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VIDEO: Nittany Lion Softball Set to Host Big Ten Tournament

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lion softball team will play host to the Big Ten Tournament.

Action on Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park begins on Thursday with four games. The Nittany Lions will play Friday (5:30 p.m.) after earning a bye as the tournament's No. 4 seed. Penn State has finished in the top four of the conference just three times prior to this season.

The Nittany Lions won five conference series en route to a 14-9 Big Ten record. Penn State tallied 13 wins at home this spring, including seven in conference games.

In all, 12 of the 14 teams will be in action at Nittany Lion Softball Park. The tournament will consist of 11 games, with each contest slated to air live on the Big Ten Network.

Penn State will meet either No. 5-seeded Nebraska or No. 12-seeded Purdue in its first game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Lions did not play either team during the regular season. Nebraska enters the tournament at 32-18 and ranked No. 32 in the RPI. The Boilermakers finished 27-27 in the regular season and are rated No. 83 in the RPI.

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Thursday, May 12
12 p.m. - No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Rutgers
2:30 p.m. - No. 7 Illinois vs. No. 10 Michigan State
5:30 p.m. - No. 5 Nebraska vs. No. 11 Purdue
8 p.m. - No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Indiana

Friday, May 13
12 p.m. - No. 3 Northwestern vs. Ohio State/Rutgers Winner
2:30 p.m. - No. 2 Minnesota vs. Illinois/Michigan State Winner
5:30 p.m. - No. 4 Penn State vs. Nebraska/Purdue Winner
8 p.m. - No. 1 Michigan vs. Wisconsin/Indiana Winner

Saturday, May 14
1 p.m. - Semifinal No. 1 (Friday game one winner vs. Friday game two winner)
3:30 p.m. - Semifinal No. 2 (Friday game three winner vs. Friday game four winner)
6 p.m. - Championship Game caught up with head coach Amanda Lehotak and senior Macy Jones to preview the Big Ten Tournament. Take a look.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Three

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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Three

Day Two in Holland as told by Field Hockey student-athletes Katie Dembrowski and Brooke Birosik


 Holland Trip Recaps: Day One | Day Two

May 10, 2016

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.


Days 3 & 4, May 9-10

Zwolle - Ottrelo - Laren


Katie Dembrowski, sophomore, Palmyra, Pa.

 "I grew up in Palmyra, a small town adjacent to Hershey - so I know all about tourists flocking to a city. For the first half of our tour of Holland, our team is staying in the beautiful town of Zwolle, located in the north-central part of The Netherlands. It is not quite the tourist place that I am accustomed to. I am used to "Chocolatetown, U.S.A.," with people waiting in line to get into the park, lots of cars clogging the streets and so many people coming to buy Hershey's famous chocolate.

 "Here in Zwolle, people are not used to seeing Americans walking around shopping and trying new foods. In fact, we went to a restaurant named "De Vier Jaargetijden," and asked our waiter if he serves a lot of Americans. He quickly said no. It is interesting to see the difference in tourism between Hershey and Zwolle. Most restaurants here do not have American menus, so we ended up asking the waiter a million questions. Once we found out what was on the menu, it seemed as though they served a lot of American foods, like burgers and ribs. So of course, I ordered a burger -- but it did not taste anything like an American burger. It was delicious and had a more natural taste to it. I find that to be the case with a lot of foods here; they seem to be more natural than the foods we have back at home. 

"When we went a tour of the city and surrounding countryside on bikes, we did not see many people just out riding and looking at all the scenery -- everyone had a place to go! They were going to work, going to school or going to a shop. They would not wait for us to turn or get across the road. Instead, they would just speed by us because I do not think they are used to people riding bikes around the city who are just sight-seeing. Everyone here has a destination. 

 "Of course, everyone here is so also nice. They may not be accustomed to tourists, but they sure do a good job of hosting them!"

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Kirsten Gochnauer (left) and Katie Dembrowski.

Brooke Birosik, senior, Ickesburg, Pa.

"Hello from the Kröller-Müller Museum & Sculpture Garden! Today, our team took a trip over to De Hoge Veluwe National Park. It is about an hour away from our hotel in Zwolle.

"During the bus ride, we had a blast singing and doing some throwback karaoke. When we arrived to the park, we were free to roam for about four hours. The museum was about two kilometers from where we got dropped off by our bus. We could either walk to the museum or take one the hundreds of free white one-speed bikes available all over the park. Like almost everyone else in Holland, most of us took the bikes!

