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Matt Limegrover Q&A - Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football and No. 2 Ohio State are set for a Big Ten East matchup Saturday at 8 p.m. in Beaver Stadium.

Nittany Lion offensive line coach Matt Limegrover spent time with the media Thursday ahead of the Penn State White Out. Check out updates from the Q&A below.

Can you talk about where the offensive line has made the most progress in the last few weeks?

Limegrover: "I think probably the biggest thing is that we were able to solidify a group of five guys. I think one of the biggest things with any offensive line is the chemistry and the cohesion and I think getting Connor McGovern settled in at right guard, obviously Brian Gaia at center, Ryan Bates has started every game at left guard and our two tackles. Unfortunately, Andrew Nelson getting hurt kind of disrupted that continuity. The communication was getting better, the understanding. There's so much that goes into as as far as getting a feel for how the other guys around you play the game and I felt like we were really getting into a good place with that." 

How do you make the decision between Brendan Mahon at right tackle or left tackle going into the week and what does that mean for the other guys who are competing to spell Andrew's [Nelson] position?

Limegrover: "The biggest thing is and I guess the nice luxury that I have is having a guy like Paris Palmer who has started in some games and started some big football games at Penn State. He feels really comfortable at left tackle. When Andrew [Nelson] went down Brendan Mahon didn't skip a beat and looked at me and said, hey I can move over, no problem. With Brendan playing the different positions, I love the kid because he loves the game of football and he understands it and he gets it. That transition was a lot smoother than one would expect, just because of Brendan's willingness to both play the position and the fact that he had played right tackle in the past and being able to get a guy who has a decent amount of experience in Paris Palmer in at left tackle."

Can you talk about the development of Will Fries and how far he has come since he has arrived?

Limegrover: "There is that chance. I think what's happening with Will is that he did a really good job of preparing himself and not just as far as weightlifting and conditioning, as a lot of guys do before getting here. He worked quite a bit after his senior year leading up to coming here with a gentleman who specializes in working with offensive and defensive linemen. I think that helped his transition quite a bit because Will was a guy who was going against college guys who would come back in the summer. I think that helped his initial development so that it wasn't as big of a shock to his system. Even with that being said, there's still a difference speed-wise and what your knowledge base needs to be. I think early on that kind of caught Will a little bit, but he has been able to get back and in practice, we've been able to give him some quality reps to help that process along. I feel a lot more comfortable with him than I was week one and there's still a long way to go but I think just him coming to work everyday, putting his time in and being an attentive student - he listens to every word the older guys have said, who have been through it and I think that's huge for him."

We've talked a lot over the last few years about training flexibility up front and the need to cross train some of these linemen. What's your philosophy on that and how do you balance the need to have a guy at one spot and then having him move around?

Limegrover: "I think it's kind of a two-part answer from the standpoint that I am also a believer in having flexibility. The very first thing I told the offensive linemen when I first met with them is that the best five are going to play. If that means that a guy who is playing guard is the next best on the team, then you have to find a way to make that work. There is an element of cross training, but I also believe that you can do it. 

Guys need to concentrate on a position and my thought is that what ends up happening is that you find that group of guys who are going to be your starters and eventually you can settle in on that. Then what you try and do is you try and find, if you have five more guys who are the very best at the position that they are playing, then you feel pretty good. Usually the way it happens in any program is that you may have two or three additional guys. You're lucky if you have seven guys or eight guys you feel really good about and those are the guys who you would like to start cross training and that's what you try and do to help build that quality depth so if somebody goes down you have the next man up mentality. I'm not against the idea of cross training but I think again, you don't want to do that at the expense of letting a guy get really comfortable and really feel good and be accomplished at the position you have him slotted at."

What have you seen on film from Ohio State as far as specifics on their front seven? Losing their starting defensive tackle for the season, is interior defense an area you think is a weakness?

Limegrover: "In all honestly, when you're the No. 2 team in the country, weakness is a relative term. I think they can trot out a lot of good football players. One of the biggest things is that if they lose a guy and the next one comes in, you just say, okay, I don't even know that they have lost a step.  They do a good job putting their personnel in spots. to succeed. They are a team where if you get into third-and-long, they are going to take some back up defensive ends who are really good pass rushers and they are going to move them inside and create a lot of movement and disruption in there on third downs. They've got some big space eaters there in first and second time. It kind of gives you a look at what pro teams are trying to do when they can mold their lineup in terms of getting their guys on the field that really fit the situation. If you're a team that is going to run the ball first and second down, you have those build dudes on the inside you have your defensive ends who can play the run and then all of the sudden you get to third down and you have four defensive ends in there trying to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback. So from a front standpoint, I think that's the way you like having it and I think that provides a tremendous challenge for us."

