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Men's Hockey Media Day Sights & Sounds

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By Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky entered the Pegula Ice Arena media room Thursday afternoon, eager to talk about the upcoming season. 

Gadowsky started by praising last year's team's efforts, noting the loss of some key players to graduation and NHL contract signing, that has left some holes to be filled this season. 

The departure of goaltenders Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam has provided an opportunity for sophomore returner Chris Funkey and for a new face, freshman Peyton Jones, to compete for a starting spot between the pipes. 

"In the goaltending position we really make it clear that we evaluate on numbers," Gadowsky said. "[We evaluate] on wins and losses, your goals against, your save percentage and then your work ethic, commitment and how you are as a teammate and how well you represent Penn State University."  

Both Funkey and Jones have different styles of goaltending. Jones uses his size to his advantage in order to make big saves, Funkey comes out of the net and challenges opposing team's offense more. Both styles are very different but could be useful this season. The ability to switch up styles in net could be crucial down the road. 

The Nittany Lions, who have been working out under the direction of their captains, senior forward David Goodwin, senior forward Ricky DeRosa, and junior forward James Robinson, are looking to build off of last season's successes. The upperclassmen, eager to return to the ice at Pegula, are also excited to see the newest members of the team contribute early on. 

The freshman class, made up of 10 capable young players, has depth unlike any previous class to sport the Blue and White. The added certainty that comes with having such capable young players is something Goodwin appreciates.

"It's a lot different in practice, there were some games last year where we were dressing 10 forwards," Goodwin said. "Now you look at the board before practice and you have five-plus lines of forwards. I think it's been great for internal competition but also at the same time we know if there's injuries or guys aren't playing well it'll kind of be next man up."

Although the freshman class does make up nearly half the team, Gadowsky emphasized that he will be looking toward the veteran presence on defense to start the season off strong. Returning defensemen like Vince Pedrie, Kevin Kerr, and Erik Autio will be essential to the team's early successes.

The first test of the season for the Nittany Lions is this Sunday, as Penn State hosts Queen's (Ontario) for an exhibition game at 1 p.m. 


By Alyssa Palfey, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Redshirt sophomore Tessa Barrett of Waverly, Pa., was recently named USTFCCCA DI National Athlete of the week and Big Ten cross country Co-Athlete of the Week.


Barrett earned these honors after winning and breaking the meet record at Penn State's annual Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational on Sept. 10th. Barrett broke the 16-year-old meet record, formerly held by Michigan's Katie Jazwinski, by more than 20 seconds.


Barrett also competed in the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational as a redshirt freshman in September 2015, where she placed sixth overall, placing 5 spots higher this year as she won the invitational. Her time of 20:31 this year was over a minute faster than what she ran in 2015 at this meet (21:43). Barrett has shown great improvement since last year and continues to show improvement as the season goes on.


Winning these great honors of USTFCCCA National Athlete of the week and Big Ten cross country Co-Athlete of the week took Barrett by surprise.


"I was surprised and humbled to have been named the USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week," said Barrett. "Across the country, there were many great performances that weekend, so I feel very honored and grateful to have received that recognition."


Along with the USTFCCCA DI National Athlete recognition, Barrett also earned the honor of Big Ten cross country Co-Athlete of the Week.


Barrett's Big Ten honor is the first Penn State runner to earn it since her teammate, Tori Gerlach, won it in 2015 after the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.


"I was excited to be named Big Ten Co-Athlete of the week because I remember when my teammate, Tori Gerlach, was named the Big Ten Athlete of the Week last year as a senior and how inspired I was by that accomplishment," said Barrett.


Barrett was named Big Ten Co-Athlete of the Week with senior, Erin Finn of Michigan.


"Being named co-athlete of the week with Erin Finn of Michigan was also really cool," said Barrett. "Erin is an incredible athlete who I have always looked up to."


Barrett placed 12th this past weekend at the 31st Annual Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, MN, where the Penn State women's team took 3rd out of 34 teams. The Roy Griak Invitational is one of the largest meets in the country.


Barrett believes winning these honors will continue to motivate her for the remainder of the season.


"Receiving these accolades has been humbling, and it definitely keeps me motivated to continue training hard," said Barrett. "We still have a long way to go until championship season, and I hope that individually I can keep improving as the season progresses."


