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THON Pep Rally Highlights Second Night Of THON

The pep rally began with a hype video to get everyone in the mood, including one song that every Penn Stater misses: Zombie Nation.

The student hosts, Pat and Rachel, welcomed Penn State Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford to the screen to get the festivities underway.

“The Alumni Association is proud to sponsor [the pep rally] again this year,” Clifford said. “I hope you sit back from wherever you are around Nittany Nation and enjoy our student-athletes putting on some great performance yes for you tonight.”

Pat and Rachel then brought host PJ Mullen to the stage of the BJC, where he announced the matching hour. Between 7 and 8 p.m., every donation was matched and THON’s goal was to get one full year of funding for research equipment.

The women’s hockey team got the pep rally going with a creative performance on the actual ice of Pegula Ice Arena. They skated to “Mr. Worldwide” by Pitbull, and showed off how to make THON from home the best experience possible.

Following the initial performance, the hosts brought representatives from two teams that couldn’t perform: first women’s softball, then women’s track and field. Madison Smith came onto the screen to shoutout Danae Rivers, her teammate who is dancing in THON this year.

It wouldn’t be the pep rally without a former football player coming back and greeting Nittany Nation. This year, it was Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trace McSorely.

“I hope you guys are enjoying the pep rally,” McSorley said. “What you guys are doing is amazing. Keep pushing through it. You guys to this day continue to inspire me with what you do at THON. It’s one of the many reasons why I still keep in touch with it. I try to do the MyCauseMyCleats every year because of what you guys are doing there, what my experience with THON was, the kids there. It affected me and really changed my life. Keep going strong and putting up the good fight.”

Mullen welcomed the second performance of the night, women’s field hockey. The team jammed out to Pitbull’s “International Love” and “All Around The World” by Ludacris and Justin Bieber, which included a nifty handspring.

Women’s fencing was up next, although, like hockey and track and field, the squad wasn’t performing and instead offered a few words of encouragement to the dancers.

“We are sorry we can’t do our virtual dance due to team regulations, but we are here to support the kids and THON,” the team said.

Mullen then introduced the famous blue band. Instead of shining in Beaver Stadium in front of thousands, the crew made a brilliant montage of themselves performing throughout the university.

Of course, they had to do something in their cathedral.

Blue band blue sapphire Gillian Brooks then came out onto the BJC stage to do one of her own signature performances. She wowed the virtual crowd (yet again) with her baton skills.

Mullen stopped all the dancing to interview Brooks and drum major Keith Griffiths about their experiences with the blue band, and Brooks said what everyone was thinking.

“I think I would just like the opportunity to twirl in Beaver Stadium again,” Brooks said.

Following a Q&A that involved the audience finding out that Griffiths would like to be an ocean breeze candle, men’s swim and dive did an emotional rendition of “Fireflies” by Owl City, before doing their most unathletic fall into the pool.

Grant Haley was the second former football player to be zoomed in. The New Orleans cornerback gave everyone some words of encouragement.

“I just want to encourage you guys. you guys are doing great, you’re doing it for the kids. Have fun, we are,” Haley said.

By that point, Mullen took us backstage to check in on matching hour. In just 33 minutes, 100% of the goal was reached.

Women’s swimming and diving took over with loving words for their own dancer, Ellie Tiskus. Following their dance, teammate and two-time cancer survivor Niki Nolte was honored. Congratulations on getting back into the pool, Niki.

The Nittany Lion gave us its best impression of the Lionettes before the national champion dance group showed us how it was done. The Lionettes finished with their signature split, because, duh.

As they say, the third time’s the charm. In this case, it was the third former football player to join the stream: Mike Gesicki.

The Miami Dolphins player joined a Zoom call with young Landon Knepp who looks up to the tight end. In a heartwarming call, Gesicki fielded some intriguing questions from the up-and-coming stud.

“When Gesicki’s highlights popped up on the screen, it included him jumping over McSorely. Knepp got a little burn-in on the former Penn State quarterback.

“I mean it can’t be that hard,” Knepp said.

At that point, it was time for the main attraction: defending champion men’s gymnastics. The blue bloods of the THON pep rally immediately received a 10 from the Nittany Lion through their exquisite, synchronized dancing to the songs “All Around The World (La La La)” and “Danza Kuduro.”

Following the main event, we went backstage once again to find out that THON reached the 100% mark for a second time.

The Penn State cheerleaders, women’s lacrosse, and women’s tennis were all featured next, before women’s gymnastics gave its male counterparts a run for its money.

Men’s hockey and soccer both gave some love to the stream, before Sean Clifford, Jordan Stout, and Chris Stoll addressed THON representing the football team.

“We hope you’re enjoying the pep rally,” they said. “Dancers, we’re sending you our love and support and cheering you on. We cannot wait to be back in the BJC next year.”

Sue Paterno was the final special guest of the event, where she was asked about the library in her and her husband’s name.

“We’re lucky to have the library, and we are glad you use it,” Paterno said. “When I was a student, I spent a lot of time in the stacks as well.”

Paterno also offered some wise words of wisdoms to Penn State students everywhere, reminding them to find a good group of friends and to make the most of their time while at Penn State.

Mullen sent it back to Paul Clifford for the final word of the pep rally. The alumni association CEO thanked everyone who helped out before a virtual alma mater concluded the event.

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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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