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2016 Big Ten Football Media Day Coverage

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By Mark Brumbaugh

VIDEO: James Franklin Media Day Press Conference | Media Day Transcript | Photo Gallery

CHICAGO - The hype for the 2016 college football season went up another level as Coach James Franklin and seniors Brandon Bell, Brian Gaia, and Nyeem Wartman-White traveled to the Windy City to represent Penn State for the 2016 Big Ten Media Day inside the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in downtown Chicago Monday.

The annual event includes the entire league's head coaches and three student-athletes from each member institutuion. Franklin and the trio of players participated in a wide range of activities with local and national media throughout the day. Take a look through highlights from the whirlwind day.

7:30 a.m. - Wheels up!

The day started with a smooth flight to Chicago in the morning.

9:00 a.m. - We're here.

After checking into the Hyatt, the first task for Nyeem was to capture a Pokemon in the elevator on the way down to breakfast.

10:00 a.m. - The interviews begin!

From radio and TV to print and the web, the Nittany Lions began talking with journalists across the spectrum. The morning focused more on Coach Franklin. He began his day with BTN, first visiting with The Journey and then BTN.

Wartman-White visited with a familiar face, talking with the Centre Daily Times' Jourdan Rodrigue.

Coach Franklin hit the airwaves joining Sirius XM College Sports Nation, talking with Greg McElroy and Taylor Zarzour.

Franklin then returned to the cameras meeting with the likes of CBS and ESPN.

12:45 p.m. - Franklin meets with the media.

After lunch, Coach Franklin held a formal press conference.

Notable remarks:

On starting the season:
"There's an excitement for the season. All the hard work and preparation that they've put in, there's an anticipation and there's a confidence right now. There's a confidence with our guys I think probably similar feeling all over the country but everything that we've been through and the challenges that we've been through over the last couple of years, I feel great about our locker room right now."

Depth:
"I feel great about our team and the commitment and the work ethic and the leadership we've had. Obviously our first year being back to the 85 scholarships which is significant. I've spent the last couple of months going back and changing all of our practice schedules and everything that we're doing in terms of reps, the amount of time that we're out at practice, increasing the reps that we're having at practice because we had modified all those in the past. Reducing those numbers, getting those numbers back up."

Full remarks

1:15 p.m. - TV Hour

The three student-athletes saw their day get hectic in the afternoon starting with "TV hour". The trio bounced between the likes of BTN, ESPN, CBS and FOX. Questions ranged from the serious to the humorous.

Brandon Bell started with The Journey, where he discussed what it meant to be a senior, to be a linebacker at Penn State and how LaVar Arrington enlightened him on what it means to wear #11 at Penn State.

Bell wasn't the only one to discuss a legdary Lion of the past.

In response to some more fun questions, Brian Gaia brought up his Stone Cold Steve Austin costume from past Halloweens, which led to a Macho Man Randy Savage impersonation for College GameDay.

2:20 p.m. - Camera Time

The trio had fun with the cameras for the BTN photoshoot. They boldly claimed that they made the best GIF ever, so be on the lookout for that.

3:15 p.m. - Podium Session



The most intense grilling came at the end of the day, as for nearly one hour, Coach Franklin, Bell, Gaia and Wartman-White commanded podiums as they faced a media "scrum." Coach and players conveyed their excitement for the season and their confidence in this year's team.

Coach Franklin and players wrapped up the session by joining Dave Revsine and company live on BTN.




Day 1 Wrap-Up

It was a busy day for all four, but there is more to come Tuesday. They will partake in assorted interviews Tuesday morning and then participate in the 45th Annual Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon. Beginning at 10 a.m., every Big Ten head coach will be available for an autograph session while Brian Gaia will be among those interviewed on the main stage. A photo session featuring the coaches and players will take place at approximately 10:45 a.m. After lunch, the Lions will return to Happy Valley.

Day 2
The highlights of the final day of the 2016 Big Ten Football Media Days included the Fan Session and 45th annual kickoff luncheon. Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour also met with the media. Barbour touched on a wide variety of topics including football scheduling, Beaver Stadium renovations, alcohol sales and the Blue-White game.

