Standout Senior: Meet Danielle Kosslow (Mathematics and Secondary Education in Mathematics)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Danielle Kosslow: 

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Major: Dual major in Mathematics and Secondary Education in Mathematics

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I have received the Chancellor’s Scholarship, Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship, Riley Ride Alumni Scholarship, Schreyer Honors College Scholarship, and Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship.

On choosing Behrend: I felt right at home when I walked on campus. It feels like we are tucked away in our own little world. Also, the opportunities are endless. Because Behrend is a smaller school, it allowed me to develop great professional relationships with my professors, while also gaining life-long friends.

On choosing her major: I started at Behrend as a nursing major. It was a big switch to mathematics, but I love math and I have always loved working with people and helping others. So Secondary Math Education allowed me to do both. I added a Mathematics degree because I am a big nerd and math is a perfect fit for me, so why not?

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I am on the Behrend volleyball team, so my proudest accomplishment here would have to be winning the AMCC championship twice and getting to participate in the NCAA D3 volleyball championships. I learned and played a new position, and made first-team, all-section, this year, which was just awesome. From an academic standpoint, my proudest accomplishment would have to be maintaining a 3.96 GPA while at Behrend.

Campus involvement: I am on the Behrend women’s volleyball team, the National College Athlete Honors Society (Chi Alpha Sigma), and the Math Club.

Awards and recognitions: I received the President’s Freshman Award, Academic All-AMCC, First Team All-Conference AMCC, Third Team All-Conference AMCC, and All-Academic AMCC.

What makes her unique: What sets me apart is that I am a student athlete, a dual major, a Noyce scholar, and I work at three different jobs at Behrend. I am involved in many different activities, and I juggle all of them while also having time to have some fun with friends.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I think people would be surprised to know that I used to play the drums and had a full set at home.

Her passions: I am deeply passionate about contributing to teaching the next generation. I have loved every second of working with kids so far, and I am excited to continue. I am also extremely passionate about volleyball. It has been a part of my life for the past ten years, so it plays a significant role in my day-to-day schedule. I want to keep incorporating this sport in my life and plan to coach my own team. I volunteer as a coach every summer, so I would like to build on that.

Advice for first-year students: My main advice would be to just get involved in many different things. My freshman year I was shy and nervous about everything I did. As the years went on, the more involved I got, the more I grew as a person. If I had not forced myself to get involved around campus, I would not have made as many friends and had the same opportunities I have now. Study hard but make sure you have some fun. It goes quick and you never want to look back and say to yourself, “what if?”

After her graduation in May, Danielle plans to stay in Erie and teach mathematics in a high-needs school district.

Disc Golf Course Doubled to 18 Holes

By Heather Cass, publications manager, Penn State Behrend

Five years after the college’s first 9-hole disc golf course opened, one thing was certain: It was a popular addition to the Penn State Behrend campus. Rare is the rain-free day when you don’t see players tossing discs toward their targets, medieval looking chain-link baskets on metal poles, that snake through campus.

Now, players will have even more targets to hit as the course was recently expanded to 18 holes. See the new course map here.

Brian Streeter, senior director of athletics, ordered the new targets last fall but they arrived too late to install in 2020, so Athletics staff took the extra time to design the expanded course – reworking some of the original nine holes and creating nine new ones with input from members of the Erie Disc Golf club.

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New tees are temporarily marked with flags. Signage will be installed when the course is finalized.

The new holes opened April 1 and expanded play from the west side of Jordan road to the east side of the road. Streeter said the course is a work in progress.

“We’re still tweaking it,” he said. “We discovered some things that weren’t working, like a hole that was too close to Junker Center, which resulted in players trying to throw over the building, and we are listening to feedback from players.”

Additionally, construction now underway on Federal House near Junker Center required some planned holes to be placed in a temporary location.

Once the course is finalized, Streeter said that the plan is  to put up permanent signage, including a full course map and signs at each tee. For now, the new hole tees are marked with orange flags. Maps are available at hole no. 1, near the tennis courts.

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Pick up a course map at hole No. 1 in front of the tennis courts.

Student legacy

The original 9-hole course was a student-driven project, initiated by Kyle Stephan ’14, a former SGA president, who got the ball rolling discs flying. Stephan was joined by then students, Trey Neveux, Mark Malecky, Steve Lester, and Tyler Ferraino, now 2016 graduates, who together designed the course, located equipment, and secured funds. Even as they finished the original course, the team hoped it might be expanded one day.