Cross Country and Track & Field head coach, John Gondak, believe Barrett's hard work and dedication to the sport, helped her win these honors.  

"Tessa is very passionate about her running," said Gondak. "She comes to practice every day with a purpose and that shows in her results."

Gondak also believes that her hard work and dedication that won her these honors will help inspire the rest of the team.

"I think winning awards like that, and winning honors like that, shows the rest of the program that if you come to practice and you put in the work, and you're passionate about what you do, you can be very successful in this sport," said Gondak. "Our sport is about putting in the conditioning and putting in the work so that you have a great mindset when it comes to race day and you're ready to go, and Tessa is very good at doing that."

Ricky Rahne Q&A - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State football returns home this week, set to open the first of three home games at Beaver Stadium, hosting Minnesota Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. 

Penn State football pass game coordinator and tight ends coach Ricky Rahne spent time with the media on Thursday. Check out updates from his Q&A session below. 

Where are you at with the production of these tight ends? Are you pleased with how they are progressing or is it about where you thought they would be?

Rahne: I think it's a process when you doing something new. We have been able to get them a little bit more involved then maybe they have been in the past could of years and Mike [Gesicki] has done a nice job making some plays. As a coach and a player, you're never satisfied and there are some times where you could have run a route a little better or done something a little different at the line of scrimmage that would have helped us get open and given us a chance to make another play. 

At this point, I've been happy with what they have been doing and more importantly, I've been happy with how they have responded in practice in trying to get better each and every week.

What has the difference been Mike [Gesicki] this year because he has always been someone who seems like he has the physical talent but he has really pulled it all together this year?

Rahne: I think it's just a mindset and playing with a lot of confidence. He'd always been confident in his athletic ability and things like that and he has always worked really hard. Now he's able to go out there and know that I've earned this and I've earned my opportunity to go out there and make plays and when the ball is coming my way, I've earned the right to be open.

I think it's just a lot of confidence that he has, not only in himself but in the hard work that he has put in. I think that right now that's the main difference.

Have you had a chance to look at Minnesota's passing game and what are you expecting there?

Rahne: I've looked at their defense, obviously. I haven't much on the other side but defensively, they present some good challenges. They mix in man coverage with off zone and they are able to mix those up pretty well. You don't really know which ones they are going to be in from play to play. Their coaches are over there making sure that their guys are in the positions that they are supposed to be in. They are a very fundamentally sound team.

You have to make sure that you are able to get to the spots that you need to get to or else they are going to be able to cover some things up. As a general rule, they are going to try and make their zone play a little bit different and make you throw in front and then come up and tackle you so you have to be able to get the ball in space and have our guys catch it on the run or catch it in a good spot and be able to take it up the field and get extra yardage. As always, you have to win versus man coverage, whether that's getting guys open with route schemes or whether it's having guys get open with technique and things like that. You have to mix that up, it can't always be team oriented, you have to do some technique things that we've been working out.

I'm curious about John Holland - when you had him on the field, how did you feel about him when he was on the field and how is he progressing?

Rahne: I think John is doing a nice job. I've been pleased when he has gone into the game both on special teams and on offense. He has not had a whole lot of opportunities yet, but one thing he has done is that he has prepared well in practice and things like that. He is getting reps in practice and he is doing a nice job there. I have been pleased with his progress, it's funny because he is still young and you always these kids to perform right how and nobody wants them to more than me and them. But he's still a young kid and I'm really happy with where he is at right now and I've even more excited about where he is going to be in the future because of the progress that he has made over the last two or three months.  

We've heard so much from James Franklin and his teammates about how steady Trace McSorley is and obviously the pride that he takes in playing the quarterback position. From your time with him, could you illuminate that for us either with a story or a behind the scenes example to what he has been able to do in his position that demonstrates that pride?

Rahne: I've known him for a long time, I've been recruiting him since he was a junior in high school. I've known him for a long time and really, he doesn't change. He hasn't changed since he was a junior in high school and sort of those things in terms a coach and mentality and things like that. He is calm and his team could have won by 40 like they usually did in high school or his team could have lost one of the rare games, which they didn't - but you could sense the competitive fire but there wasn't any sort of panic in his voice.

