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Athletics Hosts Fall Sports Media Day

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Aug. 23, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With the 2017-18 Penn State athletic season getting into full force this weekend, the head coaches and student-athletes from eight programs met with members of the media on Wednesday (Aug. 23) morning inside the Bryce Jordan Center to talk about the upcoming year.

The programs represented were men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Selected quotes from head coaches and student-athletes can be found below.

A full recap of the day can be found by clicking here.

Cross Country
“I think we have a tale of two different teams in a lot of ways. Our women’s team has been one of the best in the Big Ten for the last two years and I want to see some of our seniors and fifth-years really finish off their careers making a mark as being one of the best teams in the history of Penn State. We won the Big Ten Championship two years ago and last year we lost by seven-points to national runner-up Michigan. We return everybody and it’s that time for them to make their mark and say ‘hey we came in and four years ago and got this thing started and we want to come out on top’. On the men’s side, we had some struggles last year we had a lot of new runners, a lot of people just coming into themselves in terms of competing, but we really rallied. We had a really good home meet here at our National Open and finished top-five at the NCAA Regional out of over 30 teams. I was really pleased with the way they finished things off. With the men, I’ve been really pleased with the way they’re packing up in practice and the effort they’re putting out. I really think you’re going to see them move up in the conference and that’s their goal is to be in the top half of the conference.”

“Penn State is an absolutely wonderful place to work. I think Coach (Russ) Rose was saying he’s been here for 39 years, so it’s a destination. There are a lot of school out there that are stopping points for coaches as they move through their career, but Penn State is a destination. There have been a lot of coaches that have come here and been here for a long time, I hope to be here for a long time. I grew up here and both my parents went to school here, so I’ve been coming to State College since I can remember and paying attention to the athletic department and the coaches and all the success they’ve had. Success breeds success and when you have programs in your department that are achieving at a very high level it fires you up to go out there and achieve what they’re achieving and continue to keep Penn State as a program that is traditionally finishing in the top-10 of the Learfield Sports Directors Cup.”

“We want our captains to have accountability. When our teams are out there running – as much as I would love to be out there with them that has probably passed – I can trust that [Jillian Hunsberger and Tim McGowan] are out there putting in the work, holding everyone accountable and pushing them so that everyone is getting the training they need. You don’t really know what you are getting into coming from high school and these two have done a great job making sure our teams are ready to compete when we get on the course for the first time.”

“My brother and I have been running together for a while now, so it is kind of the norm for us now. We are always competing with one another and it is great to have someone to train with when I am at home. It’s something I want our team to feel, so this summer six of us went out to Colorado to train and we got really close. Now, I feel like running with everyone on our team is like running with my brother. It’s great to be able to share this with him.”

  • Senior Tim McGowan

“Even coming from high school to Penn State, my goal from the beginning has been to get better each year. I was an All-American last year [in cross country], but I really take each season as a new experience and try to grow and improve. So, for this year my focus is no different. I want to improve my place at nationals and help our program achieve the goals we have set.”

Field Hockey
“We had an outstanding preseason. I thought our student-athletes came back ready. Performance Enhancement Coach Anna Zamora did a nice job with those that were here this summer and it’s nice that they had a head start on their conditioning. We’ve implemented a different style this season, where we’re really trying to play up-tempo hockey. We limited our time on the field and spent a lot of time with video and working on a really aggressive style of play to get the season started. We elected two captains Shay Cannon and Skyler Fretz, who I think are both outstanding choices and were overwhelmingly voted in by their teammates. Our Staff is back, we have LB (Lisa Bervinchak-Love) who is in her 24th year, Stuart Smith in his eight season and Simon Blanford is in his second season. We got a lot accomplished this preseason and I think it showed in our scrimmages. We started out against James Madison a little shaky and a little tentative, we then went to Syracuse and I saw a big difference in their composure and possession play. It was really nice to see our team make that change going from one scrimmage to the next. We talked about the goals of composure and communication on the field and they really came through in that second scrimmage.”

  • Head coach Char Morett-Curtiss

“[Our loss to Princeton in the NCAA Tournament] probably fueled them and gave more motivation during the offseason and the preseason. It was disappointing, no doubt, but we put that behind us. We always talk about last season not helping this season. It is 2017 now, so we are focused on taking it one game at a time. Our two opening matches at Old Dominion and at Virginia are going to be challenging, so we have to be ready for 2017.”

  • Head coach Char Morett-Curtiss

“We have the best coaches in the country and that reflects in the success of our programs, as a whole. I remember as a student-athlete talking to other coaches and to come back as a coach and be able to work with the best coaches and learn from them has been great. When we get together, which sadly isn’t enough, we talk about our teams, families, training, nutrition…and it gives you such a sense of pride to be a part of Penn State. Whether you are having success or just had a tough loss, you are always getting a text or phone call from one of your counterparts.”

  • Head coach Char Morett-Curtiss

Men’s Golf
“Nine weeks ago ended our season at the NCAA Championship and it’s hard to believe that we are already back for next season…but the challenge now is what are we going to do over the next nine weeks to grow? What are we going to do to not get stagnant and not take a step back? Our fall schedule is very challenging, so we have to be ready to go. We have to approach it from the standpoint of are we satisfied or are we hungry. That is where we are at.”

“[Playing the British and U.S. Amateur] were two extremely different styles of golf and both are remarkable. For me London was a great experience – in golf and personally. It was a completely different lifestyle and style of golf. When I got to the course [in London], there wasn’t a tree around, so it was amazing to play a course like that and it taught me a few new things. It was also amazing to see how golf can take you to such crazy places. To start my summer in London and end in Los Angeles was just amazing.”

