Pa. - The first week of the 2015 Coaches Caravan wrapped up in the western half
of Pennsylvania on Thursday with a lunch stop in Altoona and an evening
reception in northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
The Penn State Fullington Trailways bus drove nearly three hours to the
northwest from Baltimore on Thursday morning in preparation for lunch at
Lakemont Park Casino. Take a look through highlights from the final two stops
of a six-event leg of the Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 5 - Altoona (Lakemont Park
Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky and Denise
St. Pierre headlined the closest stop to the University Park campus on Thursday
morning. The ballroom at Lakemont Casino Park hosted the fifth event on the
Coaches Caravan before some of the fan base's deepest roots.
Just 45 minutes down the road from State College, Altoona is in the core of
Nittany Nation. Fan after fan in the room on Thursday told the coaches and
Barbour about either events they had recently attended or games they had
circled on their calendars in the fall and winter.
"The heartbeat of Penn State is in Altoona," said Franklin.
One of the big pieces to the fan base in the center portion of the state is the
following of the men's hockey program. Gadowsky has mentioned on a number of
occasions during his three-day stint on the Caravan about what the growth of
youth hockey in Pennsylvania can do for the overall growth of Penn State
"Ideally, you want the recruiting footprint to shrink," Gadowsky said. "The
more individuals who are involved with youth hockey in the state of
Pennsylvania, the better off the entire state will be."
The growth of Nittany Lion hockey, along with the increased interest in youth
hockey, tends to go hand in hand. It's a process Gadowsky knows will take time,
but it's something he's very excited about. Locations like Altoona are big
piece to the puzzle with a growing interest in youth hockey. The region's
hockey footprint will grow even further with the announcement that Johnstown
(just 50 miles from Altoona) will play host to the NHL's "Hockeyville" game in
"I've been so impressed with the interest and reception from the community on
the hockey program," said Barbour. "Pegula Ice Arena is a huge piece to that,
and the sky is the limit (for the program)."
The Altoona stop marked the final one for St. Pierre. The leader of the women's
golf program spent the week educating the fans on the process of being a
collegiate golf coach during an extended fall and spring season. She enjoyed
the opportunity to interact with the fans and loved to share insight about the
"It's been a great ride to hang out with these fantastic people has been a
great treat," said St. Pierre. "A lot of people have thanked me for being part
of the Caravan, but really it has been my benefit."
VIDEO: Altoona Press Conference
Stop No. 6 - Pittsburgh (DoubleTree by Hilton in
Mars, Pa.) The Caravan visited a spot near and dear to
Coach Franklin en route to the evening reception in Cranberry Township on
Thursday. The bus weaved through the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar section of
Pittsburgh (northeast of downtown along the Allegheny River) where Franklin
spent a lot of time as a kid. The group met up with childhood friend Keith
Gardner (known as "Mighty" from his pickup sports days) near Franklin's Aunt
Janet's home on Lemington Ave. The group toured a park where Franklin and
"Mighty" played a lot of pickup football and basketball growing up.
"It was really cool. I hadn't been there in probably 30 years," said Franklin.
"I come back to Pittsburgh all the time and even did for family functions
before Penn State, but to actually go to some of those places today that I
haven't been in a long time was really cool."
The more than 260 attendees inside the Grand Ballroom of the DoubleTree by
Hilton in Mars were thrilled to welcome Franklin, Gadowsky and Deputy Director
of Athletics & Chief Operating Officer Phil Esten, along with football
assistants and Pittsburgh natives Bob Shoop (Oakmont) and Terry M. Smith
The talk of the room from the fans focused on a number of topics, but there is
a general excitement surrounding the hockey program's regular visits to
Pittsburgh and the football team's four-year series with Pittsburgh, which
begins at Heinz Field on Sept. 10 in 2016. The supporters in Pittsburgh are
fired up about Penn State teams playing in their backyard.
"I think people are excited about it, especially in this region," said
Franklin. "We are playing in '16, '17, '18 and '19...There is a lot of history
and tradition with it. Generally, I'm in support of keeping the dollars in the
state and supporting high school football and programs in the state. And in a
lot of ways, there are some really good arguments you could make why it makes
The Nittany Lions and Panthers last met inside Three Rivers Stadium in 2000.
The series is slated for four-straight seasons, but Franklin indicated in the
press conference prior to the event that both sides are open to discussions
about the potential for more games in the future.
As for the hockey program, since Penn State has been a Division I program, the
Lions have played in Pittsburgh each season. Every game has been well attended
by Nittany Nation. Home to 56,000 alums in the greater metro area, the Steel
City is home to some of Penn State's most loyal followers.