He prepared last year as the backup to Christian [Hackenberg] and he was ready to go. You could ask him a question at any time and he was going to know the answer on the coverages and things like that. I could talk to him at halftime and ask him what he thought he was seeing and he could give me an answer. I know he and Christian bounced stuff off each other and Christian had a lot of respect for him and valued his opinion


I think that one of the things you can see is that he is a very competitive kid and very well respected by his teammates. I think that is how you can measure a leader, in things like that because just because you're the quarterback it doesn't automatically make you a leader. You have to earn that and Trace's approach over the last two years has been that.

I know he is out for the year but I'm wondering about Nick Bowers and what kinds of things can you do to keep him involved?

Rahne: He still comes to meetings and I still ask him questions in meetings. I'm not going to let him slip, I still give him a weekly test every week as if he was playing in the game. He does a nice job on that, but obviously he is not going to be able to do some of the physical things like that but I'm still going to ask him things, he still takes notes and does all those sorts of things. I've talked about how he can't let this be a wasted year and anything he can pick up mentally and store away is something that's going to help him in the future and grab a silver lining for something that none of us wanted. Nick wants to play football. It's probably the thing he wants most in the world so It's a difficult time on him, but it's one of those things where it's being an adult and things don't always go your way but you have to make the most of a bad situation.  

We didn't get much of a chance to see Nick can you give us a scouting report and what type of player is he? How is he handling this stuff kind of psychologically?

Rahne: I think it's tough for any of us, when you work really hard for something and then it gets taken away from you before you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so to speak. He is big physical kid who brings some pop in the run game and things like that. He is a much better receiver than I think people might imagine. That's probably where he excels the most. He can run routes has good speed, good hands. He is very good when he has the ball in his hands in terms of breaking tackles and things like that. Nick's going to have a bright future here, he is going to come back from this thing. Nobody is putting in more time and effort than that kid into making sure that he comes back right and I'm excited to see what he is going to give us here in the future. It's been a hard time on him, but he's also a kid you can always find smiling and still a happy guy. Guys on the team love him and they are there to support him every step of the way and I think that's also important.

Being that it is your first season being as tight ends coach, how is it that you are liking it and the best part of the job?

Rahne: I coached tight ends for two years at Kansas State and to be real honest, I love it. I loved it when I was there and I like it now. When Coach Moorhead got the job, I kind of brought it up that I not only could, but that I wanted to do it.   like tight ends, you're able to be in every aspect of the game. The run game, the pass protection, the routes - you're able to coach physicality and get excited. When you're coaching quarterbacks sometimes you have to be a little bit more muted in terms of the motion and things like that. I played the game with a lot of passion and I prefer to coach it that way too. I'm able to do that a little bit more at tight end. I'm enjoying it. It's something that the tight ends probably get sick of, but I'm able to coach every little first step, hand placement and all those types of things and so I'm having a great time. I like it a lot. 

You mentioned the importance of always defeating man coverage and I know it was a difficulty last week for a variety of reasons with a good Michigan defense. When you made those corrections on Sunday, what was the biggest point of emphasis going through that process after the game?

Rahne: It's like anything else, if you get outside of your technique and you do things kind of outside of what you would normally do because you're trying to man coverage because you want to win so bad that maybe you're feet or your hands aren't where they are supposed to be. You're a little bit higher than you should be and things like that. You're not getting the depth on the route instead of threading them vertically. All those things kind of add up and when you look back at it, that's what it was. It was a step here or a step there. It was a missed swat with your hand as you cleared him. It wasn't backing the guy when you did clear him or It was breaking the route off at 10 when it should have gone to 12.  Little things like that. In a game when you're playing a good opponent like Michigan and like all of the teams in the Big Ten, you have to make sure you do all of those things right and that's really the difference. That's what we have focused on in coaching this week in practice, it's doing all those little things from the stance all the way to the finish. 

I know that you and Christian [Hackenberg] were close, have you had any contact with him in the last few months to see how things were going?

Rhane: I have talked to him a few times. When my wife and I went to Fire Island to see one of my friends this summer we stopped by and had lunch with him in New Jersey. He seemed good, obviously not playing all that much and those sort of things, but he kind of understood and I think he is doing good with it mentally and those sort of things. He is approaching things like a pro and during the season, all my people I I know and love, I fall out of contact with a little bit and he's kind of the same way but we still stay in contact and things like that. Short and sweet, but I know he is enjoying it, learning a lot and really enjoying his time there.  

