Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alumni Voices: Bobby Palka PSUMVB 1981-85

Bobby Palka was an All-American for the Penn State Men's Volleyball program, playing for the Nittany Lions from 1981 to 1985. Palka is currently President of Jacob's Ladder LLC ( He penned the following soon after Penn State won the national championship in May 2008:

RE: Ol' Black Water

OK, now that my kids are sick of me saying "my boys won the National Crown on Saturday!", I've had some time to digest.

I went to work this morning like every Monday for the past 23 years.  I get up at 5:30 A, shower, shit and shave and at the office by6:15 A.  But something is a little different today.  I know that there will be a slurry of emails flying around from some people that I know, some that I have met and some that I haven't met.  But I know them all.  Some of the emails will make me laugh (everything from Scotty Treser makes me laugh), some will make me think but all will make me proud.  Not proud that I went to Penn State, not proud that I played this game that has given me a bad back and knees, and not proud that I, at one time, wore the same jersey as the National Champs.  I am proud that I am part of a family that started almost 40 years ago.  Because not everyone that plays intercollegiate athletics is part of a similar family.  It is natural for former athletes to yearn to be with those guys that they played with.  I know that if I ran into Harps, Duane, Scotty, Eddie, Kenny, Bo, Jose, Chuck, Kraynik, JJ, little JJ, Javier, Hogan, Bobby Faux, Stew, Bruce, Cicero, Kaz, Bittner, Yarros, Stevie, John, (the list goes on and I know someone will be pissed) etc.... we would pick up right where we left off.  That's natural.  Hell, once you run that many sprints with someone, you become brothers.  What is not normal among all intercollegiate programs, (I know because my wife played for one) is that I yearn to sing some dumb friggin' song with a bunch of guys that I never played with and some that I never met.  That sounds weird to everyone………except for the people in this family.

I also wanted to thank Ryan Sweitzer.  The second best part of the match on Saturday evening (the best was seeing Pav's emotional reaction….it was better than Jimmy V) was the fact that when asked, "What does Penn State Volleyball mean to you ?", Ryan replied, "All the great coaches and players that have been a part of Penn State Volleyball".  It wasn't the second best because I need reassurance that I had some type of impact 23 years ago (hell, we went 15-15 my senior year….not something that I tell everybody).  It made me feel good because I never realized that fact when I was playing.  I just thought the Alumni were a bunch of 'older' guys that loved coming back to Happy Valley for a match in mid-January.  Yet, the older I grow, the more my PSU experience means to me and therefore, I realize that guys like Tom Tait, Frank Guadagnino, Tom Hahn, Yak, Dave Mull, Ronnie Shayka, Ricky Genday, Chuck Keggereis, Mike Gordon and yes….I'll say it……Harpo(and a whole slew of other guys), worked hard to build a program that gave me an opportunity that I would have never had otherwise.  It was just nice to know that Ryan realized this fact a lot faster than I did.

Yep.  Today is Monday.  Only today, my step is a little lighter, the sun is a little brighter and I just caught myself humming some 'old' song from the 70's.  Weird.

Robert A. Palka Jr.  PSUMVB 1981-85
President - Jacobs Ladder LLC
North Tonawanda, NY  14120

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Penn State and "Modern Power Volleyball" ca. 1969-73

The Lost Archives recovered, digitized and now online

Penn State Men's Volleyball Alum Don Weyel ('73), who served as the PSU VB Club's second Secretary-Treasurer, has digitized a 52 page scrapbook with details of the pioneers and early successes of Penn State Men in the sport also known as "Modern Power Volleyball."

The scrapbook is posted on the Penn State Men's Volleyball web with links from the History page in two parts: Part 1 (PDF 10.5mb) and Part 2 (PDF 16.5mb).

Weyel writes:
By any standard, the scrapbook is astounding. The first page is a letter from Harry E. Hill III, "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Undergraduate Student Government," indicating that the USG Supreme Court approved the charter of the PSU Volleyball Club. (I stopped breathing for a few seconds as I read Harry's title: "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court??!... of the Undergraduate Student Government. Ooooh.") What follows are fifty pages of George's (George Guch, the PSU VB Club's first Secretary-Treasurer 1969-72) meticulous notes, addresses, tourney schedules and results, newspaper clippings, and photos (the three we've all seen of the first OSU - PSU match in South Gym). Fittingly, on its last pages the scrapbook seques into the future with a few newspaper clippings in which the club's new coach, a fellow by the name of Tom Tait (you may have heard of him), discussed the 1973 team's chances, and, later, their performance in a few matches.
Weyel suggests "you will want to pay particular attention to page 20, in which our super-secret court positions for offense, defense, and service reception are revealed for the first time. We crushed the competition with these! And, yes, (to current volleyball players and coaches) you're welcome!"

For the Story...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alums! NCAA Final Four Info

The 2011 NCAA Men's Volleyball Final Four is being hosted by Penn State and will be held on May 5th and 7th in the friendly confines of Rec Hall. The Men's Volleyball Alumni are planning for a fantastic weekend in Happy Valley and you're all invited to join us. In addition to the Championship, on Friday, May 6th we're hosting a golf tournament and, on that evening, the USA Men's National Team will be holding a Blue/Red Scrimmage. Evening social events are in the works. If history is any indication, it will be a great weekend. Last time, even my Pitt Panther pals had fun!

Click here for the form for the VIP Package, which, for the very reasonable price of $200, will include the following:
  • 1 ticket and VIP seating for all four matches (Semifinals, Finals and the USA National Team Scrimmage)
  • Registration for the "Final Fore" Golf Tournament on Friday (Shotgun start at 9am at the Penn State Golf Course)
  • A Commemorative Floor Tile
  • $25 Voucher for an official NCAA Championship T-shirt
  • Commemorative VIP credentials
  • A Complimentary NCAA Championship Program
  • Access to Special Reserved Parking at the Nittany Parking Deck
  • Access to a VIP Hospitality Lounge on Thursday and Saturday evenings
  • VIP Social prior to the USA National Team Scrimmage on Friday.


If you aren't interested in the VIP package, and just want tickets, call the Penn State Ticket Office at 814-865-5555. PSUMVB Alumni: DON'T FORGET TO GIVE THEM THE SECRET CODE!

Any questions, please let me know.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nittany Lion Legends of 1975

OK Alums.... name the legends. Post your comments below.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Slideshow: Presentation of the Stools

PSUMVB Alum Dave Dicker ('76)submitted photos of the annual Presentation of the Stools at the annual alumni banquet. Enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guad's Notes from EIVA Semis, 4/30/09

I had the opportunity to take in the EIVA semifinal match last night in Happy Valley.

Plenty of Nittany Legends were in the house. Stew Russell, Donny Tobin, Ron Smith, Bobby Faux, Shakes, Z, GT and probably one or two others that I missed.

Max Holt goes back to serve in game 1. First serve bounces in front of their Libero. 1-0. Next serve gets shanked off the arms of the passer into the face of the guy next to him, dislodging his contact lens. 2-0. Two more aces and it was essentially over before Mason got a chance to serve.

Saturday at 7, EIVA finals vs Juniata. If you are within driving distance, be there. The Booster Club is arranging a post-match gathering at Champs on Atherton Street. I'll be back to everyone on Sunday with thoughts about next week.