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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Five

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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Five

Day Five in Holland as told by Field Hockey student-athletes Shay Cannon and Delani Higgins


May 12, 2016


The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.


Days 5 & 6, May 11-12



Shay Cannon, junior, Wilmington, Del.


"Hi everyone! On Wednesday we arrived in Utrecht with the luxury of yet another beautiful sunny day. We are staying at a hotel in central city. Our hotel is very modern and contemporary along with luxurious rooms and great views. It only takes about five minutes to get to Central Station, which we must walk through to get to central city. As Emilee Ehret described in yesterday's blog, we have had the opportunity to tour all that this city has to offer.

"On Wednesday night we enjoyed dinner in the city with different groups of teammates. Some of us ate at Smaak Eten & Drinken. I've noticed many stores and restaurants here are very small. Eten & Drinken was no different. I was very surprised to walk into a restaurant with a single cozy-sized room consisting of about 10 tables. It looked like a room in a house! Despite the size of the restaurant, we unanimously decided it was the best meal each of us has had thus far. Some entrees included steak, salmon, spare ribs and tortellini, all with a Dutch spin. After dinner we enjoyed gelatos while others searched for the infamous Dutch stroopwafel and ice cream.

"I've quickly learned you always have to be on the look out for bikers and mopeds (the primary sources of transportation). If you give them an inch, they will take it. Bikers do not slow down for those who are walking! Traveling through this city, I felt like I was in a movie strolling through the cobble streets along the canals listening to live guitar music. Nowhere in Delaware have I experienced this! The Dutch culture is breath-taking. Although it is different than what I'm accusomed to, I could definitely get used to it!"                                                           



Shay Cannon (left) and Skyler Fretz had a rockin' good time touring Utrecht. 

Delani Higgins, Hummelstown, Pa.


"Hi everyone! It's Thursday afternoon and we've had a busy day so far in advance of our game tonight at the Leidenscheen Oegstgesster Hockey Club in Oeggstgesst, Holland. We spent most of the daytime today trekking around the city center of Utrecht. The city is built on the canal, so there are so many great opportunities to get a look at how the people of Utrecht spend their time and get a glimpse of their culture.

"On Thursday morning, the two teams split into two separate groups for a morning expedition to an 'Escape Room' - a room in which you get locked in with your group and you receive different clues to find your way out within a time limit of an hour. It's a good team-building exercise, with an emphasis on communication ad collaboration.

"I was lucky enough to be in the second group, so we slept in a bit longer that the first group. To get there, we ventured through the train station to the Dom Tower, where we met with our tour guide, Judith, who took us the rest of the way to a place called 'Mysteria,' where the escape room was located. The room was medieval-themed and right beside the canal -- so it was below street level. As the first group finished, our teammates were not allowed to give us any clues. But they did freak us by saying how scary it was down there. That did not relax our nerves at all.

"The leader of Mysteria came out and invited us into a little room in the canal wall. The room was tiny and the man was wearing an outfit that reminded me of the wizard in Fantasia. He told us that he was a part of a 1500s society led by Cornelius Foxeus, who had learned the gift of living forever. He said that back in that time people did not like that kind of magic and that they had to live in the tunnels of the canal bridges ever since.

"We were then blindfolded and led into the escape room. We were all handcuffed to metal rods in a wall and locked into the room. 'The Voice of Cornelius Foxeus' told us we could take our blindfolds off to start our attempt to escape. If we escaped in time, we could become a part of that society that lives forever, if not...well, you get locked in there forever. We took our blindfolds off and eventually worked our way out of the handcuffs. We got clues on how to escape by looking through books, standing on stones to make doors open and placing compasses on the right spot on a map. My favorites were placing the chess pieces on the right place on the board and lining up mirrors to let a light shine through to expose another clue.

"Suspenseful music played the entire time, as my teammates wore monk costumes in hopes of gaining clues -- we didn't get clues, but we did end up looking ridiculous. At one point, Brooke Birosik thought there was a clue in the attic. She wasn't tall enough to reach the door, so she got Shay Cannon to open it. A taxidermy fox fell from the top and scared all of us.

