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Offense Tops Defense in Fight Against Kidney Cancer at 2014 Lift For Life

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VIDEO: Lift for Life Player Interviews | Photo Gallery: 2014 Lift for Life

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday's 12th annual Lift For Life was a resounding success with the offense topping the defense by a score of 30-24 in a six-event, head-to-head strength and conditioning competition to benefit the Kidney Cancer Association through Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

For the fourth-straight year, the funds raised at Lift For Life were on pace to reach record heights. With donation figures still to be finalized, the 2014 Uplifting Athletes fundraising efforts have the 12-year total nearing the $1 million mark.
Fans can still make a Lift For Life donation by visiting the Penn State Uplifting Athletes donation page HERE.

Sunny skies and a crowd of approximately 2,500 fans greeted the Nittany Lions at the Penn State Lacrosse Field on Saturday. The upperclassmen participated in the head-to-head competition pitting the offense against the defense. Simultaneously, the true freshmen ran in a mini Lift for Life kids clinic with more than 100 participants on the turf at the lacrosse field.

Lift_blog_3.jpgThe Nittany Lions put on a show for the fans in attendance with an exhibition in six strenuous events. The competition featured five rotations of one-on-one battles in the "dominator" shuttle run, deadlift, sled push, tire flip, tug run (water-filled plastic tug device) and 225-pound max bench press.

The final tally (30-24, Offense) was based on head-to-head victories in each individual rep. Some of the notable performances of the day on the bench press included senior linebacker Mike Hull's 30-rep effort at 225 pounds. Sophomore Brian Gaia and junior Tarow Barney each finished with 29 reps on the bench.

Tight end Jesse James turned in a pair of outstanding performances on Saturday, including 27 reps of 225 pounds on the bench and 12 reps at 500 pounds on the deadlift.

"Our tight end crew could be a special group," Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt said. "Jesse is a freak (athlete). He's putting up national elite numbers.

When the six-event rotation wrapped up, the Nittany Lions moved the center of the field for the tug of war finale. The offense claimed the first tug of war battle, but the defense notched three-straight victories to grab the upper hand in the final battle of strength.

Despite the 3-1 edge in tug of war, the offense will take some friendly bragging rights into the rest of the summer as the overall winners at the 2014 Lift for Life.

Life_blog_1.jpg Following the workout, the Nittany Lions met with the loyal Nittany Lion fans and signed autographs.

"It's really fun to be able to work out in front of the fans to show them all of the hard work he have been putting in for the last eight or nine weeks," tight end Brent Wilkerson said. "They support us so much, so it's fun to be able to show them all of the progress we have made since they last saw us."

Galt and his staff had a blast at their first Lift for Life event. He applauded the player-run Uplifting Athletes organization for its countless hours of prep work to put on another successful event.

"This was a great event to be a part of," Galt said. "We thoroughly enjoyed it, and we are thrilled to have been able to work out in front of the fans.

The 12th Lift For Life was again a tremendous success and fundraiser for kidney cancer, largely thanks to countless hours of preparation from the Uplifting Athletes group led by junior Ben Kline.

Penn State begins preseason practice on Aug. 4.


Much more to follow, including video highlights from the 12th Annual Lift For Life


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VIDEO: Lift for Life Player Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions talk with the media at the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life on Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

Breaking Down the 2014 Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the past 11 years, Uplifting Athletes, a Penn State Football player-run group, has worked together to lead the fight against kidney cancer.

To date, the group has raised more than $825,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association since the first Lift For Life in 2003. A staple on the summer calendar, Uplifting Athletes hosts Lift For Life, a grueling test of physical and mental strength, to benefit of kidney cancer. This year, Uplifting Athletes has its eye set on eclipsing the $1 million plateau.

Founded by Penn State Football teammates Scott Shirley, Dave Costlow and Damone Jones in 2003, Uplifting Athletes is currently led by linebacker Ben Kline.

This year's event will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field (located next to the Multisport Building). Uplifting Athletes placed an emphasis on fan interaction for 2014. Penn State fans will have an opportunity to meet the Nittany Lions on the field from 1-2 p.m. during a meet and greet autograph session. Additionally, members of the football team will host a kids clinic on the field as the Lift for Life event takes place.

