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.
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- At the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Penn State
women's basketball head coach Coquese Washington said one of her main priorities
was "to get to know the team." With only one senior this season, the Nittany
Lion roster was full of underclassmen, which meant new talent and new
personalities that Washington needed to braid into the Penn State women's
Out of the gate, the Nittany Lions were putting up an impressive fight
against opponents, despite being a young, inexperienced team. The pre-season
WNIT Tournament showed the potential of this team, as two of four losses were
determined by a single basket. This mentality of continued growth played out
throughout the season, a mentality their record didn't necessarily reflect.
Towards the middle of the season, the Nittany Lions were becoming more
aggressive inside the paint and getting better at shot selection. Redshirt sophomore,
Sierra Moore and freshman Lindsey Spann were offensive powerhouses,
successfully making it into each column of the scoring table. The dynamic duo
finished atop not just the scoring chart, but the steals and three-point
column, too. This leadership in the scoring position remained steadfast all
season, setting the pace for what is likely to be a more successful season next
"What I like to see is continued growth," Washington said. "We started to
do some good things as we closed out the season. I really want to see our
post-game continue to be a bright spot for us next year and to see us grow in
our ability to create easy shots."
With the graduation of senior Tori Waldner, the Nittany Lions lose one of
their tallest centers on the roster. The 6-foot-5 Lady Lion is leaving behind
some big shoes to fill, shoes that junior Candice Agee had started to fill
during the end of the season. Agee, who stands at 6-foot-6 has been a strong
post player for the Lady Lions, as she led the team in offensive rebounds and
blocked shots. Sophomore Kaliyah Mitchell stepped up this season, too. Mitchell
is aggressive, a skill that has helped her draw fouls, get the rebound and
break up the opposition's scoring drive, as she finished the season with an average
of 1.5 steals a game.
"Some of our incoming freshman will definitely fill some of the gaps that
we have," Washington said. "Shot opportunity will definitely be a big area for
us. I just want to see us build off of where we finished this season. Between
April and August we have to make some big steps, individually and collectively
as a team."
As the team closes out a rebuilding year, the record doesn't reflect how
the team has grown since the pre-season WNIT tournament. Wins and losses
define tangible success, but that doesn't always influence or create an
environment for a team to get better. The upcoming off-season will be a crucial
time for the Lady Lions to come back to the drawing board and adjust, even
more, to their roles on the court.
"We just need to learn to rely on each other," Agee said. "We just need to
work on figuring out when and how we can get the ball to each other on areas of
the court where we can be successful. That comes with knowing each other, and
we will only get to know each other better."
"Individual leadership is important," Washington said. "You have to start
working and improving now. You're not always going to be in the gym with your
teammates or a coach. It isn't always going to be spoon-fed to you; you have to
put in lots of time to get better. We talk to them about having individual
responsibility. You have to make time to get in the gym and get better."
Coach Washington has been through a similar situation before. When her 2010-11
roster fell short in the NCAA tournament, they were in the gym working shortly
after. That season lit a fire under the Lady Lions; it pushed them to get
better, to work harder
The following year, the 2011-12 team won the regular season Big Ten
Championship, achieving the same success the next two seasons as well.
"I think this group is
hungry," Washington said. "They want much better results next year. I have seen
Her faith in this team and their talent has never faltered. If there is one
thing the Penn State community knows for sure it is this: Coach Washington
knows how to harness drive and passion for the game, something no win or loss
column can accurately illustrate.
ESTATES, Ill. - Battling to the last second, Penn State fell, 68-65, to Indiana
in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday night.
Lions and the Hoosiers took turns getting numbers on the board for a
high-energy and aggressive start, an energy that lasted all 40 minutes.
"We're a very competitive team. So we always come out
fighting, and we're going to fight to the end, whether win or lose," said sophomore
The Lady Lions did just that with less than a minute left in the first half, a
clutch Alex Harris layup followed by a Peyton Whitted jumper cut Indiana's lead
to seven (38-31).
second half begun, it was clear that both teams were going to leave everything
out on the court. An exciting half followed as Penn State answered back,
bringing the difference within two with a minute left in the game.