"To finish the game, we had to translate shapes and numbers into the correct letters. We then put the letters into a lock that looked like it came from the movie 'The DaVinci Code.' Unfortunately, neither group was able to finish the last code as each team missed a different letter. Thankfully, Cornelius Foxeus could see how hard we worked to get to the last clue, so the didn't lock us up in there forever. It was a fun experience and at the end we all tried on medieval clothes and took pictures.

"The rest of the afternoon was ours to shop, stroll the sidewalks of Utrecht, take kayaks up and down the canal, and grab lunch. A couple of us decided to look through a 'make-your-own jewelry' store down the street from the escape room. We then got Italian pizza at a restaurant along the canal, which was amazing. From there, we found our way back to the hotel to rest up for the game. I'm excited to see what tonight's game and the trip have in store!"


Under blue and white skies, Delani Higgins takes a canal-side selfie.


Left to right, in Utrecht: Skyler Fretz, Delani Higgins, Gini Bremley, Kirsten Gouchnauer, Shay Cannon and Mary Nell Smith.


Team members dressed up in medieval-style costiumes as part of the Mysteria escape room experience.


Shay Cannon enjoys dining outside along the canals of Utrecht.


 Many folks in the Penn State traveling party toured the amazing gardens of Keukenhof on Thursday.




Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Four

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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Four

Day Two in Holland as told by Field Hockey student-athletes Moira Putsch, Kasey Moreno and Emilee Ehret


May 11, 2016

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.

Days 4 & 5, May 10-11

Laren - Zwolle - Utrecht


Moira Putsch, junior, Media, Pa., and Kasey Morano, Hammonton, N.J.


"Hey guys! Moira and Kasey here. Boy, do we have a lot to tell you! Tuesday afternoon, after a day in De Hoge Veluwe National Park, we headed to Laren for our second match of our tour of Holland. Add in an hour's drive, and we were worried we weren't going to have enough energy. (It helped that we all fell asleep on the bus.)

"But when we walked off the bus, saw the beautiful Laren two-story clubhouse and felt the energy and excitement coming from its five surrounding synthetic turf fields (used for field hockey only), we woke up and got amped for the game. We also learned that three of the three of the best field hockey players in the world -- Masha Palman and Naomi VannAs, Joyce Strombock - came from the Laren club. We were ready!

"The game against the Laren Girls U18 team started out really strong for us. We were connecting and passing better than we had been in a while, and it was definitely an improvement from the first game on Sunday, when we landed in Holland in the morning and played that evening. Gini Bramley started us out with a saaaaaa-WEEEEET goal on a pass from Kasey (who is writing this with Moira). Then Laren answered with a goal to tie it, 1-1. Carly Celkos stepped up on a corner and rocketed one into the back of the cage, followed by a goal from Laren that made it 2-2.

"We scored again when Aurelia Maijer, who is from Holland and was playing in front of several family members and friends, took the ball down the sideline -- and wearing a very determined look on her face - scored for a 3-2 lead. Laren again answered with a goal. Gini then put us ahead 4-3 when she scored with an incredible pop over the defender on a drive to the top left corner from the right side. It was nasty!

"The game was exciting and fast, with everyone on our team putting all the energy they had left out on the field. The double teams were dangerous and it felt really fun to be connecting like that. Kasey had a fire tip-off (Moira's words) of a shot from Carly on a corner. Talk about deception! The corners were on point. The match ended with a 6-4 victory, after both Aurelia and Laren added goals. The horn sounded and our head coach, Char Morett-Curtiss, had a big smile on her face. It was a good win and the first of our trip.

"We concluded the evening by sharing a meal in the clubhouse with the Laren team we had just played. The girls were so nice and very funny. We had a really great time conversing using a mixture of Dutch and English. It was also really interesting to hear all about the differences and similarities between our two lifestyles. We shared a delicious salad, noodles and a meat, veggie and tomato sauce concoction that was scrumptious. The bread is unreal. It's so good, I am taking a suitcase of it home. Our nutritionist, Kris Clark, would be so proud we are carb'ing it up!"

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Kasey Morano (left) and Moira Putsch (right) pose post-game with a member of the host Laren team.