With the conclusion of a superb event in the Pittsburgh area, the first leg of
the Coaches Caravan is wrapped up. The circuit will pick back up on May 19 in
Philadelphia. A big thank you goes out to the fans who attended all six stops
during week one.
"That's what these caravans are all about and that's what makes this so
special," Franklin said. "We don't get to do this often, and we just want you
to know how truly important you are to what we do...The thing that will always
make Penn State special is the people."
VIDEO: Pittsburgh Press Conference Video
Day 1 - 129 miles Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Caravan Total - 715 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off its Big Ten Tournament win, the Penn
State women's lacrosse team is already preparing for the next part of its
season. With the NCAA Tournament beginning Friday, the Nittany Lions know they
have a clean slate. They are ready to show their skill and prove their
With this year's appearance, the Blue and White have locked up their fourth
consecutive NCAA Tournament run. Every year the Lions have made improvements,
and this year was no exception. Right now, they have momentum and confidence on
Penn State (14-4) knows it is a national competitor, and the team is looking to go as
far into this tournament as possible. In order to do that, the Blue and White
will first have to down Johns Hopkins(14-3), a previous conference rival. With such
familiarity with their opponent, the Nittany Lions are ready for the challenge.
"They're very physical," said head coach Missy Doherty of Hopkins. "They work
very hard. They hustle everywhere. Nothing comes easy against them, so we're
going to have to work just as hard and assert ourselves on both ends of the
On the offensive side of the game, the Nittany Lions will look to its leaders,
including senior captain Maggie McCormick. McCormick leads the team in points
with 63 and is also one of the strongest voices for this Penn State squad.
Eyes will also be on senior Tatum Coffey, sophomore Steph Lazo and junior
Madison Cyr. All three have over 30 goals this season, adding depth to the team
and making Penn State's offense all the more dangerous.
"Hopkins is always a fun team to play because we know that we're going to get
one of their best games," McCormick said. "They're definitely going to test us
and going to push us. They're a really hard working team, and we know we're
going to get a battle out of it. We're going to have to play our best to beat
The Nittany Lion offensive will only be a portion of the recipe for success in
this first-round game. Doherty and the team know that Hopkins is a squad that
shoots the ball, meaning the defense will need to be solid. Saves in this game
will be crucial, and senior Emi Smith will need to come up in big ways once
Smith, who was named the Big Ten goalie of the year, is no stranger to this
pressure. She is more than ready to take on the Blue Jays. In fact, she's
looking forward to the matchup and is ready to have fun doing what she loves.
The junior just needs to make sure she maintains her focus for all 60 minutes.
"At some points there's times where I don't see a shot for about 10 minutes
because our attack and midfielders are doing such a great time with handling
the ball," said Smith. "I think my challenge is going to be maintaining my
focus throughout the entire game and being a positive factor for my teammates."
As in the Big Ten Tournament, NCAAs are one-game elimination style.
Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions are not planning to exit any time soon. With a
Big Ten championship and successful season, they have momentum on their side.
This tournament gives Penn State a chance to start new. It knows what has
worked well and what has not. Now, the team wants to just go out and show
everyone what Penn State lacrosse is all about.
"We're really excited," said McCormick. "When we go finals are going to be over
and everyone's going to be able to focus on lacrosse and the team. It's going
to be fun. As a senior it's a little bit bitter sweet, but you don't want to
think about the fact that the end is kind of nearing. You want to prolong this
journey as much as possible, so we're really looking forward to it, especially
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At
the end of the regular season, the slate is wiped clean as conference foes battle
head-to-head for the tournament crown. After losing three close games to the
Terrapins this season, the retaliation of Penn State knocking Maryland out of
the conference tournament would be sweet.
Ninth-seeded Nittany Lions (28-27) will
take on eighth-seeded Maryland (27-26) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.
Evenly matched, both teams own a 9-14 record in conference play. First meeting
in 1999, Penn State owns a 9-5 record all-time against the Terrapins.
Nittany Lion Bats on Fire
Penn State will need to stay
dominant at the plate in order to fold Maryland at the mound. The team's aggressiveness
has produced 434 hits this season. Forty-five of those were homeruns with six
grand slams. Leading the team, Alyssa Vanderveer tallies 13 homeruns while Macy
Jones follows with 10.
With a team-best .408
batting average and 71 hits, Second Team All-Big Ten honoree Lexi Knief has
made her mark on Penn State's offense this season. Fellow honoree Macy Jones
claims a .348 batting average for the second place spot for Penn State.
