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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most students pack their bags and hit the open road for a few hundred miles directly to Happy Valley knowing that their families and friends are far enough away that they won't bug them on the weekends but close enough for when they get homesick.

Other students, however, are hungry for opportunities that they may not find only a few hundred miles from home so, they choose to go beyond the borders of their comfort zones and travel thousands of miles to chase adventures and experiences.

GoPSUsports.com
sat down with three track and field student-athletes to talk about their time in the United States and at Penn State.

Freshman Jordan Makins wandered just over 10,000 miles away from his family and friends in Perth, Australia to join the Nittany Lions.

Freshman Obeng Marfo comes to State College from the neighbors up north in Ontario, Canada and senior Annjulie Vester flew across the sea all the way from Homburg, Germany.

GoPSU: What were the reactions of your friends and family when you told them you were going to the United States to be a student-athlete?

Makins: Well, a lot of people said 'You're really not going to do that, you're just talking about it'. It's a pretty big move to make and to get the whole thing set up from 10,000 miles away. There was definitely a little bit of awe - they told me it was all a big dream.

Vester: My friends were really excited and super supportive actually more than my family. My mom and my dad were saying, 'this is a big dream, you don't know how things [work in America]'. For me, it's 4,000 miles. You can't really grasp that. They've never been here. They've just seen New York on TV. I just pushed through and they all got really excited once it all started happening and once I got here and now they're super supportive.

Marfo: All my friends and family were really supportive. My school made a big deal about signing day and the letter of the intent. They had the news come in and everything.

GoPSU: What was the first thing you thought when you realized you were really coming to Penn State?

Makins: The first thing I though was 'I don't have nearly enough winter gear'. I thought it was going to snow the first month I was here - I was really nervous! I panicked a little and bought a lot of stuff.

Vester: I thought I was going to get fat but, luckily, I didn't. I usually cook at home [back in Germany] and you don't go out to eat a lot. I wasn't used to all this massive food and all the fat.

Marfo: Yeah, I thought I was going to get fat too. My brothers were teasing me about it saying, 'don't get fat. Don't eat this and that.'

GoPSU: At what moment did it finally hit you that you were really in America?

Makins: Two things for me. One is that it is incredibly green. Back home it's dry and [looks like a] dessert so it was an awesome experience to see all the forestry. The other thing was the first month we were eating out everyday and all the places had burgers and chips. The burgers with no vegetables...I struggled. I felt so unhealthy for a while.

Vester: When I was in Virginia and I was touring a campus in a car, I looked around and it looked like Hogwarts! It was just so beautiful.

Marfo: Well, for me, I've been to America many times but I remember one day I went to Wal-Mart with my family. It felt like a regular Wal-Mart, it wasn't any different than in Canada but I asked one of the ladies [that was working] for Christmas lights. She told me they didn't have any so I said, 'okay, thank you'. I said thank you and she responded with 'mhm'! So, that's when I thought, 'Yeah, only in America'. In Canada, everyone always says 'you're welcome' or 'no problem'. Never 'mhm'! I was so hurt that whole day.

GoPSU:
What has been your favorite part of being on the team at Penn State?

Vester: The new people and I love that the team is so close. We have so many team meetings and they really want us to participate as a team. That's what I really liked. I feel comfortable going to practice because it's like a little family.

Makins: I'd say that was the most exciting moment for me [too]. The team and how welcoming they were. Looking into the roster was a big deal for me for which school I'd pick and Penn State's middle distance roster was something I wanted to fit into. It feels like home.

 

GoPSUsports.com also caught up with assistant coach Ryan Foster who came to Penn State from Tasmania, Australia a few years ago to join the program as a student-athlete and has remained in the State College area ever since.

GoPSU: What were some of the most shocking things you remember about first arriving to the United States and to Penn State?

Foster: There was a bit of culture shock coming from another country. The collegiate athletic scene is pretty foreign.  Americans like to call everybody coach. It's always 'coach' and when I got here I always said 'Oh, John,' so it was something I had to get used to and get out of that habit. People made fun of me for a while.

GoPSU: Do you ever consider those feelings when working with students like Jordan, Annjulie, and Obeng?

Foster: I definitely think about having been through it. There's a difference between being 100 miles from home like a lot of the freshman are versus being 10,000 miles from home. A lot of the different things these student athletes deal with, I have a pretty good perspective on. You cannot just call your parents whenever you want to. Being an international student-athlete is different because you don't have the same support network. I competed at Penn State for three years and my parents never saw me compete once in the States. Every time you compete, you're pretty much on your own.

GoPSU: So, what made it easier for you to deal with the circumstances?

Foster: Penn State does a really good job of making everybody feel included. I've been here so long, I don't even think about [being foreign] often [anymore].

