Sept. 24, 2010
By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is proud to be the home of many talented athletes who come together to win banners, trophies and championships year-in and year-out. However, funding the student-athlete scholarships and athletic programs is no small task.
One group of avid Penn State fans and donors plays an integral role in supporting all 29 teams on campus. They are the Nittany Lion Club. And they can be found scattered all over the parking lots adjacent to Beaver Stadium during each home football game.
When a person chooses to join the Nittany Lion Club, he or she is directly supporting all 29 sports programs in Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics.
As a result, funds raised provide grant in aid support to more than 800 Penn State student-athletes and program support to every intercollegiate sports team in the department. Penn State's intercollegiate athletic programs and operations run on donations from Nittany Lion Club members.
This past Saturday, Sept. 18, a group of Penn State student-athletes showed their appreciation for The Nittany Lion Club and its members by holding a Thank-A-Thon. Student-athletes from various men's and women's teams gathered in the mezzanine lobby of the Bryce Jordan Center at 10 a.m. on Saturday and picked up bags full of Nittany Lion Club labeled water bottles to hand out to members.
Penn State men's basketball senior forward Andrew Jones spoke particularly highly of The Nittany Lion Club and all that it does to help student-athletes.
"Obviously the Nittany Lion Club is huge as far as supporting our programs and our operations and what we want do," said Jones. "Without the generous donations from those guys what we do wouldn't be possible so, whenever we get a chance to come out and show our support you know we jump to the bid and really let them know that we appreciate what they do."
Jones went on to talk about just how much the club members and donors appreciate the student-athletes taking time out of their day to come and say thank you.
"They are very thankful, they love seeing us," said Jones. "We always go over to the tailgate and see them. We just talk to them about the upcoming season you know, the new guys, how things are going - they are pretty much just a joy to be around."
Fellow men's basketball teammate and senior forward David Jackson agreed that the Thank-A-Thon was not just a way of giving thanks, but also a really enjoyable time.
"This is just kind of a small thing that we can do to show our appreciation in comparison to the big things that they do," said Jackson. "It's always good to go out and meet new Penn State faces and see new friends and they always want to talk to us and we are happy to do it."
As much as the student-athletes enjoy going out and meeting new friendly faces, The Nittany Lion Club members and donors were more than happy to see groups of athletes coming toward their tailgates. John Long, a member of The Nittany Lion Club for more than twenty years now, was particularly excited to accept a gift from and talk to a few of the Penn State student-athletes on Saturday.
"This is great," said Long. "We've been here and we've had various players stop out and hang with us after the game all the time, that's the highlight."
Still, Long was quick to explain why he really enjoyed spending time with the student-athletes.
"I think the players impress me the most in things that they do that you don't expect," said Long. "What you see that Penn State and JoePa has established with the students is amazing. That shows why Penn State graduates academic scholars at the highest graduation rate. It's just, tradition here is winning with ethics and there are no cutting corners."
Most of these Nittany Lion Club members greeted the student-athletes and smiled as they took their water bottles, striking up conversations about statistics, expectations, and Big Ten titles. Betts Moyer, another long-time member of The Nittany Lion Club, was more than grateful for her water bottle, and was quick to praise and advocate for the club as a whole.
"You know if you're going to live here you should be a Nittany Lion club member, and you should go to the activities," said Moyer. "That's the whole purpose of it, and it's great."
The student-athletes made their rounds through the football parking areas to countless Nittany Lion Club donors and each and every one of them couldn't help but smile. Warren Yang of the men's gymnastics squad summed up how most of the student-athletes really enjoyed and valued the morning.
"You know it's really great to see the people behind the scenes and the people that really make the show run," said Yang. "So whenever I get the chance I always try to make the most of it and really get out there and talk with the donors and the Nittany Lion Club members because it's really them that help us get to where we are right now."
The student-athletes and the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics program are grateful for The Nittany Lion Club and its many members. Without the club, the athletics program at Penn State would not be nearly as successful and cohesive as it is today.
A Thank-A-Thon and a new water bottle are just a few small ways that Penn State student-athletes are taking time out of their busy schedules to sincerely say `Thank You'.