On the defensive side of the
game, Marlaina Laubach, Jones, and Jessica Cummings are the backbone of Penn
State's offense. Pitching 136.2 innings, Laubaugh leads the team with 12 wins
and 84 strikeouts. Jones trails with 7
wins and 36 strikeouts. Cummings tallies 76 strikeouts with 19 games started
pitching 114.2 innings.
Terrapins Scout Report
In its first season in the
Big Ten, Maryland owns a 27-26 overall record (9-14 in B1G). The team is
hitting .306 on the season with 66 homeruns. Leading at the plate, Erin
Pronobis has a .370 average with 57 hits and 12 home runs. Following Pronobis,
Lindsey Schemieiser is batting a .364 with the team-high 60 hits.
The Terps maintained a
strong pitching presence this season tallying 257 strikeouts. Schmeiser took
the top spot with 19 wins and 170 strikeouts. She pitched 201.2 innings
finishing only 18 games. Reliever Hannah Dewey's 57 strikeouts and 18 starts
earn her a second-place standing for Maryland.
Penn State will need to keep
its hitting presence booming in order to move on in the tournament. If Penn State defeats the Terrapins, the
team will take on No. 1 Michigan on Friday, May 8 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse 2015 season may be
concluded, but the team's persistence and energy will be forever remembered as
staples during their inaugural season as part of Big Ten lacrosse.
The Nittany Lions (5-9, 2-3 Big Ten), in a season of many firsts, fought
until the end, culminating in a playoff birth to the Big Ten Tournament.
After a solid start to the season, the Nittany Lions were unable to find
their footing in the middle of the season. However, after a double overtime
loss against Johns Hopkins, Penn State was able to find the confidence needed
to finish out the season strong.
"Beginning and the middle of season I think we weren't truly confident
with ourselves," said junior James Chakey. "Once we gained some confidence, I
think once we played Johns Hopkins the first time, we started believing in
ourselves a little bit more and our leadership came together and we were more
Head coach Jeff Tambroni believes that this team has laid the foundation
for Penn State's role in the Big Ten. Tambroni emphasized that the class of
2015 set the tone for the younger players and for any class that comes after
them. Led by the first lone captain since 1978, Kyle Zittel, the senior
class paved the way for the season with great grit and relentless
"Through it all I look back at our seniors and certainly appreciate and admire
what they've done for this program," said Tambroni. "But with great excitement
we look with our underclassmen at what we believe will be a bright future."
With the season concluded, Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff
will use the summer to develop off-season training programs, as well as take
time to travel and watch high school players committed to Penn State lacrosse.
The summer is a great time to watch some of the young commits and see how they
have progressed over the season. This time also allows the coaches to get an
idea of what the new class will bring to the program.
As for the players returning next season, summer is a time to relax, but
not completely. Players are expected to workout on their own and keep up with
their skills. It is an individual's responsibility to remain in shape over the
A defenseman, Chakey knows that if an individual doesn't work hard over
the summer, it will affect the whole team once they reconvene for fall
workouts. He also knows that as part of the class of 2016, he and his fellow
seniors now bare responsibility for the team, to not only make sure players are
working out over the summer, but to make sure all players are in the same
mental and physical shape upon returning to school.
"I think coming back with the mentality that we're going to hit the
ground running everyone should be on the same page," said Chakey. "So as the senior class that's going to be
our goal, have everyone on the same page over the summer."
As for the 2016 campaign, the Nittany Lions are already looking forward
to it. The Lions have set both individual and team goals to reach, with
strategies for getting there as well.
"I think we just need to prepare as a team more on an individual basis
once the season hits," said Chakey. "Next January/February when we come back we
should treat every game like a Big Ten game, so therefore when we get to Big
Ten games at the end of the season we'll be ready to go."
Although Chakey and his fellow rising seniors now have responsibility
over their team, that doesn't mean this responsibility only applies to
lacrosse. As a senior, an individual's role develops further and spans being a
mentor to younger players both on and off the field. Chakey believes there are
a few characteristics that make someone an effective leader, and he hopes that
the class of 2016 can apply all of them to their final season.
"Being effective when it comes to communication," said Chakey. "Also,
making sure the team doesn't separate and make sure there's not a break in the
tight bond we have, especially off the field. We have to make sure the guys are
enjoying being a student athlete here at Penn State and at the same time
getting their schoolwork done, not getting into trouble, and making sure they
focus on what they have to do here."
The 2015 campaign certainly saw the foundation being laid of a team that
is capable of being a powerhouse in Big Ten lacrosse. For now, the Nittany
Lions can enjoy their summer breaks, but not without a bigger goal emerging in
"It's important to get moving on 2016 quickly," said Tambroni. "Our hope
is that these guys are going to go home with a great deal of urgency and a
great deal of hunger and start to focus on how well prepared they need to be
and how well prepared we will be."
