By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite constant lead changes, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (2-0) was able to spark a scoring streak during the fourth quarter of Saturday's contest to defeat Hobart (0-1), 17-12.
Penn State struck first as senior attack man TJ Sanders found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions. Sanders has seven goals in just two games.
During the first half of the game there were five ties and two lead changes as the Nittany Lions faced off against the Statesmen. At the start of the third, the Nittany Lions led, 7-5. Hobart led, 10-8, after three.
However, the momentum shifted in favor of Penn State as the clock started for the fourth quarter. Despite trailing by as much as three goals, the Nittany Lions were quick to pounce at the opportunity to rally for a win. The Lions outshot Hobart, 16-4, in the final frame en route to a nine-goal period.
"We came out and we knew it was going to be a tough game, but we started off a little slow in the offensive and defensive zones," said sophomore defenseman Mike Aronow. "We kind of figured it out after the second half and in the fourth quarter we really started putting up goals and we really worked together, that's what it came down to."
Aronow explained that the selflessness fellow teammates displayed during the fourth quarter was what allowed the Nittany Lions to score nine goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. The ability of the team to work together, communicate, and set up efficient plays is what Aronow credits to the team's late run of success.
During the fourth quarter, freshman Grant Ament got the Nittany Lions rolling as he scored less than 30 second in. Ament, in just two games, has scored five goals and has had seven assists.
To continue the momentum, Sanders followed suit just 10 seconds later, netting his second of three goals.
The Nittany Lions relentlessly dominated the rest of the fourth quarter. Sophomore Ryan Keenan scored twice, as freshman Kevin Fox, redshirt junior Matt Florence, and junior Dan Craig all found the back of the net once.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni noted how important the faceoff unit was at giving the Nittany Lions' attack men the opportunity to set up plays by winning vital face offs at the end of the game.
"Between the wings, Tommy Wright, Kevin Fox, and our faceoff guys in particular, I thought they just did a really good job of getting the ball up off the ground, getting us possession, and we turned them into goals," said Tambroni.
Junior Billy Lombardi went 11-for-22 at the faceoff "x", while sophomore Josh Wellman went 5-for-11.
Despite an early back-and-fourth between the Nittany Lions and the Statesmen, Penn State was able to light a spark in the fourth quarter to rally and defeat Hobart. Tambroni noted how important finding motivation toward the end of a game is to net necessary goals and get points up on the board.
"That's our goal every time we could out here to play, to make sure that we're playing for a greater purpose which is your teammates," said Tambroni. "It didn't seem like we had a lot of great focus or energy coming in and it was just nice to know that when things weren't going our way and we we're battling some adversity, that these guys could find a way, especially with two captains sitting on the bench here, find a way to collect themselves and find a way to win."
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a 20-7 win to open the season, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (1-0) looks to continue its success on Saturday against Hobart.
With 16 freshmen on the team, head coach Jeff Tambroni as well as returning veterans have embraced the large class and look forward to their continuing impact on and off the field.
The 16 young men who have joined the ranks this season hail from as far as California or as close at within the state of Pennsylvania. Many of them played at the same high school or on the same club team as fellow teammates, both within their class and above them.
Since their transition into college life last fall, the freshmen have taken advantage of playing a spring sport and have been able to take the time adjusting to academics before taking on a full season of lacrosse.
"They've been an extremely hardworking group and we've been very pleased, very impressed with this particular group," said Tambroni. "At this point in the year typically these guys have gone through the fall and in a lot of ways there's so much on their plate that they tend to kind of cap off whereas the veterans understand the scope of the entire year, but this particular group has a ton of energy."
Tambroni continued to explain how this freshman class put in extra work during their free time during the fall semester, including working in the weight room and spending time on the field improving their skills. He also noted how this freshman group has been able to fall in behind a dynamic senior class and contribute in any way they can.
"I think it was tough," said freshman defender Chris Sabia of the transition from high school to college lacrosse. "The seniors did a good job of bringing us into the Penn State family right away and that really helped a lot."
