By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Emerging victorious in its last six games, the
Penn State women's lacrosse team looks to keep the streak alive Sunday when it
takes on No. 7 Northwestern. This matchup will be a challenge, but the Nittany
Lions are more than ready for the test.
"It's going to be a really hard game," said head coach Missy Doherty. "I think
we're both sort of battling for the Big Ten and to be one of the few teams at
the top of the Big Ten. So, they're always very, very good, especially at home.
It's going to be quite a battle."
With Northwestern and Penn State both fresh off wins, it is clear the two teams
will be prepared. According to Doherty, her team will need to play strong
defensively, shutting down the Wildcats and handling the pressure they bring.
She also knows it will be important for the Lions to finish each and every
shot, putting the ball away as often as possible.
If Penn State does those few key things, the game will be theirs to take.
Nevertheless, captain Kelly Lechner believes there is one additional aspect the
team must excel in - the draw.
"We're really focusing on the draw because possession is key, especially
against a team like Northwestern," said Lechner. "We're just going to need the
ball and also staying calm under pressure. Like I just said, possession is key.
We don't want to lose it on opportunities that we shouldn't. We just need to
stay calm and keep the ball in our hands."
This season, the draw has consistently been one aspect the Nittany Lions feel
they can improve upon. Lechner has played a huge role, winning 30 draw controls
for the third most on the team. Jenna Mosketti and Ally Heavens are both first
and second in that category, respectively.
As the season has progressed, the Lions have steadily improved in that area,
which may correlate to their winning ways. With the team's six consecutive victories
and polished play as of late, it is not surprising it feels confident. Penn
State knows what it can accomplish, and this game against Northwestern will
only help the Nittany Lions gauge their level of play.
"I think our confidence is great, especially coming off that win against
Cornell," Lechner said. "We were looking at these last three games as kind of
our championship plays. You know, they're huge games and we really came
together at the right time during Cornell to piece together a whole game. So,
we still have some things we need to work on, but the team is definitely
confident, gelling together and working really well offensively and
Even with the Lions' belief in what they can accomplish in the remainder of the
season, the team will need to make sure it excels on the road. Including this
past week's game against Cornell, Penn State travels for its final three games of
the regular season.
While being away from home certainly is a factor, the Blue and White refuse to
let it affect their play. The team knows it can be successful each and every
time it steps on the field, regardless of whether or not it is in Happy Valley.
"I think it's good and bad being on the road," said Doherty. "It's nice to have
the team collectively together before games and preparing, but it's hard not to
be at your home turf. We're excited to get on the road, and certainly these
last two games are going to be a good measure of where we are."
The Nittany Lions are ready for Northwestern. With the way they are playing
right now, Penn State knows it can compete with any team.
"Our expectation is to play our best game of the season," Lechner said. "We
work on things every week. We don't think we've played our complete, whole best
game. So, we just want to compete for 60 minutes and really execute on the things
we've been working on."
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After finishing off the regular season with two
second-place finishes, there was doubt in how well the men's gymnastics team
could perform in the postseason. The Nittany Lions used that uncertainty and
their passion as motivation to finish off the 2014-15 season in a tremendous
Big Ten Championships
In front of 1,060 fans inside Rec Hall, the Penn State men's gymnastics
team completed a perfect home record by capturing its third Big Ten title with
a score of 436.700 after edging by Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State,
Iowa and Nebraska in a vigorous battle that came down to the final set.
Junior Trevor Howard ended the championship on floor exercise with a score
of 15.100 to let Penn State secure the conference crown.
Howard, senior Matthew Felleman, freshman Thad Lawson, senior captain Tristian
Duverglas, redshirt-sophomore Leroy Clare, Jr., senior Craig Hernandez and
junior Alexis Torres all competed in the individual event finals.
Howard competed in four individual event finals, the most of any gymnast,
and seized the lone individual title of the night for Penn State. He defended
his Big Ten still rings title from the year prior.
After finishing the Big Ten Championships with a score of 87.200, Felleman earned
the Big Ten all-around title. He also placed second on high bar and was named
an honoree alongside Howard for the first team All-Big Ten team.
The men's gymnastics team built on its momentum from the Big Ten victory as
they went to the NCAA Championships two weeks later. They finished the season
with a third-place finish inside Lloyd Noble Center in Oklahoma.
"I was really pleased that they rose to the occasion," said head coach
Randy Jepson. "There were some really dramatic moments, but it could have been a
far different result than what it was and our guys really showed a lot of heart
to finish through it, just shy of second, and I was really pleased with the
team's performance overall and how the individuals did, as well."
