Believe: The One Word that Changed Everything
Every year, March Madness fans are captivated by which team will become the Cinderella story, a team that makes an unexpectedly deep run in the NCAA tournament.
These teams carry extra pride with them as they live the underdog story and they use good luck charms to provide extra motivation to fuel their runs.
Fans recall USC head coach Andy Enfield’s puppy that his squad brought as a good luck charm in 2017 or Sister Jean who helped motivate the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers to advance to the Final Four in 2018.
For Penn State, their motivation came from a simple item from the television series “Ted Lasso”, a poster with just one word written on it: Believe.
“I think everybody’s a Ted Lasso fan,” Shrewsberry said.
Penn State had just lost their fourth straight game in conference play and found themselves with a 5-9 record in the Big Ten.
Shrewsberry was approached by Greg Miskinis, the team’s Assistant Director of Athletic Performance, with the poster rolled up.
Miskinis handed the poster to Shrewsberry who “opened it up, looked at it and rolled it back up.”
He knew exactly what message Miskinis was relaying to him.
From that moment on, the team brought the poster with them to every game and hung it up in their locker room. They were sold on the message.
“It’s something that our guys have really bought into,” Shrewsberry said, “they do believe in each other and they believe in what we’re doing.”
The Nittany Lions used this message to fuel themselves and won six of their last seven games of the regular season.
The blue and white finished the regular season 10-10 in conference play which slotted them into the ten-seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Then, in the conference tournament, Penn State did something incredible. They upset the entire state of Illinois, beating Illinois first and then Northwestern to march into Saturday’s action.
They kept their hopes alive with a narrow win over Indiana and found themselves playing in the Big Ten championship game.
“It’s simple too, but it goes a long way,” Bucknell transfer Andrew Funk said, “that belief has carried us. It’s a belief in ourselves and each other.”
Penn State kept believing and down 17 points with 6:18 left in the championship game against Purdue, they showed their resilience.
The Nittany Lions made a valiant effort to come back and win the game, but fell just short and lost by just two points.
“As a leader of this team, it’s important to keep everybody uplifted,” captain Seth Lundy said, “as long as we keep believing, then nothing can stop us.”
Despite losing in the Big Ten title game, the blue and white heard their name called for the NCAA Tournament as they learned they would have a duel with Texas A&M.
Penn State returns to the big dance tonight as they take on the Aggies in the first round of March Madness and the poster with just one word will be with them.
“They believe we can continue to do great things together,” Shrewsberry said.
Penn State will look to become this year’s Cinderella story and will keep believing that they can win a national championship.
“That blue poster ain’t going nowhere,” fifth-year senior Myles Dread said, “we’re going to believe, believe, believe until we can’t believe anymore.”
Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!