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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

Tuesday Press Conference Roundup - Ohio State Week

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Transcript: James Franklin Transcript: Players Weekly Q&A with DaeSean Hamilton and Grant Haley

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off the bye week, Penn State Football is set to return to Beaver Stadium, hosting No. 2 Ohio State Saturday.

Head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday to preview the upcoming Penn State White Out, while also giving an update on progress throughout the week off from competition. 

Penn State (4-2, 2-1 East) and Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 East) will meet for the 32nd time in program history, squaring off under the lights at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Franklin opened his press conference noting that the Nittany Lions are rested both physically and emotionally after the bye week, but looking forward to the challenge as the Buckeyes head to Beaver Stadium for the 13th time in program history.

"We have been talking to them all week about preparing hard and working hard and then playing loose," Franklin said. "Do everything you possibly can all week long so you can go out and play loose, and you can go out and play confident and have fun and take advantage of one of the better environments in college football that will take place in Beaver Stadium on Saturday."

With Ohio State presenting strength and talent at nearly every position on the field, Franklin also called on the support of Nittany Lion fans. 

"We need everybody in the stadium screaming and hollering," Franklin said. "It's no different than the election; every vote matters. It's the same way in the stadium: every clap, every yell, every scream matters. It makes a difference."

For Franklin, keys to success against a challenging Ohio State team include limiting signature Buckeye explosive plays, while also continuing to remain disciplined in avoiding costly penalties. As always, Franklin stressed that the games Penn State has seen success in this year have all come in limiting turnovers and protecting the football.

"The margin of error against these types of teams is too small," Franklin said. "So you have to play well. That's what we plan on doing again on Saturday."

On the Quote Board -

-  Not only did Franklin note that Penn State need to limit Ohio State explosive plays, but he also included how key the ability is in terms of success on the field. Penn State's seven plays for 50-plus yards on the year currently ranks 13th nationally according to

"I think last week, if you look at the Maryland game, we had 15 explosive plays on offense and our defense gave up four. So when you win the turnover battle and you win the explosive play battle, you've got a chance to be successful; and, like I mentioned before, keep the crowd involved."

- Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton on his first Penn State White Out experience. 

"The very first White Out was when I was a freshman, like the redshirt year that I took, when Penn State played Michigan. We obviously know what happened that game. So that was probably my first one and that was probably the best one, the best college football game that I've ever been a part of and I've ever seen, live and up close and personal. 

- Cornerback Grant Haley on the key to success against Ohio State.

"I think we need to make them a one-dimensional team. We obviously need to stop the run, the quarterback run especially, and also running backs back there, Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel, just make them beat us through the air. If we can make them a one-dimensional team, it makes our chances of winning more successful."

-  Haley also likened the Penn State White Out crowd to a 12th man on the field, noting that he can feel the ground shaking when the crowd is loudest.

"Just having some of the best fans in the country coming in and supporting you day-in and day-out, I think that just gives us pride playing for your university. Everything we do is just to make them proud." 

- Franklin's thoughts on what the Penn State White Out embodies.

"I think the White Out exemplifies what this place is all about. It's about our community coming together, the fans, the professors, our alumni and our players and going into that stadium and having fun together and representing Penn State the right way. It's special. There's no doubt about it." 

Monday Notebook: Looking Back at Penn State White Outs

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a bye week the Nittany Lions are set to return for a quintessential Penn State White Out under the lights, hosting No. 2 Ohio State at 8 p.m. Saturday on ABC.

Penn State's White Out will be its ninth in program history encompassing the entire stadium, as the Nittany Lions have hosted a Penn State White Out among students or full stadium in each of the last 12 seasons. The Nittany Lions hosted their first student White Out Oct. 9, 2004 against Purdue, before going stadium wide for the first time against Notre Dame Sept. 8, 2007.

Penn State White Out History
Oct. 9, 2004 vs. Purdue (student section)
Oct. 8, 2005 vs. Ohio State (student section)
Oct. 14, 2006 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 8, 2007 vs. Notre Dame (full stadium)
Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Illinois (full stadium)
Sept. 26, 2009 vs. Iowa (full stadium)
Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Alabama (full stadium)
Oct. 27, 2012 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Oct. 12, 2013 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 25, 2014 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Michigan (full stadium)

Among the 12 annual outings, a few current Nittany Lions have also logged standout performances in Penn State White Out conditions within the last few years.

Saeed Blacknall's Touchdown Catches
Blacknall has grabbed each of his two career touchdown receptions in Penn State White Out games. Last year, he highlighted the Penn State White Out against Michigan (Nov. 21, 2015) with a 25-yard catch in the second quarter.