In the qualifiers last Thursday, the Nittany Lions finished third with a
score of 432.900, two-tenths higher than Minnesota, to advance to Friday's NCAA
The situation was similar to the Big Ten Championships where it came down
to the final performance on floor exercise. Sophomore Christian McSwain,
sophomore Dominic DiFulvio, freshmen Thad Lawson and Felleman had great
performances to bring the team close to qualifying. Howard tied his career-best
of 15.800 to help the team advance to the team finals.
"I was just focusing on the there-and-now, and not really in the past, but
just getting through the set and making sure to do the best that I could," said
In the team finals, the Nittany Lions followed behind Oklahoma and Stanford
to be the third best team in the country. It was Penn state's highest finish
since they placed third in 2012.
"We had a lot to prove after the first day, having the mistakes, but overall,
I think we made a strong statement in competition against the other big teams
as well as the national team members," said Lawson. "I think we went out there
and proved our worth."
Lawson captured the NCAA individual title on floor exercise in the
"[Lawson] was great," said coach Jepson. "He was rough the first day, but
fortunately, we qualified in and he got a second day and he was perfect, nearly
flawless. It was probably the best routine of his life and that's the time to
do it. I was really impressed that he was that focused and knew what he had to
do and that he went out and did it."
Lawson tallied as the fourth national champion in floor exercise in Penn
State history and is the second one in the past three years.
"It definitely is a sign to any other team and it proves our dominance on
[floor exercise] as well as being the force to be reckoned with on that event
and it definitely keeps me with high expectations looking into the future as
well as people, recruits and people that come to this team and what we expect,"
The last freshman to earn the NCAA floor exercise title was Howard in 2013.
Due to injury, Howard was unable to compete in the individual finals, but he
was ecstatic for his teammate's accomplishment.
"It's awesome," said Howard. "[Lawson] trained so hard and he's been having
injuries with his back for years now since his previous injury, so him coming
out and winning floor was definitely a huge motivational thing for him and I'm
really happy for him...I was definitely really disappointed I couldn't compete,
but the team needed me more than just individually, so being able to go out and
help the team more than myself is always just an honor."
Even with Howard out of the finals, he was still able to provide advice for
"I always tell [Lawson] to be calm, not worry about the scoreboard, just
doing you will have the outcome that you want," said Howard. "I think he really
took that to heart and it showed."
Though Lawson is a national champion, he still has plans to improve.
"I've proven myself this year on floor and I came out with a win, but
definitely still have work to do," said Lawson. "We all do. For me, it's time
to prove myself on the other events."
Duverglas, Clarke, Jr., Torres and Felleman also competed in the individual
event finals. They each finished in the top-six for their events. All four of
them and Lawson recorded All-America honors. Howard also tallied All-American
with a fourth-place finish in the all-around.
"[The team] is excited about what the future holds and we have a busy
summer ahead of us with some training and competition and development, so
that's kind of where we're headed and the guys are really upbeat and excited
about where they can go and what they can do next year," said coach Jepson.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will wrap up spring drills on Saturday
afternoon at the annual Blue-White Game Presented by AAA inside Beaver Stadium,
marking the culmination of a productive spring practice season. The game will
kick at 4 p.m. with live television coverage from BTN. Both parking and admission are free.
Penn State made significant progress on both sides of the ball and on special
teams during the allotted practice period for spring drills. Saturday's game
marks the final opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the team before
the start of training camp in early August.
"We've had a great spring. The fact that we returned our entire staff was
really valuable," head coach James Franklin said. "I think we are the only
staff in the Big Ten that did that. I think that has been helpful in building
on the foundation we laid last year."
In year two under Franklin and the coaching staff, the Nittany Lions have been
productive every time they have stepped on the field since practice began on
March 20. With increased knowledge of the schemes, practice routine and more
depth, the Lions have been able to approach this spring differently than they did
one year ago.
"It's night and day (between this year and last year)," said Franklin. "...We
have more depth. We have more bodies. Just across the board, the players
understand the expectation. I think we are in a situation now where we have
everybody on the same page. It's not even close. Our practices have been able
to be more a little bit more aggressive and a little bit more physical because
of the depth that we have. Just across the board, from top to bottom, it's like
watching a different team.
