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By Gabrielle RichardsGoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Leadership isn't always something you can learn in a classroom; it's something you have to experience. For Penn State field hockey team, choosing seniors Katie Andrews and Laura Gebhart as team captains was an easy choice. 

Between the two seniors they have shared the field together 58 times in their four years at Penn State. Andrews, who plays defense, and Gebhart, who shifts between the forward and mid position, have helped lead their team to two Big Ten Championships. 


"It's a huge honor to know that our teammates respect us and think highly enough of us to put us in this position," Andrews said. "It's exciting to know that we get to lead the team this year to all of our success." 

Their team is off to a great start. With a record of 3-1 and a No.6 ranking heading into this week's matchups against Princeton and Lafayette, the Nittany Lions are on the right track to make this one of the best seasons yet. 

The Nittany Lions' only loss came to defending NCAA Champions, University of Connecticut. They lost in overtime off of a corner shot bringing the final score to 1-0. 

"Everyone knows what that devastating loss feels like," Andrews said. "We are just focusing on taking that mentality and that excitement we had during that game into the rest of the season."

"It was amazing to see everyone on the field gut it out," Gebhart said. "At that point we [as captains] don't really need to say anything. We just feed off our teammates and work together." 

Gebhart's success on the field is unprecedented; she has represented Penn State and her country on the U.S. National Team and the Junior World Cup Team. Big Ten Freshman of the Year, All-American and U.S. Team Captain are just a few titles that follow her name. 

"Going into this season with Laura and someone of her caliber is really exciting," Andrews said. 

Andrews, an agriculture major and business minor, and Gebhart, a community and environmental development major, are not only a leaders on the field, but in the classroom. Since 2012, Andrews and Gebhart have made the Academic All-Big Ten list (2012, 2013) and the NFHCA National Academic Squad (2012, 2013). 

But when all is said and done after this season and Gebhart and Andrews turn their tassels at graduation, they will miss their teammates the most. 

"It has been such a learning experience over the years," Gebhart said. "Its heartwarming to know that these girls will be there for me and I will be there for them, no matter what." 

The captains understand that their success on the field and in the classroom wouldn't be possible without the help of their coaching, academic and support staff. 

"The relationships we have with our teammates are amazing," Andrews said. "But our support staff, academic advisors at the Morgan Center, the Varsity 'S' Club...those are priceless relationships we have been able to build together." 

The Nittany Lions take on No. 14 Princeton (Friday) and Lafayette (Sunday) this weekend at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Eight thousand four hundred and forty seven minutes equals 352 days, 217 road trips from Pennsylvania to California, and the amount of time it would take to earn 56 Bachelor's Degrees from Penn State. Eight thousand four hundred and forty seven minutes also equals the amount of time Nittany Lions Kylie Licata and Jenna Chrismer have spent on the field together. But, if we were to calculate the amount of time that Kylie and Jenna have known each other, the total would be 7,884,000 minutes or 15 years.

Before they became "Big Ten Athletes of the Week," "Big Ten Champions," and "leading scorers," Kylie and Jenna were just a couple of kids who grew up across the street from one another. From the late night kick-ball games to the backyard barbeques, the duo has been inseparable since 1999.

"Jenna [Chrismer] moved into the neighborhood when I was seven years old," Kylie said. "I was one of the first friends she made."

The duo grew up in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania, a small, rural area two hours north of State College. Mountain Top is home to one of Pennsylvania's premier high school field hockey programs, the Crestwood High School Comets. Field hockey wasn't always the common denominator between these two, as Kylie is responsible for Jenna joining Crestwood's junior high team.

"It was the day before junior high sports tryouts," Kylie said. "Jenna came over my house and told me she wanted to try out for the cross-country team. I laughed at her. I said 'no, no, no, come play field hockey.'"

Five minutes later, Jenna was in Kylie's backyard with a field hockey stick in her hand.

"I never in a million years thought that I would play this sport," Jenna said. "But, then I really liked it."

...and the rest was history.

The following summer, Jenna's dad built them a field hockey cage. The duo would often be out all hours of the night, using only a spotlight to see the ball, pushing and working each other.
  The challenge of the back yard one-on-one field hockey sessions didn't stop there, they continued at practice as well.

"When you care about someone, you want to give them your very best," Jenna said. "I always made sure I tried my most difficult shots or my fastest plays on Kylie at practice. That way I knew I helped her as best I could for game situations."