In 2014, he recorded a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to cut the Ohio State deficit to three, in a Penn State White Out game that resulted in a 31-24 Buckeye victory in double overtime.

Tyler Davis' Field Goals
Davis enters the week as one of five players in the FBS standings who remain perfect on the year in field goal percentage. Davis is also sitting atop the Big Ten Conference standings with 1.67 field goals per game. In his first Penn State White Out appearance last year, Davis set a career high with three field goals against Michigan, while also converting on his only extra point attempt. Since then, he has matched the career mark in Penn State's overtime win against Minnesota this year.

DaeSean Hamilton's Record Setting Day
Hamilton registered a record-breaking performance in his first ever Penn State White Out appearance. In the 2014 Penn State White Out game against Ohio State, he broke a Penn State game receptions record, as well as his own freshman receptions record with 14 catches for 126 yards against the Buckeyes. On the way to his second Big Ten Freshman of the Week award, he made three catches during the game-tying drive late in the game to force overtime.

A Look at Ohio State
Ohio State enters Saturday's matchup at 6-0 on the year, having also won each of its last 20 road games, which stands as the longest active streak nationally. Last week, the Buckeyes outscored then-No. 8 Wisconsin 24-7 in the second half to secure a 30-23 comeback win in overtime. 

Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes have also won their last 13 night games. They enter Saturday's matchup with a 26-10 record when playing on the road with kickoff slated after 5 p.m. local time.

Meyer acknowledged the upcoming challenge for his Buckeyes though, as the Nittany Lions are undefeated in Beaver Stadium this season (4-0) and have won 10 of their last 11 at home. 

"Wish they saved the White Outs for other games, but I guess they used it for our game," Meyer said. "It's one of the top five atmospheres, again, in college football."


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Many teams view the non-conference portion of their schedule as a chance to test themselves to see how they stack up against tougher opposition before conference play. For Penn State, this statement holds especially true, as the Nittany Lions (1-4-1) have faced no shortage of tests in the early stretch of their schedule.

 After opening the season on the road in consecutive weeks, including a trip to No. 5 Clarkson, the Nittany Lions returned home to Pegula Ice Arena only to find perennial national powerhouse Boston University (3-1-1) waiting in the wings.

 On Friday night, the Nittany Lions and Terriers played to a 3-3 overtime tie as the teams traded goals throughout most of the game. Penn State struck first and led 1-0 after the end of the first period, but the Terriers struck twice early in the second period to take a 2-1 lead.

Penn State answered six minutes later with a goal from Laura Bowman to tie the game. 

"They responded beautifully," head coach Josh Brandwene said. "BU got those two goals to start the second period and credit to our leadership and credit to the whole team for really righting the ship and going back to being aggressive again."

Amy Petersen gave the Nittany Lions the lead in the third period on her fourth goal of the season, a breakaway opportunity in which she found the top left corner of the net. 

"I saw the net was open," Petersen said. "I was like 'I'll go for it' and it worked out well." 

A late goal from the Terriers leveled the score, but the Nittany Lions overall were satisfied with the effort.

"I think it was really fun," junior Bella Sutton said. "It's really cool when you know that they in the past have been a ranked team and a really good team. So coming into the game it was definitely a lot of fun and we had a lot of fans."

"We executed our game plan how we wanted," Petersen added. "So I think we're really focusing on our game and the results will happen. We're really just going to stick to our game plan and get ready to come back." 

Saturday's game was not as kind to the Nittany Lions, as they suffered a 7-2 defeat.

"It was a day of skating uphill," Brandwene said. "When you get yourself down a little bit, you see what kind of hockey team you have and I was really pleased with the response, especially in the second period. We had great scoring chances; sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't." 

BU jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Aly Hardy had the early goal for the Nittany Lions. 

"We just poked it out and Brooke [Madsen] was driving," Hardy said. "She cut across and that's what we worked on during practice. She drew the defense with her, passed it to me and I just shot far side."

Penn State was trailing 3-1 when Abby Welch netted her first career goal as a Nittany Lion from just inside the blue line.

"There was a power play and the goalie came out," Welch said. "I took a slap shot and I was so happy it went in. I think it changed a little bit of our momentum." 

Welch was the fifth Nittany Lion to score in the series, and she was excited to score her first career goal.   

"Every game I've had so many opportunities. Now that it's out of the way," Welch said. "I'm just so relieved." 

Penn State resumes play next weekend at Connecticut before opening conference play at RIT on Oct. 27.