"I don't know if there is a better linebacker in the country, from my opinion, than RaeKwon McMillan. I don't want to say I have had the pleasure, it has been kind of my personal nightmare, but this will be the third time I have seen Ohio State and watched them play. RaeKwon McMillan is one of those guys who really makes them go on defense and he was last year as well and even the year before. He is just a guy who goes and it all builds around him. It's a formidable challenge and I think they are just as good in everything they do and they do it differently but I think they are every bit as good as Michigan from a front seven standpoint."

Taking it back a few weeks here, with the Minnesota win where players were saying they wanted to win that game for you, what was that like for you?

Limegrover: "It was really a highlight for me, just personally, career-wise. As that game was going on, I had a chance to share my story with the team. So the guys had some perspective of where I was coming from and it wasn't anything bad, but it was just a matter of, I wanted to let them know, what had happened and how appreciative and grateful I feel about being at Penn State. A lot of the guys, I think it struck a cord with them and it was really an amazing thing and you're in that game and initially things weren't going as we had hoped, but there was that constant, steady climb. Guys were coming up to me and not even the offensive linemen, but it was secondary guys, it was wide receivers, saying hey coach, we're going to get this one for you, we're going to get this one. It really made me feel good. It was like, okay, this is something that's pretty special. Then obviously to win the game the way that we did, the guys gave me the game ball afterward. It was one of those things as far as a personal highlight for me, but in tern I felt great for the guys. I really loved to see the group of guys that we have fight back and fight through some adversity and continue to move forward and that's the message that I gave them. I thanked them and then I also told them how proud I was to be part of this staff and watching them never give up and continuing to fight. It was a pretty special day all the way around.

With Andrew Nelson going out like that, what is the emotional response from the o-line or the people who had to step in and take his place?

"You know what's interesting, I think that a lot of things that happen throughout a football game, when you take a step back and look at it from a detached standpoint, there is an emotional response to it. I'll be honest with you, in the middle of the game when that happened, there wasn't a single woe-is-me, there wasn't anyone looking around going oh darn or whatever you want to say. It was here's the mission - Brendan [Mahon], you go to right tackle, Paris, we talk about next man up and to their credit, those guys stayed in the game and continued to fight. Was it emotional after the game, Andrew Nelson, he's one of those guys who could have easily been one of our offensive captains if it wasn't for Brian [Gaia]. He is that type of guy and that type of mentor to the younger guys, that kind of solid voice in the offensive line room. So it hit the guys pretty hard after, but in the moment they just stayed right on point and continued to fire away and then after we sort of got through the grieving process as a group and then I don't want to say fortunately, that's a bad way to put it, but we had the off week so we worked through that as we started to get into Ohio State that reality had sunk in. Then as tough as that reality was, we realized we had to move forward and I think that off week was probably good mentality for the guys in my room." 

Morett-Curtiss' Legacy Leads to Hall of Fame Induction

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By Mandy Bell, Student Feature Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss has had a love for competition since she was a 2-year-old playing board games or having snowball fights against her siblings. As she got older, she played every sport her older brothers played.

Morett-Curtiss competed in basketball, ice hockey and swimming. She also played against her siblings in backyard games and street hockey. In seventh grade, she wanted to find a sport to play during the fall season since that was her only off season.

"My high school had a junior high tryout for field hockey," Morett-Curtiss said. "I had a tryout that day and I remember coming home and I had my hockey stick. I had never seen a hockey stick before. I remember running through the door saying, 'I want to play field hockey! I want to play field hockey!' My dad asked what field hockey was and I told him I didn't really know, but this is the stick you use to play it."

As Morett-Curtiss balanced all of the sports she played, she began to stand out in field hockey and lacrosse. When Morett-Curtiss graduated high school, she decided to come to Penn State to play for both programs. She became the first of six siblings to attend a four-year college.