Sister, Sister for Morano's

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By Mandy Bell, Student Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK - In 2014, Penn State junior forward Kasey Morano finished her high school career taking the New Jersey title home to Eastern Regional High School. In the middle of smiles and celebration, her younger sister and teammate Maddie Morano had other feelings.

"It was one of the happiest days of my life and she just starts crying," Kasey said. "She told me she would miss me and we thought we'd never play together again. That was definitely my favorite memory of us because it was a mixture of happy and sad emotions. I have a picture of her crying and me holding her and it is my favorite picture." 

Little did the Morano sisters know that in two years, they would be together again at Penn State. 

Growing up, both Kasey and Maddie started playing field hockey early in elementary school. Kasey began when she was in second grade and Maddie started in kindergarten. Both wanted to be exactly like their mom, who played collegiate field hockey at Lock Haven University.

"In our hometown, we didn't have field hockey," Maddie said. "[Our mom] started the program. That's why we played in camps with a bunch of older girls because there wasn't a program for us. She got us really involved and taught us how much you can love the sport."

At ages five and seven, the Morano sisters were taking part in camps with the local high school coach competing with girls who were much older than they were.

"We were the youngest ones at the camps," Kasey said. "We weren't very good obviously, but we did our best. It was just fun. We played a lot of kid games. We actually did a middle school league when we were younger, so we always were playing more competitive leagues against older kids."

Playing against higher-level competition paid off when Penn State head coach Char Morett-Curtiss showed interest in both of the Morano sisters when they reached high school.

"We had eyes on both of them," Morett-Curtiss said. "They couldn't make the full week of our camp, so we had them up here for two days and I think they just really loved Penn State at that point. Their brother was here, so I think that made it a little more comfortable for them. Kasey was a little unsure with her decision, but Maddie always new she wanted a big time athletic program, wanted the big school and wanted the school spirit."

"Before I even came here, Penn State was never in my mind," Kasey said. "For some reason, not sure if it was because my older brother went here and I didn't want to go to the same school as he did, but I just didn't want to go to Penn State. Then my dad made me visit here and I just knew it was the school for me. I didn't want to like it, but I loved it. There was something about it. I was definitely fighting it, but I just couldn't help it."

Both girls approached colleges separately and picked the schools that they wanted to go to without discussing it with each other. It just so happened to be the same school.

 With Maddie just beginning her freshman year, it is the first season that Morett-Curtiss has the Morano sisters on her Penn State squad. 

"I don't even think about them being sisters," Morett-Curtiss said. "I've coached so many. I think I've coached seven sets of sisters since I've been here. Because they play two different positions, I don't think of them as sisters so much, but when you see them together there's no doubt about it."

Off the field, Kasey and Maddie are nearly inseparable. During preseason, Maddie went to Kasey's apartment every day after practice and even during the season the two are together for the majority of the time off of the field.

At the beginning of the season against Bucknell, the Morano sisters shared a special moment on the field when Maddie assisted Kasey for a goal.

"It was funny because I had the ball and Kasey was wide open," Maddie said. "There was a girl right in front of me, so if I didn't pass it to [Kasey] it would've been really bad. I was trying to trick the defenders so it didn't look like I was going to pass it to her and it apparently fooled Kasey because she told me she was freaking out thinking I wasn't going to pass it to her."

"I thought she wasn't going to pass it to me and that would've started some problems," Kasey said. "That would've looked so bad, like we are sisters."

After that goal, Kasey and Maddie's parents were able to have a special moment in the crowd watching their two daughters work together on the field.

"I feel like I owe a lot to my mom because she really wanted the dream for us just as much as we did," Kasey said. "Don't get me wrong, we wanted to kill her sometimes. We would be playing and she would take us off the field if we were being fresh. But, she just really pushed and she would always say, 'You'll thank me one day' and we'd just be like 'Alright, Mom,' and roll our eyes. But she was so right. 

After this week's homestand, the Nittany Lions will be back on the road again. The sisters just found out that they will be rooming together on the next road trip and they couldn't be more excited. 

Penn State will host Michigan State on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

Wednesday Practice Update - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and Marcus Allen took time to meet with members of the media following Wednesday's practice at the Lasch practice facility.

Penn State returns home to Beaver Stadium this week to host Minnesota Saturday at 3:30 p.m. 

