Arts and Entertainment

Libraries' digital exhibit highlights Penn State participation at Olympics

'Olympic Lions: A History of Penn State's Participation at the Olympic and Paralympic Games' on display now

Coach Chick Werner, Horace Ashenfelter, William Ashenfelter, and Curt Stone are ready for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.  Credit: Eberly Family Special Collections LibraryAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State boasts a long tradition of hosting a wide variety of sports for its student body to enjoy both as participants and spectators. From the first organized baseball team on campus in 1875 to the 31 sports sponsored at the varsity level in 2021, Penn State’s love of sports is diverse and has remained strong over time. That love of sports extends to the Olympics, in which nearly 200 members of the Penn State community have played integral roles in the Olympic Games.

Olympic Lions: A History of Penn State's Participation at the Olympic and Paralympic Games” digital exhibit, now open for viewing, uses the most inclusive definition of a Penn Stater as it looks at the University’s history of Olympic involvement. Whether an athlete competed as a Nittany Lion during their college career or came to the University later in life as a coach or faculty member, Penn State’s involvement in the Olympics spans more than a century. From St. Louis to Rio de Janeiro, athletes with affiliations to Penn State have claimed 15 gold medals and 50 total medals at the Summer and Winter Olympics. Dozens have attended the Olympics as administrators, judges, coaches, researchers and other critical functionaries.

With the Olympics set to resume in 2021 after its 2020 postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more Nittany Lions have a chance to make their mark on the global stage. This exhibit traces the history of Penn State’s involvement in the Olympics from the early 20th century through the upcoming spectacle in Tokyo.

“Olympic Lions: A History of Penn State's Participation at the Olympic and Paralympic Games" digital exhibit at Penn State University Libraries is curated by Zachary Bigalke, Candace and Patrick E. Malloy Graduate Research Assistant in the University Archives, and Paul Dzyak, sports archivist for Eberly Family Special Collections Library, and is open for viewing at

For more information or for questions about this exhibition, contact Dzyak at For additional information about the Eberly Family Special Collections Library and its exhibitions, contact 814-865-1793 or

Last Updated October 28, 2021