Hungry Dogs Run Faster: Matt Brown’s Senior Column

Hello, my name is Matthew Lee Brown. For this story, you can refer to me as Matt, but I’ve been called many names. Matt Brown, MattyB, MattyB63, Matt B, Brown, The Man, The Man MattyB, Ball Knower, Glizzy Gobbler, and the list goes on and on.

A little background on me: I grew up and still live in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a small suburb just outside of Philadelphia (yes, I live right outside of Northeast Philly. I can say I live right outside of Philadelphia). 

Growing up, neither of my parents graduated college (I’m sorry for exposing you guys), so I didn’t have a college football team to root for. Being from Northeast Philadelphia, I decided to root for an in-state team that Dad liked to root for — the Penn State Nittany Lions.

My family had been to games at Beaver Stadium before and traveled to Happy Valley when you had to go through multiple small towns just to get to State College.

When I was 11 years old, I was finally able to attend my first Penn State football game at Beaver Stadium. It was a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers on November 16, 2013. I remember sitting close to the field near where the Boilermakers cheerleaders and the mascot Purdue Pete were. I had never been to a football stadium before, and I remember just how big Beaver Stadium was.

Around that same time, I started to gain an interest in playing tackle football. All of my life, I played baseball. It was my favorite sport to watch and play. Every year, it was the same thing… start baseball in the spring, play it until the fall, and take the winters off. 

But when I got to middle school, things changed. I fell in love with playing football. It came almost naturally to me. I was originally put at center because, at the time, I was the only offensive lineman who could snap the ball. 

While playing football in middle school, I also participated in a club called the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science or PJAS. It was a science competition where kids in the area competed to show off experiments they did with a chance to compete in the state-wide competition at Penn State. Kids traveled to State College and stayed in dorm rooms for the weekend, just like if they were a college student. 

When I heard all I had to do was a science experiment and I got to go stay at Penn State for a weekend, I knew I had to jump on that opportunity. So I did my project and I advanced to the state competition and got to travel to Penn State. I stayed in Brumbaugh Hall, and the first thing I did was explore the campus and went to the famous Berkey Creamery. I was blown away by how big the campus was. I went to Old Main, the HUB, the library, and what soon became my favorite spot on campus: the garden next to the Millennium Science Complex. It was all incredible, I fell in love with this place, and made it my mission to get there one day. 

So, my plan was simple. Play football for four years in high school, get a scholarship to play football for Penn State, and attend Penn State. Seemed simple enough.

My first two years of football in high school weren’t that great. I didn’t play much, I didn’t think I was that good, and I thought there was no way I could ever get better. Around this time, my favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, were having one of the best seasons in the history of the franchise. They ended up going on an underdog run to the Super Bowl and winning it over the New England Patriots. 

The following week was the parade, and unfortunately, I did not attend it. I watched the parade from my house in Bensalem, but despite not being there, I still took it all in. Every player and coach went up and gave a speech about the team, but one stood out the most.

My favorite player on the team, Jason Kelce, stepped up to the stand wearing a green Mummers parade outfit and gave the greatest speech I think in the history of the world. He famously shared a quote from the Eagles offensive line room and said “hungry dogs run faster.” It meant that the hungrier the person you are for something, the more you want it. 

That quote, to this day, has stuck with me. Every time I’ve wanted to quit something or thought “there’s no way I could do this,” I remembered what Jason Kelce said on that cold day on February 8, 2018. “Hungry dogs run faster.” You have to want it more than everyone else and have a “why not me?” mentality. 

So tapped into that mindset, I worked hard to try to make my dream of Penn State football come true. I trained in the offseason, I worked in the weight room, and on the field. I went to scouting camps to try to get my name out there, and I even went to two camps at Penn State. Despite not playing at Beaver Stadium, I got to show off my football skills before graduating.

I eventually got to my senior year of high school. It was not only my favorite season of football, but it was my best one. I made great strides in my game, and because of it, multiple schools wanted me to continue my playing career with them, but none of them were Penn State. While I was unable to accomplish my goal, I knew I gave it my best shot, and I never gave up. Despite not being able to call Happy Valley home through football, I knew I still had to get back to State College.

I made it my mission to get into Penn State. There was no other option. It was Happy Valley or bust. After waiting for what felt like 10 years (four months), I eventually got the email that I had been accepted to Penn State University’s main campus. 

Due to a little thing called the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t get the high school ending I wanted. I missed out on all of the end-of-year festivities, didn’t get to see my friends for months, and had to graduate in the parking lot of a casino.