Record Crowd as Penn State Comeback Falls Short

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By Zach Reagan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Penn State field hockey team's comeback fell just short against sixth-ranked Maryland, 5-4, in front of the largest crowd ever at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex Sunday.

With nearly 12 minutes left in the game, the Nittany Lions (12-2, 4-2 Big Ten) found themselves down 5-2 to the Terrapins (12-3, 6-1 Big Ten). Penn State didn't give in. They remained hungry and competed until the final horn in front of a record crowd on an unseasonal October 72-degree day.

Penn State midfielder Katie Dembrowski blasted a long-distance goal which stood after an official review to cut the deficit to two with less than eight minutes to go. Dembrowski's goal gave the Penn State crowd something to get excited about. The packed stands and folks along the fence with shakers and posters gradually got louder and started to pick up energy as the team built momentum.

The Nittany Lions responded once again almost a minute and a half later to make it 5-4. A Penn State penalty corner was awarded and Aurelia Meijer capitalized with a shot that found the back of the cage.

"I thought Aurelia played really hard today," Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "She kept the engine going for the team.

Meijer, a sophomore from The Netherlands, said she never played in front of a crowd like that and it definitely helped the team gain energy as the game grew on. In the end, she felt disappointed that the team couldn't get the Penn State fans in attendance a victory after starting the game slowly.

"I think we battled hard but we didn't start from the beginning and when all of the goals came we started to get a little bit angrier," Meijer said. "We played better but we didn't start like we're able to."

With less than a minute remaining, a Penn State penalty corner was awarded originally but then was reversed by an official review that ruled a Maryland defender didn't kick the ball in the circle. Maryland then proceeded to run the clock out with possession in their offensive end. Penn State's comeback effort just couldn't get over the deficit it faced late in the second half.

The Nittany Lions came out a bit flat and made a few costly errors offensively in the first half. Maryland played a possession style game and pressured in the Penn State defensive end much of the first half.

"I thought Maryland played a nice possession game," Morett-Curtiss said. "We were disconnected as forwards today. We made some really bad decisions in our attacking end in the first half. We can't throw those opportunities away against a team like Maryland."

The game was knotted 2-2 at halftime but Morett-Curtiss thought Penn State dodged a bullet. Penn State made adjustments to pressure the ball better but it just wasn't enough.

"We played a fall away press the first half and we gave them too much time to make passes," Morett-Curtiss said. "We probably should have gone into a full press earlier. I thought 2-2 at halftime, we just survived a bad half. Let's come out and play a little bit more aggressively with our press in the second half which we did but we gave up goals off of counterattacks."

Maryland clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a solid 70 minutes of play. The loss for Penn State marked its first home setback of the season. 


By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Amanda Dennis recorded a career-high seven saves in No. 16 Penn State's 1-0 victory against Purdue on Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field.


Dennis totaled only six saves in the previous four matches combined. Her lack of saves this season has been a testament to a strong back line, but the freshman was leaned on heavily with starting center back Grace Fisk out of the lineup.


Purdue sent 15 shots at Dennis, but none got behind her.


"She makes it look easy," said head coach Erica Dambach. "I think some of the saves looked easy, but I think that's because Amanda made them look easy. Our positioning was good, and she continues to be a real force for us."


"It's just important to keep the ball out of the net," Dennis said. "When you find teams that are getting a lot of shots off you just got to really keep tight, keep your mind tight, keep the details right and make sure that the defense is cleaning stuff up."


In the last five minutes of the game Dennis made two crucial plays to keep Purdue off the scoreboard and ensure the win.


In the 86th minute, Purdue's Erika Arkans received the ball five yards away from the net but Dennis was there to make the save on Arkans' point blank left-footed attempt.


Then, with just 20 seconds remaining, Andrea Petrina made a run up the left flank and found herself one-on-one with Dennis. Dennis made a split-second decision to charge at Petrina and forced her shot wide of the net, solidifying the shutout win.


It was Dennis' sixth solo shutout on the year and fifth in Big Ten play.


Frannie Crouse netted the Nittany Lions' only goal with a 25-yard missile to the top left corner of the net in the 38th minute. Crouse beat a few defenders up the left side of the pitch, switched directions to the middle and scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season.


Crouse has now scored 11 goals in two consecutive seasons. Her next goal this year would be a career-high.


Penn State honored three members of the Nittany Lion program before the game on Senior Day in front of 1,122 fans.


Nickolette Driesse headlines the group as the only true senior on the team. Driesse transferred to Penn State from Florida State before last season and tallied 14 points on four goals and six assists last year. She has six assists this season but hasn't found the back of the net.


This year she serves as one of the three team captains. Dambach describes her as the heart and soul of the team in the midfield.