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer PALO ALTO, Calif. - The fifth-seed Nittany Lions (21-9) face the
top-seeded Lewis Flyers (26-3) in the NCAA semifinals on Thursday. First serve
is set for 11 p.m. ET inside historic Maples Pavilion. Having already lost in four sets twice during the regular season against
Lewis, Penn State comes into its 17th consecutive NCAA national
semifinal match on Thursday with a chip on its shoulder. "We're looking forward to the battle with the Flyers," head coach Mark
Pavlik said. "We've seen them twice this year.... It's a lot of fun to play those
guys. They play big boy volleyball. It's a very physical game, not only at the
net but from behind the service line. It's men's volleyball at its best." The Blue and White have battled adversity all season long. From starting
4-9 to having to deal with a number of student-athlete setbacks due to injury,
resiliency is the word to describe this year's team. "The first two times we played them, I don't think that we were as
physical as we could or should have been," senior outside hitter Aaron Russell
said. "I think we also just didn't really compete as hard.... We've come a long
way since then." In order to top Lewis for the first time this season, the physicality
that Russell talked about above will have to be in full force from start to
finish. "If we can serve well...if we can knock them off the net and if we can
really force them to not be as physical as they can be, I think that's where we
can really expect us to get some separation from them in the game," Pavlik
said. Scouting No. 1 Lewis After finishing 15-1 in conference play, Lewis ended the regular season
as MIVA champions. However, the Flyers completed the season by falling to No. 3
Loyola (25-2) in the MIVA Championship game. Nonetheless, the committee
rewarded Lewis with the top ranking for this year's NCAA tournament. Having lost just three matches all season long, the Flyers have a host
of quality wins. Strong wins include: UC Irvine, Stanford, Penn State (twice),
Ohio State, IPFW (twice), and Ball State (twice). Lewis's three losses have all
come at the hands of ranked foes in BYU, Ohio State and Loyola. Offensively, a three-headed monster leads the Flyers. Redshirt senior
outside hitter Geoff Powell, senior outside hitter Greg Petty, and senior
opposite Eric Fitterer are incredibly physical pin hitters that have challenged
opponents all season long. Each of the three are averaging more than 2.75 kills
per set and hitting higher than .296. All three players detailed above are AVCA All-Americans. Together, the
Flyers combined for five this year, however. The other two? Senior libero Lucas
Yanez who is averaging 2.02 digs this season and junior middle blocker Bobby
Walsh who is averaging 1.53 blocks per set this year. "Bobby [Walsh] is an up-and-coming middle who is really doing the right
things and playing the right way," Pavlik said. "They use him so well...Walsh is
in the middle saying 'hey, don't forget about me.'" What's at Stake? The winner will advance to the 2015 NCAA title match on Saturday at 9:30
p.m. ET and will play the victor of No. 2 UC Irvine and No. 3 Loyola.
BALTIMORE - The Coaches Caravan traveled
southeast on Wednesday on day two of the first leg, making a pair of stops in
Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
The Penn State wrapped Fullington Trailways bus rolled into the nation's
capital on Wednesday morning for a lunch stop to kick off the day. Take a look
through highlights from the second two stops of a six-event week on the Coaches
Stop No. 3 - Washington, D.C. (JW
Raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour kicked off
the panel of speakers with a story about how she was introduced to the prideful
fan base of the Nittany Lions. The D.C. area is home to approximately 26,000
Penn State alums. Barbour cited that many of the folks sitting in the room
played a big role in establishing her feelings about the University.
"You all taught me about Penn State," said Barbour. "Growing up in the area, I
learned a lot of my initial feelings and in a lot of ways had my introduction
to Penn State from people like you."
Each year on the Caravan, the trips to the DMV are always filled with enthusiastic
fans of the Blue and White. And it's a critical area for recruiting.
"This is going to be a very, very important area for us moving forward in
recruiting," head coach James Franklin said. "It's always been a big part of
Penn State Football, and it will continue to be very important."
Additionally, with the expanded footprint of the Big Ten Conference, the Penn
State fans in the DC area will have more opportunities to see the Lions play
closer to home.
In addition to games at Maryland across all of the Big Ten's sanctioned sports,
the 2017 Big Ten Basketball Tournament will be contested in Washington, D.C.,
from March 8-12 in the Verizon Center.
Among the attendees in D.C. on Wednesday was captain in the U.S. Navy. Looking
at the diehard Penn State fan, hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky singled the man
out during his speech about the Nittany Lion supporters. Gadowsky said the Navy
captain came up to him prior to the lunch to inform him of a new tradition
started during the Michigan hockey series. The captain brought tailgating to
the parking lot during the coldest weekend of the year, and Gadowsky loved it.
