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Coaches Caravan Day 3: Washington DC

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WASHINGTON - Penn State punctuated its 2018 Coaches Caravan with a final stop in Washington, D.C., greeted by yet another packed crowd. The Nittany Lion head coaches did not disappoint in the finale, wrapping up the evening program with one final singing of the Penn State Alma Mater to bring an official close to the Coaches Caravan. 

"It's a great opportunity for fans of various programs to demonstrate their support of the program by coming out and interacting with the coaches and the various sports," Penn State women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose said.

Set to begin his 40th season at the helm of the program, not much has changed for the hall of fame head coach, who noted simply that it always has been and always will be about the players.

The first of the coaches to speak following director of athletics Sandy Barbour, Rose wasted no time recognizing one of his former student-athletes in the crowd, asking the former Nittany Lion to stand for a loud applause before he jumped into his segment.

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This offseason is especially critical for Rose's current Nittany Lions as the departure of four All-American leaves plenty of question marks. All four are currently overseas playing professionally, joining a long list of former Penn State Nittany Lions who have gone on to play at the next level.

It's the nine newcomers in Penn State's incoming recruiting class that has Rose particularly enthusiastic about what's to come this fall.

"Some of the class it's based on the quantity as well as the quality of the players," Rose said. "We have a larger class so I think it makes it easier for people to identify the numbers. I think we have good athleticism. We have some kids who are competitive."

Losing roughly 65 percent of its offensive productive in the trio of All-Americans, it will be no easy task for the young roster. For Rose, while the unknown is certainly challenging, it's not exactly a negative.

"Sometimes you already know the answer. I'm going into the season hopeful that the new people will be able to improve in some areas where I thought the last group was unable to give it their full attention," Rose said.

Circling back to his portion of the evening program, as the longest current tenured head coach, Rose noted that what makes Penn State great is it's unique group of coaches all genuinely sharing support for each other. 

"We have a great collection of coaches right now," Rose said. "I think that it's a supportive group. I think the energy of the group is headed in the right direction and people genuinely care about each other and the other programs. Those are the sort of things that lead to a positive work environment 

For Barbour, the four coaches joining her on the stage all possess a certain quality. 

"Our coaches are absolutely great entertainers," Barbour said. "Not only are they great coaches and great institutional fits for Penn State, but they have all got great senses of humor, all in their own way and I know that's very entertaining for our crowds."

Across all three stops, the Penn State coaches greeted fans and shared program records and stories and even invited the crowd inside the film room to break down one play from each participating head coach.

"There continues to be a building level of excitement within the Penn State community about what's going on, frankly, overall with the university and certainly from our perspective in athletics," Barbour said. "What our student-athletes are doing in the classroom, what they are doing in the community and certainly what they are doing in the athletic venues. That continues to build. We continue to work hard to make folks proud and I think we're showing appreciation for them. That's part of the caravan, for us to come to them."

Last Stop Snippets
- It's no secret Penn State head coach James Franklin and his staff have a keen interest in gaining insight from a variety of analytics reports. He hits on the some of the benefits, including how often times the dialogue between coaches is perhaps one of the best part of the findings.

- When it comes to getting better as a program, from a big picture perspective it's easy to pin-point areas of improvement after a loss. For Franklin though, keeping a sense of urgency in fine tuning any areas of concern after a win are equally as important. Likening it to deodorant covering up a funk, Franklin noted evaluations are just as intensive after a win than after a loss.

- With the success the program has enjoyed across the last season, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers noted a lot more phones are being answered when it comes to recruiting on a national state. Looking toward the newcomers, he noted Combination guard Myreon Jones Jr. has plenty of potential and will receive every opportunity to compete for a spot come 2018-19.

Coaches Caravan Day 2: Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA - The Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled into the City of Brotherly Love for the second of three stops along this year's scheduled route. A passionate crowd of Penn Staters packed Philadelphia's Crystal Tea Room located directly in the center of the city for an evening program. 

The Philadelphia stop along the Coaches Caravan is more than just another city for a majority of this year's coaching lineup, with three from the group calling the surrounding area home sweet home.

For Delaware County Hall of Fame head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, the Aldan native felt memories come flooding back as soon as she stepped inside the historic building to greet the Penn State contingent.

