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
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After winning its 17th straight EIVA Championship title last Friday
over George Mason, No. 7 Penn State (20-9) earned the No. 5 seed in the 2015
NCAA Tournament being played this week at Maples Pavilion on the campus of
Stanford University. The Nittany Lions open
on Tuesday against fourth-seeded Hawaii (21-6) at 11 p.m. ET in the second of
two play-in matches. Before we take a look
at the strengths of the Rainbow Warriors and what the Nittany Lions need to do
to stymie Hawaii, let's check out how Penn State's journey to the tourney. Penn State's Journey Three weeks into
the season, the Lions knew they had work to do. They opened play on a six-match
losing streak. After falling to Lewis on Feb. 20 and Loyola-Chicago on Feb. 21,
Penn State's record stood at 4-9. Since those two
losses, however, the Nittany Lions have caught fire and rolled off 16-straight
victories en route to their 31st EIVA/ECVL regular season title and
17th straight EIVA Championship title. The Blue and White arrived
in California for the 2015 NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Take a look through some
highlights. University Park to Palo Alto The Blue and White departed from Rec Hall at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Sunday
and bused to Dulles Airport. After making sure the players locked up aisle
seats for the flight, the team flew across the country to San Francisco. Around
dinnertime, the plane touched down in the Bay Area and the group then chartered
to the team hotel in Palo Alto. Following dinner, Penn State traveled to Santa Clara University for a nighttime
edition of serve and pass. The post-practice events were anything but ordinary as the Nittany Lions had an
opportunity to meet two iconic sports stars - NBA MVP Steve Nash and 1999 FIFA
Women's World Cup star Brandi Chastain. The two famous athletes were extremely
down to earth and super cool, causing the team's motivation and will to want to
win elevate to new heights.
Back on Jan. 9, the Nittany Lions lost in straight sets (26-24, 25-19, 25-18)
to Hawaii in the 21st annual Outrigger Resorts Invitational. The
Rainbow Warriors hold a 14-8 advantage all-time in the head-to-head series.
Here is a breakdown of some things to watch from Hawaii on Tuesday night: Curbing Taylor Averill Redshirt senior Taylor Averill is arguably the best overall player in the
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). The 6-foot-7 All-American middle
blocker holds the second-highest hitting percentage in the country with a .483
mark. He was named to the All-MPSF first team last Thursday. Containing Kupono Fey Sophomore Kupono Fey grew up in Honolulu, Oahu. He's a homegrown player
competing for his hometown school. The six-foot-five outside hitter has been
key in the last few weeks. Against Long Beach State in the MPSF quarterfinal
two weeks ago, Fey notched 17 kills and 12 digs for his first double-double of
the season. Preventing Passing In addition to Averill and Fey, the Rainbow Warriors have more hard swingers with
outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic and opposite Brook Sedore. The junior Zarkovic
is second on the team with 3.20 kills per set, while the senior Sedore leads
the squad with 3.36 kills per set. If able to remain in system, Hawaii is
dangerous. Strong passing leads to strong sets from sophomore Jennings
Franciskovic (10.8 assists per set), which in turn leads to potent swings from
Hawaii's pin hitters.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - It was the best Jim Haley had felt at the plate in a long time.
The Nittany Lions
shortstop had just finished off a dominant performance, going 4 for 5 with two
singles, a double and a triple during Penn State's 12-10 comeback victory over
Rutgers on Saturday. Asked how he felt, the sophomore told it like it was.
was one of those days I was invincible at the plate," Haley said. "Every time I
went to the plate, [my mindset was] I know I'm getting a hit here. I was seeing
the ball really well and it worked out well for me."
Haley wasn't the
only one feeling that way during the weekend series against the Scarlet
Knights. In a three game sweep, Penn State piled up 28 total runs, winning by
final scores 8-1, 12-10 and 8-5.
Along the way, the
Nittany Lions totaled a whopping 37 hits, including an astounding 18 on
Saturday as they overcame an early 9-1 deficit to claim an improbable victory
that clinched the series.
That win came after
a comfortable 8-1 victory Friday night. On Sunday, the Lions saw an early 2-0
lead slip away yet battled back multiple times to clinch the sweep with an 8-5
According to head
coach Rob Cooper, the key to the offensive explosion was staying patient and
not getting frustrated after last weekend's setbacks to Big Ten leading
"Last year we would
have had a series like Illinois where we had great at-bats but nothing to show
for it and guys would have gone away from their approach," Cooper said. "This
year, guys are more mature, and they said we're going to take the same approach
and have something to show for it."
While the Lions had
multiple standout performers, the star of the weekend really was Haley, who put
together the best series of his still young career. The 6-foot-2 shortstop hit
.538 over the course of the weekend and raised his season average from .278 to
He also produced
while hitting in multiple spots in the lineup. After hitting cleanup like usual
during his banner day on Saturday, Cooper moved him up to second on Sunday. The
Philadelphia area native responded by going 2 for 4 with an RBI and three runs
"It was weird
today, I was a little messed up in the head," Haley said with a smile on
Sunday. "But I didn't mind it. I'll hit first, second, third, fourth,
But Haley wasn't
the only Penn State hitter to thrive despite being moved around in the order.
