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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. GoPSUsports.com takes a look back at the campaign in a season highlight reel.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup officially kicked off on June 6, and senior team captain Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) and the Costa Rican Women's National Team begin their quest for international success on June 9 against Spain. Rodriguez spoke with GoPSUSports.com for the final time before Las Ticas become the first Central American team to compete at the World Cup in Canada.
We played three friendlies before the World Cup and they taught us that a huge part of our success comes from the mindset that we bring to the field. We know we are capable of doing good things but that won't be possible if our minds aren't focused the whole game. Our team has speed in the attack and likes to elaborate in the midfield. We are conservative when it comes to pressing but of course, all those tactical decisions will depend on what makes sense against the opponent.
Despite the losses, we've learned that sometimes we need a "slap" in our face to wake up and realize what we are doing. Even though there are differences regarding preparation between national teams, we have the choice to work and stop making excuses. We definitely know that the first game is going to be vital to how we do in the World Cup. We know it's going to be very important for Spain to win so it'll be a good match.
Earlier in the year, Amelia Valverde took over as the head coach. She has been around for five years now and she knows the team and we know her very well. We have the confidence to talk to her about anything and vice versa. It's not easy to coach a national team whose support is only developing, but it is vital to for the coach to have the players' support and she has it.
Personally, working with the national team, I've learned that I am very disciplined and determined. I am honest and with regards to soccer, it's clearer now that my strengths as a soccer player are my strength, foot skills and ability with the ball.
Honestly, this is the most I've ever enjoyed my soccer career. I feel more confident and the fact that I have the opportunity to experience a World Cup the first time a Costa Rican national team appears in it is a dream come true. In addition, coming into my senior year with this much experience is also a joy for me and an opportunity to grow as a leader.
The Costa Rican Women's National Team makes its World Cup debut against Spain at 4 p.m. in Montreal. All World Cup matches will be broadcast live on the Fox Sports networks.
Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).
By Tony Mancuso
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.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's a big summer for women's soccer, and the
Nittany Lion women's soccer program will be well represented at the FIFA Women's
World Cup Canada 2015.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior team captain Raquel Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) and the Costa Rican Women's National Team is hard at work preparing for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, its first appearance in the tournament. On May 25, Las Ticas were defeated, 2-1, by the Mexican Women's National Team in a Mexico City friendly, with a rematch scheduled May 28. Rodriguez recently updated GoPSUSports.com about the journey she is on, representing her country at the World Cup, hosted by Canada this summer.
Right now and throughout these past few weeks, we've been trying to get the rhythm back and the friendlies we've been playing serve that purpose. The team has been focusing on tactical strategies and practicing those.
It's a little frustrating to have these games so close to the World Cup; however, there is no time to lose and much work to do. We've only played against Mexico so far and the games have been vital for us to get us back into a rhythm and practice what we want to apply at the World Cup.
As a player in Costa Rica, one would wish the environment would be just like the men's World Cup, but the reality of women soccer in our country is a different one. The media has been covering basic and general news, but it could definitely be better. Unfortunately, I don't think our country or the media in our country realizes the big deal this is, but this is part of what this team has been dealing with for years. Women's soccer in Costa Rica is improving and developing, and we recognize change doesn't come from night to morning.
The team has been through tough moments together outside the field throughout several years now. This has created a family and has bonded our team for good and makes us fighters in the field. This group has been growing together and the unity that we have has been a product of that.
When we have free time, we get together and joke around. The different personalities in the team are so varied and each of them contributes to the fun times we spend together. It's the little things that keep us together and loose, and I feel like our bond comes naturally. Additionally, there are two other players who play at colleges in the States. In the past, we would compare and contrast the styles and methods between the American and the Costa Rican and take the best out of both and recognize the not so best.
Overall, we have the mentality that we want to compete instead of just participating. I'm looking forward to the matches against Colombia.
Las Ticas continue preparation leading up to the Women's World Cup with a second friendly in Mexico City against the Mexican Women's National Team on May 28. The team will play a final pre-Women's World Cup friendly against Columbian Women's National Team on May 31 at Metro State in Denver, Colo., before beginning the Women's World Cup against Spain on June 9.
By Jen Heisel, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior team captain Raquel Rodriguez recently returned to her native Costa Rica to train with the Women's National Team in preparation for Las Ticas' first FIFA Women's World Cup appearance after a historic second-place finish at the 2014 Women's CONCACAF Tournament. GoPSUSports.com recently caught up with the reigning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year about her experience preparing for the international tournament, hosted by Canada this summer.
Since I finished all of my finals, I've been with the national team. We started training last week and will continue to do so this week. Staying together, getting the rhythm back again and bringing back our chemistry are what we're focusing on.
We will be playing a few friendlies against Mexico and Columbia before the tournament to prepare. The games will be vital for this and, of course, to apply what we've been training. All training is soccer specific so skills and real game application is always present in our trainings.
I think our national team coaching staff does a great. I do share soccer things I've learned at Penn State, such as communicating in the field by giving instruction. Our coach has been trying to balance the time we spend together during these two weeks because in the next month or so, we will be together 24/7. However, we will go to the movies tomorrow night. I think this group doesn't need bonding-specific activities to unify; we already enjoy each other's company a lot.
After CONCACAF, we have raised our standards and we won't settle for anything less than what we've shown we can do. Our mindset has changed and we already decided we will go and compete and stay together like we did in CONCACAF and respect each other. The expectations are also higher than they've been in the past. The idea is to always improve and progress. I expect a good performance from our team, a confident and smart team
Las Ticas play the Mexican Women's National Team on May 25 and 28 in Mexico City and the Columbian Women's National Team on May 31 at Metro State in Denver, Colo. The team opens the Women's World Cup against Spain on June 9.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Check
out the Nittany Lions dancing on stage during the THON 2015 Pep Rally on
By Jen Heisel, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's soccer coach Erica Walsh and
associate head coach Ann Cook have made the most of their outstanding
credentials and 20-year friendship, orchestrating one of the most successful
soccer programs in the nation since they took the reins in 2007.
"The number one word I use for hiring is trust and there's no one I trust more than Ann."
That trust has propagated a Penn State program that, in 2014, won its 16th conference title in 17 seasons, a record unmatched by any Division I program, and is the fourth-winningest program in the 21st century. The program's success under Walsh and Cook's tutelage, coupled with her outstanding career on the pitch, resulted in a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame induction on Jan. 25.
"Anyone around Ann and I recognizes quickly how
special our relationship is because it's built off of trust and enjoyment,"
said Walsh. "She enriches my life for sure on and off the field but we
genuinely enjoy being around one another."
By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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