Emilee Ehret, senior, Philadelphia, Pa.

"We started off Wednesday with a 90-minute bus trip from our first home base of Zwolle to the city of Utrecht. We all were fast asleep, but as soon as we arrived we immediately started roaming the city. We walked around and we all enjoyed a hustling and bustling city in Holland.

"We went to the Dom Tower after lunch and experienced a historic spot in the city of Utrecht. This tower stands very tall in the middle of the city and is part of two sections of a beautiful church that was partially destroyed several centuries ago. The two ends of the church remain, like bookends, while the middle is now a big courtyard.

"Climbing the 465 steps to the top was not easy. After 100 steps, we all were struggling. The steps in Holland are designed to be very steep. Throughout the tour of the bell tower, we stopped to listen to the tour guide describe each of the floors and their importance for the tower. One floor had seven large bells and the largest of the bells weighed more than two elephants combined. These bells are only rung twice a year on New Year's Eve and a national festival day. Only two people on the tour had the opportunity to ring the bells, and Emily Klingler and I were the chosen two!

"On the floor above that, we got to see the largest music box of its time, which was created in the 1700s. It rings a specific melody every year and only on one day of the year the music box does not play because it takes an entire day to change the melody for the following year. Finally, we walked 100 more steps to the very top. The very narrow staircase was tiring and a little scary. Still, it was a fabulous way to get to see an astonishing and amazing view of the city. It was worth every step.

"When we made it to the top, Moira Putsch yelled, 'I love Utrecht!' Seeing such a historic site and being with our entire team was a memory we won't forget. However, my feet were killing me at the end of the tour because we were going up and down so many steps. So, on the way back to the hotel, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of shoes to ease the pain!"

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Emilee Ehret had a ball ringing a big bell in Dom Tower.

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Emilee Ehret stands in front of the Don Tower, the tallest building in Utrecht, Holland.

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The Penn State team climbed 465 steps to the top of the Dom Tower and was still smiling.

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A panoramic view of Utrecht.

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After Penn State's 6-4 victory over Laren on Tuesday night, the two teams shared a traditional post-game meal in the Laren clubhouse. Reliving the game and getting to know their opponents in a relaxed and friendly fashion is a key part of the trip's learning experience.

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Three

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Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Three

Day Two in Holland as told by Field Hockey student-athletes Katie Dembrowski and Brooke Birosik


 Holland Trip Recaps: Day One | Day Two

May 10, 2016

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.


Days 3 & 4, May 9-10

Zwolle - Ottrelo - Laren


Katie Dembrowski, sophomore, Palmyra, Pa.

 "I grew up in Palmyra, a small town adjacent to Hershey - so I know all about tourists flocking to a city. For the first half of our tour of Holland, our team is staying in the beautiful town of Zwolle, located in the north-central part of The Netherlands. It is not quite the tourist place that I am accustomed to. I am used to "Chocolatetown, U.S.A.," with people waiting in line to get into the park, lots of cars clogging the streets and so many people coming to buy Hershey's famous chocolate.

 "Here in Zwolle, people are not used to seeing Americans walking around shopping and trying new foods. In fact, we went to a restaurant named "De Vier Jaargetijden," and asked our waiter if he serves a lot of Americans. He quickly said no. It is interesting to see the difference in tourism between Hershey and Zwolle. Most restaurants here do not have American menus, so we ended up asking the waiter a million questions. Once we found out what was on the menu, it seemed as though they served a lot of American foods, like burgers and ribs. So of course, I ordered a burger -- but it did not taste anything like an American burger. It was delicious and had a more natural taste to it. I find that to be the case with a lot of foods here; they seem to be more natural than the foods we have back at home. 

"When we went a tour of the city and surrounding countryside on bikes, we did not see many people just out riding and looking at all the scenery -- everyone had a place to go! They were going to work, going to school or going to a shop. They would not wait for us to turn or get across the road. Instead, they would just speed by us because I do not think they are used to people riding bikes around the city who are just sight-seeing. Everyone here has a destination. 

 "Of course, everyone here is so also nice. They may not be accustomed to tourists, but they sure do a good job of hosting them!"