Unable to execute, Penn State attacked to the very last
second as Indiana found a momentum that brought the final score to 68-63.
Moore led the Lady Lions with 18 points, notching her 21st game with
a double-figure performance. She shot 9-for-13 and dished out six assists.
Fellow sophomore, Kaliyah Mitchell got hot in the second half to snatch her
fourth double-double this season, grabbing 10 rebounds and 13 points against
of Penn State points were made in the paint, 14 of which by Candice Agee
"I think that it was
something that we know to do and something that we've found that is we get
better shots off in the paint," said Candace Agee. "So not that it was a
surprise to me. Something that we work on, something that we try to focus on
doing is getting the ball inside and out."
size as an advantage, Penn State outrebounded Indiana 40-29, eight of which
were pulled down by 6-foot-5 Tori Waldner.
closed out her senior season by becoming the 31st member of the 500-rebound
"There's certainly a lot of learning, a lot of
lessons that we'll take away from this season, this game, the Big Ten
Conference play, said head coach Coquese Washington. "We've got the majority of
the team coming back next year. So a lot of these lessons and the growth we saw
over the course of the season is something we'll build."
team will do just that as they continue to build for next year.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 Lady Lion basketball season. On Wednesday, the Lions will meet Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament inside the Sears Centre.
Live Blog 2015 B1G Tournament WBB Blog - Penn State vs. Indiana
Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (6-23, 3-15) and Indiana (14-15,
4-15) have played once already this season. If that game was any indication of
how Wednesday's Big Ten Tournament first round contest is going to play out,
both teams are in for a tight 40-minute (or more) contest.
The Lady Lions topped Indiana 79-75 at home at the Bryce Jordan Center
back on Jan. 22, in a game that saw seven lead changes, including Penn State by
11 with 6:22 left and Penn State by 3 with 37 seconds left.
"It gives us some confidence that we beat them before and we know that
we have a lot of things to improve on since we played them so that just gives
us a lot of confidence going into the game," guard Sierra Moore said of the
Indiana features guards Larryn Brooks and Tyra Buss, who lead the
Hoosier scoring attack with 11.9 and 11.4 points per game. Brooks, a dynamic
guard has been a major focus for the Lady Lions in their preparation for
In January's contest, Penn State held Brooks to just eight points.
Moore said that the match up will be difficult, but Penn State will be prepared
for Brooks to have a performance more consistent with her season averages.
"Larryn Brooks is a really good point guard and I think Keke
(Sevillian) on the defensive end does a really good job containing so just her
spark out there and having a good one-on-one matchup is good and I'm really
excited," Moore said.
In the home stretch of the season, both teams have become relatively
balanced in the scoring category. Using the previous matchup as an example,
Penn State had five players in double figures and Indiana had four. The Lady
Lions saw Kaliyah Mitchell put on a masterful scoring performance with 20
points, besting Indiana's Alexis Gassion who tallied 18.
Both teams are also similar in that they have improved in certain
categories since the beginning of the season. Penn State has seen better play
in the post, specifically from center Candice Agee as the season has
"I think we're going to be a more improved team all together than we
were at the beginning of the year," Moore said of her team's progression. "I
know that I've talked about it at every media press conference but I really
believe that we are going to play our best basketball yet."
Indiana has been able to score better as a team to the point where when
one player is down scoring or rebounding, another takes over.
The matchup will be especially intriguing when you look at the inside
post matchup between Indiana's Amanda Cahill and Agee. Perhaps with
the similarities at guard between Brooks and Buss and Moore, Sevillian and
Spann, the post presence for either team will be the difference.
With a win over Indiana, Penn State will move on to the next round to take on
Rutgers. Here is what you need to know about Penn State's potential opponents
at the Big Ten Tournament this week.
T-No. 4 Seed - Rutgers 21-8 (12-6 Big Ten) RPI - 41
Top Scorer: Kahleah Copper, 16.4 ppg
Top Rebounder: Betnijah Laney, 10.8 rpg
The Scarlet Knights enter the 2015 Big Ten Tournament for the first time as the
No. 4 seed (tied with Northwestern). Fresh off a 71-60 win over Indiana, the
Scarlet Knights concluded conference play with a 12-6 record. Third in Big Ten
rankings, Laney averages 10.8 rpg in Big Ten play to contribute to the team's
38.5 average. Kahleah Copper leads the Scarlet Knights in scoring and at the
charity line with an average of 17.4 points per game and an average 6.9 at the
line per game.
