What a postseason it has been for area basketball!
With the Pittsburgh and Penn State men and St. Francis and Penn State women all going to the big dance, plus another amazing run for the BG girls, there has been no shortage of excitement for local basketball fans. Just as winter seemed reluctant to loosen its grip on our region, the winter sports season was extended by the success of our local teams. Hopefully, it is a sign of championships to come in Oakland, Happy Valley and Loretto.
Penn State wrestling coach, Cael Sanderson won more than an NCAA team title this month. After guiding the Nittany Lions to their first national championship since 1953, Sanderson took to the mat himself in the USA Wrestling Northeast Senior Freestyle Regionals in New York State, cruising to the 211-pound title without giving up a single point.
That shouldn't be a surprise: he's considered the greatest wrestler of all time, racking up four undefeated seasons, NCAA titles and Outstanding Wrestler awards as an undergrad, not to mention an Olympic gold medal. His influence is evident in the Nittany Lions' championship attitude and work ethic; Penn State is well on its way to becoming a college wrestling dynasty.
Across campus, the Penn State softball team played their first Big Ten game on their new diamond over the weekend, ushering in a new era for the program. The $10.2 million Nittany Lion Softball Park and Beard Field has 1,000 permanent seats, clubhouses, heated dugouts, media center, and more.
It is not only be a great place to watch exciting college softball, as well as a selling point for Penn State recruits, it will also be the home of the PIAA softball championships: a very special venue for the state's top high school teams to battle for gold medals. The field can also host future collegiate tournaments.
While NFL fans continue to wait out the lockout, hoping that there will be football this fall, we can get a little bit of a black and gold fix on "Dancing with the Stars." Steelers receiver Hines Ward joked during the season premier last week that having lost the Lombardi trophy this season, he was anxious to bring home the dancing crown.
If history is any indication he has a great shot. Not only have football greats proven to be pretty great on their feet over the years (Emmitt Smith even won the championship in the third season), they also have national popularity on their side. Judging by the passion of Steeler Nation, Ward should have the votes to be dancing well into the competition. And if his cha-cha-cha was any indication, the former Super Bowl MVP has some serious moves. That and his million-dollar smile will win over the judges, America and maybe even some Ravens and Browns fans.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.