This constant support system off the field translated just as well on the field. In the time that Jenna and Kylie wore their red and white Comet uniforms, they won two Wyoming Valley Conference Championships, appeared in two semifinal rounds in the PIAA championships and graduated with a near perfect record. Kylie graduated in 2010 with a .850 save percentage. Jenna graduated in 2011 with 229 career points and a spot in the Crestwood record books as the fourth highest scorer in the program's history.

"Playing without Kylie my senior year was difficult," Jenna said. "We talked on the phone every day."

Their separation wouldn't last long.

Jenna's visit to Penn State was the last on her list before the high school standout had to make her decision.

"It just felt like home," Jenna said. "Having Kylie here added to that feeling."

The duo has truly made Penn State their home, especially on the field. Kylie and Jenna are major contributors to the Nittany Lions' offensive and defensive strategy. 

Jenna, one of the leading scorers heading into this season and Kylie, who has played every minute of every game since the 2013 season started, will leave their mark when they graduate this year.

"We always joked about going to the same college when we were in high school," Kylie said. "Who would have thought that we would be ending our careers together?"

While Kylie and Jenna are the nucleus of their friendship, their parents are best friends, too. The duo might have been on the field together for 8,447 minutes, but their parents have been on the sidelines cheering for each of those minutes as well.

"It's comforting to look over my shoulder during a game and see our parents standing with one another," Jenna said. "They have always been there for us, no matter what."

"I knew we were family long before we started playing [field hockey]," Kylie said. "One summer, Jenna's mom bought a membership to the local pool; she got me a pass too. The pass read 'Kylie Chrismer.'"

For the past four seasons at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex, Jenna and Kylie's names have been announced over the loudspeaker during the pre-game announcements. Their names are always followed by "Mountain Top, Pa." While their collegiate careers might end this November, the duo will never forget how their 'team' of two started.

It began 7,884,000 minutes ago when a young Kylie saw a moving van pull into the house across the street. 

By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- This past weekend was a great one for Penn State. With victories coming from Croke Park [Football], Rec Hall [Women's Volleyball] and Jeffery Field [Men's Soccer], it was only fitting that Penn State's field hockey team earned a pair of victories this weekend, too.

Win Over Old Dominion Shines Light on Nittany Lions' Offensive System 

This weekend's matchup against Old Dominion was a familiar one, as the Nittany Lions have opened their regular-season against the Monarchs for the past ten years. This contest was evenly matched for the better portion of the first half; most of the play occurred between each of the 25-yard lines. 

"We knew that they played a lot in the middle because that is where their strength really is," head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "They [Old Dominion] have a lot of strong international kids who you see just have that flare with the ball so we knew we had to protect the middle." 

By the half way mark of the first half the Nittany Lions and the Monarchs were even in shot total with each team having four shots on goal. Twenty-three minutes into the first half, Old Dominion capitalized off of a deflected shot that Monarch Katy Fuhrman played in the air. The ball went over Kylie Licata's head, giving Old Dominion a 1-0 lead with 12 minutes left to play in the first half.

"Once they scored we were like 'let's go, lets rally' and we got really pumped up," said senior forward Jenna Chrismer. "We knew we had to play our game." 

Penn State's offensive strategy has always capitalized off of their corner execution, which came in handy in Friday's contest. Three minutes after the Monarch goal, the Nittany Lions forced a corner giving them an opportunity to even the score before halftime. Chrismer inserted, the pass found Bethany Mink and in a scramble in front of the cage, Chrismer tipped it in. With two minutes left to play in the first half, Chrismer capitalized on another scoring opportunity with an unassisted goal, putting the Nittany Lions ahead 2-1.

"Jenna [Chrismer] had an awesome goal," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "That is just great effort and guts. A lot of positive things came out of this game." 

There was a change of pace in the second half as most of the play occurred inside the circle. Old Dominion outshot Penn State 12-5 but the shots went unanswered thanks to keeper Kylie Licata. The Nittany Lions were able to force more corner play, earning six corners.

The Nittany Lions walked away with a 2-1 victory. Licata made nine saves, a career best for the fifth-year senior.

Shutout Against Virginia Proves Penn State's Defensive Strategy

A pair of season and career firsts took place for Penn State in Sunday's matchup against No. 6 Virginia. Red shirt senior Natalie Buttinger scored her first career goal just four minutes into the game, giving Penn State an early lead. Six minutes later, Buttinger scored her second goal off a pass from Chrismer, putting the Nittany Lions a head 2-0.