"The museum is like a second home to the work of Vincent Van Gogh. It has around 90 paintings and more than 180 drawings, making it the second-largest collection of Van Goghs in the world. After touring around the art inside the museum, a few of us explored the outside sculpture garden, where you could see modern sculptures and how they just blended into the natural background of tall green trees and many trails. The garden serves as a backdrop for over 160 sculptures by prominent artists, like Jean Dubuffet and Marta Pan.

"Afterwards, we had a cozy lunch outdoors in a large tent located in the middle of the garden. There I devoured a delicious goat cheese salad alongside a classic Latte. Later on, a bunch of us headed back to the bikes and we then ventured off on a 12k trip to the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus castle, which is located on the north side of the park.

"They call this park -- which is the biggest nature reserve in all of Holland -- 'The Green Gem of the Netherlands.' It certainly is and the visit made for a unique and unforgettable experience."


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 Lunch with (left to right) Kirsten Gouchner, Jenny Rizzo, Cassie Kline and Brooke Birosik.

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All over the sculptures and artwork at the Kröller-Müller Museum were (left to right) Lauren McNally, Emilee Ehret, Aurelia Maijer and Moria Putsch.

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

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Bike riding through De Hoge Veluwe National Park.

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Two

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FH_Holland blog header3_2016.jpg

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.

 Holland Trip Recaps: Day One

Days 2 & 3, May 8-9
Hattem - Zwolle

Carly Celkos, senior, Berlin, N.J.

 "Sunday night we played our first match against a Dutch team that included the brother (Gilles) of my teammate, Aurelia Meijer. We learned a lot of playing for the first time against the Dutch, who are known for their quick passing and decision making.

 "It seemed like everyone at the club arrived riding their bikes with their field hockey sticks attached.  It was amazing to see the passion and love for hockey the people of Holland have. Parents, grandparents, teenagers, and young children all came out to watch our game and stayed to socialize afterwards. Hockey here is a big part of their lifestyle for people of all generations. The people at the club were very friendly. It was great getting to meet people our age in Holland and seeing how much we have in common - we have similar tastes in things like music, clothing and movie.

 "After the game in Sunday night we had a little time to explore of Zwolle as a team. What really surprised us the most was how clean the downtown of Zwolle was for being a city. There was a beautiful moat also with little boats in the lake.

 "One of the advantages of going away is being able to have everyone on the team at the same place at the same time. Other than practice and games, that doesn't happen a great deal back on campus. Being able to really bond and be together off the field is special and I know it will help with team-building in the future, all of us sharing this great experience 24/7. We went to a cute little café in Zwolle, just a short walk from our hotel. We all sat down and talked about our amazing first day. It was a great way to end our day all together, just the 20 of us.

 "On Monday morning, we all gathered after breakfast for a team bike ride through Zwolle. We got to see the city close-up, going past old cathedrals and riding on cute brick streets, all the while joining hundreds of cyclists who riding to work and school. After a day off, on Tuesday we have our second match of the tour, against the Laren Girls U18 squad."


 Penn State teammates (left to right) Jenny Rizzo, Katie Dembrowski, Brooke Birosik and Carly Celkos prepare for a cycle ride in Holland.

Lisa Winters, sophomore, Hershey, Pa.

 "After we finished our bike ride, we had the rest of Monday as free time to explore the city of Zwolle. We walked toward the center of the city, where teammate Brooke Birosik and I stopped at a small cafe to get some sandwiches and lattes for lunch. The whole menu was in Dutch and we only understood a few words, but we made our best guesses and ended up with some pretty tasty meals.

 "After filling our stomachs with some food, we set out down the main shopping road. I recognized a couple of stores that we have at home, like H&M, but most of the time we just looked in the windows and tried to guess which stores we would like. The best part was that whenever we started to get a little tired or wanted to get out of the sun for a little bit, there was always a cafe around to grab some coffee or a snack and sit down until we were ready to go again. I don't think a vanilla latte in the United States will ever taste the same to me again after having some of the most amazing ones I've ever had over here.

