Grandpa First, Coach Second

Story posted December 16, 2014 in News by Samantha Haig


An agricultural science major, Olivia Hort goes about her day very much like every other freshman student here. She goes to class, is a sister of Gamma Phi Beta, and dates a frat boy. But what many people do not know is that these streets are very familiar to the State College native. Penn State has been her life since the day she was born. She is, if you will, Penn State royalty of sorts.

“Most people don’t know usually until someone else tells them,” she says, “But when they find out… that my grandpa is Coach Paterno… they kind of freak out”.

Growing up, Olivia says Paterno always put his family first, saying he was, “Grandpa first, coach second”. But even so, living under a celebrity’s shadow had its downfalls. Family outings always involved fan photos, and criticism never ceased. Regarding the break of the scandal in 2012, Olivia says the hardest part was making people realize he was human too, a fact often forgotten because of the legend he was.

So the question is, after all that happened, why choose Penn State? Well, for Olivia is was pretty simple. She says, “I didn’t really have a choice”. Coming from a long line of Penn Staters, Olivia always knew this was where she would end up. It isn’t just more of the same for her though.  This year was her first time spending football season in the nationally ranked student section.

“I was used to football games being kind of boring… with a lot of old people and stuff,” she says as politely as possible, “The energy in the student section was really cool. I had a lot of fun”.

Her grandfather was not the only family member to work for the university for Olivia. Sue Paterno is well known for her work around campus and her advancement of the liberal arts college. Her parents also work in Sparks building, conveniently located beside the Patee and Paterno Library. With all these ties to the school, Olivia admits, she lives her life almost under a microscope. Her mistakes are a reflection of her family, not just her, and for that reason she has to be careful. That being said, she is secure in the fact that her grandfather would have wanted her to be happy. She may feel held to a higher standard, but in the end, she knows her own happiness is what would really make her grandfather proud.