Nittany Lions Looking to Build Momentum with Two-Straight at Home

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10712360.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After going toe-to-toe on the road at Michigan State, the Nittany Lion basketball team (12-7, 0-6 Big Ten) team will kickoff a two-game homestand against Rutgers (10-10, 2-5) on Saturday at noon (ESPNU) inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Following an agonizing overtime setback to Purdue last Saturday, it would have been easy for the Nittany Lions to feel the lingering effects of a tough outcome on the road at Michigan State. But Penn State competed for 40 minutes and again put itself in a position win.

"I thought the last couple games, we have really competed hard and done some really good things," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "The ball hasn't really bounced our way, but I really like our level of competition and I really like our approach. We've got to take another step. For us to play that well at Michigan State after such a difficult loss shows something about our character and about our resolve and our perseverance."

The Nittany Lions have been in five-straight games that were one possession in the final four minutes. As Chambers has said, the ball hasn't bounced Penn State's way, but the Lions continue to be on the cusp of getting over the hump. And when they do, Chambers thinks the Lions will be a tough team to defend.

"We haven't played a 40-minute game yet, but we are getting close," Chambers said.

Offensively, senior guard D.J. Newbill has been tremendous in Big Ten play. In conference games alone, Newbill is averaging a Big Ten-leading 23.2 points per game. Newbill's ability to seemingly score, seemingly at will on dribble-drives and pull-up jumpers, has been fun to watch in conference play. What makes Newbilll's scoring so impressive is that he is shooting 47 percent from the field in Big Ten play and averaging 3.0 assists per game, all while the opponents are gameplanning to limit Newbill's output.

"With everybody, their gameplan is to stop D.J. Newbill," Chambers said. "It really hasn't worked all year. He's so efficient in his approach, his shot-making ability and his comfort zone. We need other guys to step up, no question about it. We need to continue to share the ball. We need to continue to put pressure on in the paint and get to the free throw line. I felt like we shot the ball well at Michigan State."

On the defensive end of the floor, the Nittany Lions have played well of late. Penn State held Michigan State to 66 points, 43 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc. The next step for Penn State is to become more consistent on the defensive glass. Purdue and Michigan State combined for 30 offensive rebounds during the last two games. Penn State has gotten the stops it needs, but needs to find a way to keep opponents off of the offensive glass.

"I like where our defense is going," said Chambers. "We've got to be able to rebound the ball much better on the defensive glass. I think that is hurting us a little bit right now. Again, we've got to get ourselves out of rotations and defending the ball so there are no blow-bys."

Penn State and Rutgers will be seeing one another for the second time in three weeks on Saturday. An ice-cold shooting night hindered the Nittany Lions in a 50-46 setback in Piscataway on Jan. 3. Rutgers made just four field goals in the second half, but the Lions were unable to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.

Since the Nittany Lions played the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers has gone 1-4 in Big Ten play, which includes a 67-62 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin in the RAC. The Knights are on a three-game skid, but all three losses were decided by nine points or fewer.

Guard Myles Mack continues to lead Rutgers in scoring at 14.7 points per game. Forward Kadeem Jack, who scored 12 points against the Nittany Lions in the first meeting, is averaging 12.8 tallies on the season. Junior Etou is the team's top rebounder at 6.8 per game. As a team, Rutgers is ranked 14th in scoring offense at 59.7 points per game. The Knights are ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 62.3 points per game.


Rutgers last played in the Bryce Jordan Center on March 14, 2006 in a first round game of the NIT. This will be only the third meeting between the two border rivals since the BJC opened in 1996.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Additions to Coaching Roster 'Vault' Program to New Heights

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10711636.jpegBy Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the end of each season, collegiate programs graduate seniors and look for recruits to fill open spots on the roster. It is almost second nature for coaches and teammates to have to adjust to new faces, techniques and strengths as a new season rolls around. Sometimes, these adjustments are not only made with new teammates, but with coaches as well. 

At the start of the 2014-'15 season, two new faces, techniques and strengths found their way to Happy Valley, where they would contribute to Penn State's women's gymnastics program. Kera Molinaro and Jeff Richards have begun their Penn State careers this season, bringing experience, charisma and unique approaches to the team.

"They have been great additions to our program already," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "Every day they surprise me and I am thankful to be able to work with them."

The Richards File
There isn't a division that Jeff Richards hasn't coached in. Over the past 25 years, Richards has been either an assistant or head coach at every level of collegiate gymnastics. From Iowa to George Washington and now Penn State, Richards brings unrivaled experience to the Nittany Lion program.

"It has been a really smooth transition," coach Jeff Thompson said. "Jeff [Richards] is a really likeable guy. It is nice because we have developed this kind of 'partner coaching' style, which is really helpful because we have such a small group this year."