At Penn State, Morett-Curtiss quickly became a field hockey standout. She was the program's only three-time first team All-American, scored 50 goals in four years and was the captain of the undefeated 1978 team. Whether she was on or off the field, Morett-Curtiss said it was impossible to have a bad day at Penn State.

"I think what I loved about my experience was that my best friends from Penn State are still my best friends today," Morett-Curtiss said. "They all played different sports. Kids are always amazed how we were always so social without having phones to figure out where everybody was meeting. We had a training table after practice every season with the football players, the soccer players and the lacrosse teams. We always had those conversations planning what was going on that weekend and always found time to have some fun."

Morett-Curtiss also became the first Nittany Lion to record five goals in a single game against Bucknell.

"Being a forward I think what helped my field hockey was street hockey," Morett-Curtiss said. "Because it was a lot of three on three or four on four you had a lot of touches with your stick. Always trying to put the ball in the net was something I grew up playing street hockey. That helped me find the goal in college."

After graduating college in 1979, Morett-Curtiss competed with the U.S.A Field Hockey team in hopes to compete at the 1980 Olympics. With a boycott of the Olympic Games, Morett-Curtiss was forced to wait until 1984 before she could officially compete in the games in Los Angeles, California.

"I was really fortunate that I was young enough to be able to stay in the program," Morett-Curtiss said. "Knowing that the games were going to take place in Los Angeles was something we could really focus on in training. To have the opportunity to have my parents and family come to Los Angeles to show that support was something that really meant a lot to me."

Morett-Curtiss and the U.S.A Field Hockey team earned bronze at the 1984 Olympic Games. After competing in the Olympics, Morett-Curtiss turned to coaching.

In 1984, Morett-Curtiss was named head field hockey and lacrosse coach at Boston College. After her previous coach Gillian Rattray retired from Penn State, Morett-Curtiss did not hesitate to apply for the job at her alma mater.

"It was a dream come true for me," Morett-Curtiss said. "To be able to recruit kids to Penn State University that come with the same values and commitment to academics and athletics that I once did is something that is natural to me being a Penn State coach."

Current Associate Head Coach Lisa Love was a member of the field hockey team in Morett-Curtiss' first two years on the job.

"She came in with this high energy and high intensity passion for the sport," Love said. "We were all intimidated by her at first. She really cared about the sport and had a passion for the game that was contagious. She made us better people, which made us better players. I remember we always left practice feeling like we accomplished more than we ever could."

Since the time Morett-Curtiss began her coaching career, field hockey has become a much quicker game.

"There were rules like turning your back and being offside which really slowed the game down when I played," Morett-Curtiss said. "You couldn't lift your stick above your hip, which was really bad. I was taking a golf class my senior year so I was just used to taking my club back and then I would go to practice and I would take my stick back and that was a foul. But, the biggest change is AstroTurf. It has really sped up the game."

In her 29th season as head coach at Penn State, Morett-Curtiss has a 440-170-8 record and in just the last seven years, she has led the Nittany Lions to three Big Ten regular season titles, two Big Ten Tournament championships and six NCAA Tournament appearances. 

With all of her success as both a player and coach, Morett-Curtiss will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame Saturday.

"I take a lot of pride in being a Pennsylvanian and growing up in Delaware County," Morett-Curtiss said. "The program from Delaware County nominated me for this. I am humbled and honored. There are so many people that I know inducted in there. I am just excited that my sister is coming up from Florida and [Love] and Stuart [Smith] will be there to support me along with my husband, Doug. That's what will make it special for me." 

Although Morett-Curtiss is not competing against her siblings in backyard games anymore, field hockey has given her that family-feeling for over 30 years. 

"I just love what I do," Morett-Curtiss said. "I am fortunate that I have [Love] and Stuart around me that makes this atmosphere, just like the Olympic team did for me in 1984, like a family atmosphere. You influence each other, trust each other and enjoy each other's company. I think that's what I love most about field hockey. It's really given me that family feel in my life."

Detering, Gorrell Shine on 'Dig Pink' Night

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By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 9 Penn State defeated No. 19 Ohio State in straight sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-17) Wednesday evening in an atmosphere that isn't typically seen in Rec Hall.

Pink shakers and pink t-shirts covered the stands. The wRECking crew and Pep Band sported pink hard hats. The Nittany Lions warmed-up in light pink jerseys and wore black and pink socks as well as pink bows in their hair throughout the match. Head coach Russ Rose pinned a pink ribbon to his polo shirt. Ohio State even wore pink-colored jerseys. 

