Following the conclusion of an up and down regular season, Penn State will get a much needed break before the start of Big Ten Tournament play — but the Nittany Lions will still be put to work.
For a full training session, players will be ditching their traditional cleats and jerseys and will instead wear costumes that are coordinated by class for a contest to celebrate Halloween.
“Each class has a coordinated costume. We will all show up to practice in our costumes and try to train in our costumes as much as we can. Even the coaching staff dresses up,” junior Kerry Abello said.
The contest is something that is taken seriously by the team, especially by the seniors.
“Last year a few people dressed up for Halloween. It’s always difficult because sometimes we’re on the road and sometimes we’re at home,” senior goalkeeper Amanda Dennis said. “This year we’re definitely gonna have a class costume competition. The seniors are of course gonna dig it.”
Many of the players revealed some of their favorite costumes and memories.
As kids, they were able to dress up and pretend to be someone or something else for a night. This was their chance to become their favorite superhero or animal.
“I was a big Supergirl fan, so probably Supergirl or Wonder Woman. I was very into superheroes so there were a lot of those,” Cori Dyke said.
“I was an ostrich jockey. It was like one of those blow up things where my legs were the legs of an ostrich so it looked like I was riding an ostrich,” Ally Schlegel added. “I wore it in sixth grade for a Halloween parade at my elementary school so I thought it would be really funny.”
Amanda Dennis has a more personal reason behind her favorite costume.
“I was a turtle one year, turtles are my favorites… So probably my turtle was my favorite,” Dennis said. “For some reason turtles are like my family animal. I actually have a tattoo of a turtle on my back so it was kind of just funny.”
One of the best parts of Halloween is the endless search for candy.
Dressing up and going house to house for the best treats was one of Ally Schlegel’s fondest memories growing up.
However, don’t let the phrase “growing up” fool you. Schlegel did not let her age stop her from trick or treating even as she got older.
She saw the opportunity as one to spend time with friends and make memories.
“I trick-or-treated up until I was a senior in high school… I had a neighborhood squad where we went and terrorized the town," Schlegel said. "We started right when the sun was about to go down and we went everywhere. We had pillow cases full and we got all the candy.”
Some players not only dressed up as their favorite characters when they were young, but they were also surrounded by families who made the holiday even more enjoyable for them.
“My dad actually used to dress up as the neighborhood Michael Myers. None of my friends knew it was him and he would just go around and scare people,” junior Frankie Tagliaferri said.
“I always went trick-or-treating with my sister. My mom always made us put a sweatshirt on over our outfits because I am from Chicago so it was always super cold. We’d always complain about it but by the end of the night we would be having a super fun time. When we would get home we would always sort our candy and trade with each other,” Abello added.
The holiday has been embraced by not only the team but the staff as well.
When asked about her favorite Halloween activity that the team does, Ally Schlegel did not hesitate to mention their team manager.
“I think the best part of the team and Halloween is our trainer Andra [Thomas]. She loves Halloween and always has an insane costume,” Schlegel said. “We never know what it is she doesn’t tell anyone and then she wears it all day in the training room. Last year she was a gorilla but it was like my ostrich costume. It was a big gorilla and she was in a cage it was really funny. Andra is definitely the best part of Halloween here.”
But it’s not just the players, coach Erica Dambach is a big fan of the spooky holiday, as she has two young children herself.
“We’ve got Snow White and her little apple this year and a bunch of us are going to be dopey dwarfs. So we get right in there with them. All of our friends join in. Last year we were the whole Sesame Street crew and we had Abby and Elmo last. So it’s a family affair. We had over to Park Forest and we do it up. Our family loves Halloween,” Dambach said.