Recently in Women's Volleyball Category

Energy in Rec Hall Sparks Nittany Lions for Weekend Wins

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

11302036.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team took on ranked opponents for the first time this season in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge over the weekend, where the Nittany Lions defeated both No. 21 Colorado and No. 2 Stanford in three straight sets, respectively.

The strongest player from the two matches? The fans that were in attendance at Rec Hall. Most notably, the sold-out crowd of 6,055 supporters on Saturday evening as Penn State battled against Stanford.

"I think the key to the match was just the energy in the building," said head coach Russ Rose. "It was an electric evening...It was a great match against a really good team. Stanford is really good. I thought we had a really good game plan, but the hero of the game is the 6,000 people that came out and made the building electric. That's the story. We're the recipient."

Stanford jumped out to a four-point lead early in the first set, but the Lions quickly rebounded and regained momentum due to the fans' encouragement.


"[The crowd] is incredible," said senior Megan Courtney. "You make an error and the next play is a great play, and the crowd is right on cheering with you again. It's great to know that no matter win or lose a point, they're always going to have your back, and they always make sure that they're known to the other team, They were incredible tonight. That's the biggest crowd that I've played at here in Penn State, and it couldn't have come at a better time."

Aside from the fans, Courtney's efforts help lead Penn State to both victories over the weekend. Courtney led the team Friday and Saturday night in kills. She recorded 12 digs against Colorado and tallied her second double-double of the season with 11 kills and 13 digs against Stanford. She also rounded out her offensive success with two aces on Saturday evening.

"Megan hit .400 and leads in matches and digs [against Stanford]," said coach Rose. "It's a really good night for a captain to go out and play like that with some young kids."

Sophomore Ali Frantti, redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Haleigh Washington recorded double figure kills against Stanford, as well. Frantti and Whitney notched 13 kills apiece, while Washington followed behind with 12 kills.

"A lot of people really stepped up and did some great things. We had four people step up," said coach Rose. "Stanford had two people in double-digit kills, and we had four. It certainly gives you a better chance when you can spread the ball out, but Stanford power-played great."

Freshman setter Bryanna Weiskircher made a valuable impact on the offense, too. She had 18 assists and two aces against Colorado.

"I thought Bryanna really stepped up," said Washington. "I think she's beginning to step up and take a role as a setter and leader on the court, which is really good. Her and I are figuring out connections more, which makes it easier to run plays, so in practice, we'll work on that, and timing, tempo and transition."

Weiskircher also recorded a career-high of 41 assists against Stanford. She couldn't have done it without her teammates or the crowd.

"It's really great to have that kind of support behind me, so I'm not worried about 'Oh, I have to get this perfect set to the same person every single time,'" said Weiskircher. "I know I can distribute to whichever direction that I want to and I trust them to put a kill on whatever I put up, or keep it in play and make my sets even better. [The crowd] is just a great support system, even coming in as a redshirt freshman setter, who's never played in front of a big crowd like that. It's just electrifying and amazing."

Though Penn State is still ranked No.1 in the nation, that is no indication of the rest of the season to come.

"We go on the road next week. It's always tougher on the road. Obviously, Stanford experienced that...They saw a great venue and a great night for volleyball...Players will remember it. I'm sure there will be some great pictures that they'll look at, but it's not going to win any other matches for the rest of the year," said Rose.

Whitney's Growth Highlighted by Work Ethic

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

11289767.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney was in middle school, she decided to follow her sister Anissa Whitney's footsteps of playing volleyball after she saw her on the court. Her sister mentored and taught Aiyana numerous volleyball skills as best as she could throughout the rest of middle school and into high school.

Nearly seven years later, in 2011, Whitney played in her first collegiate match at Penn State.

Today, Whitney is leading the way in helping a young Penn State team grow.

After the Penn State Classic, Whitney was named to the All-Tournament team. In the season opener against Buffalo, Whitney led Penn State's offense with a match-high of 11 kills on .400 hitting. Her skills continued to shine as she recorded five blocks and six kills against Stony Brook, and 14 kills and two digs against Villanova in the two matches on Saturday.

"This offseason, I worked to get my volleyball IQ up, studying the game as much as possible, working on my blocking and trying to be a bigger presence at the net," said Whitney.

Whitney's impact at net and on offense is nothing out of the ordinary, but as a senior, Whitney knew that it was her time to truly lead the Nittany Lions to success.

"[There's] more responsibility [as a senior], which at this point in my career, and I would speak for the rest of the seniors, we can embrace because we try to set the tone in practice, and try to set an example for the younger girls," said Whitney. "[Being a senior] is about taking on more responsibility, doing as much as we can, doing more and helping out the rest of the team in that."

Nonetheless, it was not an easy ride for Whitney to get to this point in her career. During her sophomore year, she redshirted. However, she wouldn't change anything about that year.

"Absolutely [that redshirt season] made a difference," said Whitney. "At the time, I was playing with incredible upperclassmen and they pushed me every day in practice. I learned so much from them, so I really cherished that year in terms of development and learning the game."

Whitney's growing talent is evident. Last season, during her redshirt junior year, she started every match, recorded 15 double-digit kill performances and led the team in kills on over 10 occasions - once with 10 kills against then-No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA national semifinals, and once with 11 kills in the national championship win against BYU.

Furthermore, she received second team American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honors and was honored as Big Ten Player of the Week (11/17) last year.

None of this would have been possible without the guidance from head coach Russ Rose and the other coaches.

"[The coaches] are super awesome. They help me get my game airtight, help me see the bigger pictures and seeing the game more and helping me take on more," said Whitney.

Her success continued this past summer as Whitney participated in the inaugural Big Ten Volleyball Foreign Tour. Big Ten volleyball student-athletes from all 14 schools traveled to Slovenia, Croatia and Italy to compete against some of the best athletes in the world as well as participate in community services initiatives.