While Saturday's game will be a fun way for the
team to put on a show for the fans, it's a chance for the players and staff to work through typical
"I think it's a great opportunity for us to get out in front of a crowd," quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. "It's a great weekend for the fans because there is so much
going on. It's a little bit of a show, but at the same time it's work. A lot of
these guys have never really had reps in front of fans at this level. It's a
great opportunity to go out, have fun and immerse yourself in what a gameday
The work to prepare for 2015 is just beginning for the Nittany Lions, but the spring period set the
tone for the rest of the academic semester and summer conditioning program.
Franklin is very optimistic about the direction the team is headed in, and he
is looking forward to getting in front of the Beaver Stadium crowd.
"Spring has gone really well in all three phases," said Franklin. "We still
have a lot of work to do. We still have a lot of progress that we are going to
need to make between now and the start of the season against Temple at Lincoln
Financial Field. We are excited. We are excited about playing the spring game.
We are hoping to have a good crowd. The weather is supposed to be great."
Take a look through some Blue-White items to watch as the Nittany Lions wrap up
spring practice for 2015.
Autograph Session Returns The popular pre-game autograph session returns for the second-straight
year. Parking lots around Beaver Stadium will open at 8 a.m. The team will
arrive at the South Tunnel at approximately 12:30 p.m. Gates A and B will open
at 1 p.m. before the autograph session on the field from 1:15-2 p.m.
Fans are asked to enter the field through the South Tunnel. The offensive
players will be signing on the West side of the field (please enter through
gate B) and the defensive squad will be on the East side (please enter through
gate A). Fans will go through the single-file line and get autographs from either
the offense or defense before exiting the field through the North Tunnel. Those
seeking additional autographs will need to return to the South Tunnel the
re-enter the line. The players will be permitted to sign one item per person to give as
many fans as possible an opportunity to meet the squad. The players will not be
available for photographs during the autograph session.
Game Format The Blue-White Game will feature regular scoring. The squad
has been split into a Blue team and a White team. Quarterbacks will wear the
opposite jersey color of their team (Blue team QBs will wear White jerseys;
White team QBs will wear Blue jerseys). The game will have four quarters, each
15 minutes in length. The first quarter will have normal game timing. Quarters two,
three and four will feature a running clock. There will be 22-minute halftime
intermission. Prior to the 4:06 p.m. kickoff, a placekicking competition will
be held on the field. Prior to the start of the second half, a punting
competition will be held on the field.
Blue-White Game Rosters Take a look through the breakdown of the roster for Saturday's game. Note
that the coaching staff has been split into two groups.
Uplifting Athletes Jerseys For the second-straight year, the Nittany Lions will wear special one-game
only jerseys at the Blue-White Game to help raise funds for Uplifting Athletes.
The Blue and White jerseys will feature an Uplifting Athletes patch. Following
the game, 20 of the game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off with the proceeds benefitting
the Kidney Cancer Association. Last July, the 12th Annual Penn State Uplifting
Athletes Lift For Life raised a record $140,000. Last year's fundraising
efforts brought the cumulative total of funds raised to more than $1 million to
benefit the Kidney Cancer Association. The 13th Annual Lift For Life is slated
for July 11. Details on the game-word auction will be announced soon.
Also announced this week, AAA Southern Pennsylvania will donate to the Penn
State chapter of Uplifting Athletes for each photo posted from Saturday's
Blue-White activities on Twitter using the hashtag #AAABlueWhite.
McGloin Back in Beaver Stadium The last time Matt McGloin stepped into Beaver Stadium with a working role
on a gameday, he helped lead Penn State to a thrilling 24-21 victory over
Wisconsin on Senior Day in 2012. The West Scranton native and current Oakland Raider
will be back on Saturday, serving as an analyst for the Big Ten Network during
the live broadcast of the Blue-White Game.
McGloin broke nine school records and tied another during his stellar senior
season, which culminated in winning the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy for the nation's
outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on. McGloin
still holds the Penn State record for: passing yards in a season (3,266; 2012),
completions in a season (270; 2012), touchdowns in a season (24; 2012), career
touchdowns (43) and completions in a game (35; vs. Northwestern, 2012). The game is also airing on more than 30 Penn State Sports
Network radio stations across the state and in metropolitan New York City, with
Steve Jones and Jack Ham calling the action. ESPN Radio (1450 AM) and WBUS (93.7 FM) are the State
College outlets. The game also is available on GoPSUsports.com.
Jeff Gordon Penn State Car on Display It was announced this week that NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon will race a
special Penn State themed No. 24 car during the June 7 Sprint Cup Series race
at Pocono Raceway. A show car featuring the special paint scheme will be on
display beginning Saturday morning along Curtin Road near the All-Sports
Museum. The car will also make a brief appearance inside Beaver Stadium during
halftime of the game.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Weekends never are a vacation for the Penn State baseball team.