The fan session involved coach Franklin signing autographs and Brian Gaia joining BTN's Mike Hall and other Big Ten offensive linemen for an on-stage interview.


After the fan session concluded, it was time for the luncheon, hosted by ESPN's Joe Tessitore and Joey Galloway. Among the many speakers were Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney.

Tessitore and Galloway interviewed the coaches on stage in groups. Franklin joined Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Indiana's Kevin Wilson to talk about the upcoming season.
The Nittany Lion contingent then returned to Happy Valley with preseason camp on the horizon.

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By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up in California, redshirt sophomore Koa Farmer probably could not have envisioned the type of experience he has already attained at Penn State.

He signed a letter of intent to attend the University Park campus in February 2014 with aspirations of being a forensic science major, in addition to playing football for a program at the highest level.

"I've always been interested in this type of work," Farmer said. "When I was growing up, watching shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, Law and Order, I just loved watching those shows. I didn't see myself majoring in something that wasn't hands on like this."

Through his first few classes pertaining to forensic science in Happy Valley, Farmer struck a relationship with a professor in a quest to learn more about the profession. Forensic Science professor Dr. Jenifer Smith's influence solidified Farmer's belief that he wanted to pursue a career in the business.

Dr. Smith was then named to lead the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) in Washington, D.C., last summer. Although she left Penn State, Farmer remained in contact with to lay the groundwork for an opportunity to gain firsthand experience this summer.

Farmer is taking courses, working out with his teammates and then traveling to Washington, D.C. for a rotational internship program with several organizations, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) and Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPD).


"I'm so grateful that I had to chance to meet her at Penn State," said Farmer. "She has been a huge influence on me. The experience I'm getting this summer is amazing."

Now focusing on a double major in criminology and sociology, Farmer travels to Virginia each Friday, staying at the family home of teammate Trace McSorley in Ashburn, Va., and then commuting into D.C.

"I'm using this as a chance to figure out what I want to do," said Farmer. "That's why this has been so great being able to get some experience with so many different agencies. You can say you want to do one thing, but you just don't know until you experience it. It has been awesome this summer."

While shadowing the forensics department, Farmer helped gather fingerprints on a vehicle used in a crime and traveled to a crime scene to help gather evidence.

"It was like being in a movie. Here I was on a crime scene with this staff wearing a bullet proof vest and helping as they collected evidence and took photos of the crime scene," said Farmer.

Farmer called his Friday with the Metropolitan Police one of the most exciting days of his life.

"I was paired with the narcotics department with three other people in a car," said Farmer. "We were basically undercover while basically doing a stakeout. I'm sitting in the car when everyone moves in, and I just see everything happening as the sergeants move in."

From growth on the field as a football player to developing a career path, Farmer has already done his part in maximizing his opportunity as football student-athlete in his time at Penn State.

"The best thing for me was to come to Penn State," said Farmer. "All of the puzzle pieces are fitting. I get to play football. I get to attend a great school. I get to meet people and start my network. If I didn't come here, I would have never had the chance to meet someone like the head of the forensics department in Washington, D.C."

Farmer will continue the rotational program in Washington until the team returns to the practice field for training camp in early August.

VIDEO: 2016 Lift For Life Player Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2016 Penn State Uplifting Athletes Lift For Life took place on Saturday (July 16) at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. The offense topped the defense, 35-27, with a late rally during Saturday's event. Here is what some of the players had to say about the event and its impact on the rare disease community.




Video: Player Interviews | Photo Gallery

By Mark Brumbaugh

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion offense retained its Lift for Life title as the unit once again rallied in the tug-of-war to claim the 14th annual head-to-head, strength and conditioning competition. The event benefitted cancer research and the rare disease community through Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

With donation figures still to be finalized, the 2016 Uplifting Athletes fundraising efforts have lifted the 14-year total well above the $1 million mark. Fans can still make a donation to the Penn State Chapter and Lift for Life by visiting the Penn State Chapter fundraising site at give.upliftingathletes.org/psulift2016 or by sending a donation to PJ Mullen, Director of Player Development and Community Relations at 201 Lasch Football Building, University Park, PA 16802.