In total, Penn State's annual 'Dig Pink' match raised more than $4,000 for the Side-Out Foundation for breast cancer awareness. 

"It was a really good match," redshirt freshman middle Tori Gorrell said. "Many us came out really excited to show just how excited we were for this game. The Dig Pink match is a huge thing and it's really important that we show that we care. It was nice to get a good win on an important night."

At the start of the first set, it was a back-and-forth matchup between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes, but with the help of the crowd's energy, junior setter Abby Detering crushed a kill over the net that pushed Penn State to a 6-3 run.

Detering finished the night with a team-high 34 assists and tied for first on the team with eight digs. She also recorded three kills on .429 hitting.

"I thought we did a real nice job from the end line," Rose said. "I thought our serve-pass game was very good and it enabled Abby [Detering] to set the ball well. Haleigh [Washington] and Tori [Gorrell] had great nights offensively, but it starts with the serve-pass game."

It was the duo of Detering and Gorrell who steered the offense in the second set when Penn State and Ohio State were tied, 10-10, as Detering set Gorrell, who hammered a kill to give the Nittany Lions the edge. Gorrell connected with Detering on the next point, too, before putting away another kill to give the Nittany Lions a three-point cushion.

"I thought we were good on some tight sets to the net that we made," Rose said. "We made some nice plays. Tori had a couple of blocks and blocked well tonight. She had the setter a couple of times and that was really important for us since the setter is a very important player." 

Gorrell notched a team-high six blocks, including three solo stuffs, in addition to five kills on .500 hitting. Freshman libero Kendall White also tied for first on the team with eight digs.

Offensively, junior Simone Lee led the team with 12 kills, while junior Haleigh Washington ended the night second on the team with 10 kills on season-high-tying .769 hitting percentage.

The Nittany Lions are on a 15-match winning streak and are undefeated in Big Ten play, and they're hoping to remain that way as they approach a trip to No. 22 Michigan Saturday.

"We need to keep on working on our connection and the serve-pass game is so huge," Detering said. "We did really well with that tonight, so we have to keep that up, especially for Michigan - just going in there and being aggressive."

Penn State will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Ann Arbor Saturday for a 7 p.m. matchup.

VIDEO: Practice Updates - Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ohio State week is well underway at practice for the Nittany Lions, as they prepare to host the Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium Saturday under the lights in the annual Penn State White Out.
Head coach James Franklin and quarterback Trace McSorley took time after practice Wednesday to meet with members of the media for updates on the weekly practice prep. 

Check out the video Q&A sessions below. 

James Franklin Trace McSorley


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the start of a new season approaching, the Lady Lions have many familiar faces coming back for the 2016-17 season. Among those faces are new ones, too, with two freshmen added to the roster.

However, there is one more face in the crowd that fans may not recognize, but she's been on campus getting ready for her blue and white debut since January. 

De'Janae Boykin arrived in Happy Valley at the beginning of 2016 when she transferred from Connecticut. She didn't play during her freshman year due to an injury, but since transferring to Penn State she's been able to get back to 100 percent.

Having transferred in the middle of the season, Boykin has been able to integrate herself into the team fabric over the last year. She's been able to workout with the team and get acclimated to the program.

"I just think being here since January has brought me closer to the girls," Boykin said. "I know last year the team was kind of different and being a part of this year's team is very new and very different.I'm excited to fully be a part of the team this year." 

When Boykin, from Springdale, Md., was looking for potential landing spots once she decided to transfer, it was Penn State's head coach Coquese Washington who caught her eye.

"Coach Washington and the entire coaching staff really sold this place to me," Boykin said. "And Penn State is actually closer to home for me, it's only three hours away and it's family oriented. So with all that, I knew I wanted to play here."

Boykin boasts an impressive resume thus far in her career. She was a McDonald's High School All-American in 2015 and has won three international gold medals with USA Basketball since 2013, including one at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Boykin also was a participant in the inaugural Jordan Brand Classic. 

Having missed last season, Boykin is eager to get on the court with her new team. But while she can practice with no restrictions, Boykin won't be able to see any playing time until the spring semester. 