That's because the Nittany
Lions typically have a series against a Big Ten team from Friday to Sunday.
This weekend will be no different, when the Lions hit the road to face
Minnesota in a three-game test.
As important as those games
are, that doesn't mean the Lions don't take the rest of their schedule seriously,
something they proved this week by winning back-to-back contests against West
Virginia (5-3) and Bucknell (11-2).
"These games are huge," head
coach Rob Cooper said. "These games are just as important to us as the
conference games, because at the end of the day, they all go towards our
record. As we go forward, these games go towards whether you're good enough to
play in a regional. They're important."
Though it would be easy for
the Lions to get complacent against non-conference teams, they have a done a
good job staying locked in no matter their opponent as of late. Since March 17,
Penn State is 6-1 in midweek contests.
No only does every game
affect the Lions record and keep them sharp for the weekends, they also give
some of team's less heralded players the chance to prove themselves.
On Wednesday against
Bucknell, it was a pair of sophomores in pitcher Tom Mullin and outfielder Nick
Riotto that responded to those opportunites. Typically a reliever, Mullin gave
up just one run in five innings in his first career start while Riotto went 1
for 2 with an RBI single and scored three runs in his 15th start of
"A perfect example is Nick
Riotto, who's had two really good games," said Cooper. "If we didn't look at
these games as important than, well right now I'm really thinking that we
probably need to have him in the lineup somehow Friday. But if we didn't look
at these games the exact same way that wouldn't be a consideration.
"[Tonight] shows that Tom can
do it. If someone gets hurt or down the road if we need someone to start he
showed he can do it. I'm proud of him because it's part of the whole learning
In Minnesota, the Lions will face a team that is 13-19 and just one spot ahead
of them in the conference standings. While Penn State's last two weekends
brought tough challenges in Ohio State (24-9) and Michigan (21-16), the players
aren't looking past the Gophers.
After all, the Lions know
first hand how tightly contested games in the Big Ten can be, having beaten
Michigan and Indiana once while losing to Ohio State by one twice. With the
Gophers coming off a 13-5 win over North Dakota State on Tuesday, both teams
will be riding some momentum into the series.
"These past two games are
huge, especially going into this weekend," sophomore shortstop Jim Haley said.
"We're not trying to put a Big Ten in front of it, I mean it's an important
series for us, but we're just trying to carry that momentum over and at the
minimum play 27 innings, just play our game."
With five Big Ten weekends
left this season, the Lions aren't looking to waste games against anyone. As
challenging as this season has been at times, the Lions feel good having won
two straight and four of their last six.
"[Our morale] is definitely
up right now," Mullin said. "After Michigan I would say it was tough, but
yesterday it was up after that win (over West Virginia)."
"Our team morale is
definitely up," Haley added. Maybe we didn't have the result we wanted against
Michigan but day in and day out, from the lift to the practice, our morale is
up, it has to be."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa. - Before the final home game of the regular season, Penn State men's
lacrosse will honor nine graduating seniors. Playing at home for a final time,
seniors Kyle Baier, JP Burnside, Jack Donnelly, Brian Gerrato, Pat Manley, Ryan
Mullen, Michael Richards, Taylor Stothoff, and Kyle Zittel look to win one last
game in Happy Valley.
Tasked with leading
their young team during their first season as members of the Big Ten lacrosse
conference, the class of 2015 met many obstacles along the way. The leadership
of the senior class will easily be one of their lasting legacies.
Head coach Jeff
Tambroni is fond of this senior class because it was one of the first classes
he recruited as Penn State. Tambroni has been able to see the young players he
brought in four or five years ago transition and grow into better players but
also respectable young men.
"I would measure
the significance of this group in the quality of their character," said
Tambroni. "I don't think statistically you can quantify what this group meant
because some of these guys have just not played a lot of minutes for our
program over the last four years, yet have still really contributed a great
deal in the locker room, on campus, and within the community. In a limited
amount of time some of them have done a wonderful job of contributing on the
may be overshadowed, but that doesn't mean the senior class has not made an
impact. Falling in behind sole captain Kyle Zittel, the senior class quickly
set the tone for what was expected from their younger teammates, whether it was
their attitude in practices or their mentality on game days.
"Looking at Kyle
Zittel I think he is someone that is symbolic of the entire class," said
Tambroni. "He has done really well in the classroom, he's super involved in the
community, and has become a leader of our program because of the quality of his
character and because of his integrity."