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Kirsten Gochnauer (left) and Katie Dembrowski.

Brooke Birosik, senior, Ickesburg, Pa.

"Hello from the Kröller-Müller Museum & Sculpture Garden! Today, our team took a trip over to De Hoge Veluwe National Park. It is about an hour away from our hotel in Zwolle.

"During the bus ride, we had a blast singing and doing some throwback karaoke. When we arrived to the park, we were free to roam for about four hours. The museum was about two kilometers from where we got dropped off by our bus. We could either walk to the museum or take one the hundreds of free white one-speed bikes available all over the park. Like almost everyone else in Holland, most of us took the bikes!

"The museum is like a second home to the work of Vincent Van Gogh. It has around 90 paintings and more than 180 drawings, making it the second-largest collection of Van Goghs in the world. After touring around the art inside the museum, a few of us explored the outside sculpture garden, where you could see modern sculptures and how they just blended into the natural background of tall green trees and many trails. The garden serves as a backdrop for over 160 sculptures by prominent artists, like Jean Dubuffet and Marta Pan.

"Afterwards, we had a cozy lunch outdoors in a large tent located in the middle of the garden. There I devoured a delicious goat cheese salad alongside a classic Latte. Later on, a bunch of us headed back to the bikes and we then ventured off on a 12k trip to the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus castle, which is located on the north side of the park.

"They call this park -- which is the biggest nature reserve in all of Holland -- 'The Green Gem of the Netherlands.' It certainly is and the visit made for a unique and unforgettable experience."


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 Lunch with (left to right) Kirsten Gouchner, Jenny Rizzo, Cassie Kline and Brooke Birosik.

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All over the sculptures and artwork at the Kröller-Müller Museum were (left to right) Lauren McNally, Emilee Ehret, Aurelia Maijer and Moria Putsch.

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

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Bike riding through De Hoge Veluwe National Park.

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Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the world's second-largest collection of Van Gogh artwork, including his celebrated "Café Terrace at Night" and "Joseph Roulin."

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day Two

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FH_Holland blog header3_2016.jpg

The Penn State women's field hockey team, under the direction of head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field.

 Holland Trip Recaps: Day One

Days 2 & 3, May 8-9
Hattem - Zwolle

Carly Celkos, senior, Berlin, N.J.

 "Sunday night we played our first match against a Dutch team that included the brother (Gilles) of my teammate, Aurelia Meijer. We learned a lot of playing for the first time against the Dutch, who are known for their quick passing and decision making.

 "It seemed like everyone at the club arrived riding their bikes with their field hockey sticks attached.  It was amazing to see the passion and love for hockey the people of Holland have. Parents, grandparents, teenagers, and young children all came out to watch our game and stayed to socialize afterwards. Hockey here is a big part of their lifestyle for people of all generations. The people at the club were very friendly. It was great getting to meet people our age in Holland and seeing how much we have in common - we have similar tastes in things like music, clothing and movie.

 "After the game in Sunday night we had a little time to explore of Zwolle as a team. What really surprised us the most was how clean the downtown of Zwolle was for being a city. There was a beautiful moat also with little boats in the lake.

 "One of the advantages of going away is being able to have everyone on the team at the same place at the same time. Other than practice and games, that doesn't happen a great deal back on campus. Being able to really bond and be together off the field is special and I know it will help with team-building in the future, all of us sharing this great experience 24/7. We went to a cute little café in Zwolle, just a short walk from our hotel. We all sat down and talked about our amazing first day. It was a great way to end our day all together, just the 20 of us.

 "On Monday morning, we all gathered after breakfast for a team bike ride through Zwolle. We got to see the city close-up, going past old cathedrals and riding on cute brick streets, all the while joining hundreds of cyclists who riding to work and school. After a day off, on Tuesday we have our second match of the tour, against the Laren Girls U18 squad."


 Penn State teammates (left to right) Jenny Rizzo, Katie Dembrowski, Brooke Birosik and Carly Celkos prepare for a cycle ride in Holland.

Lisa Winters, sophomore, Hershey, Pa.