James Franklin

Marcus Allen

Penn State & The Governor's Victory Bell

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State and Minnesota will play for the Governor's Victory Bell Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

Dating back to the first year of Big Ten football at Penn State, the Governor's Victory Bell has been awarded to the winner of each Penn State-Minnesota game since the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers played in Penn State inaugural game as members of the Big Ten Conference. 

With Penn State's first Big Ten outing slated against the Golden Gophers in 1993, Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey and Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson commissioned the trophy game to mark the Penn State's first Big Ten game.

Having played for the Victory Bell a total of 13 times in program history, Penn State has collected the trophy eight times. Penn State won the first ever Victory Bell outing in 1993, topping the Golden Gophers, 38-20, in the first of four consecutive Victory Bell outings spanning until 1998.

The first Victory Bell was first presented by Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mark Singel, who was serving as acting governor at the time, the trophy was awarded.

From 1999 to 2004 the tables turned as Minnesota won all four Victory Bell games to even the series to 4-4. Unlike the previous streak, all four games within the 1999-2004 span were decided by fewer than 10 points at an average of just higher than six points per game. 

Penn State flipped the series once again though, proving dominate in the next four games from 2005-10, with the Nittany Lions downing Minnesota, 44-14, in 2005 and, 20-0, in 2009.

Dotted somewhere in between all three of the four-game stretches though, the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers have played at least one close Victory Bell contest, decided by just a single point on three occasions. 

Across every all-time series, only Temple has played more one-point games against the Nittany Lions, with Pittsburgh coming in with three games against Penn State in program history decided by a single tally.

Penn State won its most recent nail-biter against the Golden Gophers, topping Minnesota, 28-27 in overtime, on the road October 7. The Golden Gophers scored in the final two minutes to send the 2006 game into overtime before scoring again in the overtime period. Minnesota's extra point attempt hit the upright, giving the Nittany Lions the opportunity to secure the win with a 2-yard touchdown run from Tony Hunt followed by Kevin Kelly's game-winning PAT.

Penn State's one-point victory at Minnesota in 2006 marked the first for the Nittany Lions since a 16-15 win against Minnesota in 1997. 

Looking back at 1997, Penn State had already won the first two Victory Bell games in 1993 and 1994 entering the matchup ranked No. 1 in the country. The Nittany Lions rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, as Penn State's defensive end Chris Snyder recovered a Minnesota fumble at the 10-yard line to set up a Curtis Enis touchdown in the fourth quarter. Penn State was unsuccessful on its two-point attempt, but hung on to secure the win.

The Nittany Lions also played to a one-point decision at home in Beaver Stadium in 1999, where Penn State saw an 11-game winning streak come to an end following a Minnesota 32-yard field goal on the last play of the game. 

The Governor's Victory Bell is among 11 other trophies that mark conference rivalries. The Nittany Lions also play for the Land Grant Trophy in games against Michigan State, honoring the universities as the nation's two pioneer land-grant schools.

Minnesota has possession of the Governor's Victory Bell after a 24-10 win in Minneapolis in 2013.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer    
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Halfway through their college careers, five Penn State juniors are starting to reflect on their careers. Two seasons remain and this class continues to leave their mark on the program.

"It's crazy that it has gone by this fast," said defenseman Bella Sutton. "It's both exciting and it puts into perspective how fast college goes. Starting this junior (year) is going to be a good one."

Sutton led all Penn State defensemen last season with four goals, eight assists and 12 points. She also excels in the classroom, being selected to the All-CHA Academic Team in each of her first two years as a Nittany Lion. With such a busy schedule as a Division I athlete, Sutton's accomplishments seem even more remarkable.

 "It's basically you wake up, you're doing your lift, you're going to class, you're studying or eating lunch whenever you have a break, and then back to the rink for practice, class, or dinner after and then studying," Sutton said. 

The Nittany Lions finally got a chance to go up against an opponent last Saturday as they defeated Guelph 4-1 at Pegula in an exhibition. 

"It was a lot of fun," said Sutton. "I didn't know exactly what to expect with 12 seniors gone from last year and eight new freshmen, but I honestly couldn't have asked for anything better. It was really fun to get on the ice and get competing again after the long season off. In the summer, it's fun because you're scrimmaging and training, but it's really fun for the games and I'm really excited for this weekend."

Sutton's classmate, goaltender Hannah Ehresmann, has been hard at work with new goalie coach Lisa Marshall.