Prior to the start of the fall semester, the senior class reached out to the freshmen and took them under their wing. Senior defenseman James Chakey explained that since there are eight seniors, they each took two freshmen to reach out to and make sure they felt comfortable coming onto campus and into the college lacrosse lifestyle.
During the preseason the team somewhat separated the freshmen from the rest of the team, to let them make their mistakes and learn from them. Now that the spring semester is in full swing, and the season just started, team members see the freshmen less as a class and more as playmakers.
Their ability to transition into their freshman season and listen to upperclassmen from the start has made the class of 2019 an impactful team on the field quickly.
During last Saturday's game against Robert Morris, six freshmen scored their first collegiate goal to help the Nittany Lions take down the Colonials, 20-7.
Several freshmen have already stood out even with just one game under their belt, including attack man Grant Ament. Ament was named the program's first Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Feb. 10. Ament had two goals and five assists against Robert Morris.
"Coming in and playing strong, a lot of us getting playing time and being able to make a difference, that was definitely something really special to be a part of," said Ament.
As Penn State looks ahead to Hobart on Saturday, the freshmen class is eager to contribute wherever needed. Despite being able to separate by grade, the team prefers to treat the team as one unit. This unit, Chakey explained, if they work together and focus, can make a serious impact this season.
"At this point in the year, in fall you're a freshman, but come springtime you should know your role, know your role in the depth chart, and it's more of a whole team rather than classes," said Chakey. "These guys have really pushed us beyond our expectations and they've pushed us to not only play better, but to make the team better."
Penn State hosts Hobart on Saturday in Holuba Hall at 3 p.m.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of a large hometown crowd in Holuba Hall, the Penn State men's lacrosse team (1-0) took down Robert Morris (0-1), 20-7, on Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions' unrelenting offense notched six goals in the first quarter, alone. Redshirt junior attack man Matt Florence scored two of the six goals, notching his third goal later in the second period.
Penn State's second scoring streak of the day came during the second and third periods, with the Nittany Lions finding the back of the net 11 times before the Colonials were able to answer.
"I thought our guys came out of the lock room and onto the field today at that first whistle and just played a very inspired game of lacrosse, gained a ton of momentum in that second and third quarter and I'm just happy that those guys were able to kind of get that first win and start to move ahead," said head coach Jeff Tambroni.
Penn State had several standout players on the field at attack, including senior TJ Sanders who tallied four goals for the Nittany Lions, as well as three assists.
In addition to their veteran offensive prowess, the Nittany Lions had six different freshmen score during Saturday's contest.
Freshman Grant Ament notched two goals and five assists, with Tambroni noting how much Ament reminds him of a young Sanders when he was a freshman.
"It was a pretty incredible feeling," said Ament of his first collegiate goal with the Nittany Lions. "I got the assist from James Chakey who went to my high school, Haverford. It was really cool to share that moment with him because he was always looking out for me and always kind of has my back and that was kind of just a special way to start the season off."
Tambroni was quick to praise how immediate of an impact the freshman class has made even with just one game under its belt. Tambroni looks forward to seeing just how much this class can do with the rest of the season still upon them.
Another standout performance from Saturday's contest was that of sophomore Will Schreiner in net for the Nittany Lions.
Schreiner played more than 40 minutes between the pipes and made six saves.
"I think we communicated really well, we played as a team extremely well and I think we also kind of brought the power as well as the up-tempo of play," said Schreiner of the team's defensive play.
Tambroni noted earlier how one of his goals for the season is to have his players work hard for all 60 minutes of play and to not lose momentum. With almost the entire active roster having seen playing time on Saturday, the team was able to stay fresh and keep a disciplined eye on the bigger picture of Saturday's game.
