Homecoming 2010 OPPerations Director Gary McMillen Reflects on Experiences

November 8, 2010

As Homecoming 2010 winds to an end and the 2011 Homecoming Executive Committee is selected, many members of the 2010 committee reflect on their experiences as Directors. OPPerations Director Gary McMillen shares some of his experiences…

Serving on the Homecoming Executive Committee is like being a member of Ocean’s Eleven.  You start out looking uphill towards an unbelievable task – not quite a casino heist, but not far off.  The Executive Committee is charged with coordinating one of the country’s largest homecoming celebrations.  As a Director, you step off with an enthusiastic confidence, yet you’re bound to stumble, sputter and stall at points along the way.  While that may seem discouraging, those tough moments are when close friendships are built and solidified.  Looking back at my time as a Director I am so happy that I spent late nights in the HUB organizing, planning, problems solving, looking forward and of course – drinking lots of coffee!

When I was chosen to become the 2010 OPPerations Director I was ready to do some serious work.  While I did “do some big work,” I also had the chance to learn a lot about this University.  For example, Homecoming gave me the opportunity to learn about and connect with lots of student organizations and University faculty.  I was terrible with Greek letters before my Homecoming responsibilities and I had no clue what the HUB Events Management Office was.  I discovered that our Society of Women Engineers is quite animated and that the workings of the Office of Physical Plant are tremendous.  Perhaps more rewarding than anything I learned was that Homecoming provided me with the chance to lead a group of Captains in accomplishing tangible tasks which affected many others.  Although being a Director has its good and bad days, never did working with my Captains and fellow Directors fail to pick me up or make my day better.

Like everything Penn State, Homecoming is really all about the people.  It’s about bringing together a varied group of students, faculty, staff and alumni from all across the community in order to accomplish something great and celebrate something greater – the tradition of “Dear Old State.”  As a Director you realize quickly that Homecoming means a lot to a lot of people.  It means a chance for that 1955 graduate to come back and show his children and grandchildren where Old Main is.  It means a week of late night float building and it means honoring the passion that makes Penn State tick. At no point is this sentiment more prevalent than during the Homecoming Parade.  As I rode down College Avenue, through the sea of Homecoming revelers, I saw the reasons that I love Homecoming all around me: students, parents, children and alumni, all bonded by two elements: Blue and White.

If you’re interested in being a member of the 2011 Homecoming Executive Committee apply at http://homecoming.psu.edu.


A Day in the Life of…A Penn State Lionette

October 6, 2010

Up next in our “Day in the Life of” series is Penn State Lionette Jenna Dolce! Jenna is a junior studying marketing with minors in international business and information systems management from West Chester, Pa. This is her second year with the Lionettes.

Her schedule on a typical Thursday:
8:30 am – wake up, eat breakfast, shower and get ready for the day
9:30-12:30 – class
12:30 – go home for lunch break
1:30 – go to the gym to lift
2:30 studying in the library
4:45 – early dinner
6:30-9:30 – Lionettes practice
9:45-12 – meetings or more study time in library
12:15am – bed

Typical Home Game Day (12pm kickoff):
7:00am – wake up, eat breakfast, shower
7:40 – get dressed, do hair and make up
8:20 – pack bag for the day
8:30 – go to the Student Bookstore downtown and perform sideline dances outside
8:45 – head up to the BJC
9:10 – meeting with the team in the locker room for stretching
9:30 – run through of all dances
10:00 – Tailgreat performance at the BJC
10:30 – eat lunch
10:50 – walk to Beaver Stadium
11:15 – stretch for the game
11:40 – go onto the field for pregame show and game time!
3:30 – walk home from Beaver Stadium
4:00 – eat a snack and take a long nap!
7:30 – wake up, shower, and dinner
8pm – hang out with friends!

I also asked Jenna a couple of questions relating to her experiences and her thoughts on Homecoming.

