Joe Paterno Bio - Biography

Name Joe Paterno
Naionality American
Date of Birth December 21, 1926
Place of Birth Brooklyn, New York, USA
Famous for
In the large city of Brooklyn, New York, on December 21, 1926, Angelo and Florence Paterno introduced to the world a man whom many people may call “the greatest college football coach of all time.” Coach Paterno is no stranger to adversity. Being raised during the Depression, he was almost forced to leave his high school, Brooklyn Prep, due to the hefty tuition. Through hard work and perseverance, Joe was able to graduate high school and to attend Brown University. While at Brown, Joe played quarterback and cornerback. With 14 interceptions, Joe shares the record for most interceptions in a career at Brown University. Despite not being a spectacular quarterback, Joe did not walk away from Brown empty-handed. It was here that he was able to develop and build upon his innate leadership skills, the skills that would propel Coach Paterno to become one of the most successful college football coaches.

After Brown, Joe Paterno became officially known as Coach Paterno, having accepted a position at Penn State University as an assistant football coach. Working underneath Hall of Fame head coach Rip Engle from 1950-1965, Coach Paterno was able to get vital experience under his belt before becoming head coach in 1966. Shortly after taking the reins of Penn State’s football team, Coach Paterno’s fame began to soar. Maybe it was the undefeated regular seasons in 1968, 1969, and 1973, maybe it was the first national championship in 1982, or maybe it was how he wore his famous thick glasses with hiked-up pants showing his white socks and tennis shoes. Whatever the reason, Coach Paterno was having an enormous impact on college football. As a result of the success and fame, Coach Paterno eventually acquired the legendary nickname of “Joe Pa.”

The question of what makes Coach Paterno so successful can easily be answered just by watching him. Like a true leader, Coach Paterno leads by example. Former Athletic Director Ed Czekaj once said that “Joe works so damn hard to get things done that he inspires the rest of us.” Combined with his work ethic, Coach Paterno’s ability to pay attention to meticulous details is another reason why he has obtained so much success. Joe Pa’s philosophy is that, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” With his tenacious and scrupulous work ethic, it becomes obvious why Coach Paterno has been a model for future generations. Even rival Ohio State coach, Jim Tressel acknowledges Paterno’s success when he was quoted saying, “It’s incredible to think about the commitment he’s had to Penn State, the growth he’s fostered and nurtured… Paterno’s legacy has made an impact on members of the younger generation as well.”

However, Coach Paterno’s actions on the field are not the only attributes that have made him the ideal role model. Claiming to live a simple life, modesty is the key to Paterno’s happiness; especially about money. George Paterno, Joe’s brother, once said that “Joe doesn’t think one should have a great quantity of money. And if you do, you should share it!” And sharing it is exactly what Coach Paterno has done. Throughout his career, Coach Paterno has contributed his time to numerous charities and events. He has done so by either donating money himself and/or by aiding in the fund raising process. Most of Coach Paterno’s efforts have gone to making Penn State a better university. Coach Paterno has stated that his dream is to “someday see Penn State number one in everything.” The most obvious contribution that Coach Paterno has made to Penn State is the expansion of Pattee Library. The new section named “Paterno Library” is just one of the many examples that display Coach Paterno’s humanity and dedication to Penn State University.

A Big Ten Championship and two bowl game appearances in the last two years indicates that Joe Pa still has what it takes to be successful, despite his age. His career has been so successful that recently in 2005 he was named AP Coach of the Year and then in 2006, Coach Paterno was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The fact is Coach Paterno is more than a coach; he’s a dedicated teacher to anyone who is willing to learn from him. The lives he has impacted and continues to impact stretch way beyond the Penn State Football team. Coach Joseph Paterno is truly a national icon when it comes to coaching.

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