"How are you not fired up to play in Pegula Ice Arena when you have someone
like a Navy captain tailgating outside in the snow before our game?" Gadowsky
What gives the Caravan a unique touch are stories and meetings like the one
Gadowsky had with the Naval captain. Penn State's fan base is one big family. Each
coach on the Caravan uses the experience to learn about the fans and engage
with them. It helps the fans understand how important the support is for each
program on campus.
"Our philosophy is built on relationships and how we interact with people,"
head coach James Franklin said.
VIDEO: Washington, D.C. Press Conference
Stop No. 4 - Baltimore (Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport) After a quick look at the White House before
leaving Washington, the Caravan traveled north to Baltimore for stop No. 4
during the week at the Hilton near BWI Airport. The greater Baltimore area is
home to nearly 10,500 Penn State alums, and like Washington, the Caravan crowd
is always energetic at stops in the DMV. Wednesday evening's event was no
Barbour, and head coaches James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky and Denise St. Pierre
received a rousing ovation from the moment they stepped on the stage inside Thurgood
It's going to be a big year ahead for Penn State and the Baltimore area. The
Nittany Lions are slated to meet Maryland on October 24 in M&T Bank
Stadium. The game will mark Penn State's first game in Baltimore since Nov. 9,
1991 when the Lions topped Maryland, 47-7, in Memorial Stadium.
The DMV is home to 19 players on the 2015 football roster. That list includes
seven returning players who hail from the state of Maryland. For decades, the
Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area has been pivotal recruiting ground for the
football program. That is not going to change in the eyes of Coach Franklin.
Assistant coaches Charles Huff and Sean Spencer were in attendance on Wednesday
evening after spending the day recruiting in the area. Additionally, junior
offensive lineman Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Maryland) was in attendance. Gaia stood
and recited the program's four core values when called upon during Franklin's
Maryland is an area Franklin and Gadowsky are quite familiar with. They both
have family members in the state. And Franklin spent several years of his
professional career in the local area.
"Being able to come around to different areas around the region is great, and
we love to come out and say thank you," Franklin said. "The fans have been so
supportive since we got here last year, and places like this are big reason we
have felt so welcome."
An Annapolis native, Barbour spoke on Wednesday evening about having the
opportunity to come home when she took the job as Director of Athletics for
Penn State in August. Her passion for the Blue and White is evident every time
she speaks. Barbour loves every ounce of her job and takes great pride in
leading a department that sets the standard for academic and athletic
"All of the reasons why I came to Penn State have all come true and more,"
The first week of the Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in Altoona
(lunch) and north of Pittsburgh (evening reception).
VIDEO: Baltimore Press Conference
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled: Day I - 129 miles Day II - 142 miles
Caravan Total - 271 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer PALO ALTO, Calif. - Thanks to the superb play of its pin hitters,
fifth-seeded Penn State (21-9) upended fourth-seeded Hawaii (24-7) in four sets
(25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 27-25) in the second of two play-in games Tuesday night
at historic Maples Pavilion.
With the win, the Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA national semifinals
and will face top-seeded Lewis at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 7. This is the 17th
consecutive season Penn State has reached the final four.
The Blue and White's pin hitters - made up of Aaron Russell, Nick
Goodell and Chris Nugent - accumulated 92 percent of the team's kills (54 out
of 59). The trio's dynamic offensive balance created defensive problems for the
"I thought that our outside hitters did a good job," head coach Mark Pavlik
said. "Nick [Goodell] balanced out the rights side with the night that he had. Overall, when the match was on the line, our
competition level was as high as it's been all year long."
First-team AVCA All-American Aaron Russell led all hitters with 20 kills
in the match. He swung at a match-high 46 sets and finished with a .239 hitting
percentage. Russell also added seven digs and a perfect receive percentage.
"I think we've come a long way
since the beginning of the year when we faced Hawaii and it feels good to get a
little revenge and next we have Lewis who we also lost to twice," Russell said.
"And I think the adversity we experienced at the beginning of the season really
has helped us improve, and I definitely think that's one of the reasons why were
on this run that we're on right now."
The senior outside hitter has
been a leader all season long but is using the postseason platform as a pedestal
to help make sure his teammates and coaching staff achieve their end goal, a
"I think I'm getting more
comfortable," Russell said. "Being out this past summer in Anaheim really
helped me learn a lot, it was a good experience. My experience being a senior
now, I've been through a lot and played with a lot of these guys and so were
getting comfortable with each other and gelling, and it's a lot of
Redshirt senior opposite Nick
Goodell and sophomore outside hitter Chris Nugent were the two x-factors,
however. Goodell was magical, killing 19 attacks on a .378 mark and adding one
service ace and four digs. Nugent was spectacular, as well, tallying 15 kills
at a .400 attacking percentage.