"I'm excited to play with this group of girls," Boykin said. "I'm excited for myself because [last year] was my second year out [due to injury], so I finally get to play this year. I'm just looking forward to being on the court again."

Boykin and the Lady Lions will continue practicing the next week, before Boykin's teammates will take on Bloomsburg in an exhibition game at the Bryce Jordan Center October 30th, and then officially open the regular season at Drexel on Friday, November 11th.

Family Guides Gaia Through Penn State Experience

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By Arielle Sargent, Penn State Strategic Communications

Originally from a small town on the water positioned midway between the south side of Baltimore and Annapolis, Pasadena, Maryland native Brian Gaia grew up setting crabbing trotlines as a summer job with his friends.

When not on the water boating with his family, Gaia and his father Tim, could often be found in the garage working on cars - customizing vehicles to be exact. Recalling days when Brian was up to his elbows covered in grease, the garage was place where Tim Gaia and his son were more like best friends rather than father and son.

That's until Penn State came along, because when Brian Gaia received an offer from Penn State, it didn't take long for him to make up his mind.

For Gaia though, it's not how his Penn State experience begins or even where it's at today that makes it special. Rather, it's about the journey and those who were with him along the way.

A two-time team captain at the Gilman School, a private all boys school in Baltimore, Gaia helped guide his high school team to three Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A titles.

Gaia was the first freshman on the football team to start at Gilman in nearly 65 years, while also closing out his high school career with three all-state selections.

"We had a lot of talent on our team," Gaia said. "We had like 10 Division one kids on our team my senior year. It was great to be surrounded by a lot of talent." 

With talent abound, his performances on the football field started to attract the eyes of collegiate head coaches. 

Gaia was not one for the recruiting process though, as the Gilman School was located more than an hour away from his home in Pasadena. The long commute started early in the morning and usually wrapped up late in the evening after football practice, leaving little time for extras.

"I didn't get home until 9:30 or 10 every night and coaches wanted to talk but I still had three hours of homework to do and then I had to wake up again at five in the morning," Gaia said.

Although the Gilman School expectations and requirements were high, Gaia proved that he was just as good on the field as he was in the classroom.

"There were times where I would get up and look down the hall and Brian's bedroom door was closed at 1:30 or two in the morning and I would pop my head in thinking he went to bed and left the light on, but oh no, he was at his desk working," Tim Gaia said.

It wasn't long before former Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson delivered his best pitch to Brian.

"When he was at Penn State, he pulled me in and showed me what I could do and how good I could be. He really sold the Penn State dream," Gaia said.

Inspired by a dream that combines a tradition of excellence in both athletics and academics, Brian Gaia committed to Penn State early in his junior year on an evening his father remembers well.

"He sat down and said, 'I made my decision,' Tim said. "He said, 'I'm going to Penn State. Penn State has always been my decision' and he didn't want to continue thinking about it."

Prior to Brian's freshman season in 2012, Bill O'Brien was named Penn State Football's head coach. Despite the unexpected coaching change, Gaia did not change his commitment and neither did Penn State.

In 2012, Gaia spent a year on the scout team, taking a redshirt year before playing in all 12 games at defensive tackle and on special teams in 2013. He made five tackles in a non-conference outing against Eastern Michigan and saw significant time in the thrilling quadruple-overtime game against Michigan, making one tackle. Gaia also excelled in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors during the year. 

Just as he was settling into his role on the defensive line, Penn State announced that O'Brien had accepted a head coaching position with the Houston Texans. The Nittany Lions later named James Franklin the program's 16th head coach in January 2014. 

Once again, Gaia did not change his commitment as he remained steadfast in his decision to continue pursuing the Penn State dream.

There were still more changes though, as Gaia received a call from Franklin just outside the Maryland state line while he was on his way home during break shortly before spring practice.

"I thought I did something wrong, but I couldn't think of anything I did wrong so I picked up the phone and I said hello and Coach Franklin asked me what I thought about moving to offense."

With a team first mentality, Gaia agreed to the move without hesitation. Willing to help the team in any way he possibly could. A response that came as no surprise to his father.

Unsure if he was officially moved to offense or set to remain on defense, Gaia returned to campus for spring football and sat down in the defensive line area.

"Coach looked at me and said, 'what are you doing over there, you're on offense' and from there, that's how I figured it out," Gaia said. 

Switching from defensive tackle to right guard was no easy task though, as Gaia remembers the first few memories of the transition being absolutely terrible.