Greg Guers also continued his season-long power onslaught while hitting in two
On Friday, the 6-foot-3 outfielder ripped his seventh home run of the season
while batting second as usual. With leadoff hitter James Coates getting a day
off on Sunday however, the slugger was moved to the top of order and started
the afternoon off with a monster blast to right field in the first inning.
Overall, Guers hit
.417 and drove in six RBIs over the weekend. He is now hitting .291 on the
season and is leading the Lions in home runs (eight) and RBIs (37).
"I think everybody
had a feeling he was going to hit a home run [on Sunday]," senior Aaron Novak
said. "It looks pretty effortless for him up there."
Yes, it certainly
does look easy for Guers right now. But what impressed his coach the most was
not his two home runs, but the bunt he laid down to advance a runner in the
eight inning on Sunday.
For Cooper, Guers
and Haley are two players that have benefited not only from hard work and
coaching, but also their willingness to fill any role.
"I knew we were
going to give Coates the day off, so then it's a matter of lets get Guers up as
many times as possible," Cooper said. "He's locked in right now. It's really
important because he hits a home run, hits line drives throughout the game and
then gets a big bunt down, that's a complete offensive player.
stating to stay inside the ball a bit more. It's a testament to him and his
approach but also to [hitting coach Ross] coach Oeder and the fact that he
continues to work with these guys."
Still, they weren't
only players to shine against the Scarlet Knights. Novak raised his season
average to .346 with a two-hit day on Sunday while Tyler Kendall also went 2
for 4 with two RBIs in the final game.
It was a team
effort, something that the Nittany Lions will look to continue during their
final two regular season series. The Blue and White are 16-13 since March 17
and still looking to improve.
"We're just staying
consistent with our approach," Novak said. "Nobody's trying to do too much,
just trying to stay inside the ball and it's paid off. We're hitting balls
By Tori Gerlach, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer UNIVERSITY
PARK, Pa. - A small, yet prepared, group headed out to Palo Alto, California to
compete in the Payton Jordan Invitational on Saturday. We had men and women competing in the 800,
1500, and the steeplechase. This meet is known for its distance races and
amazing competition and it certainly lived up to my expectations this year.
the board we had a number of PRs, season bests, and even a top NCAA leading
mark. We competed against some of the best competition in the country and
gained more confidence and experience rolling into championship time. With the Big Ten Championships coming up in a couple of weeks, this is just the type of meet we needed to
Penn State gave us the opportunity to show the west coast all the hard work we
put in so far this season. I am excited to see what the rest of the season
brings! WE ARE...
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a Big Ten Championship on the line, the
Penn State women's lacrosse team entered the tournament feeling confident. The
Nittany Lions took down Northwestern in the second round, bringing them one
step closer to the trophy. While the team was excited, the job was not done
yet. Penn State still needed one more win.
When Ohio State (13-7) took down previously undefeated Maryland, the Lions
(14-4) prepared for the challenge and trusted in their abilities. After 60
minutes of play, Penn State emerged as the conference's first winner by
defeating the Buckeyes, 13-11.
The Nittany Lions are Big Ten champions.
"I don't know if it sunk in yet," said head Coach Missy Doherty. "I think it
was a great game. I just love that competing aspect of it, but certainly being
the first Big Ten winner is such an honor. We have such a great tradition in
our program that goes so far back. Our alums are so proud of our program and
have done well in the past. It's nice to really put Penn State on the map with
our first Big Ten Championship."
Key to the win was Penn State's offense, which has dominated throughout the
entirety of the season. Senior Tatum Coffey led the way with her four goals,
but in all the team saw scoring from seven different players in the final. This
balance up front made the Blue and White a difficult team to beat. They
challenged Ohio State's defense, went to the net and came away from the game
shooting at 52 percent.
For Coffey and the rest of the senior class, this game was crucial. With so
little time left to play in their careers, every second counts. They wanted to
leave it all on the field, which is exactly what they did.
"I honestly had an epiphany," Coffey said. "It was a moment that just hit me,
and I realized that I'm a senior. I'm never going to be in this position again.
So, I let that take over me and decided to be a leader out there and pump
Going into halftime, the Lions had a three-goal lead. Nevertheless, the team
knew it would not be an easy task to finish the game, especially against the
Ohio State controlled play in the opening minutes of the second, tallying three
consecutive goals to even the scoring. The Nittany Lions called a timeout to
regroup, but they were never concerned. Staying calm proved to be key.
"Right when they quickly scored three goals on us, we stayed confident and
composed," said Abby Smucker. "We knew that we had to pick up our defense a
little bit more, but I was confident in the way our defense was playing. And,
having Emi [Smith] back there in the cage was critical for us."