Rutgers will play the winner of Penn State vs. Indiana on Thursday.
T-No. 4 Seed - Northwestern 22-7 (12-6 Big Ten) RPI - 35
Top Scorer, Nia Coffey, 15.8 ppg
Top Rebounder, Nia Coffey, 8.9 rpg
Head coach Joe McKeown's squad finished 12-6 in Big Ten play, tying with
Rutgers. The most valuable player for the Wildcats, Nia Coffey leads the team
in scoring (15.9 ppg), rebounding (8.9 rpg) and blocks (8.9 bpg). Averaging 73
points per game as a team, the Wildcats won eight straight games prior to a
season-finale loss to Maryland on Sunday, March 1.
Earning a double-bye, the No. 4 Wildcats will first see action on Friday in the
quarterfinal round against Penn State, Indiana or Rutgers.
The No. 8 Seed - Michigan 16-13 (8-10 Big Ten) RPI - 57
Top Scorer: Katelynn Flaherty, 14.4 ppg
Top Rebounder: Cyesha Goree, 10.8 rpg
The Wolverines finished the season 8-10 in Big Ten play after falling to
Illinois on Saturday. Big Ten's Sixth Player of the Year, Katelyn Flaherty
leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and has sunk 71 shots from the 3-point
range this season. Close behind, senior Shannon Smith averages 14.2 ppg and has
made 90 from the charity stripe in conference play.
Michigan will tip with No. 9 Michigan State in Thursday's first contest at
11:30 a.m. CT. The winner will advance on to the quarterfinals to face Maryland
The No. 1 Seed - Maryland 27-2 (18-0 Big Ten) RPI - 6
Top Scorer: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, 13.9 ppg
Top Rebounder: Brionna Jones, 9.0 rpg
Head coach and Big Ten Coach of the Year Brenda Frese lead her squad to its
first Big Ten regular season title. The duo of Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (14.9
ppg) and Lauren Mincy (13.6 ppg) lead the Terps in scoring to contribute to the
No. 1 scoring offense with an average 80.9 points per game in Big Ten play.
Winning 21 straight games, Maryland enters the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 1
seed after a perfect 18-0 conference play. Earning a double-bye, the Terrapins
will first play on Friday in the quarterfinal round.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Colors represent a lot of things in life. Whether it
portrays an idea, a person, a team or a cause, colors are everywhere. Sunday at
the Bryce Jordan Center, the only color one could find was pink and it
represented one very important idea: life.
On second thought, represented isn't the right word, the color pink LIVED
in the BJC before, during and after the ninth annual Pennsylvania Pink Zone
game, whose focus is breast cancer awareness and research. In the mind of
Coquese Washington, it showed the good sports can do to a community and even
more so, what a community can do to sports.
"Pink Zone is a special thing because sports can be, and often is, a
reflection of society and this is one of those opportunities where sports and
community can collide," Washington said. "Competing at any level of sports, we
are often role models and what we do in competition inspires people, but Pink
Zone is a day where we get to be inspired.
We get to be inspired by what we see and the fight that we see from the
Even with bad weather on a snowy Sunday in Happy Valley, people still
found their way into the BJC seats and supported 657 breast cancer
survivors who came on 17 busses from 11 different states.
A select group of survivors even had the opportunity to stand arm-to-arm
in the pregame huddle where the Lady Lions pump each other up. Even though,
that moment meant more to the Lady Lions than they will ever know.
"I thought it was great how enthusiastic they were and excited to run
out through the tunnel with us and then get in the huddle with us before the
game," guard Sierra Moore said. "It's just great that we're doing something for
them today and we were playing for them."
Penn State found itself down by 16 with 1:35 left in the first half and
put on a late mini-run to get the deficit down to 10 at the half. Then at
halftime, as Kathy Sledge of "Sister Sledge" beautifully belted their song "We
Are Family", which echoed into the Lady Lion locker room.
