SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Around 30 minutes following Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game loss to Notre Dame, Chase Berger walked out of the locker room to talk to six reporters.
The look of disappointment was clear, but he stood there and answered seven questions.
And then, he shook the hand of every reporter and thanked us for covering him and the team throughout his career. Even when his career had ended far earlier than he would have liked, he went out the only way he knew how — with the embodiment of the culture that him and the rest of the senior class created four years ago.
“When I look back in 10 years and whatever, all my records will be broken. None of that really matters,” Berger said. “I think I'll come back in 10 years and the guys will still be unbelievable teammates — put the logo in front of their name. They're not trying to just get here and leave. I think that's the most important thing — that we developed a culture where it's all about the Penn State Nittany Lions, not whoever you are."
The performance on Saturday was one that has been seen many times by this group — a ton of shots and a ton of offensive chances. This time, it didn’t work out. Berger knows this is far from the end.
“Going forward, this program’s in good hands,” Berger said. “Going into the season we talked about ‘Do we really know what our identity is?’ and I think the underclassmen committed to it and I have a lot of faith that the culture will continue.”
When this group of seniors committed to Penn State, they didn’t know what they had to buy in to. They didn’t know what kind of team they were going to. When they arrived, the program was in its infancy.
But now, four years later, they have no regrets.
"I think the biggest thing is that we came here and didn't really know what to expect. I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know what kind of player coach wanted me to be,” Berger said. “I didn't really know anything to be honest. I’m glad I came. I just tried to work my hardest and I'm proud that our culture is the way it is and I think it's in really good hands.”
And so ends the collegiate careers of Penn State’s most dominating senior class. Berger, Chris Funkey, Alec Marsh, Kevin Kerr and Derian Hamilton will leave behind a legacy of success that they probably couldn’t have imagined when they got there.
“I’m proud of specifically the senior class and what they’ve done,” Guy Gadowsky said. “We were a club team I believe when they committed to us. They had belief in Penn State and in themselves. You know they had a pretty good run. 22 wins this year and we didn’t quite get it done. We went to the tournament the last two years and have a title so I’m proud of them.”