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Coaches Caravan Day 4: Altoona, Williamsport

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Altoona Photo Gallery I Williamsport Photo Gallery I  Day 3 Recap I Day 2 Recap I Day 1 Recap

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - The Penn State Coaches Caravan officially came to a close Thursday evening, wrapping up with an evening event in Williamsport following an afternoon stop in Altoona 

Across four days, seven stops and nearly 970 miles, Penn State's fifth Coaches Caravan crisscrossed the state, greeting passionate fans and alumni. Share the Penn State story, each member of Caravan reflected on everything from surging student-athlete success to exciting future plans and goals. 

"Our vision statement is preparing student-athletes for a lifetime of impact and that is our number one priority, but along the way we also serve our community," Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour said. "We serve Penn State as an academic institution and being valuable to the institution, and part of that is engaging with our community."

With living alumni in far more places than just Pennsylvania, the opportunity to truly engage in the community serves many purposes aside from giving back to those who have so passionately shown their support in a variety of ways.

"I love listening to our alumni, our community talk about what they like, what they don't like, what they're concerned about, what they're happy about - that helps me in how we go about our daily business, particularly on the alumni and community engagement side of it," Barbour said. 

Stop 6: Altoona (Penn State Altoona)
The bus pulled out of the parking lot at the Bryce Jordan Center at 9:30 a.m. headed down Interstate 99 to Altoona.

Greeted by a vibrant crowd, Penn State coaches Erica Dambach and Tim Murphy again joined Barbour and James Franklin on stage for a second show.

Among highlights, all three coaches spoke to creating and fostering a competitive atmosphere that challenges student-athletes to continually strive for success at the highest level from the moment they arrive on campus.

"My promise to student-athletes is challenge and support because really, 'we are' is for a lifetime," Murphy said.


For Franklin, it was the approach to embracing a challenge that helped the Nittany Lions to a historic 2016 Big Ten Championship season, culminating in Penn State's fourth Rose Bowl appearance in program history.

"For us, the success of our season really came down to details, hard work and doing the little things," Franklin said. 

Media Availability:
-Erica Dambach
-James Franklin 

Stop 7: Williamsport (Genetti Hotel/Williamsport Cultural Arts Center)
After lunch in Altoona, the Caravan back tracked a bit, passing by Happy Valley on the way to Williamsport for the final stop. Arriving at the historic Genetti Hotel, a nearly 100-year-old structure, the program took place right next door at the ornate Williamsport Cultural Arts Center, built in 1928.

As has been the case at nearly every spot on the entire Coaches Caravan, it's not hard to generate enthusiasm and energy surrounding the Penn State story, as deputy athletic director Phil Esten noted that he likes to refer to Penn State as an "and" university. 

"When I say Penn State is an 'and' university, I mean Penn State is about the classroom, and the community, and character and success," Esten said.

Perhaps the best part of all of the 'and' items mixed together though, is what Esten noted as the foundation of the 'Penn State way.' 

For Dambach, reflective of the Penn State way means putting together a total four-year plan for women's soccer student-athletes that involves all aspects of not only academic and off the field assistance, but also nutrition and strength training specifically targeted at ensuring each member of the team is on track to meet both short and long term goals.


"In 2015, when we won our first national championship, we had total buy in from the entire team," Dambach said. "When that happens not only do you see a difference in how individuals perform, but they also tend to put the goals of the team before self."

Penn State officially concluded the 2017 Coaches Caravan arm in arm, with one final singing of the Nittany Lion alma mater before boarding the bus back to Happy Valley.


Media Availability:
-Tim Murphy
-Phil Esten 

Mileage Tracker:
Day 1
University Park to York - 114.4 miles
York to King of Prussia - 83.9 miles

Day 2
King of Prussia to Hazleton: 95.6 miles
Hazleton to Harrisburg: 881. Miles
Harrisburg to University Park: 98.2 miles

Day 3
University Park to Pittsburgh: 138 miles
Pittsburgh to University Park: 138 miles

Day 4
University Park to Altoona: 44.4 miles
Altoona to Williamsport: 106 miles
Williamsport to University Park: 60.9 miles

Coaches Caravan round trip total: 967.5 miles

Coaches Caravan Day 3: Pittsburgh

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I Pittsburgh Photo Gallery I Day 1 Recap I Day 2 Recap

PITTSBURGH - The Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled out of Happy Valley Wednesday afternoon headed straight to Pittsburgh for its fifth event on the four-day, seven stop tour.

