it that it just happened with all the people around and the energy it just happened." 

A huge part of THON is the community it creates between the students as Frazier explained. Washington believes that is one of the best parts for her team. 

"THON is an unbelievable experience. I think one of the strength of the Penn State community and one of the things that makes Penn State so unique is its commitment to community service, commitment to giving back and commitment to connecting others. THON is just an extremely vibrant example of that commitment and for our students to be a part of that and experience it on such a big scale is really meaningful for them," Washington said. "It's things like THON in your college life that when you reflect 10 years later those are the moments you go back to, things like getting to dance at THON. Those are the memories and experiences that make being a college athlete and being a college student at Penn State so special." 

The Lady Lions will once again have the chance to dance during the athlete hour, but don't have any concrete plans yet, or at least none they will divulge. 

"We've talked about this year's a little bit but we do have some stuff we are getting ready, but nothing huge yet," Frazier said. 

"We don't have a ton of time to plan it like some other teams, but hopefully we can bring energy and excitement to the stage," sophomore guard Amari Carter said. "Last year the gymnastics team was so good, they were doing flips and other crazy stuff." 

Don't expect that much out of the Lady Lions however, Carter has a much different style.

"No way I don't flip, or skip or really anything. The only time I'm in the air is straight up like for a rebound. Only normal vertical jumps for me," Carter said.

"Nobody on our team surprised me with their dance moves, they are a bunch of hams. You turn that camera and music on and the Lady Lions will start that dance party for you. They have an affinity for being engaged and involved in THON," Washington added.

While the dance moves are a fun part of the weekend, the team knows it's all for a bigger cause. 

 "The key word is support through it all. Everybody's experience with cancer is personal to them and I think the job that the rest of us can do is just to support in any way we can," Washington said. "Whether it's giving a listening ear or driving someone to treatment or helping do research on medications. It takes a community of people to help fight this disease and help each other get through it, that's what THON is all about creating a community to help beat this." 

"I've been fortunate enough at times to be here during THON and when you look out and see thousands of people dancing and having a good time and bringing attention and awareness to a cause it gives you chills," she added.  "To know you are part of a community of students that find this important and keep the dream living on is really impressive."

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