Mike Stella’s Rare Strength

As a member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class and one of the best high school tight ends in the country, Pat Freiermuth (above, left) knows his audience. So when he tweeted recently encouraging his followers to check out a short documentary film, he made sure to mention that the film’s subject, Mike Stella, is a Penn Stater.

Stella ’05 (right) is a strength and conditioning coach who works with young athletes in the greater Boston area. That’s how he linked up with Freiermuth, but it turns out the blue-and-white connections here run even deeper than the bond between one alum and one soon-to-be Lion.

Stella didn’t suit up for the Nittany Lions, but as a former student manager for the team, he’s an integral part of the Penn State football family. That’s all the more true considering what he had to overcome to get there. Continue reading

Fast Living with Chris Snyder

You might remember Chris Snyder as a hard-nosed defensive lineman on Penn State’s late ’90s teams. You might not know that Snyder ’97 then spent nearly a decade as an Arena Football League standout before retiring from the game in 2008. But even before he stepped away from football, he had embarked on a career as a fitness trainer that led him to work in another intense, competitive field: auto racing.

To be clear, Snyder isn’t driving—squeezing into an Indy Car cockpit is probably not an ideal career choice for a guy who played at 6-3, 270. Instead, since 2003, he has served as strength and conditioning coach for Chip Ganassi Racing. We learned this thanks to Cait Knoll ’09, a College of Com grad now working as a video producer for The Drive.

Cait was in Indianapolis last weekend for the 500, and ended up with some very cool behind-the-scenes footage of how Chris whips a pit crew into world-class shape. You can watch it by clicking on the image below.

Thanks to Cait, and to Mike Poorman ’82 for the heads up on this one.

 

A Legacy in Great Hands

It was hard to keep track of all the NFL Draft-related tweets in recent days, from the many messages celebrating Chris Godwin on his selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to congrats for all the other Nittany Lions who signed free-agent deals, to the tweets anticipating the many talented Lions who will feature in the draft over the next few years.

But one tweet in particular caught our attention. Mostly because it was a draft tweet that wasn’t really about the draft.

The author, of course, is Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis. And what struck us was the simplicity of the tweet: Congratulating the three members of the 2016 receiving corps who have recently started new jobs. It just so happens that one of those jobs is “professional football player.”

We’re as excited as anyone to see what Chris Godwin—@CGtwelve if you’re not up on your Twitter handles—does in the NFL. But for Gattis, the priority was clear: Let’s hear it for all of our guys, whether they’re succeeding on or off the field. The other guys, in this case, Continue reading

Following Winning Footsteps

An annual reminder: We tend to leave recruiting news to the experts, but we’re happy to make an exception when National Signing Day offers up a story with a cool Penn State alumni angle. On Wednesday, Ellis Brooks gave us a good one.

Brooks’ commitment to Penn State was something of a surprise. The four-star linebacker received a scholarship offer less than two weeks ago, took an official visit to Happy Valley five days later, and on Jan. 30 announced for the Nittany Lions. One thing that probably didn’t hurt: his relationship with former Big Ten-title-winning QB Michael Robinson ’04, a longtime family friend. That picture? It’s from Robinson’s college graduation. The little dude? That’s Brooks. When he was five, he traveled to State College with his father, Keith, for Robinson’s commencement.

Now, Brooks is a Nittany Lion himself. In a few years, perhaps Robinson will be the one in attendance for Brooks’ graduation—and maybe for a Big Ten championship or two, as well.

First Time’s a Charm

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“Last night was my first Penn State game…”

The email hit The Penn Stater magazine inbox the day after the Big Ten title game, sent by a self-described “life-long PSU fan” and former Marine named Eric Norwood:

Last night was my first Penn State game. I took my dad — also a lifelong fan, also his first game… I feel so proud to be somewhat a part of this student body. Living and dying on each play with thousands of Penn State students, fans, and alums was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. I still have goosebumps and can’t stop singing Hey Baby 😂. Thanks everyone for a fantastic season and night!

Continue reading

Max Hamilton Gets in the Zone

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We first met Max Hamilton last month in West Lafayette, where she was tailgating with family after the Nittany Lions’ win at Purdue. Max doesn’t miss a Penn State game, home or away, a level of dedication that has everything to do with maternal pride: Her son is standout wide receiver DaeSean.

Max is a former Marine whose dedication Continue reading