 "It was a pretty hot day, so after a few hours of walking around and shopping we all headed back to the hotel to chill out on the porch and rehydrate a little bit. We stayed there until dinnertime, when a whole bunch of us walked back into the city, planning on finding a restaurant that had been recommended by our hotel staff. Even with the help of Google Maps, we hadn't found the place after walking around awhile, so once we got tired of looking we just sat down at the closest place. Nearly everyone in the group wanted a burger, but apparently our 'refined' American love for burgers was a bit confusing to our waiter; he was pretty confused about our exact specifications for toppings and condiments and none of them came out exactly as planned, but we all thought it was pretty funny and made it work.

 "My sleep schedule is still pretty messed up from the six-hour time difference, so at this point a few other teammates and I decided to grab some ice cream and head back to the hotel. It's good to have some time now to rest up for another fun day and our second game tomorrow!"

Many of the Penn State student-athletes spent their leisure time in Zwolle dining out and shopping. 


Carly Celkos and teammate Gina Bramley pose outside of Sassenpoort, one of the old city gates in Zwolle, which is the capital city of 125,000 residents of the province of Overjssel, Netherlands.


One of the team's two cycling tours took its riders past a quintessential Holland windmill on their way to the town of Kampen.


By Miranda Kulp, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  With another academic year in the books, the Penn State men's gymnastics team can reflect on many lessons learned during the 2015-2016 campaign.


Despite numerous injuries, the Nittany Lions were determined to grow this past season.


"Although it was a tough season due to injuries, it gave a lot of guys a chance to step in and improve," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We gained a lot of experience which is the best thing we can ask for moving forward."


The Blue and White fought through all the injuries and showed great determination and drive with every meet.


"I would say we surprised a lot of people this year with how much our guys fought until the end," said Jepson.


"There were times when we were five points behind and turned around to win the match, and in gymnastics every point and every second of a routine counts," he continued.


Penn State was able to place fourth in the Big Ten Championships, and then placed fifth in the NCAA Championships.


"These guys were always hungry to win and willing to put the work in it to show the other schools what Penn State has to offer," said Jepson.


This year, the team was lead by three seniors, Trevor Howard, Alexis Torres, and Blake Young, who all helped the team grow this year. 


In addition to being one of the veterans on the team, Howard was able to earn his seventh All-American title this season.


"Everyone motivates one another on this team, we want to see guys lead by an example," Jepson said.


Other notable veterans on the squad were team captain, Leroy Clarke Jr., and Dominic DiFulvio, who was picked to be team captain for next season.


Despite any injuries, every member of the squad played their part and helped the Lions advance this season. Additionally, the season allowed many of the younger players gain experience and start molding the future leaders.


"I always tell the guys there's success to be had as long as we keep moving forward and working hard," said coach Jepson. "I want us to always grow from the season."


"This season was good and I'm very proud of the team, we fought hard and showed everyone what our program is about," continued Jepson.


With the season officially over, the team is already in preparation for next year. Many of the guys will continue their training this summer and start working out wit the team again in no time.


Recent graduate Trevor Howard will also be returning in the fall, joining the coaching staff come fall as he continues to train and help develop the team.


"I'm very excited to have (Trevor) Howard back and see what happens in the future, said Jepson. "A lot of these guys train year round and now we can take what we learned this past season and use that to make us an even stronger team in the future."

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day One

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FH_Holland blog header3_2016.jpg

The Penn State women's field hockey team has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field, from bike tours and canal cruises and to traditional post-game meals with their hosts.

Days 1 & 2, May 7-8:
Philadelphia - Amsterdam - Zwolle - Hattem

Cassie Kline, sophomore, Millersville, Pa. 
"Hey everyone! This is Cassie Kline and as I writing this it is exactly noon on Sunday in sunny Zwolle, Netherlands. It is a fantastic day to play some field hockey! Hard to believe, but my day actually began yesterday at my home near Lancaster, Pa. -- over 3,000 miles from where I am right now.

"The entire team, our coaching and support staff, plus several parents met on Saturday afternoon at the Philadelphia airport for the field hockey trip of a lifetime. We checked our bags and stood in a long line - longer than what we even see back on campus -- waiting to go through security. Once that mission was accomplished, we had an hour-and-a-half until we started boarding, so the team broke up to grab some dinner. Some team members and I went to Chickie's & Pete's, where I got a grilled chicken salad before we took off for Holland.

"As we boarded the plane, I took my seat, which was closest to the aisle, and prepared myself for a long six-hour ride. Most of the team slept, listened to music and watched movies on the plane. We knew we needed to get some rest, since are scheduled to a play later his afternoon.