"Coming here tonight it's really emotional," Morett-Curtiss said addressing the crowd. "I remember coming into this building when it was just the Wanamaker Building, with the big eagle out front. My dad used take me down here every Christmas to see the Wanamaker lights show. A little bit of heart there. Obviously coming to Philadelphia is really special." 

Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, a Newtown Square native, led a resounding Philadelphia Eagles chant to kick off his portion of the program.

In celebration of the Eagles' historic first Super Bowl victory, both Chambers and Morett-Curtiss surprised fans, donning a pair of (under) dog masks for a quick skit on stage. 

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Rounding out the group, Penn State head coach James Franklin popped out of his media obligations to take his position at the photo booth only to come face to face with his second grade teacher, Mr. B.

"He's been a big part of my family so I really appreciate you being here Mr. B," Franklin said after calling on his childhood teacher to stand and wave.

Adding to the hometown feel, Franklin announced a new recruit in 7-year-old Logan Simpkins, welcoming the young Nittany Lion fan to the stage for a quick introduction.

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All nostalgia aside, both Franklin and Chambers looked toward the future of their respective programs in a pair of individual sessions.

Since arriving on campus, plenty has changed when it comes to the circumstances Franklin and his staff have recruited alongside. While the message hasn't changed, the Nittany Lions are no longer selling a dream that has yet to come to life.

"I think people see it," Franklin said. "They feel it and they see it, so that helps. I would say we probably get less tough questions though."

While the process of showing rather than asking for belief is most definitely easier, when it comes to the team, it's something Franklin is paying close attention to.

On trips in between cities, Franklin noted he's already started sending notes to begin a conversation with his staff at the annual staff retreat after reading something that sparked the thought process.

"Jason Cabinda was quoted and Jason Cabinda and the Mike Gesicki's and those guys, they have been through a lot of adversity," Franklin said. "As a program, they have been through a lot of adversity, individually. They had to overcome stuff, they had to work through things."

The byproduct of back-to-back double figure win seasons and a pair of New Year's Six bowl appearances is motivating in many ways, but as Penn State distances itself from some of its most tumultuous time, the aspect of overcoming adversity has started to fade.

"It's making sure that our team is mature enough to handle it and doesn't feel like winning is just a birthright at Penn State because it's not," Franklin said. "Getting our guys to understand the type of sacrifices, the type of investment they are going to make."

The solution for Franklin is spending time in the offseason identifying exactly what it is that will ultimately differentiate Penn State from a plethora of programs who are all already working at an extremely high level.

"Are we working harder, are we working smarter, are we working longer, what are we doing to differentiate ourselves," Franklin asked. "I think that's an important lesson for our guys because that's the same thing they are going to do for the rest of their lives when they are interviewing for jobs and things like that."

Looking ahead to another season is nothing short of thrilling for Chambers, who noted that amid a clear buzz surrounding the program, there's still room for growth and development.

"I'm really pleased with the class that we have coming in and we also have a transfer coming in, which is fabulous for us," Chambers said. "Our development, our consistency and sustainability for what we're trying to do over the long haul, the extension was critical."

At a quick glance, Chambers noted he feels his freshman class is prepared to contribute.

"I think the they are ready, they are prepared," Chambers said. " They can pass, they can dribble, they can shoot. They are great in the classroom. From high school to the Big Ten is a huge jump o we're going to see early on here in summer session one and summer session two for some of the guys and I think they'll be ready to go. After that summer session, we'll gauge where they are and the sooner they grow up and mature will dictate how well we do this year." 

Part of Penn State's striking success this season though meant critical extra time together as a team for its younger Nittany Lions to develop, giving Chambers even more options when it comes to giving freshmen the opportunity to learn the ropes before being thrust into the spotlight.

"Once we kind of get under the hood and see what we've got and I start to put the players and lineups together and see where we are - right now, it's exciting," Chambers said. "I think there's a buzz about the program. I think there are seven or eight veteran guys, coupled with some guys who are coming in as well as some youth." 

Coaches Caravan Day 1: New York

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Related Links: Remaining Stops Registration 

NEW YORK - The Penn State Coaches Caravan is back for its sixth year, hitting the road bright and early before arriving at the iconic New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan. In a bit of a new format, the Coaches Caravan will visit three cities in a span of three days, with tonight's program officially kicking off the three-day event.