"We love our fans, and it's important to us to give them as good of an experience at Lift for Life as possible," Kline said. "They have done a great job helping us raise nearly a $1 million during the last 12 years for kidney cancer. We couldn't have done it without them. This should be a day to show appreciation for the fans while we fight against kidney cancer. We are really excited about it."

In the heart of the summer workout season, the team enjoys the opportunity to participate at Lift for Life in front of the Penn State fans. It is the only workout all year where the team competes in front of its loyal supporters. Saturday's workout, led by Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt and his staff, will consist of six stations before a tug of war at the center of the field.

The list of events includes:
- 225-pound Bench Max Out
- Dead Lift
- Tire Flip
- Sled Push
- Shuttle
- Tug Run (Plastic tug device filled with water)

To donate to Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life, click the link listed below:

Donation Link



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VIDEO: Previewing the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Uplifting Athletes officers are in the final stages of preparation for the 12th Annual "Lift for Life".

This year's event takes place on Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. Entirely player-run, the 2014 Lift for Life will feature more fan interaction than in previous years. In addition to a six-event workout, kids will be able to take part in a Lift for Life clinic on the turf with Nittany Lion players during the event. Additionally, fans will be able to participate in a meet and greet with the team from 1-2 p.m. after the workout is complete.

Go PSUsports.com caught up with Penn State Uplifting Athletes president Ben Kline for an update on the preparations and excitement around the 2014 Lift for Life.




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Looking Back at the Top Events from 2013-'14

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the calendar begins to shift towards the start of the 2014-'15 athletic season, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take a look back at a tremendous campaign for Penn State Athletics.

Fueled by national championships from women's volleyball, wrestling and fencing, Penn State accumulated a record point total in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup in 2013-'14.

Penn State's three NCAA Championships are its most since winning three in 1999-2000. Penn State student-athletes, who have an 88 percent graduation rate, won a school record-tying and conference-best eight Big Ten titles in 2013-'14 and 16 over the past two years, easily topping second place Michigan (9) in combined titles the last two years.

Take a look back at some of the top events from a stellar Penn State sports season.


Men's Hockey: Oct. 11, 2013 - Penn State 4, Army 1 (First Game in Pegula)

HKY_Pegula_First Game.jpgIt was a night fans in Hockey Valley had been dreaming of for years. The Nittany Lion men's hockey team christened the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena with a dominant performance before a boisterous sold out crowd on opening night for the 2013-'14 season.

At 8:14 p.m., the puck dropped in the first game inside Penn State's sparkling new home for hockey.

Nate Jenson owns the honor of tallying the first goal for the Nittany Lions in Pegula. He took a feed from Taylor Holstrom early in the first period and beat Army goalie Rob Tadazak to the high corner, glove side. Just as Jensen scored, the crowd of 6,370 exploded and Zombie Nation blared through the speakers.

An early third-period two-on-one shorthanded goal from Curtis Loik and a breakaway goal from David Goodwin would spark the same reaction. Leading 3-1, Eric Scheid notched a last-second empty net goal to seal the first win in their inaugural game in Pegula.

Hockey Valley could not have any been prouder of its team following the 4-1 victory, and the student section made that very clear. The Roar Zone was full song from the moment it walked into the building 90 minutes before faceoff.

The Nittany Lions went on to win four games inside Pegula Ice Arena during their first Big Ten season. The list of victories included a thrilling 4-0 win over Michigan and a 4-2 triumph over Ohio State during conference play.



Football: Oct. 12, 2013 - Penn State 43, Michigan 40 (Beaver Stadium)

FB_Robinson Michigan.jpegDown by 34-27 at its own 20-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, Penn State found itself in a difficult situation in sold out Beaver Stadium against rival Michigan.

The stakes were simple. Drive down the field and score a touchdown or the game was over.

True freshman and 18-year old signal-caller Christian Hackenberg jogged onto the field to lead the offense during the 2-minute drill with the game on the line.