"I thought they did a great job, the tendency when you're up by that much in the third or fourth quarter is to start thinking about yourself, how can you pad your stats, how can you do something that's in your best interest versus the team's best interest, and we said to these guys at halftime one of the things we wanted them to do us," said Tambroni. "Just stay disciplined, stay focused and this was going to be a true sense of their character to see if we can at this moment stay true to what we tried to do in the first half."
With the first game and win in the books the Nittany Lions look ahead to their next opponent, Hobart, on Saturday.
"I think we've got to evaluate the film and go back to work," said Tambroni. "I know that our team in the true sense of the cliché of taking it one day at a time believes in that, and I think it'll be important for us to step back from this, keep things in perspective and go back to work and tack it out Monday."
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After making their way to the inaugural Big Ten Tournament last season, the Nittany Lions enter the 2016 campaign with high goals and strong motivations.
In 2015, the Nittany Lions tallied a 5-9 record, going 3-1 in conference play on their way to a spot in the Big Ten Tournament after an intense takedown of Michigan to end the regular season.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni pointed out that although their record might not show it, the team had many high points to the season, based on individual improvements as a team.
"Going into the Big Ten was a big move for Penn State lacrosse and lacrosse in general but we faced that first year with so many young players at so many different positions," said Tambroni. "It was a great learning experience at the same time that we had to go through some lumps, so I look at the entire year and of course we were disappointed by the product of our record but very excited about the group as they mature throughout and continue to keep fighting."
At the conclusion of the 2015 season, the Nittany Lions graduated nine seniors, including captain midfielder Kyle Zittel and defenseman JP Burnside. With the departure of such consistent players, Tambroni is expecting dedication and leadership from his returning upperclassmen, and for them to set the tone for this season.
Some of those players Tambroni will look to continue to make an impact on the field include redshirt junior midfielder Matt Florence, who had 16 goals last season, as well as junior attack player Nick Aponte. Aponte, who during 2015 moved from midfield to attack, registered 14 goals and 13 assists last season.
"From my transition from midfield to attack, really benefitted our team in one way that most of our dodges were coming from our midfield and we had a bunch of our top scorers from attack," said Aponte. "So what we worked on was by moving me behind and transition the ball from down the alley to 'x' and then hitting the backside to our big shooters which were attack, really worked well for our team."
While Penn State returns many big names this season, the Nittany Lions also welcomed 16 freshmen to the team, filling many spots throughout all positions in need of some depth with seven at midfield and five at defense.
"I personally think that first semester freshmen were the freshmen, they would make their mistakes," said junior defenseman Peter Triolo. "But now moving into the season we're not essentially looking at rank within freshman to senior we're basically just looking at them as another player on the team and everyone has to contribute in order to get wins this season."
The 2016 season has shaped up to be one of the most challenging seasons to date for the Nittany Lions. Their schedule is packed with matchups against many highly regarded opponents within the lacrosse realm, including a game against reigning national champion, Denver, slated for the end of March.
Also included at the second half of the season are all Big Ten contests, with both Maryland and Johns Hopkins having a preseason top 10 ranking. Other Big Ten opponent, Ohio State, also ranks within the preseason top 20.
When it comes to designing a schedule, the coaching staff takes into consideration many different parts to the logistical process, including the ability to challenge their team while also providing opportunities for them to gain valuable wins.
As the Nittany Lions look to start off their season strong against Robert Morris on Saturday, the team knows how important these early games on the schedule are.
"A win at home would be huge going into this season," said Triolo. "We want to make the Penn State lacrosse community a very dangerous team at home and I think it would be essential to get a win at home this first coming game."
In 2015, Penn State only lost one home game, and now looks to continue its home success against the Colonials this weekend.
"The keys to success, really just playing hard, being disciplined, opening up the offense for ourselves and our teammates and really just going out there and communicating and playing hard," said Florence.
Penn State takes on Robert Morris this Saturday at noon in Holuba Hall.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse program welcomed back alumni and introduced the 2016 freshman class over the weekend.
