Nittany Lion Michael Valania’s Spirits Remain High With 12 Hours Left To Dance
Earlier this week, we wrote about Michael Valania, who is dancing in THON this weekend. Valania, who has served as the Nittany Lion mascot since 2013 will experience THON in a unique way: as a dancer, and as the Lion. About 34 hours into THON weekend, I checked in with him to see how he’s been holding up.
Unsurprisingly, Valania is doing great. Beyond being exhausted and sore like a normal dancer, Valania bears the added burden of needing to energize the people around him. This doesn’t seem to get him down, though. People watching him during the Variety Show who realized he was a dancer too were amazed. “Is he some kind of superior genetic being?” someone asked me. The answer is yes, I think.
Of course, Michael downplayed the gravity of his situation. He said that so far he’s only spent about seven or eight hours in the suit. Most of his Nittany Lion hours will be towards the end of the weekend.
When I checked in with Michael on the floor around 3 a.m. he was doing great. “I feel pretty good!” he said.
Valania said he hit a wall between his Nittany Lion duties during the Variety Show and the Pep Rally. After that though, he said he’s doing great. Valania is also dancing alongside lots of close friends this weekend which helps. Did I mention he’s also dancing with his girlfriend? He is. It’s adorable. A visit from his dad and sister helped him out, too.
Unlike all the other dancers, Michael knows the time. Because he’s the Nittany Lion and has to participate in a lot of events throughout THON weekend, he’s got a good idea of how far into the weekend we are. Like, a really good idea. When we were talking, he said he knew it was “about 3 o’clock.”
He went on, “Well, that line dance was at 3:10 a.m., so it must be like, 3:20 a.m. now.” “Okay,” I said. He wanted to know how close he was to the actual time. “Do you really want to know?” I asked, and he did. I pulled out my phone and sure enough: 3:20 a.m. on the dot.
Despite having arguably one of the toughest weekends of anyone in the BJC, Michael keeps a smile on his face, and everyone else’s. We can’t wait to see him in the suit some more!
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An Athletics spokesperson confirmed there have been “recent staff changes” but didn’t give names or specific details.
“Rather than kind of dig up a dinosaur, we thought we would do something a little bit more creative that gave us the ability to make some interesting food that’s a little bit upscale.”
From 6 p.m. on Friday, February 17, to 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, 707 students will dance in THON and help raise money for pediatric cancer research.