I had Penn State to look forward to, but my first year was far from the norm in Happy Valley for an incoming freshman. There were no football games, no in-person classes, no THON, no socializing with people unless it was kept to a minimum, and wearing a mask not only inside but outside wherever you went. It sucked, but I found a way to have a good time. I was able to meet some people and did well in my classes, but one thing I didn’t even think about was getting involved in clubs.

That changed when I got back to campus for my second year. I remember my mom sending me a post she saw on Instagram about a group called Onward State. I had no idea what it was or the history behind it, but after going to its website and learning about the blog, I really wanted to be a part of it.

I eventually made it onto staff, which turned out to possibly be the greatest decision of my life up to this point. However, my first year on staff wasn’t one I was very proud of. I was afraid to pitch things during meetings because I felt like while I was there on staff, I really wasn’t. I didn’t volunteer for things because I was afraid to mess up or sound dumb. It seems dumb, but this is how I felt. I truly didn’t think I was good enough to succeed with Onward State. 

Heading into the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I heavily considered leaving Onward State, but I thought back to a similar point in my life four years ago. I remembered how down I was about football and how I could never succeed at it. I realized then that I was trying to do the same thing as before. I realized that I needed to remember what Jason Kelce said. “Hungry dogs run faster.”

So I decided to return to Onward State for my third year. What a decision that turned out to be. I started volunteering for more work, I got involved in a sports beat for the first time, and I started hanging out with people on the blog. I broke out of my comfort zone, and I was doing it with a group of people who I loved.

Heading into my final year on staff, I made it my goal to do two things: make it my best writing year on staff and make sure every new person that we hired to this blog would never feel the embarrassment and nervousness that I went through on staff. I wanted people to look forward to coming to meetings in Carnegie 113 every Sunday. I wanted to create a space where people can not only be comfortable but have fun while doing it, and I truly feel like I did my job.

So after three years as a writer, I’ve contributed 250 posts to Onward State. From Dollar Dog Nights to complaining about Penn State baseball to making sure we are the first to point out that a Nittany Lion is competing in the Super Bowl to the Big Ten maps commercial, I truly have done it all with Onward State.

Here’s a list of 15 of my favorite posts I’ve written while on staff.

So after four years at Penn State, and three years on staff with OS, my time is nearly done. I’ll never forget meeting on Sunday where we would hear the craziest and funniest ideas of my life. For Penn State, I’ll never forget getting up on Saturday mornings and making football games my whole personality. Going to bars during the week, especially to Bill Pickles Tap Room for trivia (shoutout Mikey, CJ, Ella, and Nolan). I’ll never forget Penn State baseball Dollar Dog Nights. Thank you for being the best baseball nights of the year. Folks, if you want hot dogs, go to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Just being here on campus and going to one of the greatest schools in the world, I truly feel blessed for the amazing opportunity I’ve had here and cannot wait to see where life takes me next.

Now it’s time to thank people. I want to start with my mom, Stephanie, and my dad, Randy. You two are the greatest parents in the world. Thank you for being my teachers, supporters, providers, encouragers, and all of the above. You’ve done so much for me in my life, and I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without your guidance. I want to also thank my younger siblings, my brother, Ryan, and my sister, Sarah. We may bicker and fight from time to time, but I love you two so much, and you have no idea how you mean to me. I’m so proud of the people you two have turned out to be so far in life, and I can’t wait to see what great things you both do.

To my hometown friends, thank you for being some of the best people I know. To the ones who followed me to Penn State, thank you for making these last four years some of the best of my life.

I’d like to take a minute to thank my four favorite sports teams — the four Philadelphia sports teams. To the Flyers, the 76ers, the Eagles, and the Phillies. Thank you for the countless memories. Thank you to Rhys Hoskins, Joel Embiid, Bryce Harper, and Lane Johnson for being some of my favorite players. And to my favorite sports player of all time: Jason Kelce. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being different. Thank you for giving me that quote during your outstanding Super Bowl speech. “Hungry dogs run faster” will forever be a part of my life. (Also if you read this, shoutout “New Heights,” and if you’re hiring, please give me a job. I’d appreciate it).

I want to thank some of the people, teachers, and coaches from before I came here to Penn State that helped impact me in so many ways. Coach Cubbage, Coach Kinney, Coach Ellis, and Coach Rieger, thank you for being the best coaches and mentors I’ve ever had. The lessons you and all of my football coaches in high school taught me have helped me become a better team builder and someone who doesn’t back down from any situation.

For a couple of teachers — Mr. Vaughn, Ms. Jordan, Mr. Schram, Mr. Trotta, Ms. Howell, Ms. Clemens, and Ms. Shuchat — thank you. Whether you knew it or not, you all had such a big impact on me during a time when I was just trying to learn how to be myself. You all showed me how amazing it was to be Bensalem Strong. I love my town. We not be the best at a lot of things, but it’s home. It’s my home, and it always will be my home.