The performances described above
would not be possible without setter Taylor Hammond. The redshirt junior kept
the Nittany Lions in system and served up a match-high 54 assists. His play
certainly did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
"Again it starts with the
passers," Goodell said. "Once they're able to get in a rhythm, then Taylor
[Hammond] can get in a rhythm. Then with our middles getting up like they did,
everyone is going to be successful. We're a very hard team to stop like that."
Prior to upsetting Hawaii yesterday, the last time Penn State had beaten
a team ranked higher than them in the NCAA tournament occurred back in 2010.
That year, the Nittany Lions reached the championship only to lose to host and top-ranked
The winner of Lewis vs. Penn State will play the victor of
Loyola-Chicago vs. UC Irvine in the 2015 NCAA National Championship on May 9.
LANCASTER, Pa. - The 2015
Penn State Coaches Caravan hit the road on Tuesday with a pair of events in the
heart of Nittany Lion country at Harrisburg and Lancaster.
The Penn State themed Fullington Trailways bus pulled out of the Bryce Jordan
Center parking lot at 7:04 a.m. en route to Harrisburg. Take a look through
highlights from the first two stops of a six-event week on the Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 1 - Harrisburg (Best Western
Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour and head coaches James Franklin, Guy
Gadowsky and Denise St. Pierre headlined the first day of the road tour on
Tuesday. The trip began with a visit to the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.
Members of the travel party toured the ornate structure, which was built in 1906 at a
cost of $15 million.
Just after 10 a.m., Barbour, the head coaches and Penn State Alumni Association
Executive Director Roger Williams participated in the opening of the Pennsylvania
House of Representatives session for May 5. Representative Frank Farry
introduced Franklin before the head coach of the Nittany Lions addressed the
room of state representatives. Farry, who hails from Bucks County, and Franklin
both graduated from Neshaminy High School.
"I can't tell you how honored we are to be here and address the House of
Representatives," said Franklin.
VIDEO - Courtesy of Representative Farry
From the Capitol Building, the bus traveled to the Best Western Premier for the
opening stop of the two-week tour through the region. Barbour spoke to the
crowd first, highlighting the department's "why" and her vision for Penn State
Intercollegiate Athletics. Everything within the department begins with the
"why", and the student-athletes are at the forefront.
"We want to create a world class environment for our student-athletes to help
them prepare for life after earning their degrees," Barbour said.
While it is mentioned regularly, the support Penn State fans provide for the
athletic department and its 800 student-athletes is something that should never
be taken for granted. And Barbour, along with the coaches, would like to use
the Coaches Caravan as an opportunity to simply say thank you for the fans'
"The fact that so many people are here with us (today) is tremendous," said St.
Pierre. "The fact that all of you stuck with us makes us feel so fortunate."
"One of the best things about this for me is getting to learn from these other
coaches," Gadowsky said. "The second thing that I love about this is getting to
be around people who share the same amount of passion as you."
Gadowsky's remarks were a transition into a comical story about a fan's
commitment to the hockey program. One of the approximately 250 fans in
attendance on Tuesday for lunch had been struck while attempting to catch a puck during a
Penn State men's hockey game this winter. He met Gadowsky before the program
began and showed him some of his battle scars. As the crowd roared with approval, the man pulled the puck from his
pocket and waved to the fans while Gadowsky applauded him for sticking with the
game and not leaving despite black eyes and a bloody face.
"This is the type of guy I want at our hockey games. He didn't leave!" Gadowsky
Franklin promptly asked the fan if he had any eligibility left because he wants
that type of commitment within the football program. The second-year leader of
the Nittany Lions then highlighted the program's stellar academic success in
2014-'15. Fifty-seven players achieved a 3.0 GPA or higher during the fall
semester. Additionally, 21 true freshman earned a 3.0 GPA or better in the
fall. Graduation and success in the classroom will always be at the top of
Franklin's list of accomplishments for the growth of the football program.
Emphasizing the program's four core values is a staple for Franklin moving
forward. He told the crowd that the players and staff members did a good job of
memorizing the values - positive attitude, unrivaled work ethic, compete in
everything you do and sacrifice - but now he wants to see the program live
With five more days on the caravan ahead, the theme of each discussion will
focus on what makes Penn State so special - the people.
"I love to take this time to say thank you," Franklin said. Having the
opportunity to come out and thank you personally means a lot to me."