Caity: “What’s your favorite part about being a Lionette?”
Jenna: My favorite part of being a Lionette is the huge performance opportunity that it offers. As a team, we perform at roughly ninety campus events every year! I love dancing in front of crowds and providing spirit to fans during sporting events. The girls on the team are another one of the best parts about being a Lionette. We do not have a coach so every girl on the team has a responsibility to movtivate each other and help make each practice a productive one. Being a self-run team has made us become just like a family. Every girl is so genuine, hard-working, and dedicated; that way we are so close to one another.

Caity: “What’s your favorite memory from your time spent with the team?”
Jenna: It is really hard to pick just one memory so I will explain two! My first was the first time I danced on the field as a member of the dance team. We ran on to the field to dance and the Blue Band started playing “Rock and Roll” while the team ran out. The stadium erupted and it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. I felt so accomplished that I had made the team and was so proud to be a Penn State Dance Team member. My other favorite memory was in April of last year when our Nationals Team traveled to Daytona Beach, Fl. to compete in a national dance competition. Our national’s dance was literally the hardest, most intense, and physically draining dance that I have done in my life. We had been practicing vigorously since October for this and I was so nervous. Penn State went into finals with a fourth place spot and we were hoping to improve. We performed and left everything we had on that floor. Every single girl gave it her all and worked so hard. At the awards ceremony it was announced that we received third place! I started crying immediately because I knew how much time and effort our team put into that dance. The Penn State Dance Team was finally recognized for its talent, and I was so proud.

Caity: “What’s your favorite style of dance?”
Jenna: My two favorite styles of dance are definitely jazz and hip-hop. They are both so expressive, upbeat, and a ton of fun to perform!

Caity: “Do you have any pre-game rituals you do as a team or by yourself before taking the field?”
Jenna: Before every game one of the girls on the team, Melissa, and I always standi n a corner and go over every dance we have for that day in our heads. She really helps me clear my head, focus, and feel totally confident with the dances. Melissa is also really good at calming me down when I fell nervous – I feel nervous before every performance!

Caity: “How long do you practice your short performances for during the games – just the week before or have you been working on a few all year?”
Jenna: We will usually learn a dance we perform out on the field about 1-2 weeks before we actually have to perform it. Over those few weeks we clean every move in the dance so that we are all alike, and practice it probably 3-4 times at every practice. We learn our sideline and pom dances during the summer before our first year on the team. We use the same routines for those every year, with a few updates, because they are coordinated with what the Blue Band plays.

Caity: “And lastly, what is your favorite part of Homecoming?”
Jenna: My favorite part of Homecoming is definitely the parade! The dance team is able to walk in the parade while dancing and performing for the crowd. I love getting everybody pumped up for the game the next day!

A Day in the Life of…The Penn State Blue Band Drum Major

October 4, 2010

This Homecoming week, we will be bringing you an inside look at the day-to-day of prominent campus figures. Today’s post – Drum Major Ian Kenney. We had Ian write a timeline of his typical weekday, and of course his schedule for a home football game. Photo credits to Ian and PSU Live.

Typical Weekday (Monday, Wednesday, Friday):
9:00am: Wake Up
10:00am-3:30pm: Classes
3:45pm-5:45pm: Blue Band Rehearsal
6:15pm-8:15pm: Workout at the IM Building Gym (1 hour of cardio, 1 hour of strength training/abs)
8:30pm-12:30am: Homework, errands, studying.

Typical Gameday (Noon kick schedule)
5:30am: Wake Up; gather uniform items
6:20am: Drive to morning rehearsal at the Blue Band Building
7:00am: Lead the band through warm-ups at the beginning of rehearsal, followed by a 1-mile jog and 30 minutes of stretching to wake up legs
8:30am: Eat a quick early lunch, get into uniform, hydrate, and continue stretching
9:30am: Step off with the Blue Band to head to the Bryce Jordan Center
10:00am: TailGreat performance at the Jordan Center with the Blue Band and cheerleaders
10:45am: Step off from the Jordan Center to head to Beaver Stadium 11:15am: Change from field shoes to cleats in focus room by the tunnel, hydrate (and get caffeinated!), relax and focus
11:30am: Walk to the field to finish stretches, pump up/greet crowds, do pre-game rituals with percussionists
11:45am: Line up at the back of the end zone
11:50am: Step off for pregame!12:00pm: Conduct the band in the stands, during halftime, and during post-game
4:00pm: March back to the stadium, watch the day’s performances on the projector screens, hang up uniform
4:30pm: My day is done – usually involves a huge dinner and a long nap!

