Sandy Barbour Meets the Fans

SandyB Caravan

We’re back on the bus for the Penn State Coaches Caravan, the fourth year of this very cool road trip, and the second with James Franklin leading the way. And it is about the coaches, of course—this week, Franklin is joined by women’s golf coach Denise St. Pierre and men’s hockey coach Guy Gadowsky, while Russ Rose, Cael Sanderson, and Patrick Chambers are set to join in Week 2. But this year, the Caravan is a chance for one former coach to share the spotlight.

Sandy Barbour was a field hockey and lacrosse assistant early in her career before moving into the administrative ranks, but as she told us in a Penn Stater magazine interview a few months back, “I’m still a coach.” Watching her onstage with three of her coaches today, sharing jokes and speaking passionately about Penn State teams excelling in the classroom and on the field, that mentality is easy to see. But ultimately, Barbour’s day job requires running one of the nation’s largest collegiate athletics programs, a gig that requires a big-picture approach.

As she made clear at the first stop Tuesday in Harrisburg, Barbour sees this year’s Caravan as a chance to connect with Nittany Lion fans. She talked about the passion that drew her to Happy Valley, praised the department’s coaches as “the most talented I’ve ever been around,” and laid out—in detail—her vision for the future of Penn State athletics. Maybe most important, as she has throughout her nine months on the job, she reiterated her ambition to build on Penn State’s history, across all sports, of graduating players and winning championships.

It’s success with honor, and by any name, it’s a message Penn State fans are happy to hear.

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