Alongside head coach James Franklin and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, Nittany Lion coaches Erica Dambach (women's soccer) and Tim Murphy (swimming and diving) boarded the bus for a new lineup for the second to last evening program this week.


Stop 5: Pittsburgh (Omni Hotel William Penn)
As those in attendance have seen at nearly every stop so far, top priorities in the first five years of the facilities master plan include significant updates for both men's and women's soccer as well as swimming and diving facilities.

"I'm ready to get out there and start digging the hole," Murphy said, drawing laughs from the crowd regarding the impact that the proposed new natatorium would have on the program.

Making his first appearance on the Coaches Caravan, Murphy is in his fourth season at the helm of the Nittany Lion men's and women's swimming and diving programs. Since his days as a member of the swimming and diving team at his alma mater West Chester University, Murphy has embedded into his coaching career the mentality that no matter the ability of the individual, with a dedicated work ethic every member of the team can serve an important role.

"I was the worst swimmer on the team, but I was also a captain on the team my senior year," Murphy said.

Dambach also spoke to the impact that proposed facilities upgrades would have, while also diving into a few examples of a continued quest for student-athlete excellence in a variety of areas that have served as a reflection of the foundation of the program.

Dambach shared the story of Nittany Lion goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom, who transformed her body and elevated her game all through years of hard work and dedication, eventually earning a draft selection in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, as the first keeper picked on the day.

 "She's an example of someone who took advantage of the conditions for success," Dambach said.

On a totally different note, Franklin closed out the coach remarks welcoming the newest Nittany Lion to the 2029 signing class, introducing the packed crowd to Carter Netport, age six. 

Catching up with assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith:
A Nittany Lion alum and Aliquippa native, Smith attended the Pittsburgh Coaches Caravan stop with his parents Marian and Harvey Jr., who is also a Penn State alum.

"I'll tell you, there's a lot of energy here there's a lot of excitement," Smith said. "I love Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has always been good to me and my family and it's always been good to Penn State."

For Smith, the opportunity to gather with football lettermen to share stories and reflect on a proud past and current success is all part of what makes Penn State so special. 

"It's a unique group," Smith said. "We recruit all over the country and you run into coaches from the SEC, ACC and all over the country and Penn Staters are unique in their brand of how we stick together, how we help each other. We understand the bond of the locker room and that's for life."

Outside of football lettermen though, the opportunity to meet and engage with so many passionate Penn State alumni and fans only adds to the deep sense of community that has been palpable across all five stops this week. 

"Those are the ones who really make us up," Smith said. "When you're sitting there and you have 107,000 people in the stands for a game and then the millions who watch the game on Saturday's, those are the people who support us and give us our energy, our juice."

Media Availabilities:
- Sandy Barbour 

Mileage Tracker:
University Park to Pittsburgh: 138 miles

Day 3 Total: 138 miles
Coaches Caravan Total: 520 miles

Coaches Caravan Day 2: Hazleton, Harrisburg

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I Hazleton Photo Gallery I Harrisburg Photo Gallery

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Penn State hit the road bright and early for day two of the of the Coaches Caravan, traveling to Hazleton and Harrisburg to arrive at the midway point in the four-day tour before heading back to Happy Valley this evening.

The Coaches Caravan bus pulled out of the Valley Forge Casino Resort at 8:45 a.m. en route to another pair of Commonwealth campuses located in the heart of Pennsylvania.

Stop 3: Hazleton (Penn State Hazleton)
Winding through the northeast part of the state, the bus arrived at the Penn State Hazleton campus just in time for a few media opportunities before an afternoon program.


Home to Penn State Alumni Association Chief Executive Officer Paul Clifford, who grew up in the area, he returned for a bit of a homecoming alongside the group, greeted by another sold out crowd.

During the Photo Booth session prior to the program, Penn State head coach James Franklin met 12-year-old Connor Schamany, who, through family connections has actually grown up to be a Notre Dame football fan.

In an effort to convert Schamany to a Penn State fan, Franklin brought him on stage for a quick snapshot with the Big Ten Championship trophy, delivering a message to those in attendance. 