“I’ve talked to all the members on the original board of the club, and we’re all extremely happy the course was expanded to make it a full 18 holes,” said Neveux, who is now a launch engineer at Space X in Los Angeles. “I’m excited that the new course takes players into less explored parts of campus on the east side of Jordan Road. I’m looking forward to playing the expanded course and have already talked to friends and former professors about playing a round next time I’m in Erie.”

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Former students Tyler Ferraino and Trey Neveux, both 2016 graduates, are two of several students who developed the original 9-hole disc course. File photo from 2015. 

Disc Golf 101

Equipment

basic disc golf set contains three discs—a driver, a mid-range disc, and a putter. Just as with golf, the driver is used for long drives from tee, the mid-range disc is used for shorter distances, and the putter is used when a player is close to a target.

Several sets of discs are available for students to borrow for free at the registration desk at Junker Center, or players can pick up sets of their own at most retailers or online for less than $30.

How to play/rules

Standing at the tee, a player throws the driver disc toward the basket. Players — typically in groups of two to four — take turns throwing their discs with the one whose disc lands the farthest from the basket going first (as with golf).

One point (stroke) is counted each time the disc is thrown and when a penalty is incurred. The goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. A disc that comes to rest in the basket or chains marks successful completion of that hole. The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins.

Most of the holes on Behrend’s course are a par 3, but there are also some par 4 and 5. Map here.

Learn more about how to play disc golf here.

Visitor parking, course notes

  • Visitors may play for free anytime the course is available. Users are encouraged to park in the overflow lot on the south side of Jordan Road on Old Station Road, which is the closest lot to start and finish of the 18-hole course. A visitor parking pass can be obtained from Police Services. In current times, players are asked to wear masks and stay socially distanced from other teams.
  • Note that, at times, some holes may be closed for safety reasons when an athletics event, such as a baseball or softball game, is underway nearby.
  • Penn State students, faculty and staff members may borrow a set of three discs (driver, mid-range, putter) at the Junker Center registration desk with their Penn State ID.

RELATED: Check out this post from the Behrend Blog archives about the original 9-hole disc golf course at Behrend.

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Standout Seniors: Meet Jenessa Islas-Parker

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today we’d like you to meet:  Jenessa Islas-Parker:

Jenessa Isla-Parker

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Palatine, Illinois

Scholarships: I received the Penn State Behrend Academic Excellence Award last year.

On choosing Behrend: I visited Penn State Behrend at the invitation of Joe Tristan, the head coach of the water polo team. After visiting the campus, I fell in love. I realized Behrend was the perfect school for me because of the small class sizes, an amazing psychology program, and the ability to play water polo at the collegiate level.

On choosing psychology: I was 15 years old when my older sister was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She is the reason that I decided to study psychology. I became very interested in people, especially in how we function and why we struggle sometimes.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was on one of the nine research teams that was selected to represent Penn State at the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol event in Harrisburg. My research team looked at the effects of gender on blame attributions in violent crime scenarios. We will be presenting our research at three conferences this semester.

On earning a degree in half the time: It was always my plan to graduate from Behrend in two years. I came to college with 47 credits from AP exams I took in high school. My plan still required taking more than the average amount of credits in order to reach my goal. I took six or seven classes each semester and took two courses over the summer to reach the required number of credits necessary for my degree.

On playing water polo, too: At one point, I was taking 20 credits while in water polo season. This meant I had two- to three-hour practices each day and was traveling each weekend to compete in tournaments. I often did projects on the airplane or went back to a computer lab after a late practice to finish a paper. It was certainly challenging, but it was also very rewarding.

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Campus involvement: I am a member of the Behrend S.A.V.E. club, which tries to bring awareness to domestic or relational violence. I was also a mentor at the Autism Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania where I was able to spend time with the young clients, while helping them build interpersonal skills.

Tri-lingual: I am fluent in Spanish and intermediate in French. I learned Spanish growing up in a Mexican household and picked up French in school. I have a passion for languages, which I must get from my family because we all speak Spanish and my mother and sister speak German, too.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college. My parents worked very hard to give me opportunities that were not available to them. I am very grateful to have hard-working, motivating parents who did everything in their power to get me through college.

Who inspires her: My family is my biggest inspiration. My dad came from Mexico when he was 18 years old with nothing but the clothes on his back. He made a living as a seasonal worker, and now he is supporting my dream of going to college. My mom began working at 18 years old, and now she runs a very successful company. My sister has battled depression and anxiety for the past five years, but still continues to be successful in her work and social life. My family is the sole reason I am at college and graduating this year.