"It's a lot of getting back to the basics," said Ehresmann. "Making sure that I have all those done and fixing any tweaks that I need to fix. But overall, I have the same playing style. Lisa's been really good at knowing what I like to do and not changing that, so it's been fun to work with her in that aspect."

Ehresmann was on the ice for the first 30 minutes of Penn State's exhibition victory, stopping 14 shots without allowing a goal.

"It's been a while so it was definitely nerve-wracking at first to be back out there," said Ehresmann. "Once we got into it, our team was really moving and we were definitely getting a lot of shots on their goalie. We were playing good defense, they left a lot of shots to the outside for me to handle."

Penn State also prides itself in being a family-oriented institution, and it's no different for the girls on the ice.

"We hang out a lot, we've had a few family-style dinners," said Ehresmann. "Irene [Kiroplis] for example, she's offered her place for freshmen to go if they ever want a home-cooked meal."

Christi Vetter, Irene Kiroplis and Aly Hardy round out the Penn State junior class in addition to Sutton and Ehresmann.

Penn State opens up the regular season Friday at Clarkson. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. The regular season home opener is Oct. 14 against Boston University.


By Jack Dougherty, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At every meeting, practice, and match there is always one player on the Penn State women's soccer team with a constant smile on her face.


That player isn't in the game making slide tackles or on the practice field running sprints.


That player has suffered three ACL tears in the past five years that have stopped her from stepping foot on Jeffrey Field in game action. She will never be able to do so.


That player has been one of the strongest and most crucial influences that has contributed to the massive success Penn State has endured while she's been a part of the team.


That player is Angela Widlacki.


Widlacki suffered her first knee injury in her junior year of high school. She made a sharp cut to defend an opposing attacker and torn her left ACL, an injury that kept her out all season.


She had committed to Penn State prior to the injury, and head coach Erica Dambach had no hesitation to still bring her on board. Dambach offered words of encouragement to Widlacki throughout her rehab process with the confidence that she would come back stronger than ever.


Widlacki did just that, as she led Naperville North High School to a state championship in her senior season. The team didn't lose a game.


In her first two seasons in Blue and White, Widlacki was a steady bench presence cheering on her teammates through her recovery, and she was ready to contribute in year three.


Widlacki had a solid camp in the summer of 2015 and carried high expectations going into her junior year, but the injury bug came back to bite at the most inopportune time. In the team's preseason tune-up against Army, Widlacki was marking an opponent on the end line when she was hip checked to the ground, tearing her right ACL in the process.


She was unable to play all last season.


Widlacki was back practicing with the team in the beginning of this year until the week following Penn State's loss to BYU. During practice that week, Widlacki suffered her third ACL tear. The following week, the MRI revealed she had a partially torn ACL and meniscus, and she was informed she wouldn't be able to play again.


For most, this news would be so devastating it would discourage them from ever wanting to be involved with soccer again and make them curse the very sport that betrayed them.


For Widlacki, she says it's the one of the best things that's ever happened to her.


"I got so much more appreciation for the little things in life, like walking," Widlacki said. "There's so much strength for you to pull out of yourself in that moment and you're going to waste that if you're dwelling on it or just seeing the negatives."


Seeing the negatives is something Widlacki simply refuses to do. She's still one of the peppiest players at practice every day, and she works just as hard now as she did when she had shin pads on.


"Regardless of whether she's healthy or not it's the same personality and attitude and fight and determination," said Dambach. "But talk about turning [the injury] into something positive and being a huge part of the team despite injury. She's the heart and soul of this group."


Widlacki has assumed an active role as a self-defined 'mini coach,' without the thought of leaving the team even entering her mind. She's currently assisting the coaches with preparing for upcoming matchups and adding her input mid-game.


"First and foremost, always being a good role model to the underclassmen, just trying to be helpful, trying to keep a positive attitude," Widlacki said. "And I kind of try to look for the little things within the game that, maybe [the coaches] are focusing on a bigger picture and there's a little tweak that they might miss I can point out."


"It was something we felt our team needed and she seemed to be the perfect person because it's something that's near and dear to her heart," Dambach said. "I think it's been a perfect match and it's been really helpful for me and in matches for her to come down at halftime and talk about what she's seeing."