"I'm going to need everyone's help with Connor," Franklin said. "I need everybody in this community to help me recruit Connor, a really nice kid, a really good kid, but he's confused. Notre Dame is a good school but I need you guys to recruit him, bring him to games, buy him Penn State gear and help him get on board with us," Franklin said drawing a rousing applause from he audience.


Lady Lion hoops head coach Coquese Washington also joined in at the Hazleton stop, marking her third appearance on the Coaches Caravan.

For Washington, being a Lady Lion is a big deal and something that's integral in preparation to all the pride that goes into supporting Penn State.

"I think it's really, really cool to get out around the state and be able to connect with some of the fans who we don't get to connect with on a daily or weekly basis," Washington said. "Being in State College, Penn State alums and Penn State fans are such staunch supporters of the University, so to be able to get out and mingle with them and hear their stories of how Penn State Athletics has impacted them and to hear those stories is really cool."


On the heels of a 21-11 season that saw the Lady Lions reach the third round of the WNIT, Washington met questions about expectations for the future with great excitement for what's ahead.

"I think the next step in the process is that we want to return to participation in the NCAA Tournament and I think we have the leadership amongst our players and I think we have the experience," Washington said. "They got great experience this year playing some tough games. Playing in the WNIT, in a lot of ways it mirrors playing in the NCAA Tournament. I'm really excited about the future and I think that's the next step and we'll work with our team to get there."

Media Soundbites:

Stop 4: Harrisburg (Penn State Harrisburg)
Boarding back on the Coaches Caravan, Penn State cruised down Interstate 81, arriving at its third Commonwealth campus this week, Penn State Harrisburg. More than 350 attended the final evening program.

Part of each stop so far has featured a special presentation from Barbour, detailing the Penn State facilities master plan. Although aspiration in nature, Barbour is quick to point out that any piece of the plan plays an integral part in helping to bolster the impact that Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes are able to make.


"Everything we do is to make you proud, whether it's in competition, in the classroom or in the community," Barbour said.

Another piece of Barbour's presentation included a proud note regarding the more than 6,000 hours of community service performed by Penn State coaches and student-athletes. A component of the program that Franklin takes very seriously, he noted that Penn State football is regularly among the yearly program leaders in the category, taking great pride in being able to give back to the community.

"You can get everything that you want in life when you give to others," Franklin said.

Media Soundbites:
- Coquese Washington
- Sandy Barbour

Penn State returns to Happy Valley this evening to rest up before heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon. The Coaches Caravan will make just one stop for an evening program at the Omni William Penn Hotel. 

Mileage Tracker:
King of Prussia to Hazleton: 95.6 miles
Hazleton to Harrisburg: 881. miles

Day 2 Total: 183.7 miles
Coaches Caravan Total: 382 miles

Coaches Caravan Day 1: York, King of Prussia

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Coaches Caravan Schedule & Information I York Photo Gallery I King of Prussia Photo Gallery

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Penn State officially opened its fifth Coaches Caravan, kicking off the four-day tour with a pair of visits to York and King of Prussia. After a year off, the 2017 Penn State Coaches Caravan is back and set to crisscross only the state of Pennsylvania, with a total of seven stops planned this week. 

Nittany Lion football head coach James Franklin headlined each stop on day one, alongside Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, men's gymnastics coach Randy Jepson and women's golf coach Denise St. Pierre.

Stop 1: York (Penn State York)
The Coaches Caravan bus departed the Bryce Jordan Center at approximately 8:30 a.m., headed out of Happy Valley to another one of Penn State's 23 other campuses located throughout the Commonwealth. 

Returning to York for the first time since the 2014 Coaches Caravan, a sold out crowd packed the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center on the Penn State York campus, welcoming the group for the official opening of the 2017 Penn State Coaches Caravan.


"I love being out on our Commonwealth campuses," Barbour said. "I think this is a way to pull together as an entire campus, as Penn State University, and I love being out and talking about our 800 student-athletes and the successes that they have had and the challenges and the things that we've got ahead of us."

As Barbour detailed 2016-17 highlights related to both athletics and academics, diving into the newly released facilities master plan, her message consistently drew back to what makes Penn State such a great place - the people.