"It's crazy to think what started in a college dorm room with a couple guys has grown into what you see today and what it is nationwide, with more than 30 schools across the country holding similar events," said co-founder and Executive Director for Uplifting Athletes Scott Shirley.

The offense prevailed over the defense by a final score of 35-27 at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon. A crowd of over 2,500 fans cheered on the Nittany Lions rewarding top performances and strong efforts with cheers and applause. The upperclassmen participated in the head-to-head competition pitting the offense against the defense.

Fun was had for all as more than 100 participated in a Lift for Life Kids Clinic at the south end of the turf, which was run by the true freshmen simultaneously with the head-to-head competition.

"One of the reasons I came to Penn State was because all of the community relations the team has done," junior defensive end and Uplifting Athletes President Garrett Sickles said.

"Just to have this opportunity and being in the Penn State community and seeing the effect we have on everything, especially this benefit definitely feels good."

The exhibition featured seven rotations of one-on-one battles through six events before the tug of war. The event started with the 225-pound bench press and continued with the new 160-pound overhead press. The 480-pound "farmer" hold, obstacle course relay, tire flip and sled push/pull relay rounded out the slate. The final tally was based on head-to-head victories in each individual rep (one point each) and the tug of war competition (five points each).

The team had little difficulty getting up for the July intra-squad competition.

"It's always offense versus defense competition," said Sickels with a smile. "Every time they can be in front of an audience and cut t-shirts and make them look like tank-tops, everyone is all about it. It's not hard to motivate them."

The bench press featured a three-way tie for most individual reps as, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, junior defensive tackle Parker Cothren and sophomore defensive end Colin Castagna all put up 28.

The "farmer" hold may have featured the least action of the events, but it brought out the enthusiasm and competitive spirit of the team the most. Holding 240 pounds in each hand, the object was to simply hang on longer than your opponent in the test of physical and mental strength.

The slightest shake or sign of weakness was pounced upon by the opposition right from the start, as aptly named junior safety Koa Farmer outlasted sophomore running back Saquon Barkley with help from some trash talk (in good fun) from his defensive teammates. Later, senior offensive lineman Derek Dowrey used a stone-faced glare to prevail by getting his opponent laughing before dropping the weights.

Barkley got his redemption later in the obstacle course relay, flipping an early deficit so quickly he coasted backwards over the finish line.

The defense held a narrow two-point lead after the first six events, but the offense prevailed in a back-and-forth battle in the tug of war. The offensive line grinded out a victory in the opening match, but the linebackers pulled the tight ends and running backs over the center line in mere seconds. A rematch was declared, but the linebackers still prevailed. The wide receivers edged the defensive backs and then the offensive freshmen clinched the victory after a promising start for the defensive freshmen was spoiled when they fell down.

The Nittany Lion offense won by one point with a tug of war victory at last year's event.

Following the workout, the Nittany Lions met with their loyal fans and signed autographs.

The 14th Lift for Life was again a tremendous success and fundraiser for rare diseases, largely thanks to countless hours of preparation from the Uplifting Athletes group led by Sickels. Although a lot has changed during the events' history, there has been at least one constant.

"The principles are the same, using the power of sport to impact the community around you," said Shirley.

BLOG: Football Brings Smiles at Children's Hospital

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By Mark Brumbaugh, GoPSUsports.com

HERSHEY, Pa. - When a football player walks through a door, chances are he will be the strongest and toughest person in the room. But that was not the case on this Wednesday afternoon in July.

The Penn State football team was reminded that many children are facing opponents and challenges far tougher than any posed on the gridiron, as approximately 100 members of the team and head coach James Franklin visited with several of the young patients at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

"I think we all have times in our life where you think you have it tough," said Franklin. "[Our student-athletes] just got done with classes and workouts and may think that they have it tough ... and there is always someone out there that has more challenges than you. So being able to come to the Children's Hospital it hits home for all of us."