The fifth-annual Alumni, Family and Friends event kicked off with an alumni scrimmage Friday night, followed by the Blue-White scrimmage. For graduated members of past Penn State lacrosse teams, this night gave them the opportunity to once again put on their beloved jersey and play on a field with their former teammates one more time.
The next morning, the weekend kept rolling with Penn State men's lacrosse's annual golf outing at Mountain View Country Club. Despite chilly temperatures, it was all smiles as the alumni and current players battled it out on the links.
As member of the 2014 class of Penn State men's lacrosse, Steven Bogert flew in from California to attend the weekend's festivities.
"The weather for golfing was definitely not ideal, but it was great to see some of my old teammates, coaches and friends," said Bogert. "It's weird to think that my time at Penn State is over, but it was great to be back for a weekend to be a part of it again."
A team banquet hosted at the Penn Stater capped off the weekend. The coaching staff summarized the 2015 season, handed out season awards, and introduced and welcomed the class of 2019.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni delivered a passionate speech about what it means to be a part of Penn State lacrosse. Tambroni told of how grateful he is to coach many years of tremendous young men and how the impacts of their time with Penn State will reach far beyond the lacrosse field.
Tambroni told a story of how the young men who collect rocks along their journey in life are the unselfish ones who collect lessons, learn to work hard and succeed down the line.
He explained that awards banquets are great, but it's the time spent with fellow teammates and former teammates that make weekends like this so special.
Tambroni urged his young players to ask themselves about their relationships with current and past team members and what they mean to each other.
"When I took this job five years ago I knew there was going to be an opportunity to travel on that journey today and now it's gone way beyond my wildest dreams to be a part Penn State lacrosse," said Tambroni.
The banquet concluded with a highlight film of the 2015 season, which spotlighted fond memories of the program's first Big Ten Conference win against Rutgers, and being a part of the first Big Ten Tournament. But Tambroni quickly brought the room of over 150 people back into focus.
"Awards nights are great and you hand out those awards and everyone claps but I think the true legacy is in those rocks, collecting rocks about what it really means to be a part of Penn State lacrosse," said Tambroni.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A trio of midfielders will lead the Penn State men's lacrosse team during its 2016 campaign. Seniors Tommy O'Neill and James Burke and redshirt junior Drake Kreinz have been voted as captains to lead the Nittany Lions during their 103rd season.
O'Neill, who played in all 14 games during the 2015 campaign, is honored to be named to the highest position within the program.
"It's definitely a humbling opportunity to be named captain for this team," said O'Neill. "It's a special year for us, our senior year and everything that's gone on this summer, I think all three of us are really excited to lead this team."
The New Jersey native collected 11 ground balls last season, a career-high, and hopes to only improve on this number come spring.
Alongside O'Neill serving as captain will be Burke, a fellow senior midfielder. Burke, who had his most successful season in 2015, caused a team-best 12 turnovers in 11 contests.
To finish off the trio, it's only fitting that head coach Jeff Tambroni's go-to faceoff man would fill the spot. Kreinz appeared in 13 of 14 contests in 2015 and notched a .544 win percentage at the 'X.'
The process for choosing captains has remained unchanged for years and Tambroni is confident in the system he has in place.
"There are a number of different factors going into the captains process," said Tambroni. "One is a consensus vote from last years team, we want to get exiting seniors, graduating seniors opinions on who they believe will lead this team most effectively."
After the team vote, Tambroni and fellow assistant coaches evaluate upperclassmen during the fall semester before making a final decision. Usually this announcement comes a few weeks after the players arrive back in Happy Valley. However, this year Tambroni chose to announce the names sooner than usual.
"With this years group we just really felt comfortable with James and Tommy and Drake and we announced them on day one of the fall," said Tambroni.
Penn State men's lacrosse has experimented with the number of captains the team has every year. In 2014 three seniors led the team but in 2015 the task fell solely on senior Kyle Zittel. In 2016 the magic number will once again be three, a number Tambroni is confident with.