Richards began his coaching portfolio at Utah State as a student-assistant from 1988-'90. While assisting the Aggies, Richards helped the program to the NCAA Regionals, along with an NCAA Championship all-around competitor. From Utah State, he made his way to University of Wisconsin-Stout and Winona University, where he served as head coach of the programs, respectively. Richards' transition to Big Ten gymnastics came in 2005 when he began his tenure as assistant coach at Iowa. While he was only apart of the Hawkeyes' program from 2005-'08, the impact he made was enough to earn him the 2008 North Central Region Assistant Co-Coach of the Year title.

"When you are coaching floor routines, it helps to have a coach spotting you who you feel comfortable with," Jeff Thompson said. "Jeff [Richards]'s build, as crazy as that sounds, allows for the girls to be more comfortable doing the extra turn or committing to a rotation. He has a lot of experience and is a big, strong guy, so he can step right in. They know that he is going to catch them. There is a trust level there that you can see already."

When Richards' tenure came to an end at Iowa, he made his way back to his stomping grounds at Utah State, where he coached until 2013. In his time at the helm of the Aggies' program, he sent five qualifiers to the NCAA Regionals and nine of his pupils earned All-Western Athletics Conference honors on 13 occasions. He has mastered the art of developing well-rounded student athletes, as 22 of his team members earned Academic All-WAC.

Richards' contributions to the team can be seen already, as last weekend's floor performance proves. In the match against Nebraska, the Nittany Lions had five floor routines open with an "E" level tumbling pass, compared to the Cornhuskers' one. Because the team has developed a comfort level with him, coupled with their already great relationship with head coach Jeff Thompson, they are able to maneuver through these hard routines early.

"I think that is something that will pay dividends for us later," Jeff Thompson said.


The Molinaro File
If you are wondering why the name Molinaro sounds familiar, it is because that name is familiar to the Penn State community. Frank Molinaro, Kera's husband, was a four-time All-American wrestler and National Champion (2012) for the Nittany Lions during the 2007-'12 seasons. When Frank decided to come back to his Happy Valley roots and help coach his alma mater, it was only fitting for Kera to tag along.

"Back in October I said to myself, 'Wow, I am so glad she is apart of our program,'" coach Rachelle Thompson said. "She is a volunteer assistant coach, which says a lot about her as a person. She does this because she loves it; you can see it. When you look at coaching as not a 'job' but a passion, you really see the impact you can have as a mentor by helping these young women improve day in and day out. I have already seen the impact she has made on this team."

Prior to making the move to Penn State as a volunteer assistant coach, Molinaro was an assistant women's gymnastics coach at Rutgers, where she helped the program secure its first NCAA Tournament birth since 2007. Kera's strength is taking floor routines to the next level, as she did for Rutgers during the 2013 and 2014 seasons when the Knights set school records.

"She really made an impact there," Rachelle Thompson said. "Kera has a great little spirit about her. Our coaching techniques compliment each other really well. She has a very laid back, yet aggressive coaching style that the girls really seem to be responding to."

Before assisting at Rutgers, Molinaro volunteered at her alma mater, Oregon State. Molinaro took over the Beaver's strength and conditioning program and helped shape their beam routines. During her time on the coaching staff, Oregon State finished eighth in 2010 and 2011, the program's first top-ten finish in 13 years.

Gymnastics is in her blood, as Molinaro began her collegiate gymnastics career as a walk-on for the Beavers; it only took her a year to earn scholarship standing. She not only made touches in every event, but she was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection and earned NACGC Scholastic All-American honors.

"Being able to have someone who is qualified to be a full-time, Division I coach, volunteer their time with you has been an amazing experience," Jeff Thompson said.

Up Next
The Nittany Lions welcome the Maryland Terrapins to Rec Hall this weekend in the first and only double dual of the 2014-'15 season. Penn State's men's gymnastics team will host Michigan.  The double dual is Saturday at 4 p.m. 

Nittany Lions Send Off Fourteen Against Navy

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10456494.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
This weekend's swimming and diving matchup against the United States Naval Academy is more than just the final dual meet of the 2014-'15 season-- it is the last time 14 Nittany Lions will compete in McCoy Natatorium.  

This is the second group to graduate under head coach Tim Murphy after he took over as head coach in 2013.

"This group has a willingness and desire and with how much they have invested in this team for them to continue to do it is just a good mark of their character, their discipline, and overall their affection for what they're doing," Murphy explained. "Also where they're doing it and most of all, whom they're doing it with, that's what stands out."

Senior Day is historically the most emotional meet.  Each senior passes through a tunnel of created by their teammates where they meet the coaching staff at the end.  Next, they are then handed a letterman's blanket and flowers and are recognized for their dedication and hard work invested throughout their collegiate career.

For senior Katelyn Miller, her four years as a member of the team have flown by.

"It's crazy. As a freshman, I remember looking at the seniors and wondering if I was going to make it that far," Miller said with a laugh.  "It's surreal that it's finally here.  Walking down the pool deck with the whole team on either side of me is when I think it's going to hit me."