 "After we finished our bike ride, we had the rest of Monday as free time to explore the city of Zwolle. We walked toward the center of the city, where teammate Brooke Birosik and I stopped at a small cafe to get some sandwiches and lattes for lunch. The whole menu was in Dutch and we only understood a few words, but we made our best guesses and ended up with some pretty tasty meals.

 "After filling our stomachs with some food, we set out down the main shopping road. I recognized a couple of stores that we have at home, like H&M, but most of the time we just looked in the windows and tried to guess which stores we would like. The best part was that whenever we started to get a little tired or wanted to get out of the sun for a little bit, there was always a cafe around to grab some coffee or a snack and sit down until we were ready to go again. I don't think a vanilla latte in the United States will ever taste the same to me again after having some of the most amazing ones I've ever had over here.

 "It was a pretty hot day, so after a few hours of walking around and shopping we all headed back to the hotel to chill out on the porch and rehydrate a little bit. We stayed there until dinnertime, when a whole bunch of us walked back into the city, planning on finding a restaurant that had been recommended by our hotel staff. Even with the help of Google Maps, we hadn't found the place after walking around awhile, so once we got tired of looking we just sat down at the closest place. Nearly everyone in the group wanted a burger, but apparently our 'refined' American love for burgers was a bit confusing to our waiter; he was pretty confused about our exact specifications for toppings and condiments and none of them came out exactly as planned, but we all thought it was pretty funny and made it work.

 "My sleep schedule is still pretty messed up from the six-hour time difference, so at this point a few other teammates and I decided to grab some ice cream and head back to the hotel. It's good to have some time now to rest up for another fun day and our second game tomorrow!"

Many of the Penn State student-athletes spent their leisure time in Zwolle dining out and shopping. 


Carly Celkos and teammate Gina Bramley pose outside of Sassenpoort, one of the old city gates in Zwolle, which is the capital city of 125,000 residents of the province of Overjssel, Netherlands.


One of the team's two cycling tours took its riders past a quintessential Holland windmill on their way to the town of Kampen.

Penn State Field Hockey Holland Trip: Day One

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FH_Holland blog header3_2016.jpg

The Penn State women's field hockey team has embarked on a nine-day, five-city exhibition tour of The Netherlands, playing five games against a variety of competition in the most renowned field hockey country in the world. Through the student-athletes' own words and pictures, the #PSUFH2Holland daily blog chronicles their adventures on and off the field, from bike tours and canal cruises and to traditional post-game meals with their hosts.

Days 1 & 2, May 7-8:
Philadelphia - Amsterdam - Zwolle - Hattem

Cassie Kline, sophomore, Millersville, Pa. 
"Hey everyone! This is Cassie Kline and as I writing this it is exactly noon on Sunday in sunny Zwolle, Netherlands. It is a fantastic day to play some field hockey! Hard to believe, but my day actually began yesterday at my home near Lancaster, Pa. -- over 3,000 miles from where I am right now.

"The entire team, our coaching and support staff, plus several parents met on Saturday afternoon at the Philadelphia airport for the field hockey trip of a lifetime. We checked our bags and stood in a long line - longer than what we even see back on campus -- waiting to go through security. Once that mission was accomplished, we had an hour-and-a-half until we started boarding, so the team broke up to grab some dinner. Some team members and I went to Chickie's & Pete's, where I got a grilled chicken salad before we took off for Holland.

"As we boarded the plane, I took my seat, which was closest to the aisle, and prepared myself for a long six-hour ride. Most of the team slept, listened to music and watched movies on the plane. We knew we needed to get some rest, since are scheduled to a play later his afternoon.

"We arrived at 2:45 a.m. American time -- which is 8:45 a.m. in the Netherlands, which meant no naps before the game. We got off the plane and went to the baggage claim to pick up our luggage. From there, we took a coach bus that delivered us to our hotel after a very scenic drive. When we arrived at the hotel, which is very gorgeous, we were met by the warm greetings of family of our teammate Aurelia Meyer, who lives in the Netherlands. After everyone dropped their bags off in their rooms, we sat down for lunch at the hotel and had tomato soup and sandwiches. We are all excited for our first game later today against a U16 boys team at Aurelia's hometown field hockey club."