"I think it's good that we have three captains this year just to have three different minds going into it," said O'Neill. "We can always bounce ideas off each other."
O'Neill was quick to add that just because there are three captains, doesn't mean other seniors don't get a say in what happens among the team. Burke, O'Neill and Kreinz emphasized they always relay ideas to other upperclassmen members of the team.
Another task the captains will have to rely on their fellow upperclassmen for is delegating responsibilities. With all three captains being midfielders, there are some obstacles that can present themselves. During practices, when the team breaks off into position drills, Tambroni and the captains will have to look to other upperclassmen to set the tone for their respective groups.
"You hope that they delegate some responsibility to some upperclassmen in the offensive end, like a TJ Sanders, like a Matt Florence, who we believe will manage a lot of what goes on offensively when the groups are split," said Tambroni.
Veterans setting the tone early is what Tambroni is confident will happen during this offseason. As the team welcomes 16 freshmen, the eight seniors will certainly be looked at to set the standard, but the captains said this is a challenge they are up for.
"[Sixteen freshmen] are a lot to handle but they've been great so far," said Kreinz. "They've been a great addition to the team, a lot of great players, really good guys who came to work and are competitive kids. There are only eight seniors so a little outnumbered but nothing that we can't handle and so far it's been amazing."
O'Neill explained that although each individual is unique, the captains have a few things in common when it comes to displaying the characteristics of a leader.
"We're not the most vocal but we all lead by example, on the field off the field, especially with academics," said O'Neill. "We're not ones to say something, we're more of the players see us do it and then they do it."
This concept of leading by example is something Burke and Kreinz agreed with.
"We're definitely more the doers, the opening faceoff it's us three, the guys in between the 30's, not the guys always making the flashy plays but just getting the job done," said Kreinz.
Tambroni expanded on his reasons for believing the three captains set to lead his team will be reliable young men.
"I think if you blanketed all three you'd say that they all fulfill the mantra of 'well done is better than well said.' All three of these guys are soft-spoken leaders and they all are in that top one percent of team in terms of work ethic both on and off the field," said Tambroni.
The average fan of Penn State men's lacrosse may see hard working young men on the field in Burke, O'Neill and Kreinz, but most fans don't see the hard work the three put in when not wearing a lacrosse jersey.
"The quality that's seen least in the exterior that is valued the most on the interior is their compassion for their teammates," said Tambroni. "They really care about one another on this team and they have a great deal of passion for Penn State lacrosse and the way we run our program."
The passion that drives the three young men is derived from the love of their teammates, coaches, and program. This passion and dedication will be the cornerstone for their 2016 season.
Before their first game, however, Burke, O'Neill and Kreinz will have to prepare their team the best they can during the offseason. Burke explained the methodical means of getting a team ready in the months leading up to game day.
"We're working on just getting in to practice, being competitive and working on bringing a good energy to practice," said Burke. "Just getting in the weight room, making sure people are bringing a focused and driven attitude to everything we do before January and the upcoming season."
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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.
It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited to become a member in 1949.
The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would bridge a Midwestern league to the East.
The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.
Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten could foster.
"The Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week. "Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast, I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the time."
The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.
When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.
"I remember talking in front of the group about the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about at-large teams."
The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the classroom.
"From a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of the Big Ten."
The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.
"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."
It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.
"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno," Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"
The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost immediately.
"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs," Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that, we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten, collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."
At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.
"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was. When you take a job, that is the job you took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."
The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field hockey program.
"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to be a first rate facility."
The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.
"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared," said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to be relevant."
Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92 Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally, more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten titles.
Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.
"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly 600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are immeasurable."
The women's volleyball program earned Penn State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative 16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA Championships since 1999.
Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.
The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0 record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships to date (2005 and 2008).
The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).
Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.
It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated relationships with premier student-athletes.
"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we go out recruiting student-athletes."
A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes, increased visibility across the country for the department in a way that cannot be measured.