It's probably no coincidence that as the 700-plus survivors packed the
court that the Lady Lions were set to play on just a few minutes later, that
their years of battle and triumph inspired Penn State to come out strong in the
After just 10-minutes of play in the second half, the game was suddenly
tied at 45.
"I think we really started actually playing for them in the second half
and I just can't thank them enough for coming out here and supporting us
today," Moore said.
Although the Lady Lions came up just short late in the second half
falling 62-56, there was a greater effort and greater cause that everyone
involved knocked out of the park Sunday.
"When you have all of that energy in the arena, it almost doesn't matter
what happens with the game," Washington said. "It's just a big celebration of
surviving and a celebration of fighting. One of the hallmarks of any sporting
event is the triumph over adversity. That's why people file in to watch any
sporting event is, 'Can they do it? Can that team do it? Can that individual do
it? Can they make it happen?'"
It's safe to say that the Pennsylvania Pink Zone made it happen on
Sunday and they have been since the effort was tied to Lady Lion basketball
nine years ago.
"When you bring breast cancer survivors and basketball together, the
answer is yes because all of these hundreds of survivors have said, 'Yes, we
have faced adversity and we can win'," Washington added. "It's just an
incredible energy and every year it just gets bigger and better and it doesn't
lose its power and impact."
By Sean Donnelly, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Lady Lions tipoff against Wisconsin on Sunday,
they will be playing for more than just a game. The traditional blue and white
uniforms will be swapped for pink, as the Lady Lions honor those in the fight
of their lives against breast cancer.
Though the game takes place annually, the fight against breast cancer is a yearlong
effort. The six beneficiaries that benefit from Pennsylvania Pink Zone are
Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hersey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania
Breast Cancer Coalition, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital
and Lewistown Hospital.
Through the past eight years, the Lady Lions have raised more than $1.135
million for breast cancer research. Funds that Penn State Hershey Medical
Center receive from the Pennsylvania Pink Zone go to the Lady Lion Basketball
Breast Cancer Research Endowment, which supports young researchers at the Penn
State Hershey Cancer Institute.
"The endowment allows for scientists to complete the pilot research needed to
test their theories in the lab," said Megan Weber, Milton S. Hershey Medical
Center Associate Director of Community Fundraising and Cause Marketing. "And,
if successful, move forward to apply for highly competitive, federal monies
that are often only obtainable after successful pilot research has been completed."
Although this Sunday will be Weber's first Pink Zone Game, she is well aware of
the impact that the event has had on the entire Penn State community.
"Pink Zone is an event that inspires," said Weber. "It inspires breast cancer
survivors, along with their family and friends, to join together and continue
raising awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer. It
inspires others who are currently battling breast cancer, and the entire Penn
State community to stand by these individuals and show their support of finding
a cure for breast cancer."
Through their donations, The PA Breast Cancer Coalition has been able to take
breast cancer survivors on a trip to an annual educational conference,
regardless of the survivors current financial situation.
"Nearly 1,000 survivors, educators, medical professionals, advocates and more
gather to learn the latest in breast cancer research, treatment and support,"
said Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the PA Breast Cancer
Coalition. "It is truly an important event for survivors to attend, not only
for the educational aspect, but also for the camaraderie that is created each
year as new women become a part of the 'breast cancer family' of survivors."
Halpin-Murphy has seen the event grow exponentially since her involvement began in
2007. More than 700 breast cancer survivors will be honored at halftime on
Sunday. It is evident that the growth of the Pennsylvania Pink Zone's momentum
shows no signs of slowing down.
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition has been instrumental in publicizing the cause
in their FrontLine Newsletter, which is delivered to 55,000 households and over
27,000 email contacts in their database.
Another beneficiary of the Pennsylvania Pink Zone is the J.C. Blair Memorial
Hospital. Funds received by J.C. Blair were used to purchase a digital
mammography system back
in 2011. At the time, the machine was state-of-the-art at diagnosing and
treating breast cancer at its earliest stage.