"We arrived at 2:45 a.m. American time -- which is 8:45 a.m. in the Netherlands, which meant no naps before the game. We got off the plane and went to the baggage claim to pick up our luggage. From there, we took a coach bus that delivered us to our hotel after a very scenic drive. When we arrived at the hotel, which is very gorgeous, we were met by the warm greetings of family of our teammate Aurelia Meyer, who lives in the Netherlands. After everyone dropped their bags off in their rooms, we sat down for lunch at the hotel and had tomato soup and sandwiches. We are all excited for our first game later today against a U16 boys team at Aurelia's hometown field hockey club."


Sophomore Cassie Kline on day one in Holland.

Aurelia Meijer, sophomore, Hattem, The Netherlands

"What an exciting and memorable day Sunday has been! My Penn State field hockey family met my own family - my parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents -- as well as the close friends and neighbors who make up the Hattem Mixed Hockley Club. I am proud of them all.


"Since I was 10 years old, my family has lived in our house in Hattem, a small town not far from Zwolle. My parents' home is a very short walk to the HMHC field and clubhouse. Field hockey is the No. 1 sport in Holland, and clubs like ours are a central gathering place for training, competition and post-game celebrations enjoyed by players and supporters of all ages. It was great to show by Penn State friends and teammates this great hockey tradition.


"It's where I honed my skills for five years as a hockey player, from age 10 to 14. It is also where my father Xander, sister Sanderyn, and brothers Ijsbrand and Gilles still play today. And by today, with my brothers I mean Sunday! My Penn State team competed against the Hattem U16 team, which included Gilles, as well as a guest appearance by Ijsbrand. He's a tough player - I am so glad he didn't score.


"I have so many good memories of playing on that field, so it was great to have a chance to play there while representing Penn State. It was a chance for my teammates to absorb what hockey in The Netherlands is all about. Sometimes I tell the team that I miss my home, and I'm not sure they always understand. After my family hosted everyone for pre-game cakes and pies and juice and fruit- and herb-flavored water, they toured our house and nearby woods. Afterwards, so many of them told me, `Now we know what you mean!'


"It was a hard-fought game and although we lost, it meant a lot that several of my friends and club members came up to afterwards and said how impressed they were by my Penn State teammates and how we played just hours after flying here from the U.S.A. We gave our hosts T-shirts and pins. As is our Dutch custom, my club hosted my Penn State teammates for a big meal of pasta, salad, pastry (like our native soejes) and beverages - and lots of laughs and conversation. Our club is like Penn State...everyone is as close as family.


"My family really loves Penn State - and now, so does my club as well. And I know my teammates have a new appreciation for my hometown and country as well.


Aurelia Meijer with her brothers Ijsbrand (age 12, left) and Gilles (age 14, right), who competed for the Hattem Boys U16 team against Penn State on Sunday.

#PSUFH2Holland Snapshots - Day One

Day one in Holland following the team's first game.

The Nittany Lion flag flew over the playing field.

Goaltenders Colleen Conway (21) and Jenny Rizzo (5) watch a men's game prior to their contest on Sunday.

The Penn State FH team and the family of Aurelia Meijer enjoyed a pre-game get-together at the Meijer house in Hattem, The Netherlands, located adjacent to the Hattem Mixed Hockey Club (HMHC) field and clubhouse.

The Nittany Lions enjoy a bit of down time after arriving in The Netherlands.

Lions Eager for Rematch Against Maryland

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11918195.jpegBy Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 17 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten), takes on No. 3 Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Thursday.

Maryland, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, edged the No. 4 seed Penn State in April, with an 11-10 overtime win in Happy Valley.

Throughout the regular season, head coach Jeff Tambroni emphasized that the Nittany Lions were working towards more consistency, something he explained is still a work in progress.

"The consistency remains to be seen but there's no better time throughout the course of the season to have consistency than right now as we enter playoffs," said Tambroni.

The Nittany Lions will also build momentum off of last Saturday's win against Michigan to propel them into the post season. The dominant 14-9 win has given Penn State the last bit of motivation it needs after three tough losses in a row.

"It's that time of the year you hope to see these guys starting to peak in terms of their potential and I think we've got some guys who are really starting to bust out and that's what you hope happens toward the later part of the regular season going into playoffs," said Tambroni. "You hope you can get on a little bit of a run and allow these guys to enjoy all the work they've put in."