“Looking at last year, what I was most proud of had to be how resilient our team was. In the winter we were in a tough place, but as a team we set goals and just kept checking them off. In the end, we accomplished what we had set out to do. Now, with such a quick turnaround from the end of last season to the start of this year, we just have to keep that mindset, set new goals and then go about it the same way we did last year.”

Women’s Golf
“I am looking forward to this year very much because we have a core group of individuals back. Our team has a group that have been starting since they were freshman and now they are juniors, so it is time to make some things happen and we are looking forward to getting started. Our focus this year is on preparation and I think our trip to Ireland helped us with that. For us the focus is about being prepared in all ways: physically, emotionally and mentally. That can only help us compete at a higher level. Every time we step on the course will be competitive and I told them to be ready for that and to be ready to compete for the chance to represent our team on the course every day.”

“Our trip to Ireland was very nice and it is something I like to do every four or five years. This trip we planned for the start of the year to do some team bonding and also expose them to Irish golf, which I call a spiritual experience. It is something special, because it is a different type of golf. What the team learned, I am not fully sure, but I think they all had a great experience. I think they were surprised at the rawness and difficulty of the game over there. You can sometimes deal with three seasons in one round with wind, sun and rain. I think we really got a lot out of it and it was a great way to kick off our season and get our new student-athletes integrated with our current roster.”

Men’s Soccer
“Our focus this year – like the hashtag we are using on a lot of things – is 11 [players] as one. In our sport, the great teams are that way and it is fun to watch. When you watch the great teams in our sport, they move fluidly across the field and it is amazing to see it happen. That is what we want to achieve and our guys have been working hard to get to that point.”

“The Big Ten Network is a remarkable thing. It provides so much for us as an athletic department to be able to deliver world class services to our student-athletes because of the money derived. It also delivers world class services in term of fans everywhere being able to see us.”

“The second I was introduced to Coach Warming, Penn State and the soccer program, I knew that I had to be here. I had to be part of this amazing thing. It exceeded all my expectations. The Penn State commitment to excellence and integrity to every single program here has inspired me and keeps inspiring me to do my best for this program and for this school.”

“I have been living away from home since I was 16. I am from California, but Coach Warming recruited while I was at a boarding school in Florida. When I came to Penn State, I fell in love with the facilities and the coaching staff is great. It is a great university and I am excited for my fifth year. It is also very nice that we play a national schedule. I get to go back to the west coast this year, which is cool. My brother lives in Los Angeles and my parents are going to come down and watch out games in a couple of weeks.

Women’s Soccer
“Scheduling in every sport is a little different. We try to build the framework a few years out and then finalize the rest as you start to see your program taking shape. We put a big priority on bringing in a big name on our opening night, as we get to kick off the athletic year. Overall, we want to test our student-athletes in different environments and test them against different styles of play before we start Big Ten play. We will face challenges from a variety of levels and we are excited about that with this group.”

“One of the things I like [about Elizabeth Ball and Brittany Basinger] is that they have different skill sets and they balance one another out. They both have earned the respect of the teammate and can demand more out of them because they put everything they have into [training and competition]. I think that is one of the reason their teammates selected them as captains because they wanted to be held accountable and wanted that voice pushing our team.”

“Every night that we get to put on that [Penn State] jersey our team has a sense of how grateful we are and recognize that it is special. There is no better place to play college soccer in the country. From the support we get from our fans, to our coaches and the university overall, we are really grateful to have the opportunity to wear the blue and white.”

“Playing for Penn State you are always going to have a target on your back, no matter what year. After winning the national championship, we have brought in more talent and that has helped us in a lot of different ways, but the Big Ten Conference is so competitive and that hasn’t changed since I arrived on campus. It is always a test in the Big Ten.”

Women’s Volleyball
“I always think there are high expectations when you are a part of a program that has seen success over time. You also hope that is why student-athletes come to your institution. I think our girls want to continue that tradition and I know they want to be a part of that success. Bite we're on the floor for the no as freshmen and they have been on the floor when the season ended with a loss, so this is their last go around and I know they have worked hard to make it a success.”

“I tell our team that not all experience are good, but they are all beneficial. There are a lot of good teams in college volleyball, so hopeful our student-athletes will be prepared. We know we will face a lot of different things this year, at home or on the road, we will face different situations in each match. We had a chance last year [to get back to the Final Four], but it didn't happen. So, now we move on and have to be ready for this year.”

“One of the great things about being in a conference like the Big Ten is that people indicate [our sports] are significant enough to put on television. The Big Ten Network gets some matches on live on the network. [The Big Ten] is a conference that leads the nation in [women’s volleyball] attendance and the Big Ten Network does a nice job of promoting women’s sports, and certainly women’s volleyball is one of the sports that gets great exposure in the fall.”

“It was amazing seeing [Meghan Courtney and Micah Hancock] out there representing Team USA. And, it's more than just them, there have been so many Penn Staters represent the USA on the court…to see all of them representing [Penn State and Team USA] is a big reason I chose to come to Penn State. They are inspiring and their mindset came from there time here. They are still about hard work and dedication to growing their skills. Ali and I would both love to have the chance to represent our country.

“Our seniors really carried the team during our freshmen year, so that's what [our senior class] wants to be able to do this season. As a freshman you really have no idea what you are doing and those seniors took us under their wing and helped us along. Our goal is to leave he program in a better place than when we got here. “




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