"I was really excited to start off the game with a high tempo," Buttinger said. "We really attacked the net."

Penn State's offense dominated the first half of the game, forcing five penalty corners and earning eight shots on net. Following the half, senior and State College native Amanda Dinunzio scored off of a deflected corner shot from senior Taylor Herold, giving the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead.

While the scoring effort of Penn State's offense was a major contribution to Sunday's win over a higher seeded Virginia, the Nittany Lion defense earned its first shutout of the season. 

"Our defense was really strong today, especially the entire second half," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We really just couldn't find a way out [of our circle]. We told them they needed to have guts and that they had to double team and that is what they did." 

Coach Morett-Curtiss made the decision to move Penn State's leading scorer and shot taker Laura Gebhart back to the center defensive position. This decision not only highlighted the versatility of Gebhart's play, but also spoke to the leadership and experience of the fifth-year senior captain, who is just returning from playing with the US World Team.

"Her [Gebhart] experience and understanding of the tempo of the game is why we chose to do this," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "Her leadership qualities and being able to organize the team is why we made this decision. She just gives a lot of confidence to those on the field."

Another shining star in Sunday's contest was the goal keeping of Licata. In the second half, Virginia took eight shots on net and earned six late corners. Licata's versatility in the cage, especially during corner play, helped the Nittany Lions earn their first shutout of the season.

"Hopefully this shutout is the first of many more to come," Licata said. "But it wasn't just me. The forwards and defense did outstanding today. They deserve so much credit."

 Looking Ahead...

The Nittany Lions will make their way to Connecticut this weekend to take on defending National Champions, University of Connecticut, on Saturday and Quinnipiac on Sunday.

"We need to have more team attack next weekend," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We just need to keep stepping up early and pressing the net." 

By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Twenty-eight years ago, head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss opened her playbook for the first time as the head coach for the Nittany Lion field hockey team. Since then, her teams have won three Big Ten Championships and have made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament each year. This year, Coach Morett-Curtis and the team are eager to work hard for another successful season.

In a press conference on Monday, Morett-Curtiss used the words "chemistry" and "experienced" to describe this year's squad.

"We have a lot of talented players, but we need to make sure that we're getting them in the right positions," Morett-Curtiss said. "I'm excited about the senior class that we have coming back."

With seven seniors and a pair of fifth-year seniors, the Nittany Lions will bring a level of maturity to the field unparalleled by younger squads in the conference.

Heading into this weekend's home opener, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 8 by the NFHCA (National Field Hockey Coaches Association), putting them ahead of Old Dominion but just behind Virginia.

For the past ten years, Penn State has opened the season against Old Dominion but 2014 brings new additions to the schedule. Maryland, Quinnipiac, Drexel and Lock Haven are new to the schedule this year. Maryland is not only a new addition to Penn State's schedule, but a new addition to the Big Ten Conference.

"I think it makes it more challenging, but at the same time it's a welcomed addition to the conference," coach Morett-Curtiss said of the schedule additions. "You look at some of the conferences, where the ACC, they have a lot of strong teams. So, a win or a loss against them really only helps strengthen your schedule. That's what I think is going to be positive for us."

Chemistry

Much like any sport, the longer a team plays together, the more familiar they become with one another. Familiarity doesn't even begin to describe the 2014 roster. With two Big Ten Championships and three NCAA Tournaments between them, this senior class is prepared for a challenging schedule.

Seniors Jenna Chrismer, Laura Gebhart, and Taylor Herold have been major contributors to the Penn State offense since the trio first came to Penn State. Katie Breneman and Katie Andrews have been a constant force in the backfield, as they started in all 19 contests last season. Fifth-year senior Kylie Licata will be returning to the cage, also starting every game last season.

Casey Haegele, Amanda Dinunzio and Natalie Buttinger also return to the Nittany Lion roster, all of whom saw action in 13 games last season.

Experience

The forward line is one of the strongest dynamics that the Nittany Lions will field this season. Chrismer, Gebhart and Herold have been major assets to the forward line since their freshman seasons. The trio combined for 21 goals, 20 assists and 145 shots on goal last season, ranking them as the top contributors of last year's squad.

Licata, who was the Nittany Lions only goalie last season, will return to the field with her 0.683% save percentage intact.

Aside from the seniors experience in conference play, Gebhart recently returned from playing on the U.S. National Team this summer.