Bellisario: Bonded by the Blue & White

June 8, 2010

What do TV shows “JAG,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Quantum Leap,” and “NCIS” all have in common? You guessed it: Penn State.

More specifically, they were all created and produced by Executive Producer Donald P. Bellisario, who completed his undergraduate degree in Journalism at Penn State, class of 1961. Bellisario was honored in 2001 as a Distinguished Alumnus, which is the highest honor given to a graduate whose “personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.”

Bellisario's star on the Walk of Fame, unveiled March 2004.

Bellisario, 75, is a Pennsylvania native who grew up in Cokeburg, Pa., which he described as a “hardscrabble western Pennsylvania coal mining town,” in a Penn State Live article from October 2, 2006. When he was 20 he enlisted in the Marine Corps for four years, where he obtained the rank of Sergeant and received the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. After leaving the Corps, he attended Penn State where he obtained his degree while caring for two of his four children.

He then went to work as a copywriter before taking a chance on his career and moving to Hollywood to become a story editor for the show “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which aired from 1976 to 1978. After five episodes he was promoted to producer, and was then hired as a supervising producer for the show “Battlestar Galactica.” During this time he started to develop several of his own hit series, the first of which was “Magnum, P.I.”

For all his fame and success, this TV producer with his very own Hollywood Star has not forgotten dear old State. Asides from being honored as a Distinguished Alumnus, Bellisario endowed a $1 million Trustee Matching Scholarship to the College of Communications in 2006, a scholarship that creates $100,000 a year in scholarship money. He also donated collections of his television works for Penn State students to study. Housed in the Carnegie building, they include over 200 episodes of “JAG” and “NCIS”, with scripts and either a VHS or DVD for each.

To learn more about this PSU alum, visit his IMDB.com page here, or check out the Penn State Live article.

Why The Face, Dear Old State?

May 17, 2010

Any fan of ABC’s recent hit sitcom “Modern Family” is familiar with TV’s latest “laugh out loud” character Phil Dunphy: the ultimate cool dad.  At first glance, viewers might recognize actor Ty Burrell from his roles in “Dawn of the Dead,” “The Incredible Hulk,” or even a couple episodes of “Law & Order.”  Those who know better, associate him with a long list of other notable Penn State University graduates.

Ty Burrell, 42, earned his M.F.A. from Penn State’s highly esteemed theatre department in 1997 after completing his undergrad at Southern Oregon University in 1993.  In an article written by Penn State graduate Vicki Glembocki for the Penn Stater Magazine, Penn State professor Barry Kur describes Burrell as having the “innate ability to deliver lines with a sense of truth.”

While comedy isn’t Burrell’s primary focus, it does seem to follow him in his daily life.  In Glembocki’s article, Burrell recounts his first tough audition: the University Resident Theatre Association audition for potential M.F.A.’s.  The day before the audition on a family ski trip, Burrell collided head first with a friend’s dog, leaving him with a black eye.  This proved to work out in his favor as Burrell stated, “it was such a lesson in auditioning; it’s so much better to have something wrong with you.”

Shaky confidence in hand, Burrell headed to Penn State in 1994 where he starred in Grapes of Wrath and Our Town, performed in a two-person show about AIDS called Lovely Planet, and also helped out with the intro-to-theatre class, Theatre 100.  He spent two summers on the professional side of things doing shows at the Pennsylvania Centre Stage.

A versatile actor who’s spent time on television, the silver screen, and off-broadway, Burrell is certainly a well-rounded scholar of his craft. His dedication has been recognized by Entertainment Weekly, who called Burrell this season’s break-out comic actor.  We wish Burrell the best of luck in the upcoming Emmy nominations and good wishes as he continues his way along the road to a long and successful career.

For more insight to Ty Burrell’s work as the endearing yet lovable Phil Dunphy check out this YouTube clip.

To continue reading about Ty’s personal background you can find Vicki Glembocki’s article here:


Where you Wear It!