On first down at the 20, Hackenberg connected with Robinson, who dragged his toe just inside the sideline paint in front of the Penn State bench for a 14-yard gain.

One play later, it was Brandon Felder's turn.

Hackenberg's toss to Felder in front of the Michigan bench covered 29 yards and set up another first down at the Michigan 37-yard line.

Two plays later, Robinson returned to the spotlight with the play of the game.

Hackenberg fielded Ty Howle's snap and looked to Robinson, who was lined up wide on the left side of the formation. Robinson stuttered in the first 10 yards of his route, attempting to freeze the Michigan defensive back. As he regained full speed, Hackenberg's pass was in the air.

Robinson skied over the Michigan defender and plucked the ball at the highest point in his jump before falling to a rest at the 1-yard line.

Hackenberg finished the drive off with a plunge into the end zone, capping off a five-play, 80-yard game-tying touchdown drive that covered just 23 seconds on the clock.

The teams exchanged blows in the overtime frames before Bill Belton became the hero. Belton trotted into the north end zone of Beaver Stadium for a game-winning touchdown in the fourth OT, capping off an epic comeback and a victory that will live in Penn State history for decades.



 
Women's Volleyball: Dec. 21, 2013 - Penn State 3, Wisconsin 1 (Championship Match)

WVB_Title.jpegPenn State's road to the national semifinals in Seattle was not an easy one in 2013. After knocking off LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec Hall to open the NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions traveled to Kentucky for the regional round of the 64-team tournament.

Penn State rallied from 1-0 down to defeat Michigan State in the regional semifinals, which set up a showdown against seventh-seeded Stanford for a trip to the national semifinals.

The Lions and Cardinal battled to a fifth set in what evolved into an epic clash among two of volleyball's heavyweights. Penn State trailed Stanford 9-6 in the fifth before head coach Russ Rose used a timeout. Out of the break, the Lions were not going to be denied.

Penn State scored the next six points in the decisive set on the way to punching a ticket to the national semifinals in Seattle.

Playing in the NCAA semis for the 11th time in program history, Penn State rolled over Washington (3-0), which was playing just four miles from its campus, with a truly dominant performance.

The national title match, the Lions' ninth all-time appearance, was next. Facing off against Wisconsin in the first all Big Ten national final, Penn State jumped out to a hard-fought 2-0 lead before the Badgers rallied to make it 2-1.

Wisconsin took a 23-20 lead in the fourth and was just two points from forcing a fifth set, but the Lions were not done. A service error from the Badgers made it 23-21. With ice water in her veins, ESPY nominee Micha Hancock stepped to the service line. The junior delivered four potent jump serves, two of which dropped for aces, before senior Deja McClendon's kill clinched the program's sixth national title and fifth in the last seven years.

In six NCAA Tournament matches this season, the Nittany Lions dropped just four total sets.


 
Men's Basketball: Jan. 29, 2014 - Penn State 71, Ohio State 70 (Value City Arena)

MBB_Newbill_Craft copy.jpgThe Nittany Lion basketball team trailed Ohio State, 59-48, with 7:58 to play in Columbus after Buckeyes capped off a 10-2 scoring run.

Penn State never panicked, largely thanks to a dominant performance from D.J. Newbill down the stretch.

A pair of buckets from Jordan Dickerson and two free throws from Newbill set the score at 62-59, Buckeyes, with 2:20 to play.

Newbill then fielded a long pass moving right to left across the floor from Frazier before burying a corner three, which tied the game at 62-62 with 1:08 to go. Ohio State scored the next three points to make it 65-62.

Newbill answered in the form of a second clutch 3-pointer with 11.0 seconds to play.

After Ohio State's final possession in regulation came up empty, the game headed into overtime.

The Buckeyes took a 70-67 lead on a pair of Lenzelle Smith Jr. free throws in the extra frame, but Newbill was not done.

The Philly product snaked through the Ohio State defense for a lay-in with 45 seconds to play, pulling the Lions to within one (70-69). The Buckeyes turned the ball over on the next possession, setting up an inbounds play with 13.2 seconds.