Miller is one of the five women graduating from the team, and one of the four seniors who competed and scored at the 2014 NCAA Championships for the Nittany Lions.  

Another senior member and scorer from the 2014 NCAA team is Megan Siverling. When asked about what she would miss most about competing for the Nittany Lions, Siverling had a great answer.

"I'm going to miss the fact that something that seems to trivial, like athletic performance, represents something so much bigger than ourselves," Silverling said. "Going a certain time isn't personal, I'm representing Penn State and it makes you better.  We're representing such an awesome institution that so many people love and follow so passionately. "

On the men's team, the Nittany Lions will lose nine, including captain Larry Virgillio.

"If you would have told me four and a half years ago if I would even think that I would be swimming for Penn State, I would have called you crazy," Virgilio laughed. "To be a captain at the end of four years, along with Nate (Savoy), it means more than words can describe."

But not all members of the 2015 class have spent the past four years as a Nittany Lion. Ryan MaGee spent his freshman year at Maryland before transferring to Penn State.

"Coming to Penn State has been awesome.  Being here has taught me the importance of working as one machine not just an individual," MaGee explained. "We really are a second family.  There's such a sense of unity here at Penn State, I'm definitely going to miss it."

Team unity is a key value among the men's and women's teams; it is something that has made the group stronger and contributed to their success.

"They each are making or have made are making a contribution to not only themselves but the program," Murphy said. "It's easy to stop doing this because this requires a lot of time, it's a long season but they've kept with it. That in it of itself I admire and respect."

A win this weekend would put the women at 11-1 on the season, and the men at 6-3.  But Coach Murphy is not worried about Senior Day affecting the Nittany Lion's performance in the pool.

"When they look up an see their parents, their family, their friends realizing that, this is the last time they're going to be swimming in a dual meet, in this pool - it'll hit them," Murphy said. "But we know what we have to do."

Saturday's meet begins at 11 a.m. with Senior Day beginning around 10:40 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium.

Nittany Lions Look to Improve on Last Season's Record Setting Success

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10711515.jpegBy Sean Donnelly, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Expectations are high for Penn State head coach Jeff Zinn and his men's tennis squad this year following a 2014 campaign where the Nittany Lions reached the second round of their sixth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. They will begin the season ranked 26th, which is the highest preseason ranking in program history. Coach Zinn, now in his third season at Penn State, is aiming to improve on last season's success.

The Nittany Lions will begin the ITA Kick-Off Weekend on the road against No. 12 Kentucky (Friday at 1 p.m.). The winner will face No. 20 Vanderbilt or No. 23 South Florida.

"We haven't been invited for a number of years, so it's a nice honor to be invited to play in this tournament," said coach Zinn. "The other three teams we could potentially play against are all Top 25 teams. We are right in that mix. It's going to be a nice start to the season."

The Nittany Lions finished their record-setting 2014 season at No. 24 in the country, with an impressive 22-6 overall record, and finishing 8-3 in Big Ten play. They finished the last seven weeks comfortably inside the Top 25. They eventually fell to No. 4 Virginia, who reached the NCAA Semifinals.

Zinn expects the entire team to improve on marks from last year, and back up the high ranking the group has been given this season. Michael Reilly and Tomas Hanzlik, the only two returning seniors, look to provide leadership to a team that features five talented sophomores.

Leo Stakhovsky and Matt Barry, both of whom are juniors, are looking to improve on their stellar seasons.

"Stakhovsky had a fantastic year as a sophomore," Zinn said. "He's got to come back this year and back that up. You got to come back as good or better. That's what we want. The target's on his back because he did so well last year. Everyone is going to be gunning for him."

Barry who posted winning records in singles and doubles play, was very reliable last season when in crucial situations.

"We have Matt Barry who's our Mr. Clutch. He pulls a lot of matches out for us. We have some players that we expect big things from this year," said Zinn.

Sophomore Nika Dolidze and Tomas Hanzlik, who both had six wins each in singles this fall, head into the season ranked 59th in the ITA Doubles Poll. The pair's best win this this fall came against Clemson's 60th ranked Alejandro Augusto and Hunter Harrington.

Aws Laaribi, a sophomore who transferred from Wake Forrest, picked up five wins this fall, including three at the William & Mary Invitational. This fall was his first game action with Penn State. He described his decision to transfer to Penn State as an easy one.

"When I was looking at schools, Penn State was one of my top choices," said Laaribi. "When I saw them doing really well last season, I thought that it may be the best school for me."

Laaribi feels good about the team's chances in starting off the season well at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and regular season play. He went on to credit the conditioning and fitness that Coach Zinn and his staff, which they hope pays off this season.

"I feel good about the team. We've been working on our fitness a lot, and we feel good going up against Kentucky. He's had a great preseason practice" said Coach Zinn. "He's going to be a great addition to our team in both doubles and singles."