May 3, 2010

This summer, we are having a contest!!!

We want all our current, past, and even future Penn Staters to wear your Penn State gear when you travel! Take a picture of yourself in you’re gear wherever you go on vacation this summer, post them on our Facebook wall, and whoever gets the farthest away from State College as determined by Google Maps wins! Just make sure you take a picture with a town sign so we know where you are!

The winner will receive an awesome 2010 logo hoodie and a Penn State Homecoming aluminum water bottle to take with you the next time you travel!

So snap your pics, send ’em in, and get free stuff!


April 28, 2010

Another academic year is wrapping up here in Happy Valley, bringing about that bittersweet time for students that occurs every May. Underclassmen are ecstatic they are done with studying for exams and doing homework, but depressed they have to go home and work all summer. Seniors meanwhile, are excited (sometimes) to go start a job or internship in the real world, but walking around in a world of despair that they have to leave campus forever.

It’s not hard to imagine why they are sad. Those graduating seniors have spent the last four years of their lives living in and working in the Penn State community, and have accumulated countless memories of their times here that will never be forgotten.

So now we ask our departing classmates to share with us those memories, those stories and joyous times with friends, their trials and tribulations. Post them on our Facebook wall here and share your times with fellow classmates and alumni.  They can be short, sweet, and simple, like Executive Director Matt Peyton’s:

“I would have to say my favorate Penn State Memory would be getting to be in the Homecoming Parade in the snow last year and seeing all of the students, alumni, and community members that braved the weather to come out and support Penn State.”

Or it could look something like Melanie Sessa’s, the Public Relations Street Team Captain:

My favorite memory at Penn State is dancing in THON 2010.  That weekend was the best weekend of my life and I’ll never have another experience like that again.  My THON child was Eric Krushinski, who has been in remission for 7 years.  He’s in fourth grade and loves to play with anything princess and girl related!  After the first 24 hours, Eric came back to the BJC and brought me a rose.  I started to tear up because I was doing this for him, and he just wanted to make me happy.  Eric put a smile on my face that entire weekend and he’s the reason I did it, FTK.

-For The Glory


April 26, 2010

As this school year comes to a close, we want to wish all of our departing seniors the best of luck with their futures. We know that they will use the tools they have acquired at Penn State to make our university proud.

Second, we wish luck to all students on their finals next week. Study hard!

A few reminders and a couple of things to look for in the future …


-This Thursday, April 29, is the Homecoming Five Guys Fundraiser. 20 percent of your bill will be donated to Homecoming if it is mentioned at the counter with your purchase.

-This Friday, April 30, Homecoming court nominations will wrap up for the spring. Visit homecoming.psu.edu to nominate your fellow students and faculty.  Only one nomination is needed per person for them to be considered! Remember, your organization will receive spirit points for faculty nominations.

-Finally, if you’re a graduating senior and want to help leave your mark at Penn State, donate your senior deposit to PSU Homecoming! Not only is it a great way to give back, but you will get spirit points for your organization! Visit SeniorClassGift.psu.edu for more details.

And now for the future …

-This summer, make sure to check back to the blog often, as we will be posting about famous Penn State grads, as well as biographies of the current Executive Directors.

-Also, make sure to sign up for our listserv on homecoming.psu.edu to get all the latest Homecoming information sent right to your e-mail! We will be sending out a monthly newsletter with a summary of Homecoming events and news that upcoming month.

-Finally, make sure you check back tomorrow for a special new Homecoming “Marathon” of sorts (especially all you seniors!).

-For The Glory

Logo Sale!

April 26, 2010

We hope you love this years Homecoming Logo as much as we do!
That’s why this year for the first year ever, we are having a logo pre-sale on the 1st floor of the HUB TODAY from 10am-4pm.
We have all sorts of gear with the logo on it, with a list of prices below after the jump…

description of the photo
T-Shirts – $8
Long Sleeve Tees – $12
Sweatshirts – $25
Soffe Shorts – $12
Mesh Shorts – $15
Water Bottles – $10
Hats – $15
Cookbooks – $10
All old Logo gear – 50% off, including $10 sweatshirts!!

-For The Glory