"I thought I knew what I was doing, but I just had no clue," Gaia said.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Gaia took it in stride earning the Red Worrell Award presented to the offense's most improved player following spring practice in 2014. He started all 12 games at right guard during the 2014 season, finding success helping protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg and blocking for running backs in Bill Belton, Akeel Lynch and Zach Zwinak. He also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive season.

More changes were ahead for Gaia though, as the 2016 spring football season brought another challenge as he moved once again, but this time from right guard to center.

It's widely regarded that one of the most important relationships a quarterback can have on the field is with his center, a relationship that Gaia and Nittany Lions signal caller Trace McSorley have fully embraced.

At six feet-three inches and 295 pounds, Gaia worked tirelessly throughout the summer, preseason and into the 2016 campaign, growing into the added responsibility of the position.

"The hardest part is learning how to snap and block at the same time and I'm still learning about that through every game," Gaia said.

Committed to working as hard as possible to get the job done, Gaia has not been alone in journey, relying on the steady relationship with his father throughout the entire process.

"Brian had every opportunity to walk away from it, but it shows the kind of man that he is, he stuck with it and he didn't give up," Tim said.  

Speaking daily on the phone, conversations between Tim and Brian are sometimes about football, but often mostly about life, with even a little bit of talk about cars.

"When Brian was going through all the changes, I just told him, 'Brian you're going to be as good as you're going to be and that's on you.' I don't want you to be a superstar, I just want you to be as good as you can be." 

Now a leader on the field as one of three team captains, Brian has taken command of the offensive line, teaching and guiding the younger members of the line, in the spirit of the same tradition he experienced coming through the program.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing though as Gaia and the Nittany Lions endured their first Big Ten setback on the road against nationally ranked Michigan in the early part of the conference schedule.

After the game, Brian sent a text message to his father. One Tim said he'll never forget.  

It read, "Dad I'm not a superstar, but today I did the very best I could do for my team."

Freshman Feature: Gober a Determined Forward

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When he walked into the Bloomington Thunder locker room for the first time in 2014, freshman forward Blake Gober expected to see a familiar number on the back of his jersey. Growing up wearing the No. 19, Gober was thrown a curve ball when the Thunder assigned him No. 23. 

Gober was playing on the inaugural Thunder team during the 2014-15 season, which was an opportunity he had worked relentlessly for.

"I was never drafted into the USHL and I went to a bunch of camps and never made a team," Gober said.

Gober played during the 2013-14 season for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League, before the opportunity arose to try out for the newest USHL team. 

The 5-foot-8 forward played more than 100 games for the Thunder throughout the two seasons he spent in Bloomington, Illinois. The Thunder named him an assistant captain during his second campaign. While in Bloomington, Gober found the found the back of the net 22 times and provided 25 assists, making his way on to the score sheet in more than 40 percent of the Thunder's games.

Gober also brings a physical aspect to the ice, having recorded 191 penalty minutes in the USHL.

Since USHL teams initially overlooked him, Gober committed himself to improving on the ice and being an adaptive member of whichever team he is on. He explained that he becomes whatever kind of player the team needs at the time, which is a characteristic that he credits to his success.

"I've changed the way I play over time," Gober said. "I do what is needed for the team."

As part of his evolving style, Gober has looked up to many professional hockey players over the years, taking aspects of their game and molding them to his own. Two of his favorite players are Steve Yzerman and Mike Modano, both known for their consistency and leadership. 

As a child, Gober admired Yzerman, the Detroit Red Wings captain and three-time Stanley Cup Champion, which is why he wore No. 19 throughout youth hockey. He now wears No. 23 for the Nittany Lions. 

Gober, a native of Colleyville, Texas, started watching the Dallas Stars after he started playing hockey, which began with a video game.

"I started because my buddy got a video game on his computer and asked me if I wanted to play hockey," Gober said. "He quit a week later but I stuck with it."

Gober grew up watching Modano play for his hometown Stars. He explained that when the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, Texas saw a surge in young hockey players, including Gober, who laced up his first pair of skates when he was five.

"When I first started, hockey wasn't very big down there," Gober said. "I think there was only one AAA team that traveled all over and played against other teams. Then when I was growing up I was on a team that went to a national championship, it's growing a lot now."