VIDEO: Harrisburg Press Conference
Stop No. 2 - Lancaster (Marriott at Penn Square) More than 360
boisterous Penn State fans greeted the Coaches Caravan in Lancaster on Tuesday
night. The crowd was enthusiastic from the moment Roger Williams, Executive
Director of the Penn State Alumni Association, welcomed the group with a
rousing "We Are" chant in the Commonwealth Ballroom of the Marriott at Penn
Barbour, Franklin, Gadowsky and St. Pierre were joined during the pre-event
reception by assistant football coaches John Donovan and Brent Pry, who were in
the area recruiting on Tuesday. Donovan and Pry, along with the rest of the
assistant coaches have been on the recruiting trail since spring practice
wrapped up with the Blue-White Game.
Like the first stop in Harrisburg, Barbour opened the evening with a speech
updating the fans and alums in the room about the current state of Penn State
Athletics. With 500 of the 800 student-athletes receiving a 3.0 GPA or higher,
the department's academic excellence speaks for itself.
Additionally, on the field, it has been a stellar campaign for Penn State teams, as well.
Currently sitting in second spot in the Learfield Directors' Cup following the
winter season, Penn State had 15 of its 17 teams (through the winter seasons)
NCAA postseason competition. That list includes four teams that won conference
titles, a record seventh NCAA title for women's volleyball and three
individual NCAA championships.
It's no surprise to
see the academic and athletic accolades when you hear the coaches speak to the
public. Franklin, Gadowsky and St. Pierre are just three examples of what is a
tremendous lineup of coaches on the University Park campus right now.
"I continue to listen to the gratitude and passion from our coaches towards
their student-athletes, and it's just so impressive," Barbour said.
The success of Penn State's teams on the field and in the classroom would not
be possible without superb mentors, and it would not be possible without the
support of individuals like those in the room on Tuesday night in Lancaster.
"No one in the nation does passion like we do, and it's not even close,"
Gadowsky said. "Not only is it fun to be a part of a family reunion (home
game), it's very motivating for us."
The sense of pride in Penn State Blue and White is truly unique.
"There is no place like us," Franklin said.
The Caravan will extend outside of Pennsylvania on Wednesday when it rolls
south to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
VIDEO: Lancaster Press Conference
Day 1 - 129 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday afternoon, members of the Penn State
men's and women's ice hockey teams spent time inside Pegula Ice Arena. They
were not practicing, not skating, not working on their own skills. Instead,
they were serving as coaches, teaching 50 kids from the Centre County Youth
Services Bureau and YMCA of Centre County about the sport of hockey with the
Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation.
When most people think of Garth Brooks, they automatically register his successful
singing career; however in 1999, Brooks and one other created Teammates for
Kids, a foundation aiming to give all kids an even start. They wanted to use statistics
in sports, transforming them into dollars that could directly impact children across
the world. That is exactly what the foundation has done.
"We started with baseball, Major League Baseball," Brooks said. "I think we had
about 60 players the first year, and what it was is a player donates money for
homeruns or here goals, saves, assists, stuff like that. Then our job is to
triple that money as a foundation. One hundred percent of the money goes to
kids. That's it. Every penny goes to kids. We walk into a locker room now with
4,000 professional athletes, and the first thing you say is 100 percent of the
money goes to kids. They just start signing left and right. So, it's pretty
With Brooks' current tour making a stop in State College, he knew he wanted to
host a camp at Penn State. It was immediately clear that hockey was the way to
go. With the ice removed from the main rink at Pegula, it was the perfect
setting for a floor hockey clinic. Both the men's team and the women's team
were excited to get involved.
The kids in attendance were split into groups by age, and each athlete was
given one specific group to coach. The experience was something special for not
only the kids but also the Nittany Lions.
"I have the older kids, and they've been just this happy group," said women's
hockey junior Jordin Pardoski. "They're so happy to be here. They're having a
blast out there, so it's really fun."
Nevertheless, this clinic is not only helping the children involved. It is also
assisting the game of hockey as many new faces are being exposed to the sport
through the clinic.
"I think the biggest thing for me is I just want to try and share the game,"
said men's hockey forward Eric Scheid. "Hockey is growing, but it's still not
there yet, especially college hockey. So, out of all the kids here today if one
or two of them grows a love for the game, then I think today was a success. I
just want to spread the game and my love for it. I hope someone get to enjoy
the game like I do."
As the 50 kids ran around with sticks in their hands, the enjoyment was written
all over their faces. They smiled wide and were constantly talking with their
coaches. It didn't matter that many didn't know who Garth Brooks was because that
they were having fun and enjoying every minute of the experience.