Evident in Jepson's message, it's Penn State people like legendary gymnast and coaching legend Gene Wettstone, a record-holder for the NCAA men's team championships by a single coach in the sport, whose legacy is still inspiring future Nittany Lions long after his time in the Blue and White. 

"You look at the banners on the wall, it's not about that, it's about the empty space that remains and it's your job to fill that," Jepson said. "You have to do everything you can every day to make that happen for the alumni, for yourself, for your families and for the future of our program."

Media Soundbites:
Denise St. Pierre
- Randy Jepson
- James Franklin

Stop 2: King of Prussia (Valley Forge Casino)

Less than 100 miles away, Penn State packed up and hit the road, traveling along Route 30, before pulling into the Valley Forge Casino for the first of four evening programs this week.

Located in the Philadelphia area, where more than 100,000 Nittany Lion living alumni reside, the ever-popular stop has been a Coaches Caravan staple since its debut in 2012, with yet another brimming crowd out in full force. 


With such a passionate fan base in the area, it's not hard to find someone from the hometown crowd with a unique connection to Penn State. As St. Pierre kicked off her segment of the program, she invited those in attendance to share once piece of Penn State women's golf trivia they might have picked up for a chance to take home a small prize.

On the first attempt, one fan seated in the crowd recalled playing against St. Pierre in a golf scramble where she Pierre shot 15-under-par. 

"You asked if we minded playing with a woman and we ended up playing with a champ," said the member of the audience, who quickly drew joyful laughs from the crowd.

For Franklin, who grew up in nearby Langhorne, the opportunity to return close to home is one he consistently holds close. He closed out the final stop of the first day with an emotional message to those in attendance. 

"I am so proud to be the head football coach at Penn State," Franklin said. "You think about a young kid who grew up 20 minutes down the road, played football at Neshaminy high school, who had an opportunity to go to the Penn State of the Poconos - East Stroudsburg, then to go all over the country for 23 years working in every major conference as well as the NFL, to have the opportunity to come back home to represent you, to represent the great state of Pennsylvania and to continue our journey with our legacy of the program, is unbelievable to me." 

Media Soundbites:
- Sandy Barbour

Both coaches and staff will stay over in Valley Forge for the night before hitting the road early tomorrow morning headed to Hazleton for another sold out program at 11 a.m. before closing out the day in Harrisburg with an evening event.

Mileage Tracker:
University Park to York - 114.4 miles
York to King of Prussia - 83.9 miles
Day 1 Total: 198.3

VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

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Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.

A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.

Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference

Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
caravan2015_WB_1.jpgcaravan2015_WB_2.jpgcaravan2015_WB_3.jpgVideo: Wilkes-Barre Press Conference

2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

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Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

VIDEO: New York City Press Conference

Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

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Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference

Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.

Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.


VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day III - Altoona & Pittsburgh

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Photo Gallery - Altoona | Photo Gallery - Pittsburgh

Day I Recap - Harrisburg & Lancaster | Day II Recap - Washington, D.C. & Baltimore

MARS, Pa. - The first week of the 2015 Coaches Caravan wrapped up in the western half of Pennsylvania on Thursday with a lunch stop in Altoona and an evening reception in northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways bus drove nearly three hours to the northwest from Baltimore on Thursday morning in preparation for lunch at Lakemont Park Casino. Take a look through highlights from the final two stops of a six-event leg of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 5 - Altoona (Lakemont Park Casino)
Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky and Denise St. Pierre headlined the closest stop to the University Park campus on Thursday morning. The ballroom at Lakemont Casino Park hosted the fifth event on the Coaches Caravan before some of the fan base's deepest roots.

Just 45 minutes down the road from State College, Altoona is in the core of Nittany Nation. Fan after fan in the room on Thursday told the coaches and Barbour about either events they had recently attended or games they had circled on their calendars in the fall and winter.

"The heartbeat of Penn State is in Altoona," said Franklin.

One of the big pieces to the fan base in the center portion of the state is the following of the men's hockey program. Gadowsky has mentioned on a number of occasions during his three-day stint on the Caravan about what the growth of youth hockey in Pennsylvania can do for the overall growth of Penn State Hockey.