"More recently, funds have been used to support a breast health coordinator who
provides a lot of outreach and education in the community about the importance
of early detection of breast cancer," said Christine Gildea, Director of
Marketing and Community Relations at J.C. Blair. "She also helps navigate women
through the screening, diagnostic and treatment of breast cancer, providing
information about community resources available to assist our breast cancer
Gildea has seen the impact and growth of the entire event extend outside the
Penn State community.
"Pink Zone has invited all surrounding communities to participate and to feel a
part of it," saidGildea. "We now have three high school women's
basketball teams and Juniata College's women's basketball team in Huntingdon
County that sponsor their own 'pink' games. We fill a bus of Huntingdon County
breast cancer survivors and their families each year to attend the game."
Last year, the Bryce Jordan Center was packed with 12,585 fans, 698 of which
were breast cancer survivors.
"Each year more money is raised," said Gildea. "More survivors attend the game,
more spectators attend the game, more community organizations throughout the
region sponsor fundraising events for the cause, and most importantly, more
lives are saved because of it all."
Longtime Lady Lion fan Geri Reeve is not only a student aid coordinator here at
Penn State, she is also a breast cancer survivor who has been actively involved
with Pink Zone since it began nine years ago. For Reeve, it was an exciting
night to be honored at halftime in the first-ever event. Before halftime, the
honorees had the opportunity to talk to each other about their treatment,
stage, and doctors.
"From a very small group in the beginning of Think Pink, to the name changing
to the Pink Zone, and now over 800 breast cancer survivors," said Reeve. "The
camaraderie is still there."
After the game, survivors and loved ones are invited to meet coaches and
players to take pictures and sign autographs. It's a symbolic meeting of those
who share a common goal of fighting for a cure so that someday, there will no
longer have to be a Pink Zone game.
"You realize just how emotional and inspiring the event is for not only the
survivors, but those that are in attendance," said Reeve.
Former head coach Rene Portland helped pioneer the first Think Pink game back on
Jan. 18, 2007. The Lady Lions were the first team to wear pink uniforms during
a game as part of a breast cancer awareness effort. Penn State celebrated a
victory on the court, honored approximately 30 breast cancer survivors at
halftime, and raised over $20,000 in support of breast cancer research.
In the summer of 2011, Pink Zone at Penn State changed their name and
officially became The Pennsylvania Pink Zone. The cause outgrew the reach of
Penn State women's basketball, and is now able to be supported throughout the
calendar year as a nonprofit organization.
Penn State established the
Think Pink game, legendary North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow, who was
also battling breast cancer, became actively involved with the event. In 2007,
Yow partnered with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and The V
Foundation for Cancer Research to establish the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a
charitable organization committed to supporting cancer research and helping the
underserved. Unfortunately, Coach Yow passed away in 2009 after fighting the
illness for more than two decades.
unifies people for a common cause, and unifies Penn State with a national
cause," said Susan Donohoe, who serves as the Executive Director of the Kay Yow
Cancer Fund. "Kay Yow has awarded over four million dollars to cancer center
research, and we have been able to do that through Pennsylvania Pink Zone. We
are all in this together, and play on the same team."
Since formation, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund has committed itself to raising money
for all women's cancer research, along with assisting the underserved.
just a coming together of people to celebrate and unify for a cause, which was
so important for Coach Yow," said Donohoe, "Those 600+ women on the floor
celebrating was one of the most powerful, inspirational moments I've ever had.
When they turn out the lights, the visual of the 12,000 people wearing pink for
a cause was just so powerful."
Head coach Coquese Washington has also been instrumental in propelling the Pink
Zone event to new heights. An outspoken, strong supporter of the cause,
Washington also has a law degree, which helped Pink Zone when it applied to
become a nonprofit.
Washington's commitment to Coach Yow is truly something special," said Donohoe.
"It's an extraordinary effort. When great people come together for a great
cause, something extraordinary happens."
Coach Washington and the Lady Lions attend fundraising events and conferences
year-round to support the event.
the year, I come across so many people who make mention of the Pink Zone Game,"
said Washington. "They talk about being so excited for the Pink Zone game and
coming out. It's a celebration. The survivors feel like they are treated like
royalty. For one day, they get to embrace what being a survivor means. That's what it means for
us and our program. We get an opportunity to celebrate the strength, courage
and fortitude that it takes to battle cancer, and to have the opportunity to
celebrate it with the survivors."
