History of Nittany Lion mascot chronicled in WPSU film

University Park, Pa. -- The Nittany Lion Mascot is more than the symbol of Penn State athletics. The Lion is an ambassador who makes more than 250 appearances each year, and only half of them are at sporting events. The rich history of the Lion, and how the mascot is selected, is the focus of "Heart of the Lion," a new documentary produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting.

The show will debut on WPSU-TV at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, as part of the December pledge drive. It will re-air several times throughout the winter months. Check local listings for dates and times.

The program not only takes a journey through time (the Nittany Lion first appeared in 1939), but along the path of eight Penn State students trying out for the role.

"It was such a great experience to work on putting this show together, and a real treat to meet 15 of the former mascots and see how very humble and Penn State proud they all still are," said Jerry Sawyer, senior producer/director at WPSU. "They all exhibit a fun-loving spirit and a dedication to the traditions of the mascot role and Penn State -- not only in sports, but in all aspects of outreach for alumni, the colleges and departments, the students, and the kids."

Sawyer said "Heart of the Lion" shows the depth of character and the range of talent and skill the Lion Mascot must have in order to fulfill his dream and the Penn State tradition.

"Discovering the hijinks and emotional times of past mascots and having them tell those stories is chapter in Penn State’s history that everyone will enjoy," Sawyer said.

WPSU serves central Pennsylvania with programming, educational services and community outreach. Its public media services produce, acquire and distribute programs that address local interests and reflect the diverse cultural, political, geographic and demographic characteristics of an audience within central Pennsylvania.


Last Updated November 18, 2010