I am not much of a Penn State fan as you all know. But I gained the utmost respect for the Nittany Lions family this past week as the passing of Lou Gatto brought Joe Paterno to Old Forge for the funeral of NEPA’s Mr. Penn State.
Lou was without a doubt Northeast Pennsylvania’s No. 1 Penn State fan and supporter. He was also a former Old Forge resident who was active in Post 513 American Legion Baseball and the Old Forge Booster Club.
However, the Nittany Lions were his true love. So when he and his late wife Angie both retired, they picked up and moved to Happy Valley to support all the athletes that donned the Blue and White.
While living in Old Forge, Lou was always there with a smile, a laugh and a Penn State story for anyone and everyone. And Lou always had a jab at my Pitt Panthers for me. But it was a fun-loving jab, and nothing that either of us ever got more than a laugh out of.
In his twenty-some years living in State College, Lou became part of the PSU family, often having players over for dinner at his home. He also had a seat in Coach Paterno’s luxury box at Beaver Stadium.
His popularity with the team’s players, coaches, administration and fans was demonstrated on Tuesday morning at St. Mary’s Church in Old Forge as Coach Paterno along with his wife Sue, son Jay, Penn State Athletic Directory Tim Curley, and former PSU assistant coach Jerry Sandusky were all among the mourners giving their last respects to the larger than life Lou Gatto.
Former Old Forge standout athlete Russ Giglio has become a Jack of all Trades in the NFL office. Besides his normal in-office duties – which includes being a liaison between the NFL and former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, Russ was part of the NFL team working behind the scenes in Pittsburgh during the Steelers two home playoff games.
Giglio was active with the NFL’s game day event staff and played multiple roles, including being part of the transfer team which moved the AFC Championship Trophy from its safe-keeping place inside the stadium to the podium before it was presented to the Steelers after their win over the Jets.
I wonder if Russ could get me Super Bowl tickets.
If anyone is looking to do a good deed and send an overworked, underpaid local community news sports writer to the Super Bowl, I am accepting all donations to The Rick Super Bowl Fund.
Actually if you want to just buy my tickets, I’ll take care of travel and housing.
I’ll even pay for your travel.
As of today, it sure looks as if there will be no Super Bowl adventure for me this time around. Unless of course the above-mentioned somehow comes true. But that is probably for the best since, if you recall, my first foray at a Steelers Super Bowl was more than perfect and probably will never be topped.
So look for my Super Bowl prediction next week. I am sure you can guess who it will be, but wait ‘til you see how I arrive at my prediction.
Make sure you send us your Super Bowl predictions for our annual edition next week. We are hoping to get over 1,000 predictions this year, especially with the popularity of the Steelers and Packers. So send us your name, winner, score and a little ditty why you think the game will end up that way.
Here is an example: Andy Black, Steelers 27-3. I only root for Brett Favre.
You can email your prediction to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the office and drop your predictions off. We will also take them over the phone at 602-0178. But we would prefer the first two options.
Oh, and this year we are giving away two $25 gift certificates to the Riverstreet Ale House and Saints and Sinners to two winners who predict the correct score.
A shout out to the Old Forge freshman basketball team which captured the first-half of play in the Lackawanna League Division II Freshman Division with a 22-point win over Valley View at Carbondale High School this past week.
The Blue Devils who are coached by 2001 grad Bill Butler are consistently among the top teams in the small-school division.