Recently Lions Pride received a book so special even Ohio State fans would have a hard time bashing it. “Captain’s Letters to Joe” is book of compiled thank you notes to Joe Paterno from over 100 of his former Captains. Letters composed by Penn State greats like Jack Ham, John Cappelletti, Kerry Collins, and Michael Robinson provide touching insight into the special bond between coach and player, legend and future star. Page after page, former Nittany Lions tell stories of how Coach Paterno taught them life lessons and helped transform them from boys into men. Throughout the book, fans are given the opportunity to get to know one of the most celebrated coaches in college football a little bit better. While I have certainly never been coached by Joe Paterno and probably never will be (unless some kind soul pays for me to go to Fantasy Camp), I feel that as a life-long Penn State fan and graduate, I have a few things of my own I wish to say to the greatest coach in college football…
When I was a kid there was only one school I ever wanted to go to, Penn State. I can attribute part of my love for all things Penn State to my family and the other part to the feeling I got watching you and the Penn State football team win the Rose Bowl in 1995. That cold, January evening, at the age of nine, I learned what Penn State pride felt like. As I have gotten older Penn State pride has become less about winning a game of football and more about something deeper and more difficult to describe. You have played a large role in making me extremely Penn State proud.
I would like to take a few minutes to thank you for making Penn State one of the best universities in the country. Single-handedly, you have brought more pride to this school than any other person over the past several decades. Off of the field, you have been just as much of a leader as on the field. Thank you for valuing and supporting not only athletics, but placing perhaps an even bigger emphasis on the importance of education and philanthropy.
Words cannot describe how thankful I am to you and Sue Paterno for the work you did in raising millions of dollars to expand one of the most superlative libraries in the country. I know I speak for thousands of others when I say that my time at Penn State would not have been the same without the addition of Paterno library. The gifts and scholarship money that you and your family have given to the University will guarantee that years from now, students will have the financial means to seek an education and be Penn State proud. Thank you for showing me the importance of compassion and caring through your work with various charitable organizations including the Pennsylvania Special Olympics. The humble nature you demonstrate through giving is something we could all learn a lesson from.
I know it may seem silly coming from someone you have never met, but thank you JoePa for teaching me the importance of wisdom, “success with honor”, and most of all, pride. I am truly honored to say that I am a graduate of the University where you are not only the head football coach, but also a very dear friend.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for sharing this collection of letters with your fans, and for contributing the proceeds from the book to one of the organizations you hold so dear. Thank you JoePa!
We Are…Penn State!
Danielle, Class of ‘08