Some observations from Penn State's Blue-White weekend, which continues to grow far beyond a football scrimmage.
n In spite of the Friday evening storms which wiped out some of the family-oriented entertainment and Saturday snow flurries which may have kept some faint-of-heart out of the stands, sports spilled out of Beaver Stadium and all across campus and Happy Valley.
Give credit to the Penn State athletics marketing department, as well as local businesses and organizations which have worked to capitalize on the tens of thousands of fans drawn to Central Pennsylvania for the spring game.
The menu of activities on and off campus during the unofficial April holiday shine a much-needed light on Nittany Lion sports programs, and foster alumni celebrations, impromptu reunions and unique fundraising opportunities.
n The number-one ranked Penn State men's gymnastics teams played host to the NCAA meet over the weekend, and while the Lions missed out on the unique opportunity to capture the national title in front of the home crowd, there were some memorable moments.
Freshman Trevor Howard claimed the NCAA Championship on the floor exercise, the first for a Penn Stater on that apparatus in fifty years. The Lions finished with six All-Americans, but perhaps the most inspiring was senior Scott Rosenthal. After being forced to rest an injured shoulder for eight weeks this season, Rosenthal posted his best performance of the year on the still rings, finishing third in the event, but more importantly, finishing his college career on a high note.
n It's been a tough spring for the Penn State baseball and softball teams; the baseball squad rallied for just their first Big Ten series win of the season over the weekend hosting Iowa. The softball squad is off to dismal a 2-11 start in the conference, but slugger Cassidy Bell is a bright spot. Last week, Bell set a new Penn State career record, blasting her 35thhome run.
n Men's golf, volleyball and soccer as well as women's tennis also shared the spotlight during Blue-White weekend, but football undoubtedly stole the show, the new era offering some new access for Penn State faithful.
When the scrimmage was over, football fans came flooding onto the field by the hundreds, snapping photos, building pyramids and even rolling around on the previously off-limits turf before being politely asked to make their way out of the stadium.
n The same tunnel from which the Nittany Lions emerge on Saturdays became part of Sunday's Beaver Stadium Run benefiting Special Olympics Pennsylvania. Presented by Sheetz, Inc. the 5K has become a Blue-White weekend tradition and the organization's largest fundraiser, bringing in more than $360,000 to support athletic programming throughout the year. For the 3,700 participants, the run ends with a dramatic dash to the 50-yard line, capping a special event and a busy weekend.
The focus is still football, but the spring game has become a potpourri of Penn State sports experiences.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.