"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and the sport."
The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased revenues for each institution.
"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.
In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.
While the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success aids in the growth of the collective conference.
"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."
"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help one another out for the betterment of the conference.
"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."
Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.
A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.
"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the national scene."
Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks for itself.
By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote concluded 25 years ago today.
The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten titles in March of 2011.
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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's lacrosse 2015 season may be concluded, but the team's persistence and energy will be forever remembered as staples during their inaugural season as part of Big Ten lacrosse.
The Nittany Lions (5-9, 2-3 Big Ten), in a season of many firsts, fought until the end, culminating in a playoff birth to the Big Ten Tournament.
After a solid start to the season, the Nittany Lions were unable to find their footing in the middle of the season. However, after a double overtime loss against Johns Hopkins, Penn State was able to find the confidence needed to finish out the season strong.
"Beginning and the middle of season I think we weren't truly confident with ourselves," said junior James Chakey. "Once we gained some confidence, I think once we played Johns Hopkins the first time, we started believing in ourselves a little bit more and our leadership came together and we were more organized."
Head coach Jeff Tambroni believes that this team has laid the foundation for Penn State's role in the Big Ten. Tambroni emphasized that the class of 2015 set the tone for the younger players and for any class that comes after them. Led by the first lone captain since 1978, Kyle Zittel, the senior class paved the way for the season with great grit and relentless determination.
"Through it all I look back at our seniors and certainly appreciate and admire what they've done for this program," said Tambroni. "But with great excitement we look with our underclassmen at what we believe will be a bright future."
With the season concluded, Tambroni and the rest of the coaching staff will use the summer to develop off-season training programs, as well as take time to travel and watch high school players committed to Penn State lacrosse. The summer is a great time to watch some of the young commits and see how they have progressed over the season. This time also allows the coaches to get an idea of what the new class will bring to the program.
As for the players returning next season, summer is a time to relax, but not completely. Players are expected to workout on their own and keep up with their skills. It is an individual's responsibility to remain in shape over the summer.
A defenseman, Chakey knows that if an individual doesn't work hard over the summer, it will affect the whole team once they reconvene for fall workouts. He also knows that as part of the class of 2016, he and his fellow seniors now bare responsibility for the team, to not only make sure players are working out over the summer, but to make sure all players are in the same mental and physical shape upon returning to school.
"I think coming back with the mentality that we're going to hit the ground running everyone should be on the same page," said Chakey. "So as the senior class that's going to be our goal, have everyone on the same page over the summer."
As for the 2016 campaign, the Nittany Lions are already looking forward to it. The Lions have set both individual and team goals to reach, with strategies for getting there as well.
"I think we just need to prepare as a team more on an individual basis once the season hits," said Chakey. "Next January/February when we come back we should treat every game like a Big Ten game, so therefore when we get to Big Ten games at the end of the season we'll be ready to go."
Although Chakey and his fellow rising seniors now have responsibility over their team, that doesn't mean this responsibility only applies to lacrosse. As a senior, an individual's role develops further and spans being a mentor to younger players both on and off the field. Chakey believes there are a few characteristics that make someone an effective leader, and he hopes that the class of 2016 can apply all of them to their final season.
"Being effective when it comes to communication," said Chakey. "Also, making sure the team doesn't separate and make sure there's not a break in the tight bond we have, especially off the field. We have to make sure the guys are enjoying being a student athlete here at Penn State and at the same time getting their schoolwork done, not getting into trouble, and making sure they focus on what they have to do here."
The 2015 campaign certainly saw the foundation being laid of a team that is capable of being a powerhouse in Big Ten lacrosse. For now, the Nittany Lions can enjoy their summer breaks, but not without a bigger goal emerging in the distance.
"It's important to get moving on 2016 quickly," said Tambroni. "Our hope is that these guys are going to go home with a great deal of urgency and a great deal of hunger and start to focus on how well prepared they need to be and how well prepared we will be."
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