In the spirit of “Top 2013” lists, I figured a Penn State list would be in order. It was a long year filled with plenty of memorable moments in both sports, campus life and beyond. Though this year was full of many different newsworthy events, all of the significant events that I listed were events that I think brought us all closer together as a university and as one big family. We’ve been battered and bruised in the past, but we have been making great strides every day to show the world that we are (still) Penn State!
#10- Pegula Ice Arena Opening
This fall, the Pegula Ice Arena opened its doors to the public and to the men and women’s ice hockey teams after months of construction. The arena now hosts both teams game’s in its 6,000 seat main rink, with 1,000 of those seats being part of the Roar Zone—the hockey student section. It gets awfully loud in during a game, but that is exactly what Mr. Pegula had envisioned. On the night the arena opened for the first public viewing, he spoke about how he wanted this arena to be the loudest, most feared hockey arena in the nation. He also had hopes for the arena to be able to host state, regional and national ice hockey events. All of this will hopefully become a reality in the New Year is hockey season is already under way.
#9- McGloin’s Big Start in Oakland
It was a big deal last year when Matt McGloin got signed by the Oakland Raiders after going undrafted in the NFL, and it was an even bigger deal when reports this summer stated that McGloin was making a big impression on the higher-ups and pushing for the spot as backup quarterback. But the best news came about a month ago as he was named the starting quarterback in a game against Houston Texans, a team which had the top passing defense in the NFL at the time. I know my eyes were glued to the TV that weekend as McGloin brought honor to us all by beating the Texans 28-23. He threw 197 yards, completing 18-of-32 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance hasn’t been nearly the same since, but he sure had a stellar come-out game.
#8- World Campus Turns 15
In 1998 Penn State World Campus was first launched with only 41 students. But now, 15 years later, the campus has almost 12,000 students studying more than 90 programs or degrees. World Campus was originally created to help, “adult learners who may be balancing career, family, and education,” said Wayne Smutz, executive director of Penn State World Campus and associate vice president for Academic Outreach. But now, students in many age groups and from all 50 states and 54 different countries are enrolled. World Campus is constantly growing and always improving as it was named No. 2 for online graduate engineering programs and No. 5 for online graduate computer information technology programs in 2013 by the U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 Best Online Education Program Rankings. Now there is something I bet you didn’t know!
#7- Beating Michigan in Men’s Basketball
You know it’s a good game when the crowd rushes the court afterwards. That was the case in the 84-78 upset against #4 ranked Michigan. As Michigan was attempting to make its way to the #1 seed only a few weeks before March Madness 2012, we defeated them at home, on Senior Night, in our first conference victory of the season. Pat Chambers was quoted after the game saying, “I kept saying we were close. I knew we were going to earn one somewhere, somewhere down the line. I didn’t know when and where. But what a great night to do it.” What a great night indeed…
#6- State College Ranked #3 College Town
The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) ranks the best college towns in the US every year, and State College was ranked the third best college town once again (we received the same award in 2012 too). What makes this specific award more significant than the other awards that State College receives is the ranking system used. Based on 12 different subcategories ranging from the cost of living to entrepreneurial activity to student diversity, the judging committee looks at the entire college experience, including, “The people students meet, the places they go, and the jobs they may hold,” says the AIER. We rank #2 in research capacity, #3 in student concentration, and #3 in city accessibility, just to name a few.
#5- Coach of the Year: Bill O’Brien
Many times this past year Bill O’Brien was awarded “Coach of the Year” honors from different organizations for the work he did with the 2012 Nittany Lions. He was first names ESPN’s Coach of the Year, then Maxwell Club Collegiate Coach of the Year, then the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year, and then B1G Coach of the Year, and finally the Big Ten Men’s Coach of the Year. Not only was he awarded all of these honors after he lead our team to an 8-4 record, but he accepted them with the utmost humble gratitude. O’Brien has never been one to hog the spotlight, he has always put the program and everyone involved before himself. I guess we will have to wait until next year to see which honors and recognitions come his way in 2014!
#4- Completion of South Halls New luxury suites Dorms
If you have been in the newly built Chace Hall, or the recently renovated Haller and Lyons Halls, then you know how nice they are. New furniture, new appliances, air conditioning, and a much more modern look make these living options some of the nicest on campus. Chase Hall, which was completely new, has the nice addition of a Learning Station where four students with their own laptops can plug in to one single monitor to collaborate on group projects. Haller and Lyons Hall are mainly used for sorority housing and offer similar amenities that Chase Hall has. Sororities housed in these buildings have a shared meeting room, along with a kitchenette and a living room area for each suite. Construction is not quite complete on the entire project which is estimated to be finished around December 2014.
#3- THON 2013
Last year was quite the record setting year for THON. As people were freezing—literally, some students were treated for minor cases of hypothermia—waiting in line to get inside, the floor of the BJC was hot with dancers and musical performances. With performances by the RAM Squad, the Penn State Drumline, My Hero Zero, Go Go Gadget, and many others, the electric atmosphere never faded throughout the event. And when it was time for the final reveal, we had surpassed last year’s total by more than $1.5 million and brought the overall total for the Four Diamonds Fund to more than $100 million for the kids!
#2- Women’s Volleyball Winning their 6th National Championship
Just a few nights ago Women’s Volleyball made history yet again. The Nittany Lions defeated five other teams starting about 3 weeks ago to get to the championship match in Seattle, Washington against No. 12 Wisconsin who had upset No. 1 Texas just days before. The match against Wisconsin was not as easy as it may seem with the Badgers being ranked No. 12 and our team being ranked No. 2. Wisconsin gave it their all, but we ended up on top, winning 3-1 and clinching our 6th National Championship, the first one since we swept 2007-2010, winning four straight.
#1- Beating Michigan in Football in Quadruple Overtime
The highlight of this year’s football season was, without a doubt, the white out Michigan game. This was one of the most heart wrenching and emotionally battering games I’ve ever witnessed and it went on for four overtimes. It set the record for the longest game in Beaver Stadium, culminating in a 3-yard run on fourth and inches and then a 2-yard run for the touchdown that made the final score 43-40. This was one of those games where I felt like I was completely emotionally invested in the action that was taking place on the field, even though I was cheering from the stands. And quadruple overtimes just added to the excitement and the fact that this game will be remembered and talked about for many years to come.