Building YOUR Personal Legend-----PSU Football Fantasy Camp Dinner

June 12, 2010

University Park, PA

First I want to thank everyone for being here, the campers, their families, all the friends and all the people who came out to support them. We hope you had a great day.

 

I want to take a moment to thank Patrick and his staff for all they do to help bring this together and make the past few days fun not only for the campers but also for those of us who are coaching and working with you guys. We have a great time working with you on this camp—these days are among the true highlights of our year.

 

It’s been fifty years—a half a century since 1960 when Penn State re-opened Beaver Stadium right here on this spot. Let me jog your memory

 

Dave Robinson, Mike Reid, Ted Kwalick, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Lydell Mitchell, John Cappelleti, Chuck Fusina, Curt Warner, Shane Conlan, Ki Jana Carter, Kerry Collins, Bobby Engram, Paul Posluszny, Michael Robinson, Daryll Clark….Rip Engle, Joe Paterno

 

Gary Beban, Archie Griffin, Dan Marino, Mike Rozier, Doug Flutie, Tim Brown, Ty Detmer, Jerome Bettis, Eddie George, Tom Brady,  Ron Dayne, Drew Brees……Lou Holtz, Woody Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Paul Bear Bryant.

 

Legendary names, all of them Legendary names all of them walked and played and coached on the field right out there.

 

What I want to talk to you about today is the stuff of Legend. Legend—a powerful word—one thrown around casually these days.

 

Today celebrity and fame are often confused with talent and someone who is worthy of being considered a legend. Reality shows make stars of people who become famous for simply being famous. Talent and hard work are no longer prerequisites for attaining notoriety.

 

At Penn State it takes a lot to become legendary….It takes success over time, it takes commitment to excellence, it takes a dedication to success with honor.

 

Penn State’s entire mission as a university has always been about excellence—success with honor—you hear that all the time. No matter if it is athletics or an anthropology class we want to reach for the highest standards while retaining that which makes us honorable.

 

Our football team has been a standard bearer for that motto for so many years. 

 

The idea that success on the field and in the classroom are incompatible goals that need to be mutually exclusive carries no water here. We find that we can do both--------in fact our head coach demands that we do both.

 

For the second year in a row we finished in the national top 10 with an 11-2 record. Over the past five years we’ve recorded a won-loss record that is among the top seven in the nation.

 

At the same time we’ve led the nation the past two years in first team academic all-American selections—in fact in 2008 we had more picks than the entire SEC conference combined. We led all teams in the Top 25 last year with a graduation rate of 89%--well above the national average of 59%--and 14 points higher than the next closest teams.

But in the grand scheme of things it is harder than ever to maintain the values we stand for—because of the changing nature of the media. The glare of the spotlight and the pressure of expectations for our student-athletes are greater than ever.

 

When we recruit there are parents who have the sole interest of seeing their son play three years of college football and then cash in by leaving early for the NFL.  Generally those young men and their families have not come to Penn State.

 

Maybe we are outdated, maybe our ideals are slowly passing from relevance in a fast-paced need to have results right away society. Maybe our program isn’t designed for today’s media environment.

 

Maybe our program isn’t one where the Athletic Director would receive a standing ovation at an alumni dinner 24 hours after his two biggest athletic programs received significant sanctions for major NCAA violations in his two highest-profile sports.


 

Our program and the values that Joe Paterno has preached may not be designed for today. What is more important is that the values and goals of our program are designed for tomorrow and beyond. They are the values and goals that led to excellence in the past, lead to excellence today and for all time.

They are enduring values of preparing young men and equipping them for success beyond football.

 

There is a reason one man can stay in one place in the same line of work for over 60 years—it is because he does things the right way.

 

That is How you become Legendary……

 

Today you attained a piece of Legend.

 

In the Book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo a small Spanish shepherd boy dreams of finding his treasure, he dreams of far away lands across the Mediterranean Sea across the deserts of North Africa and all the way into Egypt. He knows not where his journey is taking him, nor does he know how to get to Egypt. He has little money and his journey takes him a long time, and has many detours.

 

But when he gets to the end of his road and when he has faced all the dangers and is hanging on for his life he dreams again and realizes that all along his personal legend was right where he had been all his life right around him and right underneath the very ground he walked at home in Spain.

 

Chasing one’s personal legend involves taking risks. All of you at this camp took risks, all of you took a chance and came here. Many did not know what to expect but still you came here.

 

What you have gained you cannot even begin to measure yet. But when you look around you will see the treasures your risks and journeys in your life have gained for you—family, friends and at this camp new friendships, new experiences and memories that will put a smile on your face even as you take some of the last breaths of life in old age.

Let me go back to those names you heard earlier…all of them giants in the world of college football.

 

You walked the same sidelines they walked, you played the same 100 yard field they played on. You stepped in the footsteps of Legendary competitors—some of those names wore our colors some came as opponents but all competitors, all striving to win and all striving to attain victory.

 

What did you do today that was any different? You came here to compete, you came here to try and attain victory and you came to test yourself and add to your life’s personal legend.

 

The only difference between you and those names is age and perhaps god-given ability that they were blessed with—they didn’t compete any harder, or want to win any more than you did.

 

Either way your life’s journey, your personal legend, the essence of what makes us human—all of that was enhanced in each and every one of you by what you did this week and by what you did today.

 

I am reminded when I see guys take on challenges that are supposed to be beyond our reach.

 

In my job I have often been criticized I have often faced those who question my ability, my commitment and the job that I do. I have never wavered. Joe Paterno taught me that.

 

It is something that has always been in the back of our minds as we take on great challenges. Something that all of you did this week.

 

When I see you all I am reminded of what Bobby Kennedy once said “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”

 

All of you did that here. All of you added to your personal legends—all of you know in your hearts that you have become Legendary even if for just one camp, one week, or one afternoon.

 

I leave you with the words of John Adams—words I carry with me constantly—words that if I can believe them in my heart I know I will always have attained excellence:

 

“No matter how high or low my estimation in the eyes of the world, I know my conscience is clear”

 

Do that with all the effort you brought this week, do that with all the passion and commitment you brought this week and you will always be Legendary.

© 2014 Jay Paterno