Even with all these accomplishments, Whitney believes that she has room for improvement.

"I am definitely tired of getting tooled on the blocks, so it's definitely something I need to work on in the gym," said Whitney. "I need to work on my hands, getting the ball over and taking up more space. Just seeing the court more, attacking and making sure I'm playing defense."

Whitney has already made a huge mark on the Penn State women's volleyball program, but this is Whitney's final year, and she is more than ready to contend as the season wears on.

"Overall, I just hope that we can build to be a better team, build to play better together and work on getting back on the big stage," said Whitney.

Upperclassmen Led Nittany Lions to a Win in Penn State Classic

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

11283007.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The two-time defending national champions opened the new season right where they left off. The No. 1 Nittany Lions swept Buffalo, Stony Brook and Villanova, respectively, over the weekend to win the Penn State Classic.

Even after losing the leadership of the likes Micha Hancock, Dominique Gonzalez, Nia Grant and Lacey Fuller, the returning veterans' direction and leadership helped guide the new-look team to success during the first weekend of action.

Senior Megan Courtney was recognized as the Penn State Classic Most Outstanding Player and redshirt senior Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Ali Frantti joined her on the All-Tournament Team.


"There were some jitters and a little bit of nerves coming out in a few of us," said Whitney. "I think it's just one of those things where each game, we have to get more comfortable playing in your gym. This is the place where the atmosphere is positive towards us, so if there is anywhere we need to play well, it's at home."

Whitney powered the offense with a match-high 11 kills to allow Penn State to open the weekend with a sweep against Buffalo (25-18, 25-12, 25-16). Sophomore Haleigh Washington added seven kills and five blocks. She also earned her first service ace in her collegiate career.

"Buffalo does some things really well," said head coach Russ Rose. "They've got a couple of athletic kids that take big swings. I'm sure there were some nerves associated with how they came out of the gate, but I thought there a lot of nerves associated with how some of our players came out. I thought Aiyana and Haleigh were pretty solid...Aiyana and Haleigh had nice jobs hitting tonight."

The first match of the season was also a homecoming for Buffalo Bulls head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz. Lipsitz was a four-time national champion at Penn State (2007-10), a two-time first-team All-American (2009 & 2010) and during her time at Penn State, the Nittany Lions won 109 matches in a row. Friday's match was the first match in her head coaching career.

"I'm a big fan of Blair Brown," said coach Rose. "That was the first match that Blair Brown ever lost in Rec Hall. She's doing a nice job. She's a great player. She's a great mentors. She's a fabulous role model, and I think Buffalo selected a great young person for the job."

Penn State won in straight sets (25-13, 25-13, 25-20) against Stony Brook Saturday afternoon. Courtney tallied 11 kills, nine digs and four blocks. Frantti recorded 10 kills, her first double-digit kill performance of the season. Washington added seven kills and four blocks.

Washington had a fantastic rookie season last year, but she's been working a lot this offseason in order to be an even bigger component to the team.

"I focused a lot on my mental game [this offseason]," said Washington. "I really wanted to have a good, strong IQ so that way, this year, the seniors wouldn't have to worry so much about me, they can focus more on the freshmen and the other new players on the court. I tried to get my IQ up, so I could see the block, see where I needed to attack, try to do the best that I could do for me, so I could bring it to the team, so we could be a more dynamic flowing team together. I just tried to get as good as I could be so the seniors could focus more on who they need to focus on."

The Nittany Lions finished off the weekend with a win against Villanova (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) to claim the Penn State Classic crown.

Courtney earned a double-double of 16 kills and 13 digs in the match. Whitney also posted double figures with 14 kills alongside two digs. Washington led the team in blocks with six, and Frantti had the second most digs of the match with 12.

Even with the three wins, the team will work to improve with each set on the floor.

"We're a work in progress for sure," said coach Rose. "Long way to go."

VIDEO: 2015 Season Preview - Women's Volleyball

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The two-time defending NCAA champion women's volleyball team begins its 2015 on Friday inside Rec Hall.

The Lions will be home three times this weekend, including matches against Buffalo (Friday at 7 p.m.), Stony Brook (Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Villanova (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.).

GoPSUsports.com paid a visit to pre-season practice to talk with head coach Russ Rose, along with seniors Megan Courtney, Aiyana Whitney and sophomore Haleigh Washington. Take a look.





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

VIDEO: 2015 Preview - One-on-One with Russ Rose

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The two-time defending NCAA champion Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns to action on Aug. 28 with a season-opening match against Buffalo.

GoPSUsports.com recently spent some time at preseason practice and caught up with head coach Russ Rose for an exclusive conversation to preview the 2015 season. Take a look.





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

VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.





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

VIDEO: 2014-15 Season Highlights

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
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.


Commemorating 25 Years of Penn State and the Big Ten

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
WSOC_BigTen_Blog.jpeg

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.'"

WVB_92_BigTen_Blog.jpeg

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).

WVB_2005_BigTen_Blog.jpeg

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.

FB_08_BigTen_Blog.jpeg

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.


WR_2011_BigTen_Blog.jpeg

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

2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.


A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.


Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference



Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
caravan2015_WB_1.jpgcaravan2015_WB_2.jpgcaravan2015_WB_3.jpgVideo: Wilkes-Barre Press Conference



2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


caravan_WB_bus.jpg

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

2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

caravan2015_NYC_1.jpgcaravan2015_NYC_3.jpg
VIDEO: New York City Press Conference


Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

caravanNJ_2015_2.jpg
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


caravan_bus_langhorne.jpg


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

 
OPEN / CLOSE

SCHEDULE/EVENTS


GoPSUNow