Sophomore Cassie Kline on day one in Holland.

Aurelia Meijer, sophomore, Hattem, The Netherlands

"What an exciting and memorable day Sunday has been! My Penn State field hockey family met my own family - my parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents -- as well as the close friends and neighbors who make up the Hattem Mixed Hockley Club. I am proud of them all.


"Since I was 10 years old, my family has lived in our house in Hattem, a small town not far from Zwolle. My parents' home is a very short walk to the HMHC field and clubhouse. Field hockey is the No. 1 sport in Holland, and clubs like ours are a central gathering place for training, competition and post-game celebrations enjoyed by players and supporters of all ages. It was great to show by Penn State friends and teammates this great hockey tradition.


"It's where I honed my skills for five years as a hockey player, from age 10 to 14. It is also where my father Xander, sister Sanderyn, and brothers Ijsbrand and Gilles still play today. And by today, with my brothers I mean Sunday! My Penn State team competed against the Hattem U16 team, which included Gilles, as well as a guest appearance by Ijsbrand. He's a tough player - I am so glad he didn't score.


"I have so many good memories of playing on that field, so it was great to have a chance to play there while representing Penn State. It was a chance for my teammates to absorb what hockey in The Netherlands is all about. Sometimes I tell the team that I miss my home, and I'm not sure they always understand. After my family hosted everyone for pre-game cakes and pies and juice and fruit- and herb-flavored water, they toured our house and nearby woods. Afterwards, so many of them told me, `Now we know what you mean!'


"It was a hard-fought game and although we lost, it meant a lot that several of my friends and club members came up to afterwards and said how impressed they were by my Penn State teammates and how we played just hours after flying here from the U.S.A. We gave our hosts T-shirts and pins. As is our Dutch custom, my club hosted my Penn State teammates for a big meal of pasta, salad, pastry (like our native soejes) and beverages - and lots of laughs and conversation. Our club is like Penn State...everyone is as close as family.


"My family really loves Penn State - and now, so does my club as well. And I know my teammates have a new appreciation for my hometown and country as well.


Aurelia Meijer with her brothers Ijsbrand (age 12, left) and Gilles (age 14, right), who competed for the Hattem Boys U16 team against Penn State on Sunday.

#PSUFH2Holland Snapshots - Day One

Day one in Holland following the team's first game.

The Nittany Lion flag flew over the playing field.

Goaltenders Colleen Conway (21) and Jenny Rizzo (5) watch a men's game prior to their contest on Sunday.

The Penn State FH team and the family of Aurelia Meijer enjoyed a pre-game get-together at the Meijer house in Hattem, The Netherlands, located adjacent to the Hattem Mixed Hockey Club (HMHC) field and clubhouse.

The Nittany Lions enjoy a bit of down time after arriving in The Netherlands.

Penn State Athletics THON 2016 Coverage

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IMG_9032.JPGUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 44th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center over the weekend.

THON's 708 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. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON. THON revealed a fundraising total of more than $9.7 million for 2016 with 96 percent of THON's all-time funds being donated directly to Four Diamonds. 

Each year, more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) were active participants in THON, and led run several fund-raising activities once again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family and a lip sync competition. In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.

Four Penn State student-athletes are represented SAAB as dancers in THON 2016: Liisi Vink-Lainas (Wynantskill, N.Y.) and Angela Widlacki (Naperville, Ill.) of women's soccer, Emily Rivers (Washington, D.C.) from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) from football.

"This means the world to us. As athletes you are given a platform that a normal student might not have," said Zanellato. "It's one of those things that when you come in as a freshman, you know that you will have that platform for a few years. I wanted to make the most of it. I realized that THON was something special to me when I came to Penn State. I wanted to use my platform as best I could."

Additionally, Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman from the Lionettes squad and from Penn State cheerleading Kenny Fuhrman, Paige Gentry, Jordan Hinkle, Kylie Tobasco and Mike White danced in THON.

Within Penn State Athletics, strategic communications student assistants Emily Hesidence and Kate Brandell were also among the dancers at THON, as well.

Check out the extensive coverage from THON 2016 weekend.