After the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Kentucky, seven of Penn State's next nine matches will be played at home. One of those home games will be against No. 5 Ohio State. Penn State is looking to capitalize on its success at home, posting a 15-0 record last season in Happy Valley.

"We do well at home. We have good crowds, and a great atmosphere at the indoor and outdoor tennis center," Zinn said. "Hopefully that non-conference portion of our schedule will help us going into and competing against Ohio State."

This year is looking to be another stout year for the conference, as two Big Ten teams are ranked inside the top 25. Ohio State and Illinois are ranked No. 5 and No. 11, respectively, as both advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year.


"The Big Ten is really strong this year. Illinois is going to be a top 5 - 10 team with Ohio State. Minnesota's a very good and very dangerous team. I think we're up in there with all those teams. I think we're very dangerous. We're returning five or six players, so hopefully everyone has gotten a bit better. We've added two new players. Hopefully we can make teams not so confident coming in to play us."

The Nittany Lions will look to improve on last season's success with a healthy balance of experience and talent. You can catch their first home matches against Penn, James Madison and Temple on Sunday, Feb. 1. If last season's success is any indication, opponents will have to bring their 'A game' when traveling to Happy Valley.

Montminy Embodies Leadership, Toughness for Nittany Lions

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10709372.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Everyone has days that don't go according to plan. For Penn State men's basketball player Kevin Montminy, August 6, 2014 was one of those days.

The senior walk-on went to practice that afternoon expecting a normal workout session, yet ended up on the floor instead, his nose bleeding profusely after he broke it as he dove for a loose ball.

But that was just the beginning.

Before Montminy could be taken to the hospital, head coach Patrick Chambers gathered the team at midcourt to make an announcement. For his final season at Penn State, Montminy would receive a full scholarship.

"I was just going into it like any other practice or game with the same approach and ended up having to go to the hospital which is never fun, with blood coming out of my nose, and I was like 'oh jeez, this is not going to be a good day,'" Montminy said. "But then coach pulled everyone aside. It sort of blew me away, I wasn't expecting it at all."

Now in his fourth season, Montminy has played a combined 96 minutes and scored just 24 points during his career. So what about him made Chambers believe he deserved a scholarship?

While there are plenty of hardworking players on the Nittany Lions, Montminy is usually the first guy mentioned by coaches and teammates when attributes like effort and attitude are being discussed. He was an Academic All-Big Ten selection last year and was named a team captain prior to this season.


When asked about the Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, native, Chambers wasn't shy about his feelings.

"I'd let my daughter marry that kid," Chambers said. "He's a beast. Leadership, academically, just does the right things, community service, locker room, his effort in practice, he's vocal, our guys respect him. When he talks they listen. I mean, what a great human being to have a part of your program."

Now in the last season of his career, Montminy is starting to reflect on what the past four years have meant to him.

For a kid who grew up 20 minutes away from the Bryce Jordan Center however, Montminy's Penn State journey began long before he first suited up for the Nittany Lions.

Born to Bleed Blue and White
Long before he was a member of Penn State's basketball team, Montminy was already a member of Nittany Nation.

Living close to State College has its benefits, and being able to attend as many Penn State sporting events as possible was the biggest one for him.

"Ever since I was younger, I was coming into the BJC or Beaver stadium seeing games," Montminy said. "My parents had season tickets to football games, my dad would also get a ticket voucher pack for Penn State basketball. So yeah, I would go to multiple games, whether it was with my family or with my friends in high school. That really made it that much more special that now I'm on the court instead of watching."

Still, when it came time to pick a college, the choice wasn't easy for the promising student athlete. As someone who was the valedictorian of his class and a star wide receiver and shooting guard at Penns Valley High School, Montminy's options of schools certainly weren't limited.

At first, it seemed like football might win out. While the 6-foot-3 guard was originally recruited by mostly Division III schools for basketball, he received serious interest from a number of Ivy League football programs, including Pennsylvania and Princeton.

What seemed like a tough call became easier when then-Penn State head basketball coach Ed DeChellis reached out to him with an offer to walk-on. Right away, Montminy knew he wanted to be a Nittany Lion.

"I had a different options and I wasn't even sure what sport I wanted," Montminy said. "Whenever [Penn State] offered that chance, it was sort of, I can't really pass that up, because it was the academics, it was the ability to play in the Big Ten, have that opportunity that I just couldn't pass up."

The decision was met enthusiastically by Montminy's parents and three sisters, not to mention his friends, coaches and teachers at Penns Valley. Although he may not play every game for the Nittany Lions, he always has a cheering section.

"I'm not playing in every game or getting significant minutes but my family comes to every single game," Montminy said. "They're the best and I wouldn't trade them for anything."

Montminy has shown his alma mater plenty of appreciation as well. Even though he graduated from Penns Valley four years ago, makes sure to attend at least one Rams game a year.