Gober is already making a name for himself in collegiate hockey. He scored an empty net goal in his first appearance for the Nittany Lions, a win over St. Lawrence.


By Zach Reagan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a game filled with a host of scoring chances, two overtimes weren't enough to break a 2-2 deadlock between Penn State and No. 22 Akron Tuesday night at Jeffrey Field.

"I think the whole game was a great advertisement for college soccer," said Penn State head coach Bob Warming. "This is what great college soccer should look like: skillful, teams play hard, move the ball well and they were exciting players on the field on both teams. I'd like to play this game every week."

Penn State's offense moved the ball into Akron's defensive end early and often. The Nittany Lions (6-6-2) knew Akron (7-4-2) could make things happen offensively after the Zips scored seven goals in their last match, but knew their aggressive play could be taken advantage of.

"We put two more attacking midfielders so I got to play alongside my brother which is always awesome. We were a lot more attacking minded today," said team captain Maloney. "We knew they were throwing guys forward so we threw guys forward because we knew they weren't going to have as many back. We put guys forward and we had those opportunities. We finished two of them but we could have finished more but that's how the game of soccer is."

Connor Maloney and Dayonn Harris constantly were on the attack. Right out of the gates, the Nittany Lions were on the prowl. Despite having several near goals but not finding the back of the net, Harris put fear into Akron's defense with his blazing speed to get behind the defense, craftiness and peskiness. His play ultimately led to Penn State's two goals on the night

"His activity level is insane right now," said Warming. "They had no answer for him. It was unbelievable."

Penn State found themselves trailing early to Akron. In the 11th minute, Stuart Holthusen took a lead pass to get behind the backline. Penn State goalkeeper Evan Finney didn't fully commit to coming out to get the ball causing Holthusen to shoot it around Finney to the right side of the net. It was rolling wide but he chased it down and tapped it in the right corner. Surprisingly, Holthusen's first score was the only goal of the half, despite both teams having multiple opportunities to score.

The Nittany Lions finally broke through for a goal in the 65th minute to tie the score 1-1 when Harris received a pass at the top of the box. He then dished it back to Maloney who hit a perfectly placed kick from just outside the box into the top right corner of the net, beating Akron's leaping 6-foot-7 goalkeeper. Penn State's scoring leader notched his first goal since scoring off a penalty kick Sept. 13 against Ohio State.

But Maloney wasn't done. A few minutes later in the 74th minute, once again Harris had the ball deep into the box. An Akron defender tried to clear the ball but it deflected off Harris onto the foot of Maloney all alone in the red side of the box. Maloney capitalized for his sixth goal of the season as he drilled it into the lower right corner just before Akron's diving keeper could get there. Maloney knows it's the goal scorer who usually gets the credit, but said Harris deserved it more than anyone for Maloney's two goals

"Dayonn worked very, very hard tonight and got those assists for me so a credit to him," said Maloney.

Several minutes later, Akron knotted the score at 2-2 when Holthusen headed a cross for a goal. The Zips recorded many scoring opportunities throughout the back and forth game. Last minute chances didn't result in any goals for either team so extra time was needed on what felt like a summer night.

An extra 20 minutes on top of regulation still couldn't decide the game. Akron's constant pressure in overtime caused the Nittany Lions to be on their heels. The new, rearranged backline bent but didn't break. Former Akron player now Penn State defender Riley Grant has settled into his new role switching from forward.

"It's tricky since I never played there before but coach is helping me out with film and all the guys are talking on the field so I know where to be," said Grant. "I'm getting accustomed to it now so it should be a good thing going."

Playing against his old school and against former high school teammate Brad Ruhaak isn't anything new for Grant as they have matched up every year since he's transferred to Penn State. The relaxed, soft-spoken, Copley, Ohio native seemed to take it as just another game.

"I did it every year since I transferred," said Grant. "I'm used to it, it's another game. It's good to see all those guys again. When I go home, I see them a lot."

Penn State has beat and tied ranked teams in their last two matches and that's going a long way for the team's confidence.

"Our confidence is soaring right now to honest with you," Maloney. "Especially going into the end of the season, this is where you want to be your best; right now we are at our best."

Penn State's explosive weapons are hitting stride and playing more as a unit which is a good sign as the regular season ticks down in time for the all-important postseason.