Three bus loads made the two-hour trek across central Pennsylvania for a third consecutive year. After a rousing welcome, the Lions were able to bring smiles to the faces of many young fans as they spread out in smaller groups throughout the hospital.

"Honestly, [the trip] makes my year," said senior defensive lineman Evan Schwan. "I always say, this trip and the Athlete Hour we have at THON are my favorite times of the year. Just seeing the smiles that we can put on these kids faces, even if it just makes them happy for a little bit, because they are going through so much stuff."

Several groups of players visited with patients in their rooms in various sections of the hospital. Other groups spent time engaging with patients in the Tree House Cafe where they signed autographs, played games and helped with arts and crafts projects.

"Every time come, we come here to try to make a difference and make an impact," said Franklin. "Even if we just put one smile on one young person's face, it was worth the trip."

Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital is a 263,000-square-foot, five-story facility. The nearly $207 million facility was built adjacent to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's main entrance.

"The amazing thing though, like I mentioned last year, is we actually get more out of it than we give."


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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Men's Hockey senior forward and Spanish major David Goodwin spent last summer in Mexico, learning about Mexican culture and improving his Spanish skills. In May, Goodwin embarked on another journey, this time to Cuba, where he taught English at a local university. 

For more than a month Goodwin lived in Santa Clara, a large city three hours from Havana. Unlike in Mexico, where he stayed with a host family, Goodwin lived on his own in Santa Clara. He learned how to navigate Cuba by himself, and appreciated the opportunity to set his own itinerary. 

"Last summer I liked having a host family around, but this time it was nice having a little bit more freedom," said Goodwin. "Being able to make my own adventures was different than my last trip, but it was what I wanted." 

During the week, Goodwin taught English to university students. He enjoyed spending time with students his own age, and quickly became friends with the students and other locals. On the weekends Goodwin traveled around the country, visiting beaches, small towns, and the capital city of Havana.

Goodwin also embraced the country's love of baseball. In addition to teaching university classes, he volunteered with a youth program after work hours, and played baseball with kids in the community. Goodwin explained that although he wasn't very good at baseball, it was fun to experience something new.

"I'll definitely stick with hockey," Goodwin joked. 

In fact, Goodwin was able to teach several of his new friends about his hockey background. He showed them photos of games at Pegula Ice Arena and described the spirited atmosphere of the Roar Zone. 

"They were definitely very interested in ice hockey," said Goodwin. "The majority of them had never seen an ice hockey game on TV, but I would explain to them how it worked and we would do comparisons between ice hockey and baseball."

Goodwin's favorite part of his time in Cuba was feeling like a member of a tight-knit community. He appreciated the hospitality and welcoming nature. Goodwin dined with new friends in their homes, met their families, and learned first-hand about Cuban culture and everyday life. 

Goodwin returned from Cuba at the end of June, and is currently back in State College preparing for his senior season with the Nittany Lions. Despite living in Cuba for only a few weeks, Goodwin is sure that the memories will remain with him for a lifetime.

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On the Malecõn in Havana

goodwin-cuba-3.jpegDinner with a local family

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Dinner with a local family

BLOG: Castaway Club

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Castaway Club by Sarah Nielsen

This summer I was given one of the greatest opportunities of my life - right up there with the opportunity to go to Penn State and play hockey :). In Minneapolis, my family is very involved with an organization called Young Life. Young Life is a really awesome group that helps teenagers see their true worth and do life. One branch of Young Life is Capernum, which is specifically designed to give "young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the chance to experience fun and adventure, to develop fulfilling friendships and to challenge their limits while building self-esteem." A friend told me they were looking for "buddies" to walk alongside campers, so I jumped in and got to hangout with my new friend, Lauren for a week at a Young Life Camp in Minnesota called Castaway Club.

