Montminy delivers 'Win-Win' during Penns Valley Day

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association's monthly member e-newsletter. You can click here for information on becoming a member, and can follow the Alumni Association on Facebook and Twitter for more stories and updates on events. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- All eyes in the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) are on Kevin Montminy.

The Penn State senior guard and Schreyer Honors Scholar has captured everyone's attention, with all the youngsters in attendance looking on with captivated eyes.

Montminy is in his environment, literally and figuratively, as he strolls along the edges of the BJC court on Saturday, Jan. 24, and shares his insight with Penns Valley Area School District students.


And, as usual, Montminy is making an impact.

The students and their families have gathered near the basket opposite the side where the Penn State Marching Blue Band plays during games, and they and Montminy have the arena to themselves.

The day has been declared “Penns Valley Day,” coinciding with Alumni Day at the BJC, where the men's basketball team plays, and has attracted a healthy crowd from a nearby area.

Montminy addresses his audience with a comfortable demeanor that’s approachable while simultaneously commanding. He’s not speaking to anyone as much as he’s simply sharing advice, and part of that reason is because, as he said about a week later, he’s been in the students’ position before -- Montminy grew up about 20 minutes from the University Park campus and attended Penns Valley.

There are three key points that Montminy highlights, as he talks about his background, his journey to Penn State and how he’s maximized his time as a Nittany Lion:

— Acknowledge and be grateful for the support you receive.

— See value in hard work.

— Recognize the people who came before you.

All of this is taking place about 30 minutes after Penn State dispatched Rutgers University on the court. It’s Saturday afternoon, and while nearly everyone else has left with the rest of the day ahead of them, Montminy still has more on his agenda and will sign autographs after speaking.

But he doesn’t mind.

“I would have been there for hours, if they needed me,” he said.

That type of selflessness has made Montminy a team and crowd favorite and explains why head coach Patrick Chambers speaks so positively of the Centre Hall native. For proof, here’s a GoPSUsports.com story in which Chambers gushes about Montminy, calling him “a great human being to have a part of the program.”

students

Montminy highlighted three key points during his discussion with the students: acknowledge and be grateful for the support you receive, see value in hard work and recognize the people who came before you. Montminy connected these topics to his background, his journey to Penn State and how he’s maximized his time, and he also signed autographs after speaking. 

Image: Robert Roselli

Now, back to those three points Montminy outlined. Speaking about a week later, he expanded on each topic.

Montminy said he receives tremendous support from everyone back home. Every time he returns to Penns Valley to see his parents or watch a high school basketball game, people are always telling him they’re following his career and asking how he’s doing.

Montminy learned the value of hard work through the local teachers, coaches and townspeople, who said, “I knew that I wasn’t going to achieve my dreams without hard work, and that’s more than just showing up at practice. That’s studying on your own, working hard on your own and doing extra work.”

Montminy then talked about the people who came from his hometown before him and achieved great accomplishments, mentioning Josh Hull (Penn State linebacker who has played in the NFL) and Jason Haas (Stanford University guard).  

“It’s those three points that really make Penns Valley special to me,” Montminy said.

Penns Valley Day proved memorable for a number of reasons, including Montminy receiving some playing time toward the end of the win against Rutgers. The student section chanted, “We want Kevin” over and over until he entered the game, and then cheered loudly every time he touched the ball.

Montminy earned a couple free throw attempts on one drive, and although he missed both tries, he grabbed his own rebound and then dove on the floor a moment later, trying to force a jump-ball.

Gritty. Scrappy. Hard-working.

These words describe that sequence, and also how Montminy has spent his entire time at Penn State, on and off the court. He’s been a passionately persistent student-athlete, pursuing his goals and even earning a scholarship earlier this season. For more on the scholarship offer, watch this great video by GoPSUsports.com.

Penns Valley Day was the result of Loren Crispell in Penn State Athletics marketing collaborating with Montminy and Penns Valley Area School District Athletic Director Nate Althouse, a three-time Penn State graduate and life-long Nittany Lion.

Althouse played for Penn State, as a fan favorite, and then spent five years working at Penn State's Morgan Academic Support Center for Student Athletes. He earned his doctorate from Penn State in counselor education and has also coached at Penns Valley High School (before being named athletic director) and Bucknell University.

He’s also known Montminy since he was young -- Althouse has photos of Montminy from when he attended Penns Valley basketball camps as a youth, including one with Nittany Lion great John Amaechi — and the two talked plenty at the Morgan Academic Support Center after Montminy enrolled at Penn State.

“He’s one of those kids you’d always see working,” Althouse said, noting Montminy’s perfect GPA while on an accelerated master’s accounting program — Montminy has achieved a 4.0 GPA for six straight semesters.

Amaechi

Montminy, far right, attended Penns Valley youth basketball camps, which featured Penn State great John Amaechi, center. Nate Althouse remembered Montminy from those days, as well as when he worked on campus and routinely saw Montminy spending time at the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes. "He’s one of those kids you'd always see working," Althouse said recently. 

Image: Courtesy of Nate Althouse

At the Morgan Center, Montminy and Althouse talked about basketball and their families, and anything else topical, with Althouse saying he’s known Montminy’s family “for almost forever.” Montminy’s father, Peter, regularly works with Penns Valley Area School District as a consultant, so that strengthens the connection.

Althouse spoke with Crispell and Montminy during an initial meeting that Crispell organized after brainstorming the idea. The three discussed what Penns Valley Day could mean for the area school, with Althouse wanting to incorporate as many people as possible into the event.

That vision worked, as both he and Montminy have heard positive feedback in the immediate aftermath and weeks since.

“It was a win-win for our school, and for our community,” Althouse said. “It's also a great way to celebrate our native son who has gone on to do great things for Penn State. It was really exciting because I thought we could get buy in from our youth leagues. Kevin is an easy kid to rally around.

“The visual of him in the uniform saying, 'If you apply yourself, you can go places,' and him being a testament to that, really got our kids’ attention.”

In addition to the youth leagues, both of Penns Valley’s varsity teams also attended, with Althouse estimating 300-plus people showed up. The crowd included players, family and friends, who heard Crispell give a rousing introduction for Montminy.

“He has done more in his four years than most Penn Staters will ever do, and he's done it with the utmost character, integrity and class, all while achieving at the very highest levels,” Crispell told the audience.

He added that Montminy has done everything the right way and that’s why it was so important for the students to visit the University Park campus and hear from Montminy.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have a better Penn Stater to talk about than this guy,” Crispell said, before giving way to an ovation from the students and Montminy’s talk.

Before Montminy spoke with the students, he gave a radio interview while the kids played an abbreviated game on the court. He saw the youngsters playing and said it meant a lot he could play a small role in their day.

An understatement, obviously, but Montminy’s humbleness in describing his interaction with the students is what anyone who’s ever known him would expect.

“I was really happy that I got to speak a little bit and share my experiences,” Montminy said. “Even more, I’m thankful for them coming out and showing their support. That’s a big thing about Penns Valley, they’re always showing support.”

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Last Updated March 16, 2015