All season long, Smucker has anchored the Nittany Lion defense. Doherty has
labeled her the team organizer, keeping the Lions cohesive in the back. Her
play in the semi-final and final helped boost the Lions and did not go
unnoticed as Smucker was named the tournament MVP.
Also stepping up for the Lions was Emi Smith in the cage. She made seven stops
that kept the Lions ahead. Her biggest save of the game came with just over a
minute to play. Had she not made the stop, the Buckeyes would have pulled
within one. The dynamic of the game would have shifted.
"She just came up with some really crucial saves," said Doherty of Smith. "I
think she's been solid all year, but when the game is on the line I think she
gets better. Especially in that last minute coming up with such a huge save, it
was really that last step we needed to seal up the game."
As time evaporated, Penn State realized the magnitude of what it had done. This
team battled through tough losses, through injuries and through close games to
get to that point. The work it had done all season long finally paid off.
"It shows that we can bounce back," Smith said. "It shows that we can improve
on the losses that we've had, and we can always learn from the things we don't
do right. There's always room for improvement, and I think the team really
shows that. We have improved a lot over this season, and I think that's why we
came up big here. We just focused on the things that we do well and emphasized
From the start of the year, this team knew the season would be special. It
worked hard day in and day out for this opportunity. Now, the Nittany Lions
could not be more proud of their accomplishment. They will forever be the first
Big Ten Champions.
"We really the whole year tried to work on proving who we are, and we made a
statement today," said Coffey. "I'm so proud of my team for doing that. We
really just knew what we needed to work on, knew what we needed to do, and we
went out there and did it."
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are 98 total student-athletes on the Penn
State track and field team - 48 women, 50 men. Of all of those, there are a total
of four women pole vaulters: Kasey Kemp, Erin Knabe, Lexi Masterson, andHannah Mulhern.
As if that wasn't exceptional enough in a sport that takes everything
from upper body strength to gymnastics ability, all four women rank within the
top ten pole-vaulters in Penn State history.
"That's something that I value. I earned that," said Masterson, who
holds the school record at 13-3.5. "But to have three other teammates in the
top ten is something that's more for Penn State than it is for me. To have us,
kind of, rewrite pole vault for Penn State is so great."
"It feels really cool and it feels like we're making our mark. We're
letting people know: you might not know Penn State pole vault but you're going
to know [it], I promise you," said Knabe.
To add to the prowess, the women are fairly young. Masterson, Kemp, and
Knabe have sophomore athletic experience and Mulhern is finishing up her
"We're so young and we have so much more to learn and grow and keep
building," said Mulhern.
From a training standpoint, the women have all the support form the
university and their coaches, which, for them, makes being part of such a small
"We have to thank Coach Kelly. Practice, meets, he always has our back. Pole
vault is so frustrating, he can be so patient with us," said Masterson. "It's
nice to have our unique little thing. We have respect for the people that do
endless 200 [meter sprints] on the track and think 'Man, I couldn't do that'
but then, we're like, 'They probably can't pole vault'."
Pole vaulting by definition is a track and field event where athletes
must run with a long pole and use it to help them jump over a bar. It requires
more athleticism than most people would predict and can be more dangerous than
most other events.
"As a girl pole vaulter you have to have upper body strength and all of
us have gymnastics background that helps us be successful," said Masterson. "We
have two lifts per week, each about an hour. We'll have drill days and strength
days and plyometric days. There's a lot of time to put in."
"[During] preseason, we lift three days a week at 6:30 a.m. and then
come back later for practice 2:45-5 p.m. Then, on Wednesdays we have lifts,
practice, and then gymnastics from 5 to 6 p.m.," said Knabe.
Aside from being physically fit, pole vaulting takes a lot of mental
discipline and poise.
"Pole vaulting is all about confidence," said Knabe. "It's a lot of
technique. You can be really fast and really strong but if your technique is
wrong you're not going to go anywhere. That's why it's so mental because if
your technique is not perfect then something is going to go wrong and it can be
Fear is far from their vocabulary, though, and they are excited to have
each other to rely on. Being best friends only adds the excitement of being
"With this group, it's not about you, it's about all of us," said
"We know our goals and we're always helping each other get there. The
practice environment is really positive all the time. I think it's helpful that
we're friends outside of track," said Kemp.
"We have an awesome vibe during practice. There's such a respect for
this sport between athletes because you understand how hard this sport is so we
just try and lift each other up," said Knabe.
Penn State is about to earn a whole new reputation in pole vaulting and
the women thrilled to be part of the process confident that this is just
"Penn State is the best school ever. I wish I could put that into better
words but it's true. It's such a good school academically and it's respected
athletically," said Kemp.
"It's important for [people] to see how much we have improved," said
Masterson. "I was a 12-foot jumper two times in high school. I wasn't
consistent and within the first month on competition [at Penn State], I was
13-1. So, to see the improvement and how far it's going to go."