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Camp is a beautiful place where each day is jam packed with various activities that Lauren and I got to do together - tubing, swimming, boat riding, parasailing, zip lining, field games, water Olympics, giant swing rides, singing, dancing, beach parties, and campfires. Many of the activities are thrilling, and I have to admit on things like the zip-line and swings, I was scared! However, Lauren is brave and wanted to do everything - her bravery and courage was inspiring and gave me the strength to do those things with her. The tag line for camp is "the best week of your life guaranteed." Even though I was not a camper, it was one of the best weeks of my life.

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Words and pictures cannot fully describe my experiences, but they can help capture the essence of our time there. I am thankful for the people I met, the opportunity I was given, and the way each camper touched me. The greatest thing I learned from this week is that all people are beautiful and beauty looks differently on everyone.

A Thank You to the Blue and White

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FinalBlog_Stadium.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When I moved in to Geary Hall as an 18-year-old freshman in August of 2004, I didn't envision spending the next 12 years on the greatest campus in America.

But an opportunity to begin working as student intern in 2006 led to eight gratifying years of professional work out of the strategic communications office (formally athletic communications).


You hear it a lot from individuals who have spent time on the University Park campus, but it's the truth. The people make Penn State special. Cultivating relationships with fellow staff members, administrators, media members, coaches and hundreds of student-athletes has truly made this opportunity unique.

It has been an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

The list of highlights is long. It's been a thrill to see the jubilation inside a winning locker room and witness 10 national championship teams (women's volleyball, wrestling, women's soccer and men's gymnastics) hoist hardware across the country while fulfilling their dreams.

The ride included two Big Ten football titles, a trip to the sidelines at the Rose Bowl, seven bowl games, unforgettable atmospheres in Beaver Stadium (2005 vs. Ohio State remains atop the list), every football game, home and away, since the 2007 Alamo Bowl (103 straight games), every home football Saturday in Beaver Stadium since 2004 (84 straight games) and trips to the only dance I've ever wanted to attend with both hoops teams.

There have been many long days (and nights) traveling with ace photographer Mark Selders in planes, trains and automobiles across the country during the postseason push in March during each of the past six years.

The time included a trip inside the final team meeting of a legendary coaching era, the hiring of the first new football coach in 46 years and the program's first win across the pond.

The challenges set forth in 2011 and the summer of 2012 were unthinkable, but invaluable learning experiences.

The travels have included coverage of Penn State events in 26 states, two countries and seemingly countless competitions in venues across campus.

The content on this blog within GoPSUsports.com has grown from a few thousand visitors in 2010 to more than 1 million visits during each of the last three seasons.

That's a tribute to how special the Penn State fan base is.

A lot of people along the way asked about the hours and effort it took to tell the stories of Penn State's teams and student-athletes through written content, interviews and videos, but it was never work.

It was a passion.

The next stop will be with the New York Jets in digital media beginning on July 11. But my fandom of the Blue and White will only grow from here as I look forward to being at events regularly when the schedule permits.

Thank you to the Penn State fans for following along.


Tony Mancuso - Class of 2008


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It's been a memorable ride. Take a look through some of the favorite moments from the blog.


2013 - Football Outlasts Michigan in Four Overtimes



2011 - Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament Selection 


2014 - Ruth, Taylor Lift Wrestling to Fourth-Straight National Title


2010 Women's Volleyball Captures Fourth Straight National Title 


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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Wrap Up

June 28, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team returned home from an eight-day trip to Canada where it took part in international competition and saw the sites of the country. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop in Toronto and finished their trip in Montreal Sunday, June 26. Head Coach Bob Warming wrapped up the trip for Penn State men's soccer.

Wrap Up with Head Coach Bob Warming

Thanks to all of you who have followed the teams trip to Canada.  We appreciated the emails and texts from everyone.  We simply can't thank enough all the alumni and friends of the program who donated the money needed to feed, transport, house, buy tickets to two sold out MLS matches, the Niagara Falls tour, fund the pre-trip training, housing and meals.  AMAZING!  The players and staff are so grateful. 

Besides all that donated, plenty of other folks to thank:

Herb Combs, Nate Miller and their fantastic grounds crew staff for having our pre-trip training surface at Jeffery looking and playing fantastic. THANK YOU.