"I was able to make it to the [Penns Valley] holiday tournament this year. Just going up and talking to people and hearing, 'hey we've been watching you and following your career,' means a lot to me."

The Penns Valley faithful will have a chance to reciprocate on Saturday, which is "Penns Valley Community Day" inside the Bryce Jordan Center (12 p.m. vs. Rutgers).


Putting the 'Student' in 'Student Athlete'
When you ask Montminy how much time he spends on schoolwork compared to basketball, you can already start to tell how diligent a student he is.

In about 10 seconds, the double business major has already calculated it in his head. Most weeks he spends about 28 hours (four a day) on basketball and an additional 14 (two a day) studying after practice. Not to mention that he is generally occupied with class and schoolwork from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm everyday (he usually gets to the BJC for practice at 2:30).

It may seem stressful, but it has certainly paid off for him. A member of both the Smeal College of Business and Schreyer's Honors College, Montminy has had six consecutive semesters with a 4.0 GPA.

"If I have a test [the hours studying] will definitely be more, I'll just go to the library straight after practice and go, not all night, but pretty late. And then wake up and do it again," Montminy said. "It's something I wouldn't pass up for anything. You can sleep when you're dead."

Although this is his last season with the basketball program, the guard will stay in school for a fifth year to earn his master's degree in accounting to go with two bachelor's degrees in accounting and finance.

Until then, Montminy is going to continue to enjoy what is left of his last season in blue and white. Over the past four years, he has learned to love his role as something of a player-coach for the Nittany Lions.

"Coach, at the very beginning said, 'I'm not going to promise you anything, so keep working and good things will come out of that,'" Montminy said. "He relies on me for things that aren't necessarily on the court during games. I know that I can bring someone aside and tell them, 'this is what you're doing.' I think understanding my role and understanding what's best for the team allows me to not worry about the selfish things like wanting to play more."

Having already secured an accounting internship with KPMG in Philadelphia this summer, Montminy is well on his way to starting his post-basketball career.

Both his teammates and coaches have no doubt that the former walk-on will be a success in life, just like they have no doubt that they will miss him.

"He's great in every aspect," junior forward Donovon Jack said. "He's a guy that's all in on Penn State basketball, whether he's cheering us on or pushing us. Just a great, overall leader."

"That kid is going to be a stud, whatever he chooses he's going to be a superstar," Chambers added. "I couldn't be more thankful about having him a part of my program in the beginning of my tenure here at Penn State." 

Lady Lions Happy To Be Home

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After playing five of its first seven Big Ten conference games on the road, the Penn State Lady Lions (3-15, 0-7) finally return home for two games this weekend starting with Indiana (12-5, 2-4) Thursday at 7 p.m.

"The schedule gods didn't shine on us in terms of how we started the season on the road," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Being able to come home for a couple games will be nice and being in front of our crowd which has been really good this year understanding that this is a transition year for us and they have still been really supportive and loud."

Penn State returns to the comfort of its own arena after a close road setback at Ohio State, 69-60, without leading scorer Lindsey Spann.

Without Spann available against the Buckeyes, Kaliyah Mitchell and her teammates continued to play hard on the court and not let the absence of Spann let them take any steps backwards. Three Lady Lions were in double figures on the afternoon with Sierra Moore notching 16 points, Mitchell tallying 14 and Candice Agee adding 11.

"I think it was us knowing that she's (Spann) not there, we wanted to show her that we can still play well even though she wasn't there," Mitchell said. "We wanted to show her that we still had her back even though she wasn't out there."

The team's performance against Ohio State has served as a way to prove to Mitchell and the rest of the team that they are capable of winning Big Ten games, no matter what the situation is. Plus, it will only help to have Spann back on the court.

"That really did build some confidence for us and with Lindsey coming back soon that shows us that we can really win now," Mitchell added. "That will help with these next few games and them being at home."

Indiana comes into the BJC Thursday night losing three of its last four, including a home loss to the aforementioned Buckeyes. Teri Moren is in her first year at the helm in Bloomington and Penn State had coach Coquese Washington has noticed a few changes, but not in who runs the show on the court for the Hoosiers.

"They're a little different, but it seems to be that she's allowing their personnel to do what they do. So, Larryn Brooks is still leading them in scoring and is their engine and the heart and soul of that team. She's still shooting the ball deep, creative and off the dribble."

Brooks averages 12.3 points and 4.2 assists per game so far in her sophomore campaign.

After Indiana, Penn State hosts Northwestern at the BJC on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Goodwin Key to Top Line's Production

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sitting in the stands at Pegula Ice Arena, fans watch as sophomore David Goodwin appears on the jumbotron. As his voice echoes through the stands, he introduces himself as the "other" guy that plays on a line with Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom, two current Hobey Baker nominees. While many chuckle at the forward's joke, his teammates and coaches know those words could not be farther from the truth.