"Nikki Driesse is a winner in so many ways, whether it's her contribution on the field, so much off the field, in the classroom," said Dambach. "She's exactly what we want in this program as a Penn State women's soccer player."


"Always being on Jeffrey Field is a great opportunity, and then adding my family to that, I don't think it could get any better than that," said Driesse.


Redshirt junior Angela Widlacki, who was also honored before the game because this will be her last year, finally got to step onto Jeffrey Field in a regular season game. Three ACL tears have kept her off the pitch, but she was substituted in the game in the last minute in an emotional moment for her and the team.  (You can read her story here.)


"She's been through a lot and it's college soccer and it's important to make sure we recognize the contribution that these players make for us," Dambach said.


Team Manager Erika Wollman was also honored before the game. 


With the win and both Northwestern and Minnesota drawing Sunday, Penn State retakes the lead atop the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions lead Northwestern and Minnesota by one point with two matches to play.


By Zach Reagan, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's strong backline play was rewarded Saturday night when defender Robby Sagel scored a game-winning header in double overtime to lift the Nittany Lions past No. 19 Michigan State, 1-0.

The match remained scoreless until the 103rd minute when Riley Grant took a hooking free kick from about 40 yards out that found a leaping Sagel, who headed the goal to beat Michigan State's keeper. Sagel, a humble team-first player, proceeded to celebrate by tearing his jersey off immediately before getting mobbed by his teammates.

"It could have been anybody," Sagel said. "I really could care less that it was me. I'm just glad it happened, it's unreal."

It was fitting that Sagel's second career goal sealed the deal for Penn State, because defense doesn't get much individual recognition in comparison to forwards who score goals. Also, the last time Penn State knocked off a top 20 opponent on Sept. 13, 2015 against then-No.10 Indiana, Sagel scored his first career goal.

The senior from Las Vegas, Nevada also played a key role in helping the Nittany Lions (6-6-1, 3-3-0 Big Ten) keep the Spartans (9-3-1, 3-2-1 Big Ten) without a goal and to snap Michigan State's five-game stretch without a loss.

"As defenders, the thing we're most proud of is blanking the other team," Sagel said.

Penn State's defenders have had their fair share of challenges so far this season. Head coach Bob Warming adjusted the lineup due to injuries and to see what would work best. The defense is continuing to get better. Penn State posted clean sheets in the past two matches.

"They're organized in the back and they're together," Warming said. "They're squeezing at the right time and dropping off at the right time. I'm really proud of the progress they made."

"It's what we have to do to move forward," Warming said. "We've been giving up way too many goals. I feel like our guys are settling in and I give a lot of credit to Robby and Mitch [Bringolf]. Mitch played top class center back today. The things he did were unbelievable."

New pieces of the defense, Ryan Gallagher and Riley Grant have both stepped in to contribute for Penn State's backline. Warming applauded their key contributions.

"Ryan Gallagher has done everything right for the last three years to put himself in position to play for us," Warming said. "Two games. Two shutouts. Unbelievable for him. Riley, we put back there and Riley never played in the back before. He did well."

Aside from superb defensive play, the Nittany Lions knocked on the door with great scoring chances in the first overtime session after minimal chances in regulation. Grant found Dayonn Harris in the box but Harris' shot went just wide right of the net.

A few minutes later, a hard slide tackle from Michigan State on Harris awarded Penn State a penalty kick. Team scoring leader Connor Maloney took the penalty kick. Maloney shot left and Michigan State's goalkeeper went left in order to save the shot.

Missing a penalty kick didn't deflate Maloney or his teammates, instead they were more motivated to score. Early in the second overtime, Sagel got the job done when he found the back of the net.

Penn State is playing its best soccer of the year as the Big Ten regular season slate winds down with two Big Ten games and two non-conference games remaining. The Nittany Lions look to continue their winning ways against Akron Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

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

Penn State Hosts 2016-17 Kickoff Event

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By Brandon Pelter, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in the 2016-17 season, the Penn State wrestling team put on a show for fans in Rec Hall.

From seven-year-olds donning their own Penn State singlets, to long-time Nittany Lion fans, many came out to show support for the team that has five national championships in the last six years, hoping to add another title this year.

"I mean it's pretty awesome just to see this many fans come out here for a kickoff event," Bo Nickal, last year's NCAA runner-up at 174 pounds, said. "It just makes me even more excited to wrestle this year and get back out on the mat." 

The team activities began with each wrestler being introduced by class, beginning with the freshman group, as smoke filled the north end of Rec Hall for a dramatic entrance. Following the team were the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club resident athletes, which included Olympians Frank Molinaro and Franklin Gomez, as well as two-time NCAA Champion David Taylor.