During its time at Penn State, the senior class has made many memories, both on
and off the field. Some moments will forever stand out in the minds of the
"For me [my
favorite memory] was our 4-2 double overtime win against Notre Dame our
freshman year," said senior Jack Donnelly. "[It] was just an unbelievable game;
a great experience. At that point we were pretty much nobodies so it was a real
eye-opening experience for a lot of us. I think that really just sparked a
passion for a lot of us."
Triumphs on the
field will certainly be highlights for the senior class, but for others, the
moments that happen behind the scenes will forever be their favorites.
remember most of the stuff off the field, in the locker room, with teammates,
during practice," said senior Taylor Stothoff.
Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff have become very fond of their
senior class. During a time of great transition, the seniors faced many
challenges and led their team head-on into the fight. The class of 2015 paved
the way for Penn State men's lacrosse for years to come and has set the
foundation for Penn State's time as a member of Big Ten lacrosse.
"From what we have
seen as a coaching staff, this class has meant a lot in the transition of this
program from where we were and where we'd like to be," Tambroni said. "They'll
be remembered by our coaching staff as a class that really did a lot to allow
that bridge to happen."
As the class of
2015 looks ahead to their last few games as a Nittany Lions, the seniors want
to end their reign in Happy Valley on a high note. For now, Sunday's game
against Rutgers is just one more game for the departing 2015 class to leave
their mark on.
Penn State hosts
Rutgers on Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
By Sean Donnelly, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State tradition of being
champions on the field, in the classroom and the community is well documented.
This year was no different, as 292 student-athletes were honored for their
achievements on and off the field.
Everybody was on-hand in President's Hall at the Penn Stater for the 28th
Annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet on Monday to celebrate. A total
of 370 awards were handed out to student-athletes this year.
"This is a great celebration of what we're all about, which is an educational
opportunity for over 800 student-athletes every year for Penn State." said
Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. "Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics serves
as a connection for the largest alumni group in the country."
After serving eight months as Athletic Director, Barbour could not be prouder
of how well student-athletes represent their sport and institution.
"The expectations here are to compete for national championships and to compete
in the athletic venue," said Barbour. "But it's much more than that. The awards
tonight really speak to what Penn State is all about. It's not about numbers.
It's about people, passion and purpose. I'll match our passion and expertise
against anybody's across the country."
Lady Lion Tori Waldner served as 2014-15 Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB)
President. An Academic All-Big Ten selection, Waldner understands the importance
and tradition of taking a Penn State education seriously.
"I think there's a precedent there that has been set," said Waldner. "The staff
has made it a point to make sure we do well, and coaches hold us to a really
Student-athletes hold themselves accountable and to a higher standard when
attending Penn State. They know how important an education is, and that a Penn
State degree has value.
"When you come in, you know you have to do well," said Waldner. "I've learned
from a lot of different people. Not just from my professors or coaches, but
other leaders around me."
Penn State finished with 285 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, five of which had a
4.0 GPA for the 2013-14 academic year. The combined GPA of varsity men and
women's sports was 3.08, with 19 teams earning a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Penn State competes fiercely with the rest of the country in all 31 sports, but
the fiercest competition was for the Milton K. Morgan Jr. Highest Team GPA
Award. In the end, men's golf and field hockey was victorious. Men's golf,
which had seven Academic All-Big Ten selections, took home the Milton K. Morgan
Jr. Highest Team GPA Award for all sports.
Since 1988, only four men's teams have taken home the coveted Highest Team GPA
Award. This year was the third for men's golf.
The Nittany Lion Club "True Grit" Awards were the most powerful highlight of
the night. Glen Burkhardt from men's track and field battled injuries
throughout his collegiate career. His passion for his sport and dedication to
his rehab has to led to him finally achieving his goal in wearing the Penn
State uniform. Through it all, he was still able to set personal records.
The next recipient of the True Grit Award was Mallory Weber from women's
soccer, who has shown a tremendous amount of courage and resilience in the face
of serious adversity in her collegiate career. After helping lead her club to
the Elite 8, Weber was named team captain for her senior year.
The biggest individual honor of the night came in the form of the Big Ten Medal
of Honor. The highest distinction in student-athlete academics, only 28
student-athletes are given the award each year. Nia Grant from women's
volleyball and Matt Brown from wrestling attained the greatest proficiency in
athletic and scholastic work.
A leader on the court for the women's volleyball team, back-to-back national
champion and two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree Nia Grant earned 2013-14 Big
Ten Distinguished Scholar Athlete honors. She is currently training for the
World University Games representing her country in South Korea alongside fellow
Nittany Lion, Micha Hancock.
