Observations on another rainy day

Weather is not a factor at Penn State’s Rec Hall, unless you count the rainstorm of women’s volleyball wins for as long as most of us can remember.

Legendary head coach Russ Rose is well into his 40th season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program. He has taken his team, currently ranked fifth in the country, where none have gone before: Seven national championships (and appearances in all of the NCAA tournaments) and 17 Big Ten titles. He was inducted into the ACVA Hall of Fame more than a decade ago.

The statistics are impressive, but perhaps what has set this program apart is the culture he’s created: an expectation of excellence and that has become a tradition and perhaps even a promise, one made through Rose-colored glasses that create tremendous pride for the Blue and White.

And it goes far beyond the X’s and O’s: finding outstanding players who fit the Penn State mold, who work together toward a common goal, and who are committed to keeping the standards high and the legacy alive. Their success, like a magnet, draws the next class, and the next, and the next, all anxious to help write the next chapter of the program’s remarkable story.

This 40th season is worth commemorating, just maybe with an eighth national title.

n Leaves are starting to fall, with many landing on the region’s cross country courses. As football and soccer teams collectively take to their fields, cross-country athletes are running around the perimeters of their school properties, along the sidewalks of their communities and through fields and forests.

This challenging sport allows for training and scoring with a team; but when it comes to competing, every runner has to dig deep: pushing harder, running smarter and finishing faster.

The sport is not conducive to big crowds; packs of runners disappear over hills and around corners, while finish-line watchers are forced to wait in anticipation for their return.

That just makes these self-motivated athletes even more inspiring as they work towards district and state meets. The benefits of training and competing in cross country will last a lifetime, creating strong habits of healthy exercise and mental toughness.

At the same time, the availability of recreational runs and charity challenges continues to grow, so there will always be a place for harriers to come together for another jaunt through the country.

Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org.