Goodwin is much more than the "other" guy to this Penn State hockey team. He is a key component of the Lion's offense, a key component of the trio that is Bailey, Holstrom and Goodwin and a key component of his line's success this season.

In the past four games alone, the top line combined for 20 points. Of those points, eight belong to Goodwin, who scored four goals and notched four assists. With so much offense coming from the three, it's easy for the sophomore, Bailey and Holstrom to stir up some friendly competition with one another.

"It's kind of like an unsaid competition almost," said Goodwin. "When you're playing with other guys who like to score, we have a phrase. Iron sharpens iron. When you're playing with each other, you're making each other better, so obviously there's going to be some competition. You ask me, Holy or Bailey, we're all going to say the same thing that we don't really care who scores as long as our line is producing and not getting scored on."

Goodwin is currently third on the team in points, behind only Bailey and Holstrom. However, his 10 goals and 12 assists come with a plus-10 rating on the ice, which is best among the Nittany Lions. In fact, the sophomore has not been a minus player in a game since the team's Dec. 6 matchup in Wisconsin.

Last weekend specifically, the sophomore's play earned him recognition in the Big Ten. Goodwin was named the conference's second star of the week following the Michigan State series, but the forward was quick to call the award a line honor. He knows all too well the importance of thinking and playing with a team mentality.

"I wouldn't be able to do any of that if it wasn't for Casey or Taylor," said the sophomore of his success. "It's a good accolade, but the credit goes to my linemates. They're the reason I'm getting these easy goals, back door tap ins and assists. I'm honored that I received it, but at the end of the day it's about the three of us, not just myself."

While Goodwin may look at the recognition as a line award, head coach Guy Gadowsky is pleased to see the forward finally getting credit for his efforts. Sometimes overshadowed by his linemates, Goodwin's impressive on-ice vision can be overlooked by the causal fan. He's a playmaker, something Gadowsky knows fully.

"David Goodwin got the puck and Casey Bailey was in such an easy position," Gadowsky explained of a goal-scoring play during the Michigan State series. "I think everybody in the rink knew that was a simple pass, and he has such a good vision in his mind that he went all the way across crease to Taylor [Holstrom]. That's a really high-level, quick-thinking play. It was really great to see. Taylor ended up, I mean the goaltender made a great save, but it went to Bailey for a goal. But he does things like that that really make a huge difference. Sometimes he doesn't get enough credit, so it's nice to see."

No matter the team, the top line is confident it can still contribute. Goodwin, Bailey and Holstrom truly believe they can take on any defense and any forward line. They're working hard, playing an honest game and doing what they love, scoring goals.

Playing with linemates like Bailey and Holstrom has also provided Goodwin with numerous opportunities to learn and grow as a college hockey player. Together, the three are confident in their abilities, and the sophomore is using this experience to soak up as much as he can from his teammates.

"They've been very instrumental in my success I've had this year and my development," Goodwin said. "Just every day in practice getting the opportunity to skate next to them and learn from them, just kind of talk to them in between periods and pick their brains about some of their past experiences. They've both been playing college hockey a little bit longer than I have, so it's been great. I've been very fortunate to have linemates like them, and I'm very proud to be on their line."

While some may consider Goodwin to be the "other" guy on the top line, his play speaks for itself. He is doing and will continue to do big things for Penn State hockey. 

Zittel Leads by Example

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10708595.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Since his freshman season in 2012, senior captain and midfielder Kyle Zittel has evolved in many ways within the Penn State men's lacrosse program. He is the sole captain of a team expected to not only compete, but also thrive during the inaugural season of Big Ten lacrosse.

As a freshman, Zittel made seven appearances, recording one goal and two assists. Zittel channeled his limited playing time, using it as motivation to improve his playing skills. In the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Zittel appeared in every game, setting personal records with 11 ground balls and four caused turnovers last season. His performance and work ethic both on and off the field made him a prime candidate for captain his senior season.

"We believe this is an extremely important position," said head coach Jeff Tambroni. "This is ownership of your locker room. You either point your team in the right direction or in a direction that's not going to be conducive to success, however you define that."


The selection process of captain involves both coaches and players. Coach Tambroni explained that the coaches take into consideration the team's opinion of fellow players and look heavily to players who have displayed leadership skills during their time on the team.  Notable key qualities of previous Penn State men's lacrosse captains have been outstanding work ethic, the ability to motivate teammates, having the respect of teammates, including taking charge and listening to others' ideas.

"The one thing about Kyle is it's not a matter of him having to change into a role," said Coach Tambroni. "He just needs to be himself and impose his will on this team because he understands what we need to be successful. He has proven that in his first three years, that's why he has had the blessing of his own teammates and the coaching staff to become a captain.