"It was a huge learning experience," Gebhart said in Monday's press conference. "It's really great that I can come back to Char (coach Morett-Curtiss) and we can talk about things that I learned, how we can implement them at Penn State and how we can pick up our level and just really take the whole program to the next level."

This leadership and experience will help mold the incoming freshman class, as this group of seniors will be leaving behind big shoes to fill.

"I'm always excited to get the fall season started," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "We were really fortunate this year that we were able to schedule two scrimmages. As a coach, you're always trying to find the perfect fit. We have a lot of talented players, but we need to make sure that we're getting them in the right positions."

The Nittany Lions open their regular-season this Friday against Old Dominion at 5 p.m. and Virginia on Sunday at 12 p.m..

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: 2014 Field Hockey Season Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having won at least a share of the last two Big Ten regular season titles, the Nittany Lion field hockey team returns six starters from last season's squad.

Head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and the Nittany Lions tallied a 13-6 overall mark in 2013, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Midfielder Laura Gebhart and goalkeeper Kylie Licata return as 2013 first-team All-Big Ten honorees. Senior forward Taylor Herold led the Nittany Lions with 30 points last season. In all, Penn State will field nine seniors in 2014.

The Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 29 against Old Dominion on the sparkling new turf at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

GoPSUsports.com spent a morning with the Lions during preseason practice to provide an inside look at preparations for the season.





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Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


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2014 Coaches Caravan Day V - Philadelphia & Scranton

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VIDEO: Coaches Caravan Day IV Roundup

Philadelphia Photo Gallery | Scranton Photo GalleryCoaches Caravan Registration


PECKVILLE, Pa. -  The second day of leg two on the road with the Penn State Coaches Caravan featured a trip through downtown Philadelphia and a packed house in Scranton on Wednesday.

Philly natives James Franklin, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh highlighted Wednesday's lunch stop.  Additionally, four-time defending NCAA wrestling champion head coach Cael Sanderson joined the cast of coaches for Wednesday's event.  Take a look at some highlights.
    


Stop No. 9 - Philadelphia (The Rittenhouse Hotel)


 
Wednesday's lunch took place in the heart of downtown Philadelphia at The Rittenhouse Hotel.  More than 250 fans filled the ballroom to greet the four coaches during an excellent lunch event.  Franklin, Morett and Walsh had a little extra bounce in their step after the Philly natives took a drive down Broad Street en route to Center City for the lunch.

Wednesday's crowd was superb, and the group gave all four coaches a standing ovation after they spoke.  Like the gathering in King of Prussia on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia supporters of Penn State Athletics are a diehard group of fans.

Walsh has been a tough act to follow during her two weeks on the Caravan.  Her campus tour speech is filled with details and beaming with pride.  Whether it was Bob Warming, Morett or Sanderson, every coach who has stepped to the podium following Walsh has remarked about her tremendous description of the Penn State campus.  Sanderson had his first crack at following the leader of Penn State women's soccer for the first time on Wednesday.

"That's tough to follow.  I just want to have lunch," Sanderson joked.

caravan_philly_1.jpgFresh off the program's fourth-straight NCAA title, Sanderson has an endless supply of things to talk about.  But that's not his style.  Sanderson deflects the attention off of himself to talk about the positive energy surrounding the football program and how the football program serves as the engine for the health of the athletic department.

"They have the vision, the passion and the pride.  We are in very good hands," Sanderson said of Franklin and the football staff.

He went on to urge the crowd to buy football season tickets now.

"Get your tickets now because when they get going, you're not going to be able to get them in a few years," Sanderson said.

Franklin talks about the state of pride in Penn State each time he addresses a caravan crowd.  That could not be more apparent during the first nine stops during the past couple weeks.  The fan base is excited for what's ahead.  And the fellow coaches in the department are just as excited.

"There are so many things to be excited about," Morett said.

Morett finished off her stint on the Coaches Caravan in Philly.  She will now hit the recruiting trail.  From Philly, the Fullington bus rolled north towards Scranton.



Stop No. 10 - Scranton (Fiorelli Catering)



Day two of the second week wrapped up in front of the Caravan's largest crowd in Peckville, Pa. (Outside of Scranton).  Nearly 900 Penn State fans crammed into the ballroom at Fiorelli Catering to welcome a great group from the Penn State Athletics family during the local alumni chapter's 36th annual event.  The list of attendees included Northeast Pennsylvania products and current Nittany Lions Eugene Lewis, Nyeem Wartman, Gary Wooten and Brian Tomasetti and the voice of the Nittany Lions, Steve Jones.

