For the Lady Lions, the Bryce Jordan Center has always been home to grueling practices and grinding games.
But this past weekend, the Lions shared their home as the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon commenced its 46-hour stretch this past weekend.
The Lions didn’t just share their home. They helped make the BJC a home to hundreds of Four Diamonds families during athlete hour.
Playing games, face painting and water gun fights were some of examples of how they interacted with the kids, senior guard Gizelle Studevent said.
Freshman Candice Agee said her favorite memory from THON came during athlete hour.
“[Talia East and I] were just walking around with our squirt guns [on the floor] and this little girl came from behind our backs with this huge squirt gun and started tearing everybody up,” Agee said laughing. “We have these little squirt guns, and we’re like, ‘Ah, this girl is serious.’ So we just started running out of the BJC.”
Marissa Wolfe said that her most memorable moment also came during athlete hour, but not from a water gun fight.
The senior said she was playing 1-on-1 with a little kid and just seeing him making a shot, was an amazing sight to see.
“It was fun to let them forget about everything that’s tough in their life and just have a great time” Wolfe said.
When asked what THON means to Penn State, Wolf responded, “Everything.”
For most of the Lady Lions, it was their first taste of THON as they have been on the road in previous years, like many teams were this year.
Maggie Lucas said she had an opportunity to go last year, but opted to go home during the team’s first off week of the season as it served as a much-needed chance to see her family.
This year, Lucas and her teammates stayed in State College to support THON and everyone who is part of it.
“I was really glad I stayed,” Lucas said. “It was unbelievable to see all the hard work that went into and the outcome was unbelievable.”
Before Agee got to Penn State, she said she had no knowledge of what THON was, coming from California.
Her first encounter with THON came during September when her floormates were leaving to go canning.
“I was like, what are you guys doing? ‘[Canning for] THON.’ I was like, ‘when’s THON?’ ‘Next semester,’ ” Agee said.
“I was like ‘OK, I don’t know what THON is, but good luck!’ ”
Even when Agee learned about it through her floormates and teammates, she still did not take it in fully in until this weekend.
“I didn’t realize it was such a big thing and I didn’t realize what it meant for the kids,” Agee said. “Just the smiles that we got to put on the little kids faces, put an even bigger one on mine.”
Not only was it Lucas and Agee’s first taste of THON, but also head coach Coquese Washington’s.
“It’s an awe-inspiring experience when you walk in there and see it and feel it,” the sixth-year coach said. “There’s an energy in that arena when THON is going on that is incredible.”
Washington co-hosted the Pep Rally on Saturday night alongside women’s soccer coach Erica Walsh and men’s soccer coach Bob Warming.
Hosting the Pep Rally gave Washington a front row seat to see the dancing performances of the various teams at Penn State.
“That was pretty funny, watching the athletes get out of their element and try to show off some of their dance moves,” Washington said. “You can tell why most of us are the athletes as dancing may not be our strong suit.”
One team missing from the dancing action was the No. 7 Lady Lions as they wanted to take a rest from the season’s grind.
Though with the benefit of hindsight, many of the Lions said they wished they would have danced in the Pep Rally.
“Next year, we’re dancing because next year I wanted to put some moves out and let everybody know that I’m the best dancer on the team,” Agee jokingly said.
The Victorville, Calif., native said they would give the men’s swimming team, who won this year, a run for its money.
But in the end, it’s all for the kids and when the number was announced, astonishment set in.
“That’s what sets us apart from so many other schools,” Wolfe said. “Just to get over the $100 million mark is phenomenal. I can’t more proud to be a Penn Stater.”