Most Penn State football fans can only dream about running through the tunnel and onto the field at historic Beaver Stadium.
For Athens resident Claudia Sick Chacona, that dream became a reality recently when she attended the annual Penn State Women’s Football Clinic.
“Last year I saw all the girls posting pictures (on the Nittany Nation Facebook group) and I said ‘I want to do that,’” said Chacona, who would join Towanda resident Peggi Munkittrick at this year’s clinic.
The clinic included a speech by Penn State head coach James Franklin, along with sessions with several assistant coaches — including defensive coordinator Brent Pry and offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne — as well as a dinner and, of course, a trip to the stadium.
Chacona was impressed with Franklin’s focus on both winning football games and building a great culture in Happy Valley.
“Everything they pushed was community (and) culture, community (and) culture, community (and) culture. One of the things James Franklin said was ‘everyone wants to win all the time, but there’s more to football than winning. I’m taking young boys and making them into men. I’m teaching them,” said Chacona. “You know (it was) the same as Joe Paterno, he was very Joe-ish. Every time we talked to a different (assistant) coach it was the same thing.”
There would also be opportunities to ask Franklin questions during the event and one question was will he stay at Penn State?
“We love it here as a family. The players are big brothers to my daughters, and I want my daughters to graduate here. I want to stay. This is what I’m called to do,” Chacona recalled Franklin saying.
While some Penn State fans still aren’t sold on Franklin as the long-term solution in State College, Chacona believes he’s the right man for the job.
“I’m sold. I think a good leader surrounds himself with other good leaders, and I think he’s building his team. I think there is more to football, and they have to learn to be men. They love him. They love their coach and they respect him and I think that’s half the battle,” said Chacona.
The women who attended the clinic would also get to meet current Penn State players like quarterback Sean Clifford and wide receiver KJ Hamler.
“The new quarterback and KJ were dancing back and forth, it’s going to be a good mix I think,” Chacona said.
Chacona and the 600 women who attended this year’ clinic would get to follow in Clifford and Hamler’s footsteps at the end of the event.
“It was breathtaking,” said Chacona on running through the tunnel and onto the field. “You just can’t really breathe, you are just in amazement. I was tearing up and almost crying. Everybody was in awe. We all had the same (feeling).”
Chacona will certainly be cheering on Franklin and the Nittany Lions this fall — and she will be back at the women’s clinic next spring.
“It was on my bucket list to go and I’m going again, too,” said Chacona. “It was an experience that I absolutely, positively loved and I can’t wait to go back.”
RIDGEBURY TOWNSHIP — Summer will enter into Ridgebury Township next week with a bang — literally.
The Annual Ridgebury Township Community Park Day is set to return starting at 4 p.m. on June 1 — and with it will be lots of summer fun for community members of all ages.
The free event will feature a wide variety of activities as well as raise money to help grow the park’s facilities, according to park committee treasurer Jerry Anthony.
“We try to add a little something new every year,” he said. “We want to keep adding more to the park and give people an outlet to play things like basketball or horseshoes and just have a good time.”
This year’s park day will feature a dunking booth, a bounce house, food vendors, raffles, music and more. Additionally, homes throughout the area around the park will be hosting a community flea market, Anthony noted.
Also returning is the local favorite Cow Pie Bingo and the chance to win $500, said Anthony.
“That always gets folks excited,” he laughed. “The out-of-towners kind of roll their eyes when they see what it’s about, but it’s fun.”
The festivities will end after dark with fireworks, Anthony added.
“Bring your own chair for the fireworks, and just have fun,” he said.
TOWANDA — Towanda resident Shyann Marie Hills, 22, recently pleaded guilty to charges in relation to the abuse of two children at a Crimson Maple Drive residence in Rome Borough that were put in Hills’ care in August last year.
Hills and 22-year-old Jakayo Scott Frye, who was sentenced with two to nine years in prison in March, had been tasked with watching the two victims — a 9-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy — and two other children while the victims’ mother took a six-day trip to North Carolina, according to information filed by the Pennsylvania State Police following their investigation.
The children’s mother discovered bruising all over the children’s bodies after picking them up, police added, noting that the girl had a difficult time speaking and that her ears were extremely swollen and red.
Interviews conducted at the Children’s Advocacy Center with all of the children at the home revealed identical stories of the two children’s abuse, according to police. Frye and Hills struck both children with their hands and other objects, including a metal pipe and the girl getting her face slammed into a refrigerator, while forcing the other two children to do the same. Frye threatened all of them that he “would hunt them down” if they told anyone.
Other abuse consisted of forcing the children to hold certain positions, according to court documents. In one case, the girl was forced to hold five-gallon water jugs over her head while Frye and Hills hit her. In another situation, she was forced into a plank position over nails that would impale her if she fell. The boy passed out while in a pushup position with Frye stepping on his back.
Both victims were not allowed to use the bathroom, which resulted in the girl urinating through her clothes and being forced to lick it off of the floor. She was also forced to drink dog urine out of a straw.
Hills will be sentenced in Bradford County Court on July 29 at 1:15 p.m.