A favorable result again a ranked team is a good sign, but seven of Penn State's 14 matches this year have required extra time. Warming is pleased with his team's hard work but knows of the wear and tear of a long, grueling college season. After playing games Sunday and Tuesday, he looks to get his guys back in top condition for Friday's game at home against Rutgers.

"They were really exhausted," said Warming. We're going to take a couple days to do 're-gen' with everybody. They've had great work ethic coming early, staying late and doing extra shooting on the goalkeepers, now we're in that phase of the year where you have to manage your body because everyone is starting to break down a bit."

For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto and follow the team on the various social media platforms.

More than a Match, Penn State Preps for Dig Pink

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By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After notching two conference victories on the road at Purdue and Indiana, the Nittany Lions return home to Rec Hall to welcome No. 19 Ohio State on Wednesday evening.

But this matchup isn't a typical match as the Nittany Lions won't be seeing fans in blue and white. Instead, the evening will represent something bigger with pink being featured throughout the stands. 

Penn State and the Side-Out Foundation will host its annual "Dig Pink" match for the seventh consecutive year in support of breast cancer research. 

"It's just great that people want to participate and contribute to the cause," head coach Russ Rose said. "I think it's great for everybody affiliated with Penn State. I know they have a big program here with basketball, and this is something different that has been in play for a couple of years. We've been involved in it since the first year it started and I hope it continues long after I'm gone."

'Side-out' in volleyball means a team is regaining control of the ball, and that's what the Side-Out Foundation is all about. It's a support and advocacy organization that unites volleyball players and coaches to have them work toward the common goal of furthering breast cancer awareness, education and patient services. Millions of dollars have been raised, which goes towards high-quality support services for cancer patients, their families and scholarships for young students to motivate them to continue achieving their dreams, all while developing treatments so a cure is discovered in the near future.

Having hosted an annual event in Rec Hall in each of the last seven years, Penn State's 2015 campaign once again generated nearly $4,000 for the Side-Out Foundation, to match a record number, which was originally set in 2014. 

"Breast cancer reaches and touches lots of people, and anything we can do to raise awareness and funding to help with the various programs and trials that are in play to help the people in the future, we should all be honored to be part of that," coach Rose said.

The match will also hit home for some of the student-athletes, like freshman libero Kendall White.

"I think it's a huge deal," White said. "My grandma is a survivor of breast cancer so it means a lot to me having all the girls support it, having all the fans come in and auction off our warmup jerseys. It's amazing to be raising money. It's a really great cause and I love it so much that I get to be part of it."

At the match, the Nittany Lions will host a silent auction to bid for the pregame Dig Pink warmup jerseys where proceeds will go directly toward Penn State's "Dig Pink" profile. There will also be free pink shakers, with the first 200 students in attendance receiving free pizza, Dig Pink shirts and pink wRECking crew hard hats. 

"Pink is my favorite color, so I think it will be amazing going out there with the team [and seeing all the pink]," White said. "We're just going to come out fighting hard. It's a big game, so I hope it's like every game where the fans come in and cheer us on."

Penn State's Dig Pink event comes at just the right time for the Nittany Lions, who recently returned home from the road, with visits to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota all looming the future after the mid-week against the Buckeyes at Rec Hall.

"It's a huge deal to have this break in the road trips," White said. "Playing at home is one of our favorite things to do because all of our fans are here. Everyone is supporting us and we are surrounded by people who love volleyball almost as much as we do. Going out and playing here before we go on the road next weekend against bigger teams we have to play is a huge momentum push as we go in." 

Penn State enters Wednesday's matchup against the Buckeyes on a 14-match winning streak. After opening the season at 2-3, the Nittany Lions have regrouped to remain undefeated in Big Ten conference play at 8-0. 

"What's been clicking with the team is just our chemistry," White said. "More than anything, not even volleyball-related, it's just us. As a team, we've been clicking a lot better. We've been communicating better on and off the court and just fighting. It's our heart and our fight playing into our game."

The Lions hope to match the tenancy and determination of the Side-Out Foundation. When asked what they're goal was for Wednesday evening, White responded with one word. 

"Win. That's what we plan on doing."

VIDEO: Ohio State Week Player Q&A

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with cornerback Grant Haley and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton previewing the Penn State White Out matchup against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium Saturday. 

Check out the Q&A video sessions below.

DaeSean Hamilton

Grant Haley