As the wrestlers warmed up on the mat, the Nittany Lion head assistant coach Casey Cunningham, explained some of the techniques that the wrestlers were using and discussed how he and the coaching staff are constantly looking to expand their knowledge on the sport, techniques and nutrition.

While the wrestlers sparred, Olympians Molinaro, who narrowly missed a bronze medal, and Gomez, who just came up short as well, both spoke to the crowd. Both talked about their experiences at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and being around the Penn State program.

And for many Penn State wrestling fans, the success of Penn State wrestling is fun to watch.

"We've been here at Rec Hall since 1970 and we've been following Penn State wrestling since it has been here in Rec Hall," Connie Christiansen said along with her husband Monty. "The activity that goes on with Penn State wrestling is some that one likes to follow. It's very clean, it's very neat and it's very very active for every fan, they don't even need to know about wrestling." 

With the season quickly approaching, Bo Nickal and his teammates are focusing on having another successful season.

"I'm just trying to do my best every match," Nickal said. "Just keep wrestling hard and having fun so, I mean, I do this because I love it and because I enjoy it and I'm just going to try and do that every match."

The season is just around the corner with the Nittany Lions starting on the road at Army, Friday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. The first home meet is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 when Penn State hosts Stanford.


By: Ryan Berti, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly 600 miles separates the campus of Penn State from Lisle, Illinois, a small village about an hour outside of Chicago, but while a distance that vast may be the intimidating for some to handle, freshman guard Jaida Travascio-Green has the length to cover it.

The 6-foot-2 wing player is flush with talent and has found herself in University Park after a storied career in high school. She racked up over 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and close to 200 steals in her time at Downers Grove North High School, as she earned All-State honors in both her junior and senior seasons.

But Travascio-Green didn't just dominate the competition on the court. She took her talents to the high jump in her time with the school's track and field team her junior and senior seasons. Her athleticism allowed her to leap to the top of the state's ranks, finishing third in the state her junior year before taking home the crown at the 2016 IHSA State Championships as a senior.

With her copious amounts of success at the high school level, the now-freshman was ranked No. 20 in the nation at her position in the 2016 recruiting class. Head coach Coquese Washington saw her as someone who could immediately contribute to the team and recruited her from the Prairie State.

"Jaida is a fantastic three-point shooter, and she's a shooter with size," Washington said. "At 6-foot-2, she has the ability to see over people, to shoot over people and to knock down shots."

Last November, Travascio-Green and fellow freshman Siyeh Frazier signed their letters of intent and committed to Penn State. Travascio-Green said she was thrilled to commit to a Big Ten school but the biggest appeal came not from what she could achieve on-the-court, but in the classroom behind coach Washington's dedication to academics.

"Something I loved about Penn State is Coquese was really big on academics before athletics, which you didn't see a lot of places," she said.

Being so far away from home, she says her transition into the life of a college student-athlete has not been the simplest route, but it has been easier than expected. With help from teammates to get rides and to be shown around, Adding she and Frazier have become acclimated to the way of things both in practice and on campus.

The wing has also not found it hard to make immediate connections with her fellow Lady Lions as the upperclassmen are helping ease her into college sports.

"I call [Sierra Moore] the grandma of the team because she's the oldest, and then Kaliyah [Mitchell] is always very supportive," Travascio-Green said about a few of her more experienced teammates. "All the upperclassmen make sure I'm okay, especially since I'm a freshman."

As she has been able to smoothly settle into college life, she has been able to turn her attention towards the floor and what she can bring to her team.  ESPN evaluated her as a high school student-athlete at the 2014 Nike Nationals, and described her as a "long and agile perimeter threat" with "off-the-charts potential."

Travascio-Green agrees that her outside shot is one of her best skills and she hopes it can help bring another layer to the team.

"I think that stretching the defense would really help with a lot of the girls being able to drive, like Lindsey [Spann] and Teniya [Page], really being able to get in and the defenses cannot sag as much," she said.

Coach Washington stressed the amount of confidence she has in her freshmen at media day by saying she expects both Travascio-Green and Frazier to be "impact players" on the team this year.

Jumping into the mix of things straightway for freshmen in college sports tends to be an exception rather than the rule at most programs across the nation, but while Travascio-Green has some expectations of her right out of the gate, the competitor in her is ready for the challenge and cannot wait to get into the action come November.

"I've thought about playing basketball ever since I was younger so to be here is pretty exciting," she said. ""I'm just ready to get started."