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Bryce Jordan Center’s Virtual Backstage Pass Provides Meaningful Tribute To Class Of 2020

The Bryce Jordan Center’s hosted a virtual backstage pass event Thursday night to give the Class of 2020 a night to remember with appearances by special guests and live performances.

The event, held on Facebook Live for, was hosted by graduating senior Hannah Mears and BJC General Manager Al Karosas. The duo began by congratulating the Class of 2020 on its achievements reminiscing and on the fond memories the arena hosted.

“We have a brand new women’s [basketball] coach, the men’s basketball run was awesome this year,” Karosas said. “What can you say about THON, it’s always amazing. For concerts, we had the Twenty One Pilots, Chainsmokers, a sold-out Luke Combs, and some band named the Jonas Brothers.”

Men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers was the first guest of the evening and was quickly exposed by Karosas as a lifetime Justin Timberlake fan. He went on to thank the rowdy student section for helping his team achieve national relevancy throughout the season.

“The students gave us that home-court advantage that we needed,” Chambers said.

Next, Mears invited women’s basketball head coach Carolyn Kieger on to the live stream. Kieger preached to the outgoing seniors to take advantage of their next steps as they leave Penn State.

“Dominate the next chapter,” Kieger said. “This isn’t the way we hoped it would end, but it’ll make us tougher and more relentless.”

Blue Band director Greg Drane was welcomed to the show as the third guest. Karosas thanked Drane for his efforts with the band that he considered “second to none.”

Following Drane’s interview, Sue Paterno chimed in with a heartfelt message to the graduates.

“You are our future. No one and no thing can ever take Penn State away from you,” Paterno said.

While the Bryce Jordan Center plays host to many diverse events each year, nothing is quite as unique as THON. Senior directors Olivia Galow, Regina Duesler, Dan Herlihy, and Emily Dalo were honored for their hard work.

Former Nittany Lion Zach Sowa followed suit and described THON 2020’s grand reveal as his favorite moment. Sowa notably danced for all 46 hours in February and raised $48,725.27 alongside partner Eric Gaspich.

“I made extreme efforts this past year, and to see it was just a small part of an $11.7 million campaign was unbelievable,” Sowa said.

Mears later brought on Penn State wrestlers Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall, welcomed the Nittany Lion, and shared a video from former football star Franco Harris.

“When you go out into the world, go out there and keep trying and keep growing,” Harris said. “Make a difference in your community.”

While neither KJ Hamler nor Mike Gesicki count toward the graduating Class of 2020, the former football players were invited onto the live stream to share some wisdom with the crowd.

“The four years you spend at Penn State are going to be the best, but once you are part of the alumni having that family everywhere is really special,” Gesicki said.

Penn State football continued to dominate the show when head coach James Franklin joined Mears following a few technical difficulties.

“I apologize that your senior years didn’t finish up the way they should have. However, it has been a fantastic experience,” Franklin said.

Before leaving, Franklin turned over the controls to pop star and Penn State stan Joe Jonas, who chimed in to share his love for Penn State.

My Hero Zero’s very own Jason O finished the festivities with a tribute to John Lennon by virtually performing “Imagine.”

Although seniors were stripped of a chance to walk across the stage (for now, at least), the first-ever virtual backstage pass event provided a meaningful tribute to the Class of 2020.

You can catch a full replay of the event here.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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