"Ideally, you want the recruiting footprint to shrink," Gadowsky said. "The more individuals who are involved with youth hockey in the state of Pennsylvania, the better off the entire state will be."

The growth of Nittany Lion hockey, along with the increased interest in youth hockey, tends to go hand in hand. It's a process Gadowsky knows will take time, but it's something he's very excited about. Locations like Altoona are big piece to the puzzle with a growing interest in youth hockey. The region's hockey footprint will grow even further with the announcement that Johnstown (just 50 miles from Altoona) will play host to the NHL's "Hockeyville" game in September.

"I've been so impressed with the interest and reception from the community on the hockey program," said Barbour. "Pegula Ice Arena is a huge piece to that, and the sky is the limit (for the program)."

The Altoona stop marked the final one for St. Pierre. The leader of the women's golf program spent the week educating the fans on the process of being a collegiate golf coach during an extended fall and spring season. She enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the fans and loved to share insight about the program.

"It's been a great ride to hang out with these fantastic people has been a great treat," said St. Pierre. "A lot of people have thanked me for being part of the Caravan, but really it has been my benefit."

VIDEO: Altoona Press Conference

Stop No. 6 - Pittsburgh (DoubleTree by Hilton in Mars, Pa.)
The Caravan visited a spot near and dear to Coach Franklin en route to the evening reception in Cranberry Township on Thursday. The bus weaved through the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar section of Pittsburgh (northeast of downtown along the Allegheny River) where Franklin spent a lot of time as a kid. The group met up with childhood friend Keith Gardner (known as "Mighty" from his pickup sports days) near Franklin's Aunt Janet's home on Lemington Ave. The group toured a park where Franklin and "Mighty" played a lot of pickup football and basketball growing up.

"It was really cool. I hadn't been there in probably 30 years," said Franklin. "I come back to Pittsburgh all the time and even did for family functions before Penn State, but to actually go to some of those places today that I haven't been in a long time was really cool."

caravan_pittsburgh_3.jpg The more than 260 attendees inside the Grand Ballroom of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Mars were thrilled to welcome Franklin, Gadowsky and Deputy Director of Athletics & Chief Operating Officer Phil Esten, along with football assistants and Pittsburgh natives Bob Shoop (Oakmont) and Terry M. Smith (Monroeville).

The talk of the room from the fans focused on a number of topics, but there is a general excitement surrounding the hockey program's regular visits to Pittsburgh and the football team's four-year series with Pittsburgh, which begins at Heinz Field on Sept. 10 in 2016. The supporters in Pittsburgh are fired up about Penn State teams playing in their backyard.

"I think people are excited about it, especially in this region," said Franklin. "We are playing in '16, '17, '18 and '19...There is a lot of history and tradition with it. Generally, I'm in support of keeping the dollars in the state and supporting high school football and programs in the state. And in a lot of ways, there are some really good arguments you could make why it makes sense."

The Nittany Lions and Panthers last met inside Three Rivers Stadium in 2000. The series is slated for four-straight seasons, but Franklin indicated in the press conference prior to the event that both sides are open to discussions about the potential for more games in the future.

As for the hockey program, since Penn State has been a Division I program, the Lions have played in Pittsburgh each season. Every game has been well attended by Nittany Nation. Home to 56,000 alums in the greater metro area, the Steel City is home to some of Penn State's most loyal followers.

With the conclusion of a superb event in the Pittsburgh area, the first leg of the Coaches Caravan is wrapped up. The circuit will pick back up on May 19 in Philadelphia. A big thank you goes out to the fans who attended all six stops during week one.

"That's what these caravans are all about and that's what makes this so special," Franklin said. "We don't get to do this often, and we just want you to know how truly important you are to what we do...The thing that will always make Penn State special is the people."

VIDEO: Pittsburgh Press Conference Video

Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles

Caravan Total - 715 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day II - Washington, D.C. & Baltimore

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Photo Gallery - Washington, D.C. | Photo Gallery - Baltimore

Day I Recap - Harrisburg & Lancaster

BALTIMORE - The Coaches Caravan traveled southeast on Wednesday on day two of the first leg, making a pair of stops in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

The Penn State wrapped Fullington Trailways bus rolled into the nation's capital on Wednesday morning for a lunch stop to kick off the day. Take a look through highlights from the second two stops of a six-event week on the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 3 - Washington, D.C. (JW Marriott)
Raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour kicked off the panel of speakers with a story about how she was introduced to the prideful fan base of the Nittany Lions. The D.C. area is home to approximately 26,000 Penn State alums. Barbour cited that many of the folks sitting in the room played a big role in establishing her feelings about the University.