Senior Tori Waldner will be playing in her final Pink Zone game as a Lady Lion
on Sunday. Waldner is excited about playing for a cause that she holds close to
her, as well as seeing the sea of pink shirts and shakers.
that more people know about it, we have more survivors coming," said Waldner.
"It's great to see because I know some people diagnosed with breast cancer.
Running out on the court at the beginning of the game, and we see some of the
survivors beforehand and they high-five us. It just reminds you what the day is
This Sunday, when a
packed Bryce Jordan Center glows pink from thousands of Lady Lion fans waving
their shakers, it will be in support of more than just a game. Win or lose, we
are all on the same team in the fight for a cure. The Pennsylvania Pink Zone is
leading the charge.
By Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two of the best guards in the country on one team
make for one interesting, unpredictable Big Ten matchup. With a 20-plus points
per game average between them, the Lady Lions knew they needed to work hard to contain
the scoring power of Ohio State's Ameryst Alston and Kelsey Mitchell.
"I think they're two of the best guards in our conference," head coach
Coquese Washington said. "Kelsey's [Mitchell] leading the nation in scoring and
Amersyt [Alston] is third in our conference in scoring so they're very
talented. Any time you have five people in double figures you probably have a
chance to win the game. Those other players, they do a great job of playing off
of [Ameryst] Alston and [Kelsey] Mitchell. Mitchell is really good at creating for
herself and creating for her teammates so she's a tough cover."
The Lady Lions were the first to put points on the board, but trailed by
six heading into the half, with the Buckeyes up 36-30. The pace of the game
picked in the second half. The Lady Lions battled, but the Buckeyes pulled away
late for an 88-70 victory.
Several Lions contributed to the team's offensive outing, including Sierra
Moore and Candice Agee. Moore, who has been solid for the Lady Lions from both
inside the paint and the three-point line, put up 18 points, tallying her 19th
double-digit scoring outing this season.
"Sierra definitely showed a lot of fight," Washington said. "Sometimes you
look up at the score board and it can be tough emotionally to play through when
you're down. I thought Sierra [Moore], Tori [Waldner], Candice [Agee], and Keke
[Sevillian] just kept fighting and we were able to cut the lead back to nine
points, but it was a little too much. I think those three turnovers to start
the half gave them a cushion that they were able to play with for the rest of
the game. I did think our kids kept fighting and that was certainly led by
Agee was the most impactful against the Buckeyes, delivering both
offensively and defensively in the pursuit. She not only put up 15 points, but
grabbed 10 rebounds, too. But Agee was equally as effective defense, blocking
two for the Lady Lions, marking her 13th-straight game with at least one swat. All
season, various coaches have referenced Agee's size, and how they have to coach
to her height. In the matchup against the Buckeyes, Agee was paired with
another player who is relatively close in height.
"Sometimes it can be easier for tall [post players] to play against other
tall [post players] than it is to play against smaller players," Washington
said. I thought Candice [Agee] was aggressive and looking for her shot tonight.
I thought she was working hard to get touches and Tori [Walder], in particular,
did a good job of getting her touches. [Candice] did a good job getting to the
free throw line tonight and converting. Getting a double-double against [Lisa]
Blair and [Alexa] Hart, and they're sandwiching her and being physical, trying
not to let her get position, is good. I thought she did a good job trying to
have a presence in the middle and be a force."
Looking Ahead The Lady Lions welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to the Jordan Center on Sunday
for the ninth-annual Pink Zone game. This game, which honors breast cancer
survivors and draws awareness to the disease that claims thousands each year,
will also be the last regular season game. The Lady Lions begin Big Ten
Tournament play March 4.
"As the head coach for this program, we talk about each season being its
own experience," Washington said. "You have to take that experience for what it
is. So coming into this season, we knew it was going to be a transition year
and we knew that there was going to be a lot of growth and a lot of learning.
That's what we've focused on from day one, but that's who we are as a program.
Even when we're playing very well and winning championships, we focused on
growing and getting better and learning lessons that will help us play our best
basketball at the end of the season; whatever that looks like."
PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Lady Lions (6-21, 3-13) have just two home games
left before the Big Ten tournament next week in Hoffman Estates, Ill. First up,
a surging Ohio State (19-9, 11-5) team Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan
Center. The Buckeyes have won eight of their last 10 contests and features two
of the conference's most lethal scorers.
Kelsey Mitchell and junior Ameryst Alston lead the way for the Buckeyes
averaging 24.6 and 20.4 points per game respectively.
usually play with four guards on the floor and those four guards are usually
pretty explosive," head coach Coquese Washington said. "It starts with Kelsey
Mitchell. I don't think you can stop her but trying to slow her down is
definitely something you have to be mindful of when you play Ohio State."
and Ohio State met on Jan. 18 in Columbus where the Buckeyes sealed a late lead
to get the victory at home 69-60. Ohio State's Mitchell and Alston had 21 and
18 in that game, shooting 14-for-35 from the field.
assistant coach Itoro Coleman said she thought Penn State did a good job of
forcing Ohio State into taking tough contested shots in that contest.
"We did a
good job at their place at really make them shoot contested shots," Coleman
said. "(Mitchell and Alston) lead their team in attempts so they are going to
get a lot of shots up, we just want to make sure they are contested."
attributed the late lost to Penn State's inability to secure offensive rebounds
in the final four minutes. In the second time around though, the Lady Lions do
have confidence after taking Ohio State down to the wire on the road.
definitely have confidence," Coleman said. "They're going to put up a lot of
shots, its big we make sure we limit their second chance opportunities and get
a lot of points out of our transition."
will have the benefit of having a home crowd Thursday against Ohio State at 7
p.m. and Sunday against Wisconsin at 2 p.m. Even on their home floor, though,
it's still one game at a time for the Lady Lions.
playing at the BJC, our fans are great," Coleman said. "We always approach it
one game at a time. Right now our concentration is on Ohio State and finishing
here at the BJC strong."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This season was going to be a test for the young
Lady Lions basketball team, a realization both the coaching staff and team made
early on. But, their inexperience wasn't going to define them, as they keep
getting better every week, working harder day in and day out.
Over the course of the next seven days, the Lady Lions will play three
games against Big Ten opponents, opening the slate on the road against Maryland
Monday at 7 p.m. (BTN).
"You have to be able to make adjustments," head coach Coquese Washington
said. "We have to make sure what we are doing in practice is transitions well
on the court. We have to make sure we have the legs to get through this week."
Building On Last Matchup With The Terrapins After leading by as much as seven in the first half of the initial meeting
between the two teams, the Lady Lions knew they could compete with Maryland.
The Terps surged towards the latter stages of the first half, but the Lions had
confidence despite being down 41-24 at the break on Feb. 5. By adjusting to the
Terrapin pace on the court and their press, Penn State played a strong second
half, outscoring the Terps, 38-36 in the final 20 minutes.
"Maryland is an up tempo team and so are we," assistant coach Kia Damon said.
"We got off to a great start last time, then things kind of got away from us.
We want to start the game off the way we finished it and we will see what
happens from there."
The 'Moore,' The Merrier Redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Moore has had a stellar run the past few
games, holding onto the ball and helping with shot set up. The Duke transfer
has been an asset to the Lady Lions on both ends of the court. In last week's
matchup against Minnesota, Moore led the team in scoring with 17 points,
tallying eight assists and no turnovers.
"I think I have matured a lot this season," Moore said. "I think I am
getting better at finding the girls and getting them the shots they want."
B1G Time Hoops ESPN's postseason projections from Feb. 17 had seven of the 14 Big Ten
women's hoops teams earning a spot in the bracket. That being said, Coach
Washington appreciates the talent this conference presents on a nightly basis
for the Lady Lions.
"The Big Ten is a competitive conference," Washington said. "Each team we
play against has depth and talent. The coaches in the Big Ten really know how
to use their personnel. That is what makes this conference so great."
Looking Ahead The Lady Lions are in Maryland on Monday, before coming back to the Bryce
Jordan Center to finish off the regular season. Penn State welcomes Ohio State
on Thursday and Wisconsin on Sunday, marking a span of three games in seven