Now to some Penn State people. Not that any of you may read some of this, but I’d like to thank every single coach and player that I’ve had the opportunity to ask a question to whether it was during media after games, during the week, or sitting on a Zoom call. The list of players goes on and on, but for coaches, I’d like to thank, James Franklin, Lisa Bervinchak-Love, Rob Cooper, Carolyn Kieger, Mike Rhoades, Mike Gambino, and especially Char Morett-Curtiss. Char, you were the first coach that I ever got to ask a question to and that, to me, was the coolest thing in the entire world. Thank you for that. It will truly be a moment I will never forget.

I’d like to thank the three teams I had the pleasure to cover while with Onward State: Penn State field hockey, men’s basketball, and baseball. Field hockey was my first beat, and I had no idea how any of it worked, but after just one game, I instantly became a fan for life. Covering the final year of legendary head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, the first year of new head coach Lisa Bervinchak-Love, a Final Four appearance, and seeing one of the greatest Penn State field hockey players of all time play in Sophia Gladieux will stay with me forever. 

For men’s basketball, I had the amazing opportunity to introduce our readers to Mike Rhoades’ team during his first year taking over as head basketball coach. Two court storms, one of them being a comeback win at the historic Rec Hall game, covering a game at the historic Palestra in Philadelphia, and so much more in between, my time covering men’s basketball was one of the highlights of my time covering sports as a college journalist. 

Finally, baseball. My favorite sport. From popularizing Dollar Dog Nights to taking a road trip to West Virginia, I truly can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed covering games for Penn State baseball. I covered Rob Cooper’s final year in Happy Valley and Mike Gambino’s first (I just realized while writing this column that I covered three first-year head coaches this year). I got to see a Little League inside-the-park-grand slam and Joe Putnam sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during every seventh-inning stretch. While it may frustrate me at times, I love Penn State baseball. It’s a sport and a team that not many people care about and that’s why I love it. It was my opportunity to stand out and make people care about it.

I would also like to give a special thank you to my favorite professor during my time at Penn State: Mike Poorman. Mike, you’re the best. I know your class may be the class everyone takes to pass, but I learned so much during that semester that I took COMM 170. Thank you so much for being such an outstanding professor and person.

Now for some OS people. I’d like to give thanks to all three of the managing editors that I’ve had on staff. I’d like to thank Matt DiSanto for hiring me to staff. I remember my interview with you in Willard where I blanked on naming any Penn State head coaches and any current Penn State football players. I thought I bombed so bad that I had no chance of getting on staff, but whatever you saw in me to take a chance on, thank you. 

To Gabe Angeri. Gabe, thank you for being one of the most outgoing and supportive people to me during my time on staff. My early days of writing were bad, really bad, but the encouragement that I kept receiving from you made me want to get better. When you were announced as ME, I knew I couldn’t let you down, and I hope I made you proud.

And finally, to my third and final managing editor, Keeley Lamm. One of the people who I not only admire but am so proud of the work and commitment she’s given this blog during this past year. This past year on staff has no doubt been my favorite out of three that I’ve been involved in Onward State, and I point a lot of that success toward you. You have set such a great standard for this blog in the way it’s run and operated. I remember when it was announced that you were taking over, and I thought there was nobody better for the job. Thank you for dealing with me and my dumb and crazy ideas for content over the past year. I wanted to do all I could this past year to make it a memorable one, and I think we accomplished that. Thank you for allowing me to be myself and be the person at meeting and socials that breaks up the awkwardness and keep things fun and engaging. I’ll always remember your first meeting as ME when you said hi to everyone and barely anyone responded, which made me respond with the loudest “HI KEELEY” I could give. Yes, to everyone on staff, that’s why I did that every week. There’s no one else I’d rather go see Lowjack at The Brewery, talk college basketball, The Masters, Scottie Scheffler, or make fun of Joe Lister with. There’s no one else I’d rather call my boss and my friend. Thank you, Keeley. I love you so much. 

Now to thank some of the people I’ve had the privilege to work alongside. Frankie Marzano, Colleen Nersten, Ryan Parsons, Tobey Prime, and Adam Babetski, thank you all for being so supportive and encouraging to me during my time I staff. You all made me realize how great Onward State is and how lucky of an opportunity it is. I also want to give a special shoutout to Zach Donaldson. Zach, I learned so many amazing skills from being able to watch you be you. Thank you for being someone who I looked up to the most while at Penn State, and thank you for considering me a friend.