Tim Frazier inbounded to Jordan Dickerson, who handed the ball off to D.J. Newbill in front of the scorer's table. Down one with 11 seconds to play in overtime as he crossed halfcourt, Newbill raced to the right side of the floor.

The Philly native wanted the ball in his dominant hand. With one of the Big Ten's top defenders an arm's length away, Newbill began his move with 5.4 seconds on the clock.

After one power dribble to his right, he sent the ball to his left hand under Aaron Craft's extended right arm. Newbill took one more power dribble with his left hand before elevating at the right elbow with 3.5 seconds on the clock.

The ball never touched the rim as it sailed through the cylinder to give the Lions a 71-70 victory. Penn State's win at Ohio State was its first since 2001.



Women's Basketball: March 1, 2014 - Penn State 77, Michigan 62 (Bryce Jordan Center)

WBB_Big Ten.jpegTo put it simply, Senior Day couldn't have gone any better for Penn State's four seniors in 2014.

Maggie Lucas, Talia East, Dara Taylor and Ariel Edwards all were double figure scorers on a day where they were honored with friends and family in attendance as the team claimed its third consecutive Big Ten title with a 77-62 over Michigan.

Edwards led the Lady Lions with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field while Lucas, East and Taylor added 17, 16 and 11 points respectively.

Penn State had control of the game from start to finish as they shot 54 percent from the field, missed just one free throw on 19 attempts and collected seven blocks and 11 steals.

The group of seniors combined for 65 of the team's 77 points; epitomizing their leadership during their time at Penn State in their last regular season home game.

That was expected from a group of four leaders who ensured a team of seven freshmen didn't miss a beat coming off of two-straight conference titles heading into the season.

Edwards, Lucas and East left Penn State as one of the winningest classes ever. They finished with 101 wins, good for second in program history. Taylor was at Penn State for 75 of the 101 wins after transferring from Maryland.

With all of the championships, accolades and wins, it was a perfect way for Lucas, East and Taylor to complete their Penn State careers.

Penn State's third-straight Big Ten title put the Lady Lions in elite company with Iowa and Ohio State as the only programs in the conference to win three or more consecutive conference crowns. The title also fueled the Lady Lions' second run to the Sweet 16 in past three years.




Wrestling: March 22, 2013 - Nittany Lions Clinch Fourth-Straight NCAA Title

WR_Title.jpegPenn State's reign over the college wrestling world continued in March when the Nittany Lions captured their unprecedented fourth-straight NCAA team title in Oklahoma City.

Fueled by NCAA individual crowns from seniors Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and David Taylor at 165 pounds, the Lions celebrated on the sport's grandest stage inside Chesapeake Energy Arena as the 2014 national champions.

By no means was the fourth title an easy one for the Nittany Lions, who edged Minnesota by 5.5 points in the final team standings. Following a victory from Ruth at 184 pounds, the Lions pulled ahead of the Gophers by 1.5 points after two championship bouts.

Minnesota suffered setbacks in its two national title bouts, with the second coming in the ninth match of the evening. As the 157-pound bout ticked to zero on the clock, the white-clad Penn State fans rose to their feet to celebrate the program's fifth national championship.

But the work was not quite done for the Nittany Lions, as Taylor was on deck in the final championship match of night against Oklahoma State's Chris Perry.

You could not have scripted a better way for Taylor's career to end in a Penn State singlet than the way it did on Saturday night. The epitome of a team player, Taylor's imprint on the program goes far beyond his stellar accolades. He didn't miss a match at the national tournament because he wanted to support his fellow teammates. On Saturday morning, he did not need to be at the arena, but he was the first to greet fellow senior James English as he came off the mat after his critical win in the seventh-place match at 149 pounds.

Thanks to another dominant performance, Taylor finished off his collegiate career with a victory in the final match of the national tournament, an individual national title and a team title. 

Taylor and Ruth played a paramount role in Penn State's fourth-straight title, but the Nittany Lions will remain atop the NCAA wrestling mountain because of a hard-fought team effort in the 2014 NCAA Championships.



