Cringing, squinting — it’s the facial expression most people have when there’s a beaming light hitting them squarely in the face.
That same cringing is the reaction Penn State has been experiencing following the limelight that was cast on this institution last fall, and is still drawing worldwide attention.
It’s been understood that the best way to progress through undoubtedly the toughest time in the land grant’s history is to continue to represent the university proudly.
Penn Staters past and present have continued to do it, and it’s especially true with the women’s volleyball team, who had four alumni that not only represented Penn State, but also the United States of America in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“The fact that we had a couple of Penn Staters on the roster was more rewarding for everyone who cares for Penn State,” women’s volleyball head coach Russ Rose said at the team’s fall media day.
Christa Harmotto, Megan Hodge, Nicole Fawcett, and Alisha Glass were all selected to the final USA Olympic roster. Harmotto and Hodge were both selected to compete while Fawcett and Glass were listed as alternates.
However, all four girls played together on the Nittany Lion’s 2008 National Championship team, which finished the season at an unblemished 38-0 and did not drop a single set.
“I think everybody really embraced the participation and the fact that those two individuals made the team,” Rose said. “We also recognized the fact we had two individuals selected as alternates.”
Two of the current Lions had a chance to play on the same team with a few of the players that were selected to the USA final roster. Seniors Marika Racibarskas and Kristin Carpenter played with both Hodge and Glass in 2009 – the third straight season the Lions were the last team standing at the end of the year.
Knowing what previous players have accomplished is a drive for current players to continue to get better and improve on their game.
“Nothing is cooler to say than, ‘Oh my gosh, I played with Megan Hodge and she's the leading scorer against China right now.’ It was unbelievable,” Carpenter said.
“It makes you so proud that they went through Penn State and that I was blessed enough to be part of a team she was on. I've always wanted to play with Christa Harmotto. She is the definition of what Penn State volleyball is all about, how hard she works and how dedicated she is to the sport.”
The No. 4 Lions (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will look to continue that tradition this weekend when they welcome Stanford, Texas, and Florida to Rec Hall for the Nike Big Four. In the first of two matches this weekend, the squad will face the Cardinal at 8 p.m. on Friday.