Prior to dinner, Coach Franklin met a throng of fans that lined up more than 90 minutes prior to when the program began at 7:30 p.m.  Fan after fan walked up to Franklin for an opportunity to shake hands and take photos for nearly an hour.  Some offered advice.  Some told stories. Some even offered gifts.

Walsh and Sanderson both spoke prior to Franklin, energizing the room packed with Nittany Lion supporters.  But it was Franklin who got the room buzzing during an informal auction for game tickets to select Nittany Lion games in the fall and season tickets.  Franklin triggered a bidding war with the microphone that led to two fans battling up to $8,000 for a pair of season tickets.  When the final bid was announced as the winner, the room erupted with approval and rose to its feet.

scranton_1.jpg"In this room, I feel like I'm already in Beaver Stadium.  You can't move for all of the people," Sanderson said when describing the atmosphere.

Franklin's remarks were passionate and filled with energy as he closed out the evening's lineup of speakers.  While highlighting his vision for the football program, Franklin reminded the Scranton crowd of what is important in the quest to become the top program.

"Success is about doing all of the little things better than everybody else in the country," Franklin said.

Throughout all three speeches, the crowd of nearly 900 was glued to the speaker at the podium.  Walsh, Sanderson and Franklin all deserve a great deal of credit for their delivery on Wednesday night.

Simply put, the Scranton crowd was again tremendous for the third-straight year during the Caravan.

Before boarding the bus bound for the next stop in New Jersey, the Coaches Caravan crew paid a visit to 2012 Nittany Lion alum Eric Shrive's new restaurant - The Vault Tap Room & Restaurant - located in West Scranton.

Thursday's events will take place in Northern New Jersey and New York City before the Caravan heads back to State College.
    

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles
Day V - 245 miles


Total - 1,102 miles
    

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2014 Coaches Caravan Day IV - King of Prussia

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King of Prussia Photo Gallery | Coaches Caravan Registration


KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Leg two of the 2014 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday evening with a stop outside of Philadelphia.

The eighth stop of the 17-event caravan featured James Franklin, four-time defending NCAA national champion wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson, field hockey's Charlene Morett and women's soccer's Erica Walsh.  More than 700 Penn State enthusiasts greeted the coaches inside the event room at Valley Forge Casino Resort.  Take a look at some highlights from Tuesday's event.


Stop No. 8 - King of Prussia (Valley Forge Casino Resort)




More than 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and three of the four coaches on stage treated Tuesday night's Coaches Caravan event as a homecoming.  Hailing from Montgomery County, Walsh was just minutes where she grew up in Huntingdon Valley.

"I tried to get the whole caravan moved to the Phillies game (tonight)," Walsh joked.

Morett, who is on the Caravan for the Philly swing, is a proud product of Delaware County.  Like Walsh, she was thrilled to be in front of the home crowd on Tuesday night.

"I'm just a Philly girl coming back home," Morett said.

Morett spent a portion of her speech giving Walsh a hard time for not attending Penn State.  Walsh has spent the past two weeks on the Coaches Caravan delivering a superb visualization speech of the University Park campus.  Morett's response?

"After listening to your speech, how did you not go to Penn State?"

As a 27-year veteran as a head coach of the Nittany Lion field hockey program and Penn State alum, Morett is among the most passionate individuals you will find when it comes to her love for the University.  She genuinely appreciates the support fans and alums give to the school that means so much to her, and it's always evident when she speaks in front of a crowd.

The third Philly product in King of Prussia on Tuesday evening was the headliner of the event.  Franklin grew up in Langhorne, Pa., which is roughly 30 miles from the site of the stop.  As he has said from day one, Franklin is a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart.  He's thrilled to be the head coach of the Nittany Lions, and he could not have been happier to be close to home.

"It's unbelievable to be here tonight," Franklin said.  "...The sense of pride in Penn State is unbelievable."

kop_1.jpg Joining the trio of Philly natives this week on the Caravan is the leader of the nation's premier collegiate wrestling program.  Always entertaining, Sanderson has a knack for keeping the crowd light every time he speaks in front of a group.  He was clad in a "Dominate The State" T-shirt under his suit jacket to show his support of Coach Franklin.