Tambroni indicated that with the shortened week between games, the coaching staff instead of changing strategies has encouraged the team to remain confident in their abilities.

Taking on the No. 1 team in the tournament presents its challenges, but also opportunities for the Nittany Lions. Playing a familiar team has allowed Penn State to prepare accordingly; something that Tambroni said he knows will help the Nittany Lions' performance.

At attack, the talented trio of freshman Grant Ament, junior Nick Aponte, and senior TJ Sanders will remain a strong presence, while other contributors like junior Matt Florence will be used during certain times that play to their strengths, such as on the man advantage. Florence is tied for third on the team in goals with Ament, both with 19. Sanders leads the team with 27, and Aponte is a close second with 26.

Tambroni will be looking toward his defensive players to remain strong against Maryland's relentless offense, but knows players like junior Peter Triolo and senior James Chakey are up to the task. Chakey collected 21 ground balls during the regular season and Triolo collected 14.

Lastly, sophomore goalkeeper Will Schreiner will hold down the defense in net. Schreiner made 123 saves during the regular season, and averaged a .469 save percentage.

"If you look on paper it's a first-team All-American going against [Schreiner] who wasn't projected to be a starter coming into this year," said Tambroni of the goalkeeper matchup. "If you look at save percentage you'd say that Maryland has the advantage, so we have to do a good job at protecting Will in the goal but also trusting Will."

The trust Tambroni has in Schreiner stems from his confidence that has built up throughout the season, as well as his leadership on defense. A starting goalkeeper as a sophomore, Schreiner has stepped into the pivotal role of being the backbone for the team and has improved with every performance.

"He's done a decent job at saving the ball, especially when we give up shots that are realistic saves," said Tambroni. "We will expect no different this weekend, but if we're going to beat Maryland, a team that is talented at both ends, we're going to have to hope for one of Will's better games if not his best game of the year."

Penn State faces off against Maryland Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Baltimore. The game will air on the Big Ten Network. 

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The job search is difficult for any student in college, especially one playing a Division I sport.  For the Penn State softball program that search has gotten a little easier, as Lee Beard and Elizabeth King have created a program to help current Nittany Lion softball players have future success in the real world. 


First, Lee Beard and her husband, William Beard, donated funding to create the brand new softball facility in October of 2009.  Now, Lee is positively affecting the futures of the players by donating her time. 

"The program that we've set up is really about providing networking, opportunities and some instruction, as well as mentoring for the softball team," said Beard. 

The idea was formulated by head coach Amanda Lehotak, who reached out to Beard and King last year in an effort to ensure future success for her student-athletes down the road.  Only less than a year from its conception, the program has already assisted many of the girls with gaining jobs and internships for this upcoming summer and beyond. 

Two seniors, Macy Jones and Christy Von Pusch, are going to be working at the same supply chain rotational program in North Carolina and will be roommates.  Senior Shannon Good will be attending Upstate Medical University in the fall.  Junior Sam Shanahan has accepted one of two offered internships in her home state of Washington at the University of Washington giving Sports Nutrition counseling to the student-athletes there.  Meanwhile, star pitcher and junior Marlaina Laubach has decided she will be working with children with autism, helping out in a special education program.

The program consists of frequent meetings about building LinkedIn profiles, resume workshops and etiquette dinners, among other things.  All of these skills are being taught by Lee and Elizabeth, who have extensive experience in the fields of banking and human resources.  

"Its been really helpful, the entire process, with both Elizabeth and Lee," said senior Reina Furuya, who is in the process of interviewing for her next step post-college.

"Elizabeth has been a successful VP with Starbucks for 18 years now.  Having that direct contact with her, learning her tips and [having them look] at our resumes and [having them] follow us through the entire process has been very helpful," she added.

King reflected on why she is lending a helping hand and why it is important for alumni to give back.

"When I was a student-athlete, there wasn't a program like this, and I think what has happened over the years is as the student part of the student-athlete has become more and more important.  Coaches like Coach Lehotak understand how critical it is to provide resources to the students to get them ready for after college."

The tradition that Beard and King have started with the softball program will likely spread to other Penn State sports, as the duo have also helped a Penn State swimmer better her skills during her interview process. 

Beard and King lending their time and effort to the softball team not only is helping the student-athletes themselves, but will also serve to help the community where these talented individuals will find themselves later on down the road. 