Friday - 6 p.m. - THON 2016 Begins
The 46-hour dance marathon kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday evening when the 708 dancers stood. They will remain on their feet until Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.


Saturday - 9:30 a.m. - Student-Athlete Interviews
With Bryce Jordan Center buzzing with energy during the 16th hour of THON 2016, spent some time with student-athletes and THON dancers Liisi Vink-Lainas  and Angela Widlacki of women's soccer, Emily Rivers, from women's tennis and Matt Zanellato from football. Representing Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the group is thrilled to carry the Penn State Athletics banner as dancers in the 2016 THON. Take a look at some of their remarks from the floor at the BJC.

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Saturday - 2 p.m. - Football Hosts THON Explorers Event
Approximately 40 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed approximately 30 THON Four Diamonds children and their families to a special event inside the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON Explorers program.

The THON event in Lasch 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, participate in athletic stations, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.

The Nittany Lions formed a high-five tunnel for the families upon entry into the building before the student-athletes took the families around the football facility. Take a look at the THON Explorers event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.

Football THON Explorers Event

Saturday - 6 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the IM during athlete hour on Saturday.  Here are a few snapshots and video highlights from the event.

Athlete Hour Photo Gallery

Saturday - 11 p.m. - Football Wins Pep Rally Dance Competition
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 2016 version of the dance-off.

The pep rally included a speech from former Nittany Lion football great Devon Still and his daughter Leah.

As for the dance competition, the football team claimed top honors in the men's side of the action, while the reigning national champion women's soccer team took top honors on the women's side. The two teams then battled in a dance off, with the football team earning the bragging rights as the 2016 THON Pep Rally dancing champion.

We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON. 

THON 2016 Pep Rally Photo Gallery

9185732.jpegTHON 2016 Pep Rally Full Dances
Football (Men's & Overall Champion) 
Women's Soccer (Women's Champion)
Men's Fencing
Men's Golf
Men's Gymnastics
Men's Hockey
Men's Rugby
Men's Soccer
Men's Tennis
Men's Volleyball
Field Hockey
Women's Golf
Women's Gymnastics
Women's Hockey
Women's Rugby
Women's Volleyball

Sunday - 11:30 a.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2016
Head coach James Franklin took the stage of THON 2016 on Sunday morning to urge the dancers on in the final hours of the 46-hour dance marathon.  Franklin's message epitomized what THON's mission has been since it started in 1977.

"This is special. What you guys do is what Penn State is ultimately all about," said Coach Franklin.

Take a look at his full remarks.

James Franklin at THON 2016 Photo Gallery

4:14 p.m. - THON 2016 Raises $9.7 Million
For the second-straight year, THON's fundraising efforts raised more than $9.7 million. The grand total for THON in 2016 was  $9,770,332.32 for fight against pediatric cancer.  Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2016.  Here is a look at the reveal from Rec Hall prior to Penn State wrestling's bout against Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lion faithful in Rec Hall let out a big cheer as the total was unveiled.


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VIDEO: THON 2016 Pep Rally - Field Hockey

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By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Finishing the season with a win against the 16th ranked Northwestern Wildcats was a nice way for Penn State to build some momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.  But the real test begins Thursday, with a match against third-seeded Indiana, who happens to be the host school for the whole tournament. 


Indiana, being the host school, has chosen to play in the last time slot on Thursday, at 5:30 p.m.  The winner of the game will advance to face the winner of the Michigan vs. Iowa contest. 

Michigan is certainly a daunting team to have to face in the second round, but coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss and her staff are only focusing on Indiana right now, and only watching tape on Indiana. 

"I think we can put pressure on the host school just by being aggressive," said Morett-Curtiss. 

Being the sixth-seeded team, the Nittany Lions are in a position where they find themselves as underdogs.  But lately, the term underdog could not be more opposite of how the team has been playing.  The squad has won three of its last four games including an overtime win against Rutgers, a win on national television as time expired against Iowa and the win at Northwestern.  It's safe to say the team is finding itself and playing its best field hockey of the year.

"With the inexperience of this team it just took us a while to figure out which positions the girls play better and how they can play better together," said Morett-Curtiss. 