Dan Sowash and all the fun staff in the equipment room who went above and beyond their normal job description to take care of training and travel gear for the team. THANK YOU.

Greg Nye and the golf program for loaning us the luxury Mercedes Sprinter Penn State golf van, and folks, I do mean luxury. Oh my goodness that van has it all. Everyone certainly knew we were coming and it was terrific to get so many "We Are" shouts from people in Toronto and Montreal whenever we would get out of the vans in different locations. THANK YOU.

PSU administrator Rachel Rito and academic advisor Sarah Cowart. I group you to together because I never saw you apart for nine days! I mean never. The guys and staff appreciate all you do for the program during the year and enjoyed having two really helpful people along for the trip. THANK YOU-THANK YOU.

Steven Delger - as athletic trainer you have super long hours and lots of folks to manage on our team. THANK YOU for your professionalism and friendship.

Chad Duernberger and Owen Griffith - you guys were, as always, so on top of things. You are tireless workers who don't just get the job done but go above and beyond to make every day special for our players and the team. THANK YOU for everything you are doing to help us build a high performance atmosphere and championship culture.  

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Literally everyone we met in Canada, thank you, such kind and thoughtful people. What a great concept to not be rude. Patrice and the Vaughn soccer club, thank you, what great hosts and dedicated professionals.  The staff at Toronto FC, thanks for your time with the players and the tour.  Mark Bergevin and the Montreal Canadians, oh my goodness, thank you for the tour the behind the scenes and the opportunity to go be in the locker room, the players' lounge and to study and take notes on all the attention to detail that the Canadians have in their program.  We want to be champions and to learn from the hockey program that has won 24 championships was a rare opportunity. To Lake Shore FC and Lanaudiere FC the two teams in the Quebec Professional league we played, thank you for the matches and for being so accommodating.  

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And finally, to the Penn State Men's soccer team.

Of course, when you put on a Penn State University uniform you always represent more than yourself, you represent your family, your coaches, your school and others. However, in the case of an international trip, you represented much more. You no longer carry the torch for just your family and Penn State when you go out of country to compete.

On this trip, you represented the State of Pennsylvania, the United States of America, and college soccer in America to everyone who saw you. In these times when some are talking of building walls between us as people you helped build bridges to those who you played against, those who met you, and those who observed your actions as Americans. You competed hard against your Canadian opponents, you represented college soccer at a very high level and impressed those you competed against with your skill, teamwork and character. You came from behind against a pro team and did not lose a match. When things got tough physically and mentally, you hung together, supported each other, dug in and fought for victory.  As young men representing our country, you were exceptional both on the field and off. I never heard anything but praise about you at any portion of the trip from start to finish. I know that you are you are proud of what you did and what you accomplished and you should be proud.

Looking to the future, for our Penn State fans, the team is excited about the fall season. They are perhaps more excited than any team I have coached at Penn State. They feel they can be great. On this trip they went 3-0-1, scored 13 goals and only allowed three.  Seven different players scored as our combination play and interchanges on the field were, at times, special.  

The team knows the fall schedule will challenge and test them in every area. We play six opponents this fall who have won 16 National Championships collectively.  As I have said many times, the margin of victory in our sport is so small that the most important quality is how you play and compete together as a team. Winning every match just does not happen at a high level in our sport, but how you play, how you represent Penn State and yourself, that matters and that lasts long after the score line is forgotten.  

Win, lose or draw, this group of young men are the type of people and team that I want to have represent Penn State University this fall and in the future. We aim to make everyone who supports us and everyone who is a Penn Stater very proud.  

Thanks for keeping up with the team and to all of you who are such great friends of Penn State soccer.

Have a great summer everyone and, of course.... We Are...

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Penn State Men's Soccer Canadian Trip: Final Day

 

June 26, 2016

The Penn State men's soccer team has embarked on an eight-day trip to Canada where it will not only take part in international competition but also see the sites of the country. Through the student-athletes own words this blog will chronicle the trip on and off the field. The Nittany Lions left State College Saturday, June 18 to head to their first stop. The eighth blog of Penn State's day on Sunday, June 26th was written by Associate Head Coach Chad Duernberger, and Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Programming Sarah Cowart.