A three-time All-American and national champion, Matt Brown's collegiate career
outside of athletics is equally as impressive. Brown is a two-time first-team
national All-Academic winner from the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Coming up this May, Brown will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the
U.S. Army and expects to specialize in military intelligence with the
Pennsylvania National Guard. Brown will also continue training for the 2016
Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"It shows that they have the right priorities," said Brown referring to Penn
State Athletic's emphasis on education. "The Morgan Center in particular
focuses on the right things in helping us do our very best in the classroom.
It's shown I can get a good education while competing in my sport and in my
field. The professors are top notch. I love it here."
For Russell Mushinsky, Director of the Morgan Academic Support Center for
Student Athletes, the accomplishments of those in attendance reaffirmed what
Penn State culture is all about.
"It's all about the student-athlete experience," said Mushinsky. "Making sure
they're getting a quality education, supported in the classroom, reaching academic
and career goals, and reaching all types of accomplishments in their sports."
While capturing 16 Big Ten championships and five NCAA titles since September
2012, Penn State has continued to shatter academic records, including 241 Dean's
List recipients for 2014 fall semester.
"That balance is something that has been evident as long as Penn State
Athletics has been in place and that culture has always been here. This group
tonight just continued that tradition. It's a group we're really proud of and
is something that's really important to the people at Penn State."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student
PARK, Pa.- The alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. You get dressed, pack your bag, and
make your way to a 7:00 a.m. training session. You're tired, you're sore and
the regular season hasn't even begun yet. This is otherwise known as the
off-season is meant to test you, challenge you and make you question why you
love the game. That way, when you take the field during the first game, you
know your purpose and take pride in putting on the jersey. Penn State field
hockey's head coach, Charlene Morett-Curtiss, believes the off-season is meant
for much more than morning workouts and afternoon shooting practice: it is a
time to give back.
course of her storied career at Penn State, Morett-Curtiss has always made it a
point to get her team involved. From Penn State sponsored charities, to the
Special Olympics or volunteering their time with Youth Field Hockey, this team
is always lending a hand and skills to the community.
we recruit kids to come to Penn State, we want them to have a well rounded
experience," Morett-Curtiss said. "Being apart of this program and
Penn State is so much more than just playing. You have to give back to the
community and support them like they support you."
past few years, there hasn't been a THON where the field hockey team wasn't
present, either on the dance floor, at athlete hour, or both. This year, senior
Laura Gebhart and junior Beth Mink, danced the full 46 hours and played pick-up
field hockey games with the kids.
me, the physical and mental challenge of standing for 46 hours was a small
glimpse of the fatigue these families have to go through when dealing with
pediatric cancer," Gebhart said. "I am forever grateful for the
interactions I had and the stories I heard. I have so much respect for
those families, and I'm happy we can help in some small way."
hits home even more because Renee Messina is our team athletic trainer and as
many in the field hockey family know, her daughter, Isabella had cancer very
young in life," Mink said. "Knowing the type of person Renee is, I
felt in my heart that I wanted to do something meaningful for their family and
I know Laura felt the same. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am
so blessed and thankful I had the opportunity to be apart of something so
breathtaking. The memories from that weekend I will hold onto forever and I
will never forget all the people who helped me along the way and gave me the
chance to dance in THON."
from THON, the team is very active with the Special Olympics and actively
participate in the Paterno Family Run every year. Even Morett-Curtiss and her
coaching staff participate in the run to raise awareness and funds for Special
is important to us to come together as a team, as a family and participate in
great events like this," Morett-Curtiss said.
family is one that you have for life, as the Penn State field hockey alumni
have a very active and influential presence with the team. The alumni will be
back in town this weekend to play in the annual Blue White Alumni Game, on
April 18 at 11:30 a.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - You often learn the most about a competitor in
the face of adversity.
When things are going well, it's easy to be a leader and set an example.
But when you never waver under fire, that's when an individual shows mettle and
earns the utmost respect from his peers.
Regardless of the score, team record or how many times he gets knocked to the
mat, the approach and undying will to win never changes for Penn State's
That's what makes him unique.
No one wants to win more than Christian Hackenberg. And no one believes the
team can win every time it steps on the field more than Hackenberg. His
competitiveness permeates through the locker room because of the way he works
to be the best.
And he doesn't settle for anything less.
Rather than dwell on any shortcomings in 2014, Hackenberg viewed the winter and
spring practice periods as opportunities to understand why things transpired
the way they did and turn any negatives into positives and turn all of the
positives into bigger positives.
