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Lucky Freshman Spends Prize-Winning Evening With James Franklin

Some Penn State students spend their Tuesday nights studying, doing homework, or forcing themselves to go to the gym. Others spend their time in bed watching Netflix or making a trip to the Creamery.

One lucky freshman, however, recently spent a Tuesday evening hanging out with Penn State football coach James Franklin. Jaylah Williams was invited to check out one of the football team’s practices at Holuba Hall thanks to a stroke of luck and a punctual RA.

Williams won the opportunity by catching a t-shirt at the Be A Part From The Start pep rally in August. The pep rally is the freshman class’s first crash course in Penn State tradition and annually takes place on the first weekend of the fall semester. The fact that Franklin’s business card was in the shirt is cool enough in itself, but the fact that he personally threw it into the crowd makes it even more special.

Franklin emerged into Rec Hall for the special t-shirt toss midway through the pep rally. Lindsey Macrae, Williams’ roommate, recalled that Penn State’s head coach literally pointed his finger at Williams herself as he cocked his arm back to throw the shirt. Williams was in disbelief at Franklin’s gesture and the fact that she got her hands on the shirt.

Williams recalled the pep rally as having somewhat of a hectic start. Her RA emphasized being on time to give those who live on her floor a small chance to win prizes. As fate would have it, Williams nabbed one of the most coveted prizes of the evening.

“We got separated from the girls from our floor, and somehow got seated in the S-Zone,” Williams said. “I thought this was as good as it was going to get. Nothing could have been better than this.”

Williams sent James Franklin an email the day after the pep rally. Franklin got back to the freshman within a few days and scheduled their meet-up and a tour of the Lasch Building for Tuesday, September 11.

The freshman from Florence, NJ arrived at Holuba Hall at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday for her special evening. Franklin came over and shook her hand while she watched the team practice ahead of its Week 3 matchup with Kent State.

Williams was not the only visitor at Tuesday’s practice; a group of THON children was also invited to watch the team. She said Franklin was very down-to-earth and respectful when interacting with the THON children and their families.

The freshman then moved over from Holuba Hall to the Lasch Building, where Williams was led on a tour by one of the team’s interns. She got an inside look at the building’s facilities, getting a glimpse of the team’s meeting rooms, pools, weight room, and everything else inside of the Lasch Building.

Williams, who has known she wanted to attend Penn State since her junior year of high school, described the experience as “extraordinary.” She has plenty of luck and a knowledgable RA to thank for the all-access look she got inside of Penn State’s football facilities.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a junior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]


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