Sanderson's introduction included a small snippet of his unmatched wrestling and coaching career.  After receiving a standing ovation following the introduction, Sanderson stepped to the microphone and noted that the intro had left off his fourth-grade all-star baseball achievement.  The room erupted in laughter.

Sanderson likes to have fun with the crowd, but when it comes to his appreciation for the position he holds, his feelings are clear.

"It's an awesome opportunity to be a part of Penn State, and it's because of you guys," Sanderson said.

The Coaches Caravan travels downtown Philadelphia for a lunch stop on Wednesday before moving north to Scranton for a dinner event.

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Miles Traveled:
Day I - 165 miles

Day II - 130 miles
Day III - 387 miles
Day IV - 175 miles


Total - 857 miles

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Gebhart Fired Up for 2014 and U.S. National Competition

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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the midst of spring conditioning, the Penn State field hockey team is focused on the competition ahead and they are motivated by the desire to out work the competitors in the fall.

The Nittany Lions have incredible leaders on their roster this upcoming season like junior captain Laura Gebhart, who has been busy as of late.

The Nittany Lion midfielder earned her first international cap in the U.S. National Team's competition against the Canadian National Team on March 10. Team USA went undefeated against the Canadian National Team during the four-day series.

This past summer, U.S. head coach Craig Parnham named Gebhart to one of 30 positions on the 2013-'14 U.S. National Field Hockey Team roster, a feat that many student-athletes strive for their entire careers. Since then, Gebhart's student-athlete life has been a balancing act.

"It's been awesome and manageable, but it's been a bit of a struggle to find a balance with U.S. field hockey and the commitments and goals for that along with Penn State and our program and my academics," she said. "Sometimes having to return to why I'm here and why I'm doing it... I love field hockey. I get frustrated and it's overwhelming but [I remind myself] these are my goals."

However, Gebhart has an evident passion for life and all things field hockey that shines through and speaks for itself.

"Honestly, if it wasn't my passion, I wouldn't be able to do this because it is a huge time commitment but to be able to be on the field and play is awesome," Gebhart said. "I get so much enjoyment out of it."

Her coaches and teammates have been an incredible support system and she comes from a long history of athleticism in her family. Gebhart's mother and sister played at American University and Lock Haven University, respectively. During her impressive career in field hockey, Gebhart's mother had the opportunity to meet some important figures in the sport like Penn State's head coach Charlene Morett, who works everyday with Gebhart to improve her game not only for Penn State but also for competition all over the country. The Gebhart family ties to the sport have been a crucial part of her experience.

"[U.S. head coach] Craig Parnham and [Penn State head coach Charlene Morett] have been phenomenal. They've been working with me to try and find a plan and my teammates have been so supportive," said Gebhart.

Even though she spends only four of seven days at The Spooky Nook (the Nook) in Lancaster, the official training ground for U.S. Field Hockey, she says training has been exceptional and her support system is already growing deeper.

"I'm still getting to know [the girls] better but I have been fortunate to have play almost with all of them at some point before this. I know the girls and now it's just getting to know how to play with them," she said. "[But] training has been phenomenal. This is an awesome, awesome opportunity."

She admits that going into these endeavors has taken her on an unexpected journey. She's grown incredibly as a person and an athlete and she hopes that her teammates are able to rely on her in all aspects of their game. She's confident that her training at the Nook will help her lead the Lions to success.

As for what the future holds for Gebhart? The connection between her and her Penn State teammates and Coach Morett is as strong as it has ever been and she looks forward to spring tournaments.

This summer, she will train full-time with the national team and she will try-out for the World Cup team. Following those efforts, Gebhart will go to the Women's National Championship where she will pursue a position on the 2014-'15 U.S. National Team roster.

She will also continue her career with the Penn State in late summer when the Nittany Lions begin their preseason training.

"The [ultimate] plan, or the goal, is to play with the U.S. [team] full-time out of college," Gebhart said.

Penn State Athletics THON 2014 Coverage

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.

A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer.  THON raised a record of more than $13.3 million in 2014.  To date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.

Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance marathon.  Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball, Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.


Additionally, Nicole Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.

Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.

We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants actively involved with THON.

Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.


Friday Coverage:

3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer

Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story


6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.

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11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.


Saturday Coverage:

3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.

More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.

The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year.  The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours.  Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event



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5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday.  Take a look.




9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally.  In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.

With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year.  We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally



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Team Dances
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance


11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.



Sunday Coverage:

12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014

Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon.  Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center.  Take a look.



 
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014.  Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.

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