In Memory of Joe Paterno

15 Feb

Joe Paterno was an honorary chair of the Uplifting Athletes Capital Campaign.  This is the transcript to the speech I presented at the Joe Paterno Memorial Service held on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 in Harrisburg. You can watch a replay of the service here (my remarks begin with 30 minutes remaining in the broadcast).

To learn more on my perspectives about life, you can read my words of remembrance about Coach Daniels in an earlier blog postJoe Daniels, a former assistant at Ohio State, was also a campaign chair.  


Good afternoon.  It is humbling to stand before you today.  I would like to personally thank the Paterno family for graciously allowing all of us to share in the grieving process.  YOU are a first-class institution.

Everyone here today has a relationship with Coach Paterno.  Some of you are family.  Others are friends…perhaps former players…colleagues or fellow parishioners.  Many of you are fans and a lucky few may have even taken a picture with him.  But whether or not you ever met him does not necessarily define YOUR relationship with Joe Paterno…in my opinion, the best measure of your relationship is how he’s influenced YOU to live YOUR life.

While I was a member of the Penn State football team, my father was diagnosed with a rare disease.  Upon learning that little could be done because of a lack of public interest, my family embarked on a journey to find a cure. It was at that time that my teammates rallied around us to start the “Lift For Life.”  This effort has since evolved into a full-service…national…nonprofit called Uplifting Athletes that works with college football players to raise money for rare disease research.  THIS is a direct product of Joe’s GRAND EXPERIMENT, which he started in 1966 to prove that you would win in the classroom AND on the football field.

In fact, I choose Penn State because they were the only school that told me I could major in engineering and compete for a national championship.  But it’s because Joe’s standards were uncompromised….and the Penn State football program has been built on integrity…that I found myself in a locker room surrounded by like-minded athletes who could respond to adversity in such a positive way.  Not to mention a program with a coaching staff and administration that trusted us to pursue this greater purpose.

At this time, I’d like to ask any former players that are with us today to please stand.

Thank you.

Anyone who would like to learn more about the Grand Experiment, please find one of these gentlemen and ask them to share their story.  We all have one!

It’s hard sometimes for the rest of the world to understand that Joe was more than a football coach or that his legacy is more than his 409 wins.  I believe it was Aristotle who once said, “where your talents meet the needs of the world, therein lies your calling.”  Joe didn’t have to be a teacher to educate young men nor did he have to start a nonprofit to serve his community.  By using his natural talents to the best of his ability…he has made the world a better place.

“Success With Honor” is often referred to in the media as a “motto” or a “slogan.” My goal is to prove that it’s a way of life…And in his memory…I’d like to ask all of you to join me in accepting this challenge.

Thank you, Coach.


Posted by on February 15, 2012 in In Memory


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8 responses to “In Memory of Joe Paterno

  1. sue shuler

    February 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Your tribute was very fitting and telling about the fingerprints Joe Paterno left on your life.

    • ScottShirley

      February 24, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Thanks. I thought of both Mickeys add I prepared my remarks…hopefully I represented us well…we all have a story to tell

  2. Keith A. Verner

    February 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Awesome speech Scott. It was so nice hearing from the perspective of a former player and about the legacy that lives on in what he instilled in you!

    • ScottShirley

      February 24, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Thanks again for the opportunity to bee a part of this tribute.

  3. Mary Beth

    February 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Great job Scott….the journey is working!!!

    • ScottShirley

      February 24, 2012 at 12:23 am

      Thanks, MB… I enjoyed our conversation the other day and have reflected on it a number of times since then. Thanks for your support!

  4. Frank Fox

    February 22, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Scott I have known you since you were a child and like to humor myself thinking that I influenced your choice of going to Penn State. I am as proud of you as I am of my own children but never prouder than today.

    • ScottShirley

      February 24, 2012 at 12:21 am

      Thanks, Frank. You have played a big part in my life…including my decision to go to Penn State. It’s fitting that you equate me to a soon because I feels like Nick & Sean are my brothers. Thanks for letting me be a part of your lives.


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