It can be dangerous when a lower-seeded team flies under the radar and comes in hot.  Morett-Curtiss believes the team isn't playing with house money, but is still an underdog capable of making some noise.   

"We've sort of gotten over that nervousness and fear; we're the underdog so let's be aggressive., said Morett-Curtiss" 

Morett-Curtiss has won six Big Ten tournaments over her career, and that experience will no doubt be helpful in this year's games.  This year especially, there are a lot of tough teams and a lot of chances for upsets.

"I think it's a tournament where there's a lot of parity," added Morett Curtiss.

The Nittany Lions will face Indiana on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. All games in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds can be seen live on the Big Ten Network.

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There was nothing more perfect than Aurelia Meijer's interview on the Big Ten Network after her dramatic game-winning goal with no time left against Iowa over the weekend.  Meijer's positive attitude and passion for the game shone through in the interview, and her coach thought it was a special moment as well.


"I think her interview was just so priceless; it was so spontaneous.  Just all the interactions just even from some friends of mine that send out [things] on our alumni page and people contacting me about it I think that was priceless," said head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss. 

Meijer has improved so much throughout the season that she has become the main go-to option even as a freshman.  She has been taking all the practice reps on penalty corners in practice this week.

There are still critical games to be played this weekend in the Big Ten, including at Northwestern.  There is a big mess in the middle of the standings in the Big Ten Conference, with Northwestern, Ohio State and Indiana at 4-3, and Penn State at 3-4.  With a win this weekend, the Nittany Lions would be tied with the Wildcats and could move up from the six seed all the way to the three seed.  But the team is not concerned about seeding at this time because of the importance of playing well going in.

"We're not worried [about seeding].  Not at all.  I think what's most important for us is a win against Northwestern because, for us, that's good confidence and good momentum going into the tournament," said Morett-Curtiss. 

For Penn State, coming out of Evanston with a win will have to be because of great corner defense.  Northwestern is leading the nation in penalty corners and they have a great success rate of scoring goals on corners. 

"Their corners are very dangerous.  They look to go to the close post and far post for tips and bring a lot of people in to tip the ball.  Our focus needs to be on not giving up corners and corner defense," said Morett-Curtiss. 

After the Northwestern game, the team will try and get as much rest in as possible before heading back to Illinois for the Big Ten tournament.

"The two most important things about the Big Ten tournament are you have to believe you can win the tournament and you have to be rested," said Morett-Curtiss.

The team will just watch video on Sunday upon their return from Northwestern, and then they leave Wednesday for the tournament, which will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

By Mike Gilbert, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With no time left in regulation, and Penn State with one more opportunity in a tie game on a penalty corner, Aurelia Meijer took control.


"The only thing I was thinking was we are not going to overtime.  I don't want overtime," said Meijer.

On the second penalty corner in a row with zero ticks on the clock, Meijer took the feed and rocketed a shot that blew past the Iowa keeper and nailed the bottom right of the goal.  It was the first time all season that State was able to control the end of the game and come out with a last second victory.

"I was proud of my team, I was proud of us and I knew we could do this because we have never done this and now we did it," said Meijer.

Not only did Meijer net the game winner, but she also scored Penn State's two other goals.  The first came with 24:45 left in the first half that trickled in to the net.  She was in good position to nab the rebounded shot.  The second goal came with 2:20 left in the first half, which was also a rebounded shot, and the net actually fell down because so many players were around the net hitting into it.  Meijer has shown an ability to be in good position even in traffic.  Her head coach, Charlene Morett-Curtiss put it best.

"What a fantastic day for her," said Morett-Curtiss.

When Iowa scored twice in the second half, Morett-Curtiss saw her team start to get down on themselves, so she called a timeout with eight minutes remaining and got the team back on track.  From there, they didn't look back. 

"It's huge, we've just been here too many times and we haven't closed the game out and to see them at this point of the season dig deep and get that victory, that gives us a great surge of confidence going to Northwestern next weekend and hopefully into the Big Ten tournament the following weekend," said Morett-Curtiss.

Meijer stole the show Friday, and this game certainly can help Penn State with seeding heading into the all important conference tournament.  


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