we'll take it from here, coach

Friday 27th of January 2012

By: Lauren Henderson

email: lah520@psu.edu

Driving up to school in August of 2011, if someone had told what events
would transpire during my senior year at The Pennsylvania State
University, I would have never believed them.
I would have never believed that my school would make national
headlines for weeks because we were housing a child abuser.
I would have never believed that a man who spent his entire life making
Penn State a better place would be fired through a phone call and not
allowed to finish the season.
I would have never believed a riot so infuriating would erupt to only
worsen the reputation Penn State had recently made for itself.
I would have never believed that someone else would stand on the
sideline at Beaver Stadium to coach the blue and white.
I would have never thought three prominent figures in the Penn State
administration would be gone, with nothing to say for themselves.
I would have never thought that only three months later I would be
wondering what Penn State will be like without Joe Paterno.
He passed away on January 22, 2012 with thinking of everyone but
himself.
But that’s the way he was, kind, caring, giving and wanting nothing in
return, but a fair and honest team and a school where kids could come
and learn and make better of themselves.
I hear and see everyone’s opinion of a man I never second guessed when
trusting.  I know people are upset and believe he should have done
more, he said it himself.  But deep down in my blue and white bleeding
veins, I truly believe if he had known the full extent of everything
that was going on, he would have stopped at nothing to prevent it. 
When the story broke, people wanted Joe Paterno’s head served on a
silver platter for what he “didn’t” do to protect those children.  Well
three months later, his head isn’t on a silver platter, but thousands
of people have flocked to pay their respects.  People have their
opinions and I respect that, they have every right to have them.  But
please, give the Paterno family a chance to grieve and mourn before you
go and explain to the world why he was such a terrible man.
I am sad, angry, confused, frustrated, hopeful, teary eyed, mad and
overwhelmed.  But I believe in Bill O’Brien.  I think he is an
excellent choice to succeed Joe Paterno.  Just like he told you
himself, he will not be him, no one ever can be, but he understands all
of the core values Joe put in place here.  When I see Bill O’Brien, I
see the face of a man ready for the job.  He is well aware of the
daunting task ahead of him to make Penn State, what Joe always has.  I
think he is brave, courageous, demanding, willful and honored to take
on this job.
I’ve never met Joe Paterno in person, but I have been in his presence. 
I was there at THON in 2009 when he made a surprise appearance.  I was
there when President Obama spoke on campus and Joe & Sue Paterno showed
up.  I took a class, Comm 497G “Joe Paterno & the Media.”  For one of
the assignments we all went to one of his Tuesday weekly press
conferences.  I recorded the whole thing, I will keep that recording
forever.  My boyfriend and I took a walk down his street one day and I
was really hoping to bump into Joe Paterno.  And we did!  He was
driving up the street in his white Mercedes and waved to us.  I was
there when he won his 400th game against Northwestern.  I was there
when he won his 409th game against Illinois.  I had no idea that would
be the last game he would ever coach or I would have embraced it a
little better.
I will always wish for the rest of my life that I could have met him. 
Spoke to him and even taken a picture with him.  I will miss him.  Yes,
I will miss a man I never actually held a conversation with.  I will
miss his willingness to help others and hope for everyone in life to
succeed, because there is no one else quite like him.
I went to the viewing Tuesday night to pay my respects.  As I stood in
line, I couldn’t help but think, look at all these people.  Numbers
don’t lie.  All of those people were there because they know what kind
of man he was.  He isn’t evil or deceitful.  He is trustworthy and one
of the most amazing people the world has ever seen.  People like Joe
don’t exist anymore.  He made one mistake, if that is what we want to
call it.  And I refuse to let that “mistake” tarnish the man I have
always admired.
Well, the conclusion of the “Memorial for Joe” concludes the past three
days of mourning for the Penn State community, we still mourn when
something reminds us of him, but like it was said at the memorial, rest
in peace Joe, we’ve got it from here.  I was honored to be there and be
apart of everything I witnessed.  Every single speaker brought a
different piece of Joe’s legacy to light for all that were in the Bryce
Jordan Center.  Phil Knight, Nike founder & chairman was the most
impressive.  He received the biggest and loudest standing ovation for
what he said about the villain lies in the investigation, not Joe
Paterno.  The conclusion of Joe Paterno’s life today with that memorial
was amazing.  No one could have asked for a better send off, not even
Joe Paterno himself.
I will graduate from Penn State in May.  My family will be there, more
proud of me then anyone.  And I’ll think of Joe.  I wasn’t a student
athlete, but he wanted success for all students.  And in the moment I
know he will be proud of me too, because that is the kind of person Joe
Paterno was.
But now we must carry on, we have to.  We have to make an impact, just
like Joe would want us to do.  We have to succeed and be the best in
life, because Joe would not want it any other way.
I am .. because JOE was .. PENN STATE. 

 


 

January 28th 2012 at 5:19 pm
Lauren: No one could have written this any better. You nailed it on the head and incompassed everything. I'm more than impressed. I'm sooooooooo proud of you. Love you, Aunt Terry

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