Sunday, February 17, 2019

It Is Time To Sign Up For The 2019 Penn State Track And Field Alumni Reunion And The Coach Groves Golf Tourney






Wednesday, February 13, 2019

We Just Lost A Former Middle Distance Star


Teammate Mark Haywood brings us the news of the passing of Bruce McLanahan in Camp Hill. Bruce was a middle distance star for Coach Groves in his early years.



"Bruce became a good friend of mine over the years. He lived two blocks away from me and we would often share walks around the neighborhood and talk about track, XC, and all things Penn State. He was one of Coach Groves’ runners too although he pre-dated us. Served as mayor of Camp Hill for a while and was very active in the community. Anyone who knew Bruce knew how quick he was with a smile, a laugh, or an amusing anecdote. He made your day better just being in it. This is a very sad time and a great loss for Camp Hill but I am grateful to have known Bruce as a good friend..."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Pioneer Has Passed


I was saddened to learn of the passing of Patricia Nell Warren earlier in the week.  Patricia was a pioneer in many different ways, and her absence will be profound in many circles.


"How did you pick Penn State as the school (where) the protagonist coached
at before leaving under mysterious reasons?" 

"At the time (1972-1974), to be a track coach at Penn State put you at the top of
the heap.  Penn State was a big power in track, and had been for some
time.  Harlan Brown had to have that kind of positioning and prestige
and experience to think about pointing a protege runner at the
Olympics."  - Patricia Nell Warren.

Patricia was among the first women to brave the stereotype of women being too fragile to run the marathon.  She was in those early Boston Marathons when those in charge were trying to stop her in 1969.

She soon wrote a groundbreaking novel involving running and same-sex relationships, The Front Runner, which became a NYT best seller, and slowly ushered in an era of inclusion in the staid running world.  The large running community called The Frontrunners continues to grow. Her protagonist was the head track coach at Penn State until false allegations of sexual misconduct got him fired.

I was introduced to the book by a high school English teacher who noticed my "running career" had taken off and asked me, "Are you a Front Runner?"  I don't remember my answer, but I do remember the full-throated laughter afterward!  In those days, it was not "a quick google" away to find answers, but I dug in to find out about the book.  I didn't actually read it until my brother checked it out for me from Patee Library. There was no way Dover Area High School would have had the book in those days.

Reading the book opened my eyes to a world I had never even thought about.  And it connected me with a group of people who I seemingly had nothing in common with.  It helped cement a better world view my rural upbringing could not have established on its own.

In recent years, I befriended Patricia on Facebook and had the opportunity to ask her many questions.  I found her to be a delightful, thoughtful and patient friend.  RIP

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Penn State Women: Tops Then And Tops Now


Yesterday's Women's Wannamaker Mile at the Millrose Games had as loaded a field as I have seen in an indoor event in quite a while.  Penn State's phenom Danae Rivers toed the line with all the best and came out with a PR, Penn State Record and NCAA leading time in the event.  And she was eighth at the finish!   4:29.47

Photo by Doreen Startare McCoubrie.
 
And former teammate Donnie Skerpon, father of Danae's current teammate Elyse Skerpon, posted this pic on the world wide web thingie yesterday.  It shows some Penn State Women Distance runners before the NCAA took over!  Fill in all the names and year in the comments or on our Facebook page and you could win a Platinum Membership Perk!


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Worthy Causes


The city of Lancaster is hoping to honor Penn State's Olympic Gold Medalist Barney Ewell by renaming the Square the Ewell Olympic Plaza.  Add your name to the petition!




 Coach Gondak has also started a drive to support upgrades to the Locker Rooms and more:



Penn State Cross Country/Track and Field Alumni:
 
First and foremost – THANK YOU as always for your support of the program.  It was a lot of fun this past weekend at the National Open seeing all of the alumni in the stands supporting our program.  As you can see from the performances at the meet – your support matters!  Our team is a product of what you started when you were in the Blue and White – so again, thank you.
 
We had an alumni gathering on Saturday night and it was brought to my attention that with this years football/parking ticket renewal process there was not a clear way for your seat/parking donation to be directed back to the program.  Looking at the invoiced I received myself as well as when I paid  for my seats on-line, I did not see a way to make this happen either.
 
I spoke with Kirk Diehl – the director of Varsity S – and he said you are still able to have the seat donation fee go directly into the Track and Field OUD Account, which is our fundraising account that I have direct access to help enhance the program (100% of any donation/gift you make to the program goes into the OUD account).

There are two ways you can do this, either call/email Kirk and ask him to make sure your seat donation fee is directed toward the Men’s or Women’s Track Program after you pay on-line.  Or, if you mail in your payment with a check, include a note to indicate you want your seat donation to go toward the program.
 
Kirk’s information is located below.  This is a great way to support     the program and is only offered to alumni of the program so thank you for this! 
 
I also mentioned on Saturday night that I am going to start a campaign to raise funds to improve our locker room that was kick-started by a generous gift of $50,000 this past weekend.  I will have more details about our locker room campaign shortly.
 
Let me know if you have any questions.  Thank you again for your support of the program!
 
John Gondak
 
Kirk Diehl – 814-867-2202

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Jack Of All Trades


First up, we hear from another friend of mine I have never met.  Mike Pfaff is another track alum who hasn't made it to a golf outing yet.  The biggest benefit of trying to herd the cats to make it to one of our reunions is that I meet people I would never have otherwise.  Even if its via the Intertubes so far, Mike has intrigued me from our first digital communications.

Mike encouraged me to dip my toe into the world of movie making.  He may change his mind when he sees the first three seconds of my acting career in the movie The Dark Net in June!

Now he has gone and astounded me even more by writing a book about his teaching experiences that will benefit many.

Best of all is his dedication to Coach Groves and even members of our group!


 
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