Of Lions, and Pride

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Ben Kline is back this fall for his final season as a Penn State linebacker. A grad student—he finished his finance degree last winter—Kline hasn’t seen much action since playing in every game as a redshirt freshman in 2012; he played sparingly as a sophomore, and injuries kept him off the field entirely last fall.

Still, if you wanted to pick a favorite Nittany Lion to follow this season, you could do a lot worse than Kline.

I was reminded of this over weekend when looking through some summer photos I never got around to posting. That shot of Kline, above, as well as the ones in the gallery below, were taken on a rainy June day in State College, when a dozen Lions and a few dozen kids gathered for a “field day” at a local park. There were shuttle runs, relays, agility courses, and of course, a tug of war at the end. Despite the rain—and it was pouring for a while there—both the kids and the players had a blast.

More than an excuse to come play in the rain, the field day was a fundraiser for the Lions’ chapter of Uplifting Athletes, the student-athlete-run charity that originated at Penn State. Kline is the chapter president, the guy most responsible for leading the chapter’s fundraising efforts, capped off each summer at Lift for Life. He’s one of the Lions’ best students, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten pick and a Rhodes Scholar nominee. He’s also part of the 2011 freshman class, the last remaining group that could have left in the summer of 2012, but stayed. As teammate Christian Hackenberg said at preseason media day, “To be honest, he’s what Penn State’s all about.”

As the 2015 season kicks off this week—and before we all get too caught up in wins and losses—it seems like a good time to remember guys like Kline, or the dozen teammates who spent a rainy Saturday running kids through drills for a good cause, or the entire roster that sweats its way to hundreds of thousands in annual fundraising at Life for Life. Fall Saturdays are when the world pays attention, but this team is making Penn Staters proud year round.

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