Goodman Shaffer: Lady Lions, racing, pink events highlight season

Some general observations while using the Penn State football off-week to continue to relish in the quadruple-overtime win over Michigan

n While football in Happy Valley is still in full swing, it’s already time to start thinking Penn State hoops. The Lady Lions announced their captains for the upcoming basketball season: a foursome of seniors, led by pre-season All-American, Maggie Lucas, who is currently seventh on the program’s all-time scoring charts.

Along with fellow upper-classmen, Ariel Edwards, Talia East and Dara Taylor, Lucas will lead a Penn State squad with great expectations for a special season after capturing back-to-back Big Ten regular season championships. Lucas alone is worth the price of admission; but barring injuries, this should be the year that the Lady Lions take the program back among the elite teams in the nation, vying for an NCAA title.

n Michael Waltrip racing will have one less car battling for a Sprint Cup title in 2014, as the fallout from the company’s late-season penalties continue. Waltrip’s team was slapped with significant fines and point penalties for trying to manipulate the results of the regular-season finale last month. NAPA pulled its sponsorship after the scandal, forcing a Waltrip re-organization. Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers will keep their full-time rides while Michael Waltrip will run a part-time schedule, including the Daytona 500.

Meantime, with just four races to go, five-time champion Jimmy Johnson has taken the points lead after the wild finish at Talladega. Dale Earnhardt Junior finished second to Jamie McMurray when the late-race yellow flag flew, but gained three spots in the Championship Chase. Still, time is running out for the fan favorite to get to the top of the standings, especially with the consistent 48 sitting in the catbird’s seat.

n Pink is the color of the month, from high school sports arenas to the NFL, as our region and indeed the entire country turn our attention to the battle against breast cancer. Schools throughout the area harness the popularity of sport, hosting their own individual pink events, and pro football’s biggest stars show their support with pink game-day gear, while back-to-back walk weekends in Blair and Bedford Counties reveal amazing community support for the cause.

They may be the most important 5Ks of the year; the two Making Strides walks continue to grow in participation and impact, as hopefully we grow ever closer to a cure.

n As the high school football season barrels on toward playoff time, it’s nice to see 6-2 Central having such a good year. No one is more excited about the team’s success than their biggest fan and long-time manager Shane Metzler, who has spent decades pacing the sidelines and encouraging the Scarlet Dragons. The 39-year old manager and graduate of the school’s special education program reminds us all of the true joy that comes from being part of a team; the only thing bigger than his smile is his heart.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.