However, I’d like to thank every single person that I’ve had the pleasure of calling a coworker while on staff. I thank you for allowing me to be me, and I truly have enjoyed all of your company. 

I’d like to name a few names as well. First, my draft beat boys: Aidan Conrad, Mikey DeAngelis, and Michael Siroty. Every draft that we’ve had the opportunity to do has been a great one. I’ll remember Aidan usually not paying attention to what we were doing and always drafting the worst teams, Mikey going above and beyond when it comes to preparing lists, and Siroty complaining about never getting good draft picks during the randomizer. Aidan and Mikey, there’s no one else I’d rather talk Philly sports and movies or lose trivia at Pickles to Struggle Bus with. Siroty, turn 21 already so we can go out. I love you, kid. You’re my favorite freshman by far. I consider the three of you to be some of my best friends not only on staff but also in life. I will cherish the time we’ve spent together. You all are so talented at what you do, and I can’t wait to continue to follow your journeys.

Now for the people I’ve had the pleasure of sharing sports beats with. First to Penn State baseball. Jack Scott and Dennis Wilkins, you both are amazing people and amazing writers. I’ve enjoyed sharing the press box with you this past season. Please take care of my baby. I love covering that baseball team, so enjoy it. To Nolan Wick, you may annoy the hell out of me from time to time, but I’ve enjoyed every single minute of our time together, not only covering baseball, but on staff. You’re one of my longest-tenured friends at OS, and our time together has been some of the highlights of my life. Thank you for dealing with me making fun of you and thank you for making fun of me in return. You’re one of the best and most talented people I know.

Now for Penn State men’s basketball. First, CJ Gill, the lover of East Halls himself. Sorry, dude, but I had to get one more in. CJ, I remember at our spring formal last year when we talked about working together to cover Penn State men’s basketball. We both wanted to be the people to introduce the Mike Rhoades era to the Penn State faithful. After 33 games, multiple court storms, breaking news at media sessions, talking about Leo O’Boyle and Zach Hicks, watching a Rec Hall court storm, and numerous memories sitting on press row, I can say with confidence that we succeeded in that goal of introducing the fans to this new basketball team. CJ, thank you for being my partner in crime throughout the crazy beat that was men’s basketball. Doing it with someone who I consider a true friend was the highlight of my final year at Penn State. 

And finally my last partner on my beats, Joe Lister. Joe, you are a one-of-a-kind dude, my friend. When I first met you for the first time in the spring semester of 2022, I thought, “Who’s this blond weirdo who won’t shut up about USC?” But after talking to you and realizing how awesome of a person you were, I realized then that I was going to like you. We first started working together at baseball in the spring of 2023, and I looked forward to every single game with you because it meant another chance to hang out and talk to you. We then got to work together on men’s basketball, another chance to hang out and cover teams at the same time. I’ve learned so much from you over the years, both about journalism and from being a friend. The countless memories we’ve made at meetings, road trips, socials, drinking at bars, at press conferences, and while covering games will last with me for a lifetime. I want to thank you for allowing me to constantly make fun of you and for you to hit me right back. The bond we shared over the last 2.5 years is one that I will never forget. Thank you for being not only my best friend on staff but one of my best friends in real life. Love ya, Joe.

There are a few other staff members I’d like to give a shoutout to. Hailey Stutzman, CJ Doebler, Haylee Yocum, Anna Wiggins, Ally Eaton, Ashley Connington, Evan Halfen, Luke Pieczynski, Mara McKeon, Cooper Cazares, Noah Flenard, Sarah Lynn DeCarlo, Kyra Birmingham, Sophie Yadzinski, and Olivia Damato. You all are some of the most fun and talented people I know. Please continue to do great things. To the people on staff reading this I didn’t name, you are all also talented. 

The blog is not for a lot of people. Most people see it as a childish form of media, but to me, the blog is way more than that. It’s an opportunity for creativity to shine in a world where news can be just this boring thing that people read about. At Onward State, one minute you can be reading about the latest Penn State field hockey game and the next you could be learning a history lesson about cocktagons. Where else are you getting that type of content besides Onward State?

That’s why I love the blog. We can do so many different things. We can be serious, we can be investigative, we can be funny, while at the same time, we can give people an outlet that they just want to keep coming back to. Onward State may not be the most serious news outlet in the world, but I don’t care. It’s one that doesn’t care about taking itself too seriously, and to me, that’s the kind of journalist I strived to be. 

So last but certainly not least, thank you blog. Thank you so much for being an outlet that let me be me. Thank you for being a family that welcomed me with open arms from day one. Thank you for being a group that helped me meet so many wonderful people that I will now call friends for life.

Thank you blog for being different. I will never forget you.

-Matthew Lee Brown

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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