"This spring has been a lot about focusing on us and what we
need to do as an entire offensive unit, and I think we've done a great job with
that," said Hackenberg. "It's gone really well for us, and I think we've gotten
better every day."
Buoyed by a record-breaking performance in the Pinstripe Bowl, Hackenberg and
the Penn State offense have taken the strong finish to 2014 and run with it. To
a man, the game reps from 2014 have led to more comfort and more comfort has
led to greater confidence. That starts with the man in the center of the
"For me, it's being as genuine as I can with everything and working as hard as
I can," Hackenberg said. "I think that's the biggest asset of any good leader,
it's earning the respect of everyone else with how you work. I feel a little
more comfortable this year. And it's about showing people that you hold
yourself to the same standard that you hold everyone else to."
A starter in his first 25 games on campus, Hackenberg has played superb
football this spring, and his growth in the offensive system is apparent every
time he steps on the field. The unit's collective growth is certainly a
byproduct of this being year two in the scheme, but Pinstripe Bowl MVP is a big
piece to that puzzle.
"I think this spring it has been my confidence in the entire scheme and getting
the ball to guys and letting them go make plays instead of trying to go make
the plays myself," said Hackenberg. "I think that's the biggest part about being
a good quarterback, being able to distribute the ball, executing the offense,
managing the game and making sure that we stay on track. Making that a focus
has been big. I've really tried to understand when to make the smart play and
when to make the spectacular play and when you need to do those things and when
At this time last year, he was the voice in the huddle and the man
orchestrating the show on the field when things were new to everyone. And thus,
Hackenberg had a big burden on his shoulders to make sure each individual unit
within the offense understood how to execute. It was a steep learning curve for
a true sophomore, and in a lot of ways, Hackenberg's team-first attitude of
ensuring that the offensive units grew hindered some of the things he wanted to
work on individually.
But this spring has taken on a much different tone. The offense's growth has
aided Hackenberg in his growth, and it has been a win-win for the Virginia native
and the offense as a whole.
"With everyone coming along so well this spring, it has given me the
opportunity to focus on things in my game that need improvement. There are
always things I need to work on," said Hackenberg. "I know these guys are going
to hold me to a high standard because I'm doing the same for them. And that's
something that has been awesome for me to do this spring."
His development as a player is evident watching the Virginia native take
command of the offense and throw the ball, but it's the subtle differences in
leadership that have elevated the rising junior to another level as a complete
It's a regular occurrence on the practice field that you see Hackenberg pulling
a young player aside to teach an aspect of the offense or offer insight as to
what he might be seeing.
"I just think the fact that everybody is on the same page allows Christian to
be the type of leader that he wants to be and we know he can be," head coach
James Franklin said. "Leadership is so important at the quarterback position,
and I think the other thing that is really important as a leader is when the
leader is reinforcing the overall message...And that fact that we are now all
aligned, year two has allowed that to happen."
With one practice left before Saturday's Blue-White Game Presented by AAA (4
p.m. on BTN), consistency is the name of the game for Hackenberg and the
offense. Sure Saturday is an opportunity for the team to showcase its progress
since the bowl game, but Hackenberg wants to see the unit execute and use the
game as springboard towards the summer workout period and the start of training
"Last year, a lot of guys were forced to play for the first time," Hackenberg
said. "That's tough, especially up front with the amount of focus teams are
putting on defensive fronts and schemes up front. That was difficult last year
because no one had seen a lot of that stuff until we were in a game. But they
started to get it towards the end of the year, and this offseason they have
done a great job getting in better physical shape and you can definitely see
the difference in everybody this spring."
Always humble, Hackenberg sees a difference in the play in those around him.
The same is true for the player wearing No. 14.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Mike Esse,GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Before the start of his sophomore season, pitcher
Tom Mullin set a goal for himself. The relief pitcher wanted to change his role
on the team and earn at start in the Blue and White. Before Tuesday's game with
West Virginia, Mullin finally received the news he was looking for: He was set
to start Wednesday at home against Bucknell.
"He was pumped," head coach Rob Cooper said. "He was
And, he was grateful for the chance to fulfill his goal.
"I was happy that Coach Cooper and the other coaches gave
me the opportunity to do that and I just wanted to take advantage of it,"
Took advantage of it, he did. Only 10 pitches were thrown
to Bucknell's hitters in the first inning, one of which yielded a hit. After
getting the first inning of his first career start out of the way, his
teammates gave him some help.