Levi Brown Still Maximizing Opportunity by Earning Third Degree

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1231422.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Levi Brown began looking at colleges as a high school student-athlete at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va., he had a couple things in his mind.

Firstly, Brown knew that no one in his family had ever obtained a college degree.

Secondly, he wanted to play on the defensive line in college.

Looking for a combination of academics and athletics, Brown leaned on his high school coach, Dave Hudak, for advice. It turns out that Hudak was fan of the way Penn State and coach Joe Paterno offered student-athletes elite academics and football at the highest level.

11916467.jpeg"It was a place where academic integrity and football could be put into one," Brown said. "Growing up in a house where I was taught that sports were a good thing to have, but education was more important than that. I felt like this was a place I needed to be. The stars aligned and everything worked out."

Following the guidance of his parents and coach, Brown selected Penn State as the place he wanted to attend. After all, it was one of just three programs that recruited Brown as a defensive player.

When he walked on campus as a student, Brown knew he had the opportunity of a lifetime and sought out to maximize what he had been given. That mindset began in 2002 when he started college. Nearly 14 years later, and Brown is still maximizing the Penn State experience.

After earning two undergraduate degrees and a successful career in the National Football League, Brown will graduate with a master's degree this week.

"My parents wished they had the opportunity to get a college degree and a chance to make more income and have a better life than what they grew up in," said Brown. "They instilled that into my sister (Brionna) and I. They urged us to go get an education and make our lives as good as they can be."

Knowing his football career could end at any moment, Brown worked tirelessly to achieve whatever was necessary to have a successful life after his playing days ended. From the moment he arrived, Brown still recalls words of wisdom Coach Paterno instilled in him.

"Coach Paterno reinforced the fact that football is here in the present, but it's just a game," said Brown. "There are more important things in life, and you need to be contributing member in society. Education is one way to do that. Having people like my family and Coach Paterno in my corner really pushed me to be a better person so that I could do these things in my life."

Things didn't exactly come easy for Brown in his first year at Penn State. Staring at becoming academically ineligible to compete on the football field, Brown turned to Todd Kulka and the academic support staff as mentors to help shape the rest of his time in the program. It was the first time in his life he'd been away from home, and the transition into college life was entirely new for the North Carolina native.

"It came to down to me bearing down and focusing on what I needed to do," said Brown. "If you wanted to be serious about getting a degree, you needed to focus. Having the academic staff in my corner really helped me turn things around that first year. And I just grew from there."

On the field, Brown overcame the hurdle of switching positions, something he wasn't too keen on at the time. But Coach Paterno had a vision for Brown as an offensive lineman. He knew that Brown could be successful, and in hindsight, it's safe to say that Brown can't really argue with the decision.

After redshirting in 2002, Brown started 45 of his 48 career games on the offensive line, earning second-team All-American and All-Big Ten honors in back-to-back seasons (2005 and 2006). Brown was instrumental in helping Penn State win the 2005 Big Ten Championship and the 2006 Orange Bowl, earning a 20-5 record his last two seasons.

FB Graduation - Dec13B6D8.jpgAfter three and a half years, Brown graduated with a degree in labor and industrial relations in December 2005. Rather than take the easy way out and have a light class load as a senior, he sought to finish a second degree.

"When I went college, I just felt like, 'look, I'm here and I need to make the most of this opportunity,'" said Brown. "I'm getting a free education and you get to play a sport that I loved. I tried to make the most of my opportunities."

In December 2006, Brown earned his second undergraduate degree in psychology. He then shifted attention to a master's degree.

"I told myself, if I'm going to be here, I'm not going to just take a golf course just to be eligible," said Brown. "I wanted to make the most of it, and see what I could do with the opportunity. It worked out."

The standout left tackle got a jumpstart in the master's program for human resources and employment relations because he had some room for a couple course spots to fill. A full course load in a master's program leads to completion in two years.

However, that third degree took a backseat when Brown was selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the fifth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, which is the highest Penn State selection during the past 15 years. In seven NFL seasons (six with Arizona and one in Pittsburgh), Brown played in 81 career games, which included 79 starts at tackle.

Despite making a living in the pinnacle of the sport he loved, Brown always had the master's degree on his mind.

Through the National Football League's tuition reimbursement program, Brown decided to finish what he had started in 2007. So in 2011, he began taking one master's course via Penn State's World Campus during each offseason. Brown worked as an intern at a law firm during the process, and he recently finished the research portion of the program by assisting a company with its human resource practices.