Advice for new students: Take advantage of the resources available to Penn State students! Resources such as the Academic and Career Planning Center and faculty members are here to help you. Also, be aware of the classes and course sequences required in your major. I almost had to stay an extra semester because of the sequencing.

After her graduation in May, Jenessa hopes to secure an entry-level job at the Federal Bureau of Investigations where she has been doing an internship for the past year. She plans to work toward being a Special Agent.

 

Inflatable obstacle race coming to Junker pool

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

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Obstacle races are all the rage lately, including inflatable obstacle races, but Penn State Behrend Athletics is taking it one step further and hosting an inflatable obstacle course race in the pool!

The event—called SwimJitsu—is open to swimmers of any age, including adults. The $20 advance registration price gets you two-hours of swimming/sliding/jumping fun.

From the race organizer:

SwimJitsu participants, also known as ‘swimjas,’ aim to complete entertaining obstacles such as balancing across beams, swimming through trenches, and cannonballing off the top of Mt. Swimja. Once participants conquer the course and the three sacred traits of speed, agility, and wisdom, they can claim the title of Grand Master Swimja.”

Penn State Behrend’s event will be held on Sunday, October 8. Participants can register for one of three two-hour sessions: 9:00-11:00 a.m.; 11:30-1:30 p.m.; or 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Swimjas are separated into age groups and they get two hours to attempt unlimited runs on the course. Awards will be given at the end of each session for the best times per age group. There will also be four ninja-themed swimming games for competitors to practice their newfound abilities.

Penn State Behrend Athletics and Behrend Swimming and Diving are hosting the event, which has never been presented in the Erie area before.

“We’re excited to bring SwimJitsu to our facility as a fun activity for the Erie community to enjoy,” said Jen Wallace, head swimming and diving coach.

Visit SwimJitsu.com to register or to learn more about the event!

 

Cross-Country Coach’s Voice Goes Viral

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Penn State Behrend cross-country coach, Greg Cooper, found himself (or at least his voice) part of a stunning video that went viral this week. The video, shot at the DIII Mid-East Regional Championships at DeSales University where Behrend’s men’s XC team were competing last week, depicts Justin DeLuzio from Gwynedd-Mercy College taking a severe hit from a whitetail deer mid-race.

Coach Cooper can be heard on the video yelling “Watch out for the deer!”  Cooper said that when he yelled, most of the runners looked up and heeded his warning, save for Justin who kept his head own and ended up a five rows into the cornfield next to him.

Watch it here: http://www.yourerie.com/sports/sports/behrend-cross-country-tied-to-viral-video

Ouch!

Cooper, who ran to DeLuzio after the collision, said the runner looked disoriented and stunned, but continued the race. Reports say he suffered no major injuries.

It’s not the first time runners have had to dodge deer on the XC course.  Cooper said it happened a few times when he was a college runner.

Only in Pennsylvania….

(OK, and probably Ohio and other rural areas, too, but at least it wasn’t a bear, right?)

Athletics to host cool 5K fun run (ice cream is involved!)

Ice Cream Run TV

By Heather Cass

Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Some people run for fun. Some people run for fitness. Some people run to spend time with friends.

What would you run for?

How about free Berkey Creamery ice cream (and a cool T-shirt, too)?

Ah…now there’s a tempting reason and sweet reward for running (or walking) the Penn State Behrend Athletics first Ice Cream Run on Friday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Not up for 3.1 miles? There’s also a Family Fun 1-Mile Walk.

The races start and finish in the Junker Center parking lot, near the new soccer complex. The course is on all paved paths through campus and Coach Greg Cooper (cross-country and track) was merciful when he designed the course as it goes up first, then is mostly flat or downhill. Course map here (also posted below).

Race registration is $25 and includes a long-sleeve shirt and free Berkey’s Creamery ice cream when you finish the race. Register here (online registration only). By the way, this is a family-friendly event – there’s a $5 discount for every additional family member you register.

Four legged friends are even welcome to run with you, too, but they must be leashed and under control at all times.

This is a fun run, so there will not be a timer or awards.

All proceeds benefit Behrend Athletics! For more information call 814-898-6240.

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Left-hander Jack Herzing gives baseball team boost during sophomore season

Jack Herzing

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

One by one, Jack Herzing sent them down. Between the left-hander’s strong fastball and biting curveball, Penn State Altoona hitters found themselves helpless at the plate.