In 2014, the Nittany Lions had three captains - Gavin Ahern, Tom LaCrosse, and Tyler Travis. All three have graduated. In contrast, Zittel stands alone in charge of a team comprised of 36 young men all striving for success on and off the field in 2015. Encouraged by this title of authority, Zittel hopes to set a high bar for what is expected from the younger players.

"I try to lead by example," Zittel said. "I'm not the best player on our team and I don't score the most goals and I never not make mistakes, so there's things they can learn from me. Just as far as I carry myself into practice and out of practice afterwards and what I can do to set the way for how they should carry themselves as well."

Zittel had high praise for the previous captains and graduating seniors who helped set the tone and foundation for him during his time as a younger member of the team. Following in their footsteps, Zittel explained how previous captains have impacted the way he leads the team every day, both on the field and off.

"The previous captains, the way they carried themselves and came to practice with an upbeat energy, confidence and focus every single day was huge for me," Zittel said. "I tried to learn from that and carry myself in the same way,"

With the support of seven fellow seniors, Zittel will look to his experienced counterparts to assist in leading the Nittany Lions through their hardest schedule to date. Names such as JP Burnside and Jack Donnelley will help not only make an impact during games, but be constant role models off the field. 

"Our coaching staff has flanked Kyle with two extremely capable leaders in the senior class in JP Burnside and Jack Donnelly, and their leadership certainly cannot be minimized," said Coach Tambroni. "Those two guys have been there for him since day one and will continue to be there."

With the start of the season just days away, Zittel is anticipating a competitive and challenging final season. Set to play five teams ranked in the top 20 of the USILA Preseason Poll, the Nittany Lions will face their fair share of challenges in 2015. Additionally, the first season of Big Ten play is something the captain is looking forward to.

"Seeing our football program and every other athletic program excel in the Big Ten and what it's about, it's great to finally be a apart of it for lacrosse. I think it's a huge stepping stone for our program and then also the Big Ten and the whole lacrosse community."

The Nittany Lions are set to host Army in an exhibition game Saturday in Holuba Hall at 12 p.m.

By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNVIERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 4 Penn State men's gymnastics team is off to a prominent start this season as they have clutched two consecutive team titles as well as 11 individual titles in only two meets.

Despite having a young roster for this season due to the addition of six freshmen to the team, the upperclassmen's guidance is leading the team to success.

"The first weekend was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but I felt like just concentrating on the things that I do best, just staying confident, and I tried my best," said freshman Joshua Smith. "My team tried to support me the best way they could and after that, the results just came naturally."

The Nittany Lions started the season with a 426.700-403.000 win over Army nearly two weeks ago at Rec Hall. They won all six events that Sunday to earn the victory.

The team has continued to build on their momentum by capturing their 16th West Point Open team title with a score of 439.400 last Saturday. The Nittany Lions captured the seventh-best team score in school history with their performance.

Thirteen Nittany Lions recorded qualifying performances for the individual finals on Saturday night. Freshman Thad Lawson, senior Matthew Felleman, senior Craig Hernandez, junior Alexis Torres, and senior Tristan Duverglas all went home with an individual title.

Freshman Thad Lawson earned his first collegiate title by securing first place in the floor exercise event. 

"[The meet] was fun," said Lawson. "I've never really been in that big of an exciting team environment. A lot of team support and it was really fun and exciting and a big adrenaline rush."

Lawson built on his accomplishment this week by receiving the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. 

"It's really exciting," said Lawson. "It was pretty unexpected, you know, being my first competition. I've had some adversity with concussions and some minor injuries, but it was a really pleasant surprise." 

Even with the success, Lawson couldn't have done it without his teammates.

"[The upperclassmen] have been really supportive," said Lawson. "Giving me some helpful hints with competing and dealing with the pressure, just staying calm, and focusing in on every small detail."

Teammate and fellow freshman Benjamin Cooperman echoes his teammate about the support from the juniors and seniors.

"All the upperclassmen really help me out," said Cooperman. "Any of the seniors and juniors are role-models and I definitely look up to them." 

With such a young roster, the young athletes are bringing something new to the team.

"I think [the freshmen] bring depth to the table," said Cooperman. "We got a lot of really good upperclassmen who help out the team a lot, but I think we can really help them out by stepping up when they need rest and really just adding a lot of depth into the team, so we can go deeper into the season."

Though there has been much accomplished this season already, the team still hopes to improve.

"I think there are definitely some little areas that we need to improve in...Hitting as many routines as possible, keep cleaning up, tightness, just really cleaning up the little things, definitely focus on sticking out dismounts, just little things, but I think we're off to a great start," said Cooperman. "I'm really confident and excited to go forward with the team and see what we do. I think we have a really great shot at doing really well this year."

Penn State will meet Michigan at 4 p.m. this Saturday at Rec Hall.

"This weekend, I definitely want to beat Michigan and just want to show improvement from our last meet," said Cooperman.