Kicking off the fall sports season

Junior defensive midfielder Devon Olive attempts a shot on goal during the Penn State women’s soccer match against La Salle on Aug. 22 at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions won 4-0 to improve to 2-0 on the season, following up their victory the previous Thursday, the first Penn State Athletics sporting event of the fall semester. Photo credit: John Patishnock

And just like that, we’ve launched off the starting block.

“We’ve” in this case is referring to the Penn State Athletic varsity programs, though even broader, it also applies to the entire State College and surrounding community. After 18 months of watching the Nittany Lions sports teams on TV and live streams, alumni and fans once again soaked in the sights in person, with the Penn State women’s soccer team getting everything started last Thursday with a 3-1 win over UMass at Jeffrey Field. The Nittany Lions followed that up with a 4-0 blanking of La Salle on Sunday, also at Jeffrey.

Head coach Erica Dambach has achieved so much success that such victories are commonplace (though should always be appreciated), and also noteworthy was the tangible start to what can, and hopefully will be, a mostly healthy fall sports season at Penn State.

Penn State VP for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour mentioned Dambach’s team’s opening match in her welcome remarks with the media during a conference call last Saturday, saying:

“So, we’re off and running, and it really is about looking forward, but forward is always informed by the past. Certainly, it’s been a challenging and difficult year and a half, but as an optimist, I think you look at it as how much we’ve learned, and we’ve learned a lot.”

Barbour said it’d be “a huge mistake” not to bring lessons learned into this new sports season at Penn State, mentioning health and safety standards and other things that she and her colleagues have learned about themselves and each other and society.

Keeping with the soccer theme, I used my question to ask Barbour about Dambach, and what Barbour sees from her behind the scenes and away from the field that leads to so much success for the national champion (2015) and two-time Olympic medalist (2008 Beijing, gold; 2020 Toyko, bronze).

You can watch Barbour’s entire press conference on our YouTube channel. My Q&A with Barbour begins around the 36:05 mark.

Dambach’s squad is back in action Sunday at Jeffrey Field, with a 5 p.m. start time against Hofstra. You can view all the sports schedule’s at All you need to do is hover over the “Teams” tab at the top and all the varsity sports programs’ links for schedule and roster will appear.

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