When the April 6th game had finished, the Penn State Behrend pitcher had struck out 16 batters, tying the school record set in 2001 by Troy Williams.

His source of motivation that day came from an unexpected place — fear.

“In the back of my head, there was just this fear of getting rocked. It’s happened to me before, and it’s a very bad feeling when you’re up there getting hit around, and I was really motivated to get out there and help our team win,” Herzing said.

The Lions did win the game, defeating Penn State Altoona 4-1 in the AMCC contest. Herzing’s strong performance earned him recognition as Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week, but it was just a snapshot of what’s become a breakout sophomore season for the St. Marys native.

Overall, Herzing is 7-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 44 1/3 innings of work and leads the team with 58 strikeouts while averaging 11.69 strikeouts per game. His success has given a huge boost to the Lions, which own a 23-10-1 record and begin play in the AMCC Championship Tournament on Friday, but the seeds to Herzing’s 2015 breakout had been planted at the end of last year.

While he showed glimpses of his talent during his first year as a collegiate player, Herzing says he felt a need for improvement.

“After my freshman season, I really wasn’t pleased with how I performed,” the project and supply chain management major says. “The day after I came home (from college), I started a new lifting routine to get myself ready for the next season.”

The extra time in the gym has paid dividends for Herzing, who is penciled in to start the Lions’ first game   of the AMCC Championship Tournament against Mount Aloysius.

“Herz has been big time for us this spring,” says Behrend head coach Paul Benim. “Our assistant coach Jay Condit has done a tremendous job of helping Herz evolve, simplifying his process. Herz has really focused, stepped up and elevated his performance, especially after the team lost three senior pitchers from last year’s ECAC Championship team.”

Perhaps no one is more familiar with Herzing’s mentality on the mound than teammate Brian Bohman, who has caught every one of his games this season. As a catcher, Bohman is often charged with keeping Herzing calm, even when things turn sour.

“Jack is that bulldog out there,” Bohman, a sophomore history major, says. “He wants to go 110 miles all the time, but sometimes you have to slow him down, say a little joke and get on with it. We work really well together.”

Herzing credits Bohman with much of his success.

“They say it’s 50-50 catchers and pitchers, but it’s really 60-40 catchers, if not more,” he says. “Bohman has been so great this year. He studies the batters. He knows where we should throw it, and I just throw it where he wants me to. He deserves most of the credit.”

While he’s clearly very serious with regard to baseball, there is another side to Herzing, and Hunter Hux will attest to that. As the only left-handed pitchers on the team, Herzing and Hux immediately developed a bond, but it goes beyond baseball.

“We’re the two goofiest kids on the team. We’re always laughing and cracking jokes,” Hux says. “We saw this one story online called ‘17 Reasons That You and Your Best Friend Are Joey and Chandler,’ and we started crying laughing afterwards because it described us perfectly.”

Hux is one of Herzing’s greatest supporters, and he has high hopes for his friend’s future. Last year, former Behrend pitcher Chad Zurat signed a professional contract with the Colorado Rockies organization.

That leaves big shoes for any Behrend pitcher to fill, but Hux says Herzing could be the guy to do it.

“If anyone on this team has the potential to do that, it’s Jack,” Hux says. “If he just develops a third pitch, there is no ceiling for him. And if Jack decides he wants to do it, I think he will.”

Follow Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

A flyer for Emma and Dan’s Route 6 Journey hangs from the fridge at the Harborcreek home of the Perritano family. Sixteen-year-old Emma Perritano’s face lights up whenever she catches a glimpse of it.

So far, she is enjoying the journey, eagerly waving her hands when they pass someone on the street. All the while, humming her favorite songs, a collection of tunes from Wicked, Disney movies and some old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Her parents, Penn State Behrend men’s soccer coach Dan Perritano and college registrar Jane Brady, said it’s exactly what they hoped for.

“I wanted to take Emma and do something special,” Dan Perritano said. “While she doesn’t understand what we’re doing completely, she points to that flyer now, and she knows we’re doing something special.”

What they’re doing is a 360-mile trek across Pennsylvania’s historic Route 6 to help raise funds for the Arc of Erie County. Emma is a non-verbal life skills student at North East Middle School and has benefitted from the Arc, which provides advocacy and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Dan is pushing Emma in her Team Hoyt running chair, a custom-built chair designed for physically-challenged individuals that was purchased through grants from ACHIEVA and Billy’s Friends Foundation, two non-profit organizations for persons with disabilities. The two have already begun checking off some of the western miles on Route 6 during weekend outings.