Fencing: March 23, 2014 - Nittany Lions Clinch 13th NCAA Title

FEN_Title.jpegNo program in Penn State's illustrious sports history has won more national titles than the fencing team. Under the direction of interim head coach Wes Glon, Penn State mounted a furious charge on the final day of the NCAA Championships in Columbus to clinch its 13th national championship.

As a team, Penn State finished the competition with 180 bout victories, toppling Princeton in second-place (159 victories), and St. John's in third (156 victories).

Individually, sophomore Kaito Streets claimed the 2014 men's saber NCAA title. Streets became the 13th individual champion for the Nittany Lions in program history.

In the team race, the Nittany Lions were neck and neck with Princeton throughout much of the competition. The Lions began pulling away from the Tigers on day three of the competition. Penn State clinched the program's third title in the past six seasons on day four.

Streets held the number one spot in the men's saber event heading into the final competition. He knocked off Ferenc Valkai from St. John's to become an individual champion.

Glon has been with the Nittany Lions for 29 seasons, and he has seen all 13 national titles. But the 2014 crown marked his first as the leader of the program.




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VIDEO: Inside Summer Workouts with the Nittany Lions

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion football team is five weeks from walking onto the practice field for training camp under the direction of head coach James Franklin.

For now, though, the team is in the heart of its summer workout program with Director of Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt. Under a new NCAA rule adopted last fall, student-athletes are allowed to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those eight weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review.

The new NCAA rule enables GoPSUsports.com to take fans inside summer conditioning with the Nittany Lions for the first time. Take a look at a lifting session in the weight room and conditioning on the turf adjacent to the Lasch Football Building during a warm afternoon.






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VIDEO: Nittany Lions Say Thank You to Brad 'Spider' Caldwell

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Feature: Caldwell's Dedication to Penn State Football Unmatched


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - To honor beloved equipment manager Brad "Spider" Caldwell on his final day as a Penn State Football employee, the Nittany Lions wanted to take a few moments to say thank you for all that Caldwell has done for Penn State. After working with more than 1,000 football student-athletes, Caldwell will retire from the University after 31 years of service on Friday.





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'Chopped' Episode Featuring Coach Hand Set to Debut

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive line coach and run game coordinator Herb Hand will be a competitor on Tuesday night's episode of "Chopped" on Food Network (10 p.m. ET).

Hand was invited to put his cooking skills to the test on the competitive show last fall. During a Vanderbilt bye week, Hand and his family flew to New York to film the episode known as "Four Fathers". The show pits four contestants against one another who have minimal time to make an appetizer, main course and dessert with unusual ingredients.

The contestants are judged after each round, with the worst contestant being "chopped" until one contestant remains. According to Food Network, the "Four Fathers" episode features an appetizer round with fish and salt and vinegar potato chips, and in the dessert round rice pudding and pretzel dessert.

"It's basically a dad's who cook show. It combines food and competition, two of my favorite things," Hand said. "I'm looking forward to watching the show. I think everyone will be excited about it."

The full description of Tuesday's "Four Fathers" episode from Food Network is:

"Making their kids proud, four daring dads take on the pressure cooker that is the Chopped Kitchen, but how will the fathers-turned-competitors fare with fish and salt and vinegar potato chips in the appetizer round? The dads get the gift of a bottle of scotch in the entree basket. And after the two fathers fight it out in the dessert round, the judges debate whose rice pudding and pretzel dessert was more successful." (Episode: CQ1908H)

The episode debuts on Food Network Tuesday at 10 p.m. It will re-air four times, as well - June 11 at 1 a.m. ET, June 15 at 7 p.m. ET, June 19 at 8 p.m. ET and June 20 at 3 a.m. ET. The Food Network is distributed to more than 100 million households in the U.S.

Tune in to watch Coach Hand in his quest to dominate the kitchen on the latest episode of "Chopped".

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Beloved Caldwell's Dedication to Penn State Football Unmatched

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Few men have poured more time, effort and energy into the betterment of Penn State Football than Brad Caldwell.

Affectionately known as "Spider" around the program, the beloved equipment manager of the Nittany Lions left a mark on the program that no one may ever touch. 