Penn State football head coach James Franklin and Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour joined Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers, field hockey coach Char Morett-Curtiss and women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose.

Arriving in New York, there was perhaps no better memory for Nittany Lion coaches Chambers and Franklin. Less than 30 days ago it was Chambers who led his 2017-18 squad to an NIT Championship a mere block from the very building Penn State opened its first of three programs. While celebrating with All-American running back Saquon Barkley and his family in Dallas, Texas, it was Franklin who watched the New York Giants select Barkley with the second overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. 

As Franklin reflected on the emotional moment he heard Barkley's name called, it was perhaps a full circle moment as he saw the entire evolution of legendary Nittany Lion take shape. 

For Franklin, there's certainly being legendary for talent on the field, but when it comes to Barkley, there's more to it for the Happy Valley community. 

"People I think were amazed whenever they got a chance to spend time with Saquon, with how kind he was and how thoughtful he was and how intelligent he was," Franklin said. "Just how he treated people. I think that rubbed off on a lot of people and people saw that if you make the type of investment that he made and have the type of success that he did, at the end of the day you're still going to be remembered based on how you treat people." 

It's that type of investment though that Franklin noted has rubbed off on more than just the community, setting a tone for the entire organization. Barkley set the tone in a variety of ways, but when he's no longer around on a day-to-day basis, those who were around with him know just what it takes when it comes to watching hard work translate to an NFL opportunity of a lifetime. 

"I think there are going to be a lot of residual effects on our program from all those perspectives from him," Franklin said. "I think we have a hungry team and I think Saquon's experience has probably made a lot of our players hungrier because someone that they know and someone they have seen in our program was able to chase all of his dreams at the very highest level," Franklin said.

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Chambers also reflected on the impact of a program-defining student-athlete, noting the great foundation potential NBA-bound Nittany Lion Tony Carr set during his time with the program. 

As Chambers noted in his portion of the evening program, much like Barkley, there were times it was Carr who put the team on his back.

Less than five days ago though, it was Penn State announcing Chambers and his staff would have the opportunity to continue building on the foundation, as the Penn State Board of Trustees compensation committee approved a contract extension for Chambers through the 2021-22 season.

In the days since the announcement made headlines, the response from the community has been simply mind blowing to Chambers. 

"It was almost like winning the NIT Championship," Chambers said. "I think I received more texts and emails and people reaching out, and when I'm walking downtown and even in New York the last couple of days, it's been mind blowing the people who have come up to me and supported how hard my staff and I have worked over the last seven years to get it to this point."

Like any great coach would say though, with every successful climb, there's another mountain right behind. For Chambers its keeping the trajectory headed in the right direction when it comes to progress and player development. There's perhaps no better example than the offseason strides Carr made before dominating his way through the 2017-18 season.

"Just the fact of watching him all year from the player development aspect, changing his body and putting on the weight," Chambers said. "He shot the ball so incredibly well. Then his leadership. Then he almost gets a triple double in the championship game. He did everything for us."

There's simply no doubting the blazing trajectory the Nittany Lions have already forged, signing off in his program speech though, Chambers noted it's time to change the narrative.

"We need to change the narrative of Penn State basketball because Penn State basketball is back," Chamber said.

A Few Minutes with Barbour
Fresh off another successful graduation which saw nearly 100 Penn State student-athletes approved to graduate, Barbour was of course pleased with another year of continued academic excellence. Among the 97 student-athletes, a total of 28 teams were listed as approved to graduate, with nearly 60 percent of the group earning Academic All-Big Ten honors during the past four years for earning at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average.

"Our student-athlete continue, to number one, amaze me and number two, make me really, really proud and should make all of us proud at the rate of which they are graduating and the level of which they are performing academically," Barbour said. "From their grades to the different curriculums that they are pursuing and the things they are doing in their postgraduate careers."

More from Barbour below. 

The Penn State Coaches Caravan pulls out of New York early Wednesday morning, headed to Philadelphia for an evening program. 

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.

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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.

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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"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.

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"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.

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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. 

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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. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.





Follow GoPSUsports.com'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)
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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


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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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

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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.

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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.

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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


caravan_bus_langhorne.jpg


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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