Penn State came out firing in the first inning posting five
runs on five hits, including a Tyler Kendall two RBI double with two outs.
After seeing 10 Penn State hitters bat in the
first, Mullin came out for his second inning of work. Almost identical to the
first, he only faced four hitters, allowing one hit. Through two innings, he
had only faced eight Bucknell hitters and his team posted the same number of
runs, getting three more in the second to race out to an 8-0 lead.
Mullin said the early lead allowed him to settle into a
"It's always nice to
have the offense come in with eight runs in the first two innings and it calms
your nerves and allows you to go on cruise control and work pitch-by-pitch," he
He then continued to plow through the Bison lineup, downing
Bucknell hitters in order in the third. Then in the fourth is when Mullin got
his first taste of adversity. He gave up a single, fielder's choice and a Bison
reached via error to load the bases with one out.
After a Bison single to make the score 8-1, the sophomore
righty settled back in and finished the job, getting out with just one run
"I just wanted to gather myself and make pitches," he said
of the jam in the fourth.
In the dugout after the fourth, Cooper and pitching coach
Brian Anderson deliberated whether or not to allow Mullin to continue for the
fifth inning. After a quick chat with Mullin, they found their answer.
"We were at a pitch limit with him a little bit and we were
getting close to it and Coach Anderson asked told him he was getting close and
he said 'I want one more inning, I'll get three more outs for you' and he did,"
Mullin retired Bucknell in order in the fifth to finish
with a sparkling line of five innings pitched allowing just four hits and zero
earned runs on 67 pitches.
Penn State's head coach wouldn't say if Mullin's start will
lead to more in the near future, but it was a good sign that Mullin went out
and proved he can be a starter.
"It shows that he can do it so if somebody gets hurt or
down the road we need somebody to start, he showed he can do it," Cooper said.
I'm proud of him because it's part of the whole learning process."
Penn State got the win 11-2 to improve to 12-20 on the
By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student
Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-Penn State softball battled to earn both
wins in Wednesday night's doubleheader against rival Ohio State. Although
the team started behind in both games, the Blue and White stayed focus to come
out on top.
think these games really allowed our kids to bounce back from Indiana and gave
them some confidence back and that's huge right now," said head coach Amanda Lehotak.
Both Penn State and Ohio State battled
but PSU proved how hungry it was for the wins.
"I'll take two
ugly wins over a pretty loss any day," said
Lehotak. Although it wasn't the best looking series I'm proud of
the way the team fought back and got the wins.
Starting the first game off strong, the
Blue and White jumped onto the scoreboard during the third inning where Penn
State made a three-point trail into a tied ball game.
Kristina Brackpool's homer in the bottom of the sixth secured the
victory for Penn State when she hit in two additional runs.
Moving on that momentum, the team held
at the plate and in the field to end the game in a 7-6 victory.
definitely were hungry for the win tonight,"said Brackpool. "Ohio State is such a deep routed rivalry
anytime we face each other it's going to be an intense game and I'm going to do
anything I can to help my team win."
Starting the second game off slower than
the first, the Nittany Lions trailed OSU 6-0 until the fifth inning.
The Lions stayed relaxed at the plate and
started to get on base. A double by Lexi Knief brought in the first run for the
team and would be the start of a game-changing inning for Penn State.
An added pinch-hit single by Shannon Good
helped Penn State climb its way back from a 6-0 trail to 6-4 game.
With bases loaded and Brackpool up to
bat, the sophomore hit a grand slam and gave her team its first lead of the
game.Coming out of the inning, Penn State made
sure to protect the lead with strong defense and great pitching by Jessica
Cummings. She only allowed one hit over the final three innings of the game to
help her team maintain the lead.
threw a really good game tonight and we always want to make sure we're playing
our best defensive game to make it easier on our pitchers,"said Kristina Brackpool.
The Lions kept the momentum going into
the sixth inning, with Pond sending a two-run shot over the left field fence
and Brackpool adding an RBI double to center.
Proving it's never too late in the game for a
turnaround, the Nittany Lions defeated the Buckeyes 11-6 for a series sweep.
"We're at the
point were every game is an important game in the season. This series prepared us
big time for Maryland. Ohio State and Maryland are both good teams but they
also show some similarity especially in pitching styles,"said coach Lehotak.
Coming off a big win over the Buckeyes,
the Nittany Lions are excited to play new conference foe Maryland this weekend.
think if we perform like we did tonight and clean up some little things, we'll give
Maryland a good fight," said coach Lehotak.
Penn State is 23-20 overall with a 6-8
record in Big Ten play.