For the past 31 years, Caldwell didn't do his job for notoriety or recognition.  He worked, often from sun up to sun down, in Happy Valley because he loved his profession, and more importantly, he loved making a positive impact on those around him.

His journey to the Penn State sideline started at Curwensville High School (45 miles west of State College).  Caldwell's eighth grade science teacher talked him into being a manager for the junior high football team.  Before finishing a season with the junior high team, Caldwell was invited to become the manager of the Golden Tide's varsity team.

"I was a manager in high school for four years for three different sports, and I fell in love with it," Caldwell said.  "My eighth grade science teacher, who was a junior high coach, called me going into my ninth grade year and said I'd love to have you be a manager for my team...The varsity coach saw me, and then I went straight into varsity that year.  I did football, wrestling and baseball during my four years there.  I just loved it.  I think it was something I was supposed to do, and I really enjoyed it."

spider_4.jpgAfter graduating from Curwensville in 1982, Caldwell spent one year at Penn State's DuBois campus.  He watched the Nittany Lions win their first national title, and he knew that he wanted to be a part of the program.  Caldwell enrolled in classes at the University Park campus in the fall of 1983 with an eye on becoming a student manager.

Caldwell's first game on the Penn State sideline was at the 1983 Kickoff Classic in Giants Stadium against No. 1 Nebraska.

"Here I am, I'm from small Curwensville, and I'm in awe standing in Giants Stadium," Caldwell said.  "I'm standing there looking at the New York City skyline saying, 'what the heck am I doing here.'  What a dream come true."

On the heels of a national title, the Nittany Lions opened the '83 season with losses to Nebraska, Cincinnati and Iowa.  Staring at a 0-3 mark, members of the team and staff jokingly blamed the new guy on the block.

Penn State went on to finish 8-4-1 in Caldwell's first season as a student manager, including a victory over Washington in the Aloha Bowl.  He was part of Penn State's second national title during the 1986 season as a student.  Caldwell had classes with All-Americans Shane Conlan and D.J. Dozier.

"It was a dream come true to be a part of.  That was just so special to be a part of," Caldwell said.

For his efforts as a student, Caldwell was hired as Assistant Equipment Manager after receiving his bachelor's degree in recreation and park management in 1986.  And he has perfect attendance.

"I've never missed a game since I started," Caldwell said.  "I've been sick at a couple games.  I missed family weddings for games.  I haven't missed one since I started."

Caldwell's rapport with the players on the roster is what makes him so special.  For more than 30 years, Penn State Football and its student-athletes have been central figures in Caldwell's family.

spider_3.jpg"The thing that has made this so special is the players," Caldwell said.  "There really, truly is a Penn State family.  Karen and I never had any kids.  These were my kids.  It's kept me young.  It's the same with the student managers.  I still have four or five student managers to this day that still call me dad."

The players knew they could count on Caldwell to be at his post in the equipment room when they needed something.  He greeted them with a smile time after time after time when he tossed a new pair of socks or fixed shoulder pads.  He looked out for the players because he genuinely cared for them.

"I've outfitted more than 1,000 Penn State Football players, and it is just such a rewarding feeling.  It's a family," Caldwell said.

Spider and Karen are both members of the football community.  Karen's behind the scenes role speaks volumes about the type of people the Caldwells are.

She has sewn the bowl patch on Penn State's jerseys for 11 games, beginning with the 1993 Blockbuster Bowl when the Nittany Lions wore a Big Ten shield to promote joining the conference one season later.

"At the time, the players didn't really want the patches because they thought it was sacrilegious to put something on the uniform," Caldwell said. 

Karen Caldwell sewed all of the 100th anniversary Big Ten patches on the Penn State's 1995 Rose Bowl pants, in addition to the 1997 Fiesta Bowl jersey patch.  Beginning with the 1999 Alamo Bowl, the Nittany Lions have worn a patch on their jerseys in the past nine bowl games.

"Karen has sewn every single bowl patch," Caldwell said.

Spider packed 30 jerseys at a time into a travel bag and took them home to Karen, who sewed each patch in their log cabin outside of State College.

Prior to the 2012 season, Karen was busy.