In the realm of coaching, this isn't foreign territory for Widlacki. This past summer Widlacki worked as the assistant director for the Red Stars Academy in Chicago. She gained valuable experience coaching girls aged 6-16 and realized she found something she could see herself doing in the future.


"I really enjoy coaching and coaching little kids a lot more than sitting in an office," Widlacki said.


Widlacki's biggest influence who led her to recognize her love for coaching is her club coach and former Penn State defender Bonnie Young. Young opened the door for Widlacki to work with Red Stars Academy.


Young also set up an East Coast college tour for Widlacki and her club team, which led to Widlacki choosing to travel 595 miles from Naperville, Ill. to Penn State to earn a degree.


"I owe so much to her. She's an incredible lady," Widlacki said.


Aside from soccer, Widlacki is an active participant in THON at Penn State. She danced on the floor last year for 46 straight hours, and was able to take the lessons she learned there about facing adversity and apply them to her current situation.


"You can feel that you're having an impact on them immediately, and just getting to know the kids and the families and see what you're doing for them, I think I'm more grateful to them for showing me how strong they can be," Widlacki said. "People say that I'm strong through my injuries, but meeting those kids and hearing those stories-- way stronger. Way, way stronger."


Widlacki may not be able to help the team on the field, but she's an irreplaceable piece to the puzzle. Neither Widlacki nor the rest of the team even considered parting ways after the news of her third ACL tear, proving this group isn't just a team. It's a family.


Widlacki's injuries are certainly cruel and unlucky, but no one should feel sorry for her. That's not what she's going to do. That's not what she wants from anyone, either.


"Situations like this where I can't really change how I got injured, it happened and that's how I see it," Widlacki said. "It happened, what's the next step? I think when you see something like this, I don't see a point in being down about it. There's no reason to dwell on it. I think everything happens for a reason, and there's a reason that I'm here in this role now."


Widlacki is optimistic about the next chapter in her life and grateful for the time she was able to play at a high level. This isn't the end of the Angela Widlacki story, it's only the prologue.


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Behind The Scenes at Palestra Press Conference Day

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PHILADELPHIA - Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers hit the road today, traveling to the City of Brotherly Love for a press conference regarding the Nittany Lions' Big Ten matchup against Michigan State at the Palestra Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017.

Prior to the 10:30 a.m. press conference, Chambers took an early morning flight to arrive in Philadelphia just in time to make an appearance at Breakfast on Broad, live on Comcast Network. He also took a quick trip to do a little sight seeing at the historic The Rocky Statue, just outside the The Rocky Steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  

Check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the early morning trip. 

Chambers opened his press conference on location at the historic Palestra, located right in the heart of Philadelphia.


"A lot of exciting things wrapped around this day for our Philly kids and for myself too," Chambers said. "I'm from here, my brothers played here, I played here, so it should be a fun filled weekend for Penn State basketball to be put on this stage."

In the early planning stages of the event, Chambers mentioned that part of the reasoning for the Philadelphia location came back to relationships, with a total of six Nittany Lions currently on the roster calling the Philadelphia area home. 

 After clearing the idea with the Penn State administration and the Big Ten, Chambers reached out to Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, who had never coached in the Palestra. Chambers noted that Izzo was thrilled with the idea. 

The Nittany Lions and the Spartans are set for a noon or 1 p.m. tip-off on ESPN, as announced by the conference earlier this month. The matchup marks the first appearance on the primary ESPN network for the Nittany Lions since 2012. 

An afternoon tip-off could also also potentially bring rays of sunlight streaming through the Palestra, which has windows lining the upper walls of the building. That's no reason to be concerned for Chambers though. 

"If you go back to the old school days with the doubleheaders that start in the afternoon and run into the evening, there is a mystique about it - there's an old school feeling. I want our guys, and I want Penn Staters to have that feel, to live those old school says," Chambers said. "I think that's what we are going to bring back, I think people are going to appreciate it and I think they are going to remember this game, they are going to remember this experience wrapped around this day." 

 Penn State has won 11 of its last 18 games in the Palestra, having most recently visited the building in 2016, where the Nittany Lions rallied to defeat Drexel, 63-57.

VIDEO: Minnesota Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -'s Arielle Sargent talks with defensive end Shareef Miller and long snapper Tyler Yazujian previewing the Minnesota matchup in Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Tyler Yazujian

Shareef Miller