The duo hopes to finish at least 100 miles before setting out on May 18 to finish the trip.

“Once we get on the road, we aren’t coming back,” said Perritano, who will use the MapMyWalk app to track completed miles.

Perritano said the two average about 15-minute miles when moving consistently, and he hopes to do between 15 to 20 miles per day.

“The plan is to do 10 or 11 miles in the morning, have lunch and then do maybe another 10 in the afternoon,” he said.

Perritano said they won’t carry many supplies and will mostly rely on purchasing things on the go.

However, if supplies get too low, Perritano does have a lifeline.

“I can’t imagine them going three of four days without me coming to the rescue,” Brady said.

Perritano plans to finish the journey on May 30, but knows challenges could arise. Hazardous weather could cause a delay, so he said the completion date is tentative.

“It’s going to be so rewarding,” Perritano said. “It’s something special that we will always remember.”

To learn more about the Arc or how you can contribute to Emma and Dan’s Journey, please visit their website at thearcoferie.org or contact Arc president Dr. Karen Morahan at kmorahan@edinboro.edu or Dan Perritano at dpp2@psu.edu.

Follow Emma and Dan’s Journey on their Facebook page.

Behrend alumnus Chad Zurat fulfills dream in Colorado Rockies organization

Zurat, Chad (Dust Devils)By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Chad Zurat ’14 sat nervously, his eyes and ears glued to the television. The former Penn State Behrend standout pitcher waited anxiously with hopes of hearing his name called in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.

Day one went by, and nothing.

Day two followed.

Then came day three.

A total of 1,215 baseball players were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft from June 5 to 7.

Zurat was not one of them.

After waiting helplessly for three days, he would now have to wait some more.

“I was hanging on a limb, I guess you could say. After a month, your hopes kind of waver a bit, and it’s hard to keep thinking it’s definitely going to happen,” says Zurat, of Clearfield, Pa., who compiled a 2.54 earned-run average while going 8-2 in his senior season with the Lions.

When the call came, Zurat says he was shocked and speechless.

He was at his accounting internship at Little Pine Resources in Clearfield on July 11 when he received a phone call. He was surprised to get a phone call during work but was even more surprised when he heard the voice on the other end of the line — Colorado Rockies scout Ed Santa.

“He introduces himself and says, ‘Well, we have an opening on our team, are you still interested?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course I am,’” Zurat recalls. “After five minutes, he calls back, and says, ‘Congratulations Chad, you’re a member of the Colorado Rockies organization.’”

It couldn’t have been a better home for Zurat, who says he became a fan while watching the team win 21 of 22 games in September 2007 en route to their first World Series appearance.

Within 12 hours, Zurat was on a flight to Pasco, Washington, where he would join the Tri City Dust Devils, the Short-Season Single-A farm team of the Rockies. He moved in with a host family, Dan and Chrissy Charron and their two sons, 12-year-old Daniel and 10-year-old Andrew.

Some might find the experience overwhelming, but Zurat was on cloud nine.

“I was so excited that I didn’t care at all. I was just ready to get on that plane and get out there on the baseball field,” he says.

He got his wish soon.

On July 13, just two days after that initial phone call from Santa, Zurat made his professional baseball debut against the Spokane Indians. In three innings of work, he allowed four runs (three earned), seven hits and struck out three batters.

“In my very first outing, I could tell that the talent was a decent step up from what I was used to,” Zurat says. “They take advantage of mistakes at this level. If you leave a curveball up in the zone or leave a fastball in the middle of the plate, you’re going to be snapping your head back and watching the ball go to the fence.”

Zurat would make adjustments and his performances improved. In his last three outings, he compiled a 3.60 earned-run average, walked zero batters and struck out six.

Penn State Behrend baseball coach Paul Benim coached Zurat for four years and believes the best is yet to come.

“Chad’s a great kid and a tremendous teammate. He never let his own head get in the way,” Benim says. “He just kept working, and he kept getting better. I think he’s only going to get better as he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his arm and never threw a lot of innings.”

Zurat’s next chance to impress the Rockies organization will come in February when he heads to Scottsdale, Arizona, for spring training. It will be the first time that he will have an opportunity to meet and play with some of the Rockies current stars, including shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

Zurat is going to try to remain professional, but says it will be a challenge.

“I haven’t met them yet, and the day I do, I will speechless right off the bat,” he says. “The fan is going to come out at first just because I’ve watched these guys play for the last seven years and they’re my favorite players. I have to work with them though, so there does still have to be a little bit of professionalism.”