"With the NFL reimbursing it for me, there was no reason not to take advantage," said Brown. "At any time during my career, I could have gotten injured and cause my career to be cut short and not be able to make the money I was able to make. I needed to have something to fall back on if things didn't go the way I planned. That's what I did, and here I am ready to finish the masters program."

3903784.jpegHaving been part of a team nearly his whole life, Brown has aspirations of continuing to help lead individuals in the workforce by getting a foot in the door to do human resources work with a company.

Brown has been married to his wife, Lynette, since 2009. The two met at Penn State. Currently in the process of moving from Chandler, Ariz., to Austin, Texas, the Browns have three children, twin daughters, age 3, and a seven-month-old daughter.

When he opted to attend Penn State, Brown told himself that he was not going to pass up an opportunity to succeed. As the first member of his family to earn a degree, Brown will now have three diplomas from a world-renowned educational institution.

Penn State and football opened the door, but it was Brown's drive and initiative that fueled a journey maximized to its fullest.

"If you are going to start something, you need to finish it," said Brown.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2016 NFL Draft Roundup

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the 26th time, at least five Nittany Lion football products were selected in the NFL Draft.

Austin Johnson, Christian Hackenberg, Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Jordan Lucas were each selected as part of the 2016 NFL Draft, which was held in Chicago over the weekend. In total, there have now been 343 total selections for Penn State in the NFL Draft.

Take a look at highlights and more from the busy weekend with Penn State and the NFL Draft.

Round 2 (Pick 43) - Austin Johnson - Tennessee Titans

Round 2 (Pick 51) - Christian Hackenberg - New York Jets

Round 3 (Pick 65) - Carl Nassib - Cleveland Browns

Round 6 (Pick 202) - Anthony Zettel - Detroit Lions

Round 6 (Pick 204) - Jordan Lucas - Miami Dolphins

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Aponte, Ament, and Sanders Dynamic on Attack in Win Over Michigan

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team (8-6, 2-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (3-10, 0-5 Big Ten), 14-9 on Saturday afternoon, securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Contributions from several attackers were key for the Nittany Lions in their last regular season home game.

Junior attacker Nick Aponte reached for the ball in mid air, and the pass from freshman attacker Grant Ament found Aponte's stick. Dodging around a defender, Aponte threw the ball over his shoulder and it found the back of the net.

Aponte had scored his fourth goal of the game, with 11:39 left to go in the third quarter. On that goal, Ament picked up his third assist of the game.

In total, Aponte had four goals and one assist, while Ament had four assists and one goal.

The duo of Aponte and Ament have been on a hot streak recently, due in part to their innate ability to communicate almost seamlessly. Combined this season, the two have 45 goals and 51 assists.

Aponte is second on the team in goals with 26, edged only by senior attacker TJ Sanders who has 27. Ament leads the team in assists with 32 in the regular season.

"It's been really fun playing with him and learning from him," said Ament of Aponte. "Obviously because he's a little bit older and I've been learning some of his moves and vice versa."

Head coach Jeff Tambroni has also noticed the pair's success, and credits the young players' drive for pushing them through a tough middle part of the season. Penn State lost the last three games by just one goal, and bouncing back against Michigan was key to securing a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.

In addition to Aponte and Ament's success, Tambroni noted how he believed Sanders had stepped up his game and was more aggressive at attack on Saturday, which contributed to success on offense.

"I think those guys individually have been good all year so it was great to see those guys play a little bit more in collaboration with one another," said Tambroni.

Tambroni explained how he believed Sanders hadn't been playing up to the standards he'd set for himself, but against Michigan came out strong and finished off Senior Day with a win. Sanders had three goals and two assists.

"He was involved much more around the ball, not just shooting," said Tambroni. "I think as a senior it was great to walk off the turf here this afternoon with that kind of performance. His leadership in the offensive end was one of the biggest attributes of today's game."

After securing the win over Michigan, the Nittany Lions now look forward to the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Johns Hopkins will host the tournament, which starts on Thursday.

For now, the Nittany Lions will use the shorter week to reset and prepare.

"We needed that win after three straight losses," said Ament. "We do the simple things very well. We're obviously not the flashiest team, we're a hardworking team and that's what's got us in position for some good wins and I think if we got back to those simple things and just play hard and play smart the rest will kind of take care of itself."