"I took all of the jerseys home and had her sew the Big Ten patch on them," Caldwell said.  "Then, Coach O'Brien decided to go with the names on the jerseys.  I took them all home again in August, and Karen sewed all of the name panels on."

spider_1.jpgSpider did not have time to send the jerseys to Nike for the stitching of each name onto name plates, so he heat pressed them prior to the season-opener.  Nonetheless, the letters started peeling off, so he took the jerseys back home to Karen.

"I took them all back, and she started sewing each individual letter on every jersey," Caldwell said. 

A man who has a lifetime of memories as a member of the Penn State Football staff, Caldwell pinpointed one season as a favorite.

"The 1994 year was the most fun to watch," Caldwell said.  "To be on the sidelines, those guys were just machines.  I don't ever remember seeing 11 guys do everything exactly the way they were supposed to on every single play."

"I still have Kerry Collins's wristband from the Rose Bowl, and it had 10 plays on it.  That's it.  They were goal line plays," Caldwell said.  "It was just so much fun watching those guys go up and down the field."

Sifting through 31 years of memories, Caldwell's proudest moment may have come on Nov. 12, 1994 in Champaign, Ill., when the Lions rallied back from 21-0 down in the first quarter in what is likely the program's greatest comeback.

Down 31-28 and a perfect season on the line at their own 4-yard line, the Nittany Lions started an infamous drive with 6:07 on the clock.  Penn State fans across the country can envision Kerry Collins leading the team down the field for a game-winning score at Memorial Stadium, but Caldwell had a slightly different view of "The Drive."

As Collins took the snap of the first play at the 4-yard line, it began to rain.

"At the time, that game was on AstroTurf.  We had these turf shoes for the rain called 'Destroyers'," Caldwell said.  "We would change the players' shoes as it started raining because the turf would get slippery."

"So on that day, we were literally on the sideline cutting shoestrings off to get their shoes off...during the series," Caldwell said.  "We started on the 4-yard line and started working our way up during a 96-yard drive."

spider_2.jpgAs the Nittany Lions marched down the field, Caldwell was busy on the sideline feverishly cutting shoestrings off the first pair of game shoes and then putting players in the "Destroyer" rain shoes as they came off the field.  Just as the ball reached mid-field, Caldwell had changed the shoes of the last guy - All-American tight end Kyle Brady.

"I really felt part of that drive," Caldwell said.  "We were exhausted on the sideline, but to watch the score, it was just so rewarding.  I was part of that drive.  It was a neat feeling after the game to be a part of that win."

Collins finished 7-for-7 on the 96-yard drive, leading the Nittany Lions to a 35-31 victory over Illinois, and Caldwell will forever have a place in history during the epic comeback.

"Penn State is a special place because of how this program feels," Caldwell said.  "It is a classic team.  When you run out of that tunnel, you feel it.  I've been so proud to be the caretaker of the Penn State uniform."

Caldwell's place in Penn State Football history will be as an unsung, behind-the-scenes leader, but the impact he had on the student-athletes for more than 30 years is truly special.

"To think a guy from Curwensville can have the keys to Beaver Stadium is so humbling," Caldwell said.  "It's just so special to think about how many fans and alums have reached out to me over the years.  I just can't believe it.  I'm just a guy who fixes helmets and shoulder pads.  People related to me, and they made me feel so special."

To say Caldwell is grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Penn State Football for more than three decades doesn't do him justice.  The equipment room and sideline were home to him.

"I can't thank the fans, former players, former managers and coaches who made me feel so special," Caldwell said.  "It's tough to walk away from that, but I know that I have so many great memories."

Now, Caldwell's next chapter will enable him to do something he has never experienced.

"I can actually come back and watch a game without having to worry about fixing something that breaks," Caldwell said with a laugh.  "I'm going to be able to tailgate for the first time in my life."

We wish Caldwell the best of luck in his relocation to Vermont and new position at Fair Haven Union High School.



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

VIDEO: One-on-One with Sean Spencer on the Coaches Caravan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with defensive line coach Sean Spencer at the Coaches Caravan stop in Lehigh Valley.




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