In preparation for spring training, Zurat will begin a new lifting and running program this week. He will then start throwing again in December.

Until then, Zurat will be back working for Little Pine Resources doing contracted work. As an accounting graduate, Zurat has a nice Plan B should a professional baseball career not pan out.

He’s going to relish this opportunity while it lasts though.

“When I go to work, I look at a baseball field. I’m not looking at a cubicle all day. I get to come and play baseball. That’s all I need. It’s so much fun,” Zurat says.

Quick Hits with Chad Zurat

Family: Tom and Kristen Zurat (parents); Chelsea Brincka (sister)

Pitch repertoire: “Fastball, curve, change. I added the changeup this summer. I had been working on one, but I couldn’t get it to work. Our pitching coach worked with us a bit, and I finally found a grip that I could feel comfortable with, and it was a good pitch for me at the end of year.”

Thoughts on living with a host family: “They were just excellent people. I really enjoyed hanging out with their sons too. They were always fun to be around during the day when we didn’t have to be at the field.”

Why did you come to Behrend: “I didn’t even look at baseball for college. I was actually a basketball player. I came to Behrend because I initially wanted to pursue engineering, and I knew a lot of people from my high school were coming to Behrend. I emailed Coach Benim and asked if I could walk on. ”

Thoughts on Penn State Behrend baseball program: “It played a huge role in getting me to where I am now. Coach Benim did everything in his power to help me out, and he does everything in his power to help out any player he’s ever coached. I wasn’t even going to play baseball in college, but he gave me a chance. I can’t credit him enough.”

Coach Benim on the Rockies signing Zurat: “He was evaluated by 12 clubs, and I’m really happy that the Rockies gave him a chance. (Rockies scout) Ed Santa was here the day that Chad struck out 15 of the 21 batters he faced against Pitt-Bradford. His fastball sat at 93 miles per hour and touched 94 miles per hour, so he made quite the impression.”

Student earns wings

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Miranda Boatman took a deep breath as she boarded the Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft. After two-plus weeks of training, the time had finally come.

Within minutes, the Penn State Behrend junior childhood and early adolescent education major would be more than 1,200 feet above ground. Then she would jump from the aircarft and fall at speeds exceeding 130 miles an hour.

“Once we’re in that plane, and they open that door, that’s when it gets real,” said Boatman. “There’s only one way down.”

The Bellefonte, Pennsylvania native spent three weeks this summer completing the Army’s Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. The course is better recognized by its nickname — Jump School.

“They teach you how to do a PLF — parachute landing fall,” said Boatman, a member of The Pride of Pennsylvania ROTC Battalion (which includes students from Penn State Behrend, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University). “For me, it wasn’t as bad because I’m smaller, so I hit the grounder lighter.”

The training schedule that leads to the completion of an airborne jump is significant. It’s broken down into three weeklong intervals: ground week, tower week, and jump week.

Once the training has been completed, participants are expected to be able to execute jumps, deploy parachutes, land safely, pack swiftly, and move to a designated rally point.

Boatman said the training could be tedious at times, especially during ground week, but it’s a tried-and-true process.

“With ground week, you start on a (34-foot) platform and start swinging back and forth. They say they’ve been teaching these same methods for over twenty years, and it obviously works,” Boatman said.

During week two, participants practice jumps from 250-foot towers. The week is devoted to teaching all of the different phases of parachute flight.

The training process is far from easy. According to Boatman, more than 150 participants in her training group were dropped from the training because their jumps were not proficient during weeks one and two.

Those who made it to week three were in for some real, high-flying fun.

Boatman made a total of five jumps from the aircraft, including a night jump that proved to be the highlight of her experience.

“After you hit the ground on that jump, you knew you were getting your wings, so that was pretty great,” she said. “Everyone’s adrenaline was going after that jump, and everyone had their own little story about it.”

Boatman’s success in jumping should not come as a surprise. It’s in her blood.

Her father, John Boatman, completed the same training years earlier before serving in the National Guard. He was on hand for his daughter’s jumps and presented her with her airborne jump wings on the final day of the training.

Boatman plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the National Guard after her graduation in 2015. She’s thankful for the experiences ROTC has given her, especially her unique “summer school” venture.

“I just had such a great summer,” she said. “ROTC has provided me with so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I wouldn’t have been able to jump out of a plane. That’s just not something a normal college kid gets to do.”