 

Day Nine (Sunday, June 26) - Final Match & Trip Back

 

Chad Duernberger - Associate Head Coach

 

This morning the players and staff had an early wakeup call at 6:45am to embark on our last day in Canada. The players were instructed to be at breakfast in the Residence Inn at 7am and the plan was to depart for our last match by 7:30. The match was about 45 minutes away so it took us a bit of time to navigate out of the city and find the complex. As a staff we were eager to see how the players would respond to four matches in such a short period of time. Would their legs hold up for this last match? Can they stay dialed in for this last one and finish the trip with a zero in the loss column?  For a 9 a.m. match, the weather was already very hot and the players had to deal with turf which is something we do not see often during the fall.

 

The match proved to be ours from the first whistle as six different players scored in the 7-0 win. We were pleased all the way around. It was a great performance from our backline, our midfield had excellent link-up play with our forwards, our number of final-third entries was the highest of the trip and players stepped up and finished their chances when given the opportunity.  The match made for an excellent end to the trip.

 

The players showered, the staff packed the vans with equipment and we were off on our venture back to State College around 11:45 a.m.  I had the van with all of the freshman guys (soon to be sophomores). Quick shout out to those guys for keeping me awake with music, questions, games, and great conversation.  After navigating back through the city and ready to get on the highway to hit the open road the worst thing happened for any road trip........backed up traffic.........The players covered more ground in the match over 90-minutes than we did on the pavement. Finally, we made it through and were on our way. Fortunately, everything was smooth getting back in to the states at the US Border and we stopped at a Chipotle to break up the trip. We arrived back at Rec Hall around 1 a.m. unloaded everything and the players were off. Some guys are starting Second Session Summer School on Wednesday and some were saying goodbyes to the staff and teammates until August.


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As the players left, the staff cleaned vans and dropped them back off to their respective locations. It's a bit different for staff on trips like these as compared to the players.  During the player's down time, the staff set off to get ahead for the next upcoming event. This includes doing player's laundry, filling up gas in the vans, finding where to take the team to eat, getting subway tickets, going to get more Gatorade, water and ice amongst 40 other small jobs that need to be done. There is limited downtime for the staff to ensure everything goes smooth.

However, during one of our few down time moments in Montreal, Coach Owen Griffith and I were able to sneak off and bungee jump off a 12 story drop. It was a great break in our staff duties before getting back to work.


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Sarah Cowart - Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Programming

 

First and foremost, it has been and honor and pleasure to be part of this Canadian trip with the guys. Without support from our Penn State Alumni, this trip would have never been possible. Being that my role with the team is an "off the field" role, this trip has allowed me an opportunity to spend time with the guys talking about more than just what classes are available next semester and what changes we need to make to their academic plan. Of course, with me tagging along, these conversations occurred often throughout the trip. Which was definitely a bonus for me! 

 

This trip has allowed the guys to see parts of North America that some of them would never have chance to see. Even though I have had my fair chance of seeing different parts of the world, Toronto and Montreal are two places I had yet to visit. Not to mention, although a former soccer player myself, I have seen soccer matches in the '96 Olympics and the 2015 Women's World Cup, but I had never been to a MLS match until this trip.


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In addition to experience the MLS matches, we also had the opportunity to take in the sites of old Montreal. The lovely cobble streets and old churches brought to life the history of Montreal. It was great to experience the culture of Quebec and learn more about the history of the 18th century fortified city. 


For our guys, being a collegiate student-athlete is much more than just competing in your sport and graduating. It is growing, learning, molding and developing over the four or five years at Penn State into the person that you will become for the rest of your life. This trip is just one example of the opportunities that contribute to this factor. It has been a phenomenal experience to see not only new sights of the world, but see our student-athletes experience new adventures that they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Thank you to our alumni for providing them (and us) this experience!

 
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