"You all taught me about Penn State," said Barbour. "Growing up in the area, I learned a lot of my initial feelings and in a lot of ways had my introduction to Penn State from people like you."

Each year on the Caravan, the trips to the DMV are always filled with enthusiastic fans of the Blue and White. And it's a critical area for recruiting.

"This is going to be a very, very important area for us moving forward in recruiting," head coach James Franklin said. "It's always been a big part of Penn State Football, and it will continue to be very important."

Additionally, with the expanded footprint of the Big Ten Conference, the Penn State fans in the DC area will have more opportunities to see the Lions play closer to home.

In addition to games at Maryland across all of the Big Ten's sanctioned sports, the 2017 Big Ten Basketball Tournament will be contested in Washington, D.C., from March 8-12 in the Verizon Center.

Among the attendees in D.C. on Wednesday was captain in the U.S. Navy. Looking at the diehard Penn State fan, hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky singled the man out during his speech about the Nittany Lion supporters. Gadowsky said the Navy captain came up to him prior to the lunch to inform him of a new tradition started during the Michigan hockey series. The captain brought tailgating to the parking lot during the coldest weekend of the year, and Gadowsky loved it.

"How are you not fired up to play in Pegula Ice Arena when you have someone like a Navy captain tailgating outside in the snow before our game?" Gadowsky said.

What gives the Caravan a unique touch are stories and meetings like the one Gadowsky had with the Naval captain. Penn State's fan base is one big family. Each coach on the Caravan uses the experience to learn about the fans and engage with them. It helps the fans understand how important the support is for each program on campus.

"Our philosophy is built on relationships and how we interact with people," head coach James Franklin said.

VIDEO: Washington, D.C. Press Conference

Stop No. 4 - Baltimore (Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport)
After a quick look at the White House before leaving Washington, the Caravan traveled north to Baltimore for stop No. 4 during the week at the Hilton near BWI Airport. The greater Baltimore area is home to nearly 10,500 Penn State alums, and like Washington, the Caravan crowd is always energetic at stops in the DMV. Wednesday evening's event was no different.

Barbour, and head coaches James Franklin, Guy Gadowsky and Denise St. Pierre received a rousing ovation from the moment they stepped on the stage inside Thurgood Marshall Ballroom.

It's going to be a big year ahead for Penn State and the Baltimore area. The Nittany Lions are slated to meet Maryland on October 24 in M&T Bank Stadium. The game will mark Penn State's first game in Baltimore since Nov. 9, 1991 when the Lions topped Maryland, 47-7, in Memorial Stadium.

The DMV is home to 19 players on the 2015 football roster. That list includes seven returning players who hail from the state of Maryland. For decades, the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area has been pivotal recruiting ground for the football program. That is not going to change in the eyes of Coach Franklin.

caravan15_baltimore_1.jpg Assistant coaches Charles Huff and Sean Spencer were in attendance on Wednesday evening after spending the day recruiting in the area. Additionally, junior offensive lineman Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Maryland) was in attendance. Gaia stood and recited the program's four core values when called upon during Franklin's speech.

Maryland is an area Franklin and Gadowsky are quite familiar with. They both have family members in the state. And Franklin spent several years of his professional career in the local area.

"Being able to come around to different areas around the region is great, and we love to come out and say thank you," Franklin said. "The fans have been so supportive since we got here last year, and places like this are big reason we have felt so welcome."

An Annapolis native, Barbour spoke on Wednesday evening about having the opportunity to come home when she took the job as Director of Athletics for Penn State in August. Her passion for the Blue and White is evident every time she speaks. Barbour loves every ounce of her job and takes great pride in leading a department that sets the standard for academic and athletic excellence.

"All of the reasons why I came to Penn State have all come true and more," Barbour said.

The first week of the Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in Altoona (lunch) and north of Pittsburgh (evening reception).

VIDEO: Baltimore Press Conference

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles
Day II - 142 miles

Caravan Total - 271 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


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