Clinics like these and sports in general have so much to offer children,
allowing them to grow. They promote health, promote friendship, promote
positivity, and when working with the kids of Centre County, those aspect are
exactly what the coaches emphasized.
"Another thing sport does is it creates bonds and friendships that last a
lifetime," Scheid said. "I've been on a lot of different teams in the last five
or six years, played with a lot of different players. Every year you play on a
team and meet 20 new teammates, and you make friends for life."
Overall, Brooks wants to encourage these kids to be happy, to be healthy and to
enjoy life. Hosting these camps is truly making a huge impact on many lives,
which is why the country singer continues to have them.
Sports offer children so much in the grand scheme of life. It is of the utmost
importance to continue that trend and to allow kids to grow into positive
"Hopefully what we teach them is to believe in themselves, to love one
another," said Brooks. "And, if it's through the sport of hockey or through the
sport of life, if today changes one of those kids to look in the mirror and
feel better about themselves then this whole camp, this whole tour, everything
is worth it."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- With spring practice in the books, head coach James Franklin and five other
Penn State head coaches and eight football assistant coaches are set to participate
on the 12-stop 2015 Coaches Caravan.
Festivities kick off on Thursday with a lunch stop in Harrisburg and an evening
reception in Lancaster.
"It's important to get it out and mingle with the fans and the alumni base
because they are the people who make Penn State special," Franklin said. "It's about the people here. It always has
been and it always will. We have a sense of family and community like nowhere
else in the country."
More than 2,500 Penn State fans and alumni have already registered for Caravan
events. Following the evening reception in Lancaster, the Caravan bus hits the
road on Wednesday with stops in Washington, D.C. (lunch) and Baltimore (evening
reception). The first leg of the Caravan will wrap up on Thursday in Altoona
(lunch) and Pittsburgh (evening reception).
The lineup of coaches for week one, in addition to Franklin, include men's
hockey's Guy Gadowsky and women's golf's Denise St. Pierre.
"The best thing about Penn State is that we are one big passionate family,"
Gadowsky said. "You don't see that more than when you get to interact with our
supporters. For our program, you look at what happens in Pegula Ice Arena, and
it's all because of the great supporters that we have. So, to get out there to
meet and interact with all of the Penn State supporters is just fantastic."
Among the coaches slated to join Franklin on the road during a star-studded
week two of the Coaches Caravan are wrestling's Cael Sanderson, men's
basketball's Patrick Chambers (May 19-20) and women's volleyball's Russ Rose.
GoPSUsports.com will again board the modified Fullington Trailways motorcoach
for all 12 stops on the Caravan. Look
for photos, video and written content from all 12 locations as the Penn State
Coaches Caravan hits the road for six days in the coming two weeks.
Register today for a stop near you, and we look forward to seeing you on the
2015 Coaches Caravan Schedule
May 5 - Harrisburg/Best Western Premier (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Denise St. Pierre
Lancaster/Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Denise St. Pierre, John Donovan,
May 6 - Washington, D.C./J.W. Marriott Washington, D.C. (Lunch)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Denise St. Pierre
Baltimore/Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport; Linthicum Heights (Evening reception)
Coaches: James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky, Denise St. Pierre, Charles Huff
May 7 - Altoona/Lakemont Park Casino
(Lunch) Coaches: James Franklin, Guy
Gadowsky, Denise St. Pierre
Pittsburgh/Doubletree by Hilton
Cranberry (Evening reception) Coaches: James Franklin, Guy
Gadowsky, Bob Shoop, Terry M. Smith
May 19 - Philadelphia/Hyatt at the Bellevue; Center City (Lunch) Coaches: James Franklin, Patrick
Chambers, Russ Rose, Cael Sanderson, Josh Gattis, Sean Spencer
Philadelphia/Sheraton Bucks County Hotel; Langhorne (Evening reception) Coaches: James Franklin, Patrick
Chambers, Russ Rose, Cael Sanderson, Josh Gattis, Sean Spencer
May 20 - New York City/Edison Ballroom (Lunch) Coaches: James Franklin, Patrick
Chambers, Russ Rose, Cael Sanderson
Northern New Jersey/Hilton; Parsippany (Evening reception) Coaches: James Franklin, Patrick
Chambers, Russ Rose, Cael Sanderson, Ricky Rahne
May 21 - Lehigh Valley/Holiday Inn, Allentown - I-78; Breinigsville (Lunch) Coaches: James Franklin, Russ Rose,
Wilkes-Barre/The F.M. Kirby Center (Evening reception) Coaches: James Franklin, Russ Rose,
Cael Sanderson, Ricky Rahne
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