Penn State Networking

This post is loosely sports related... if your sport of interest is distance running.

HEY stop laughing! I'm serious.

This post may also come across as somewhat self-promoting, but that is not my intention. I wanted to share how amazing some of our Penn State peers have been when they certainly did not have to lift a finger.

My name is J.J. Hensley and I've been a long-time BSD reader (and occasional participant in the comments) for many years under a couple of different screen names (my previous Posluszny-related screen name confused people on running sites). In 2010 I got it in my head to write a novel and have it involve the sport of distance running, since that is one of my hobbies. I did so, and managed to get a publisher to take on my book RESOLVE. It was purchased in 2011 and came out a few months ago. The road to publication has been a fun and frustrating ride, but that's not the cool (or relevant) part of the story.

The interesting part of the story has to do with the quotes, or blurbs, you see on the back of a book. You know the ones I'm talking about. They are often from book reviewers, big name authors, and occasionally athletes. Since RESOLVE was set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, I decided I should get some blurbs from some accomplished distance runners. The thing was... I didn't actually know any accomplished distance runners (I'm too slow to even see them in races). So, I fell back on old faithful... the PSU network.

I located an email for former PSU All-American runner Ryan Foster ( and explained who I was. I mentioned that I was a PSU alumnus, and that I wanted to send him an advance copy of the book and if -- and only if -- he liked it, perhaps he would give me a blurb. He graciously accepted and gave me a wonderful quote that is now on the book jacket. But, Ryan didn't stop there. He happened to be running partners with three-time Olympic Trials competitor Luke Watson who was working on his PhD at PSU at the time. I went through the same process with Luke and he also gave me a blurb which my publisher was more than happy to include on the book. Keep in mind, I had never met either of these guys before. Our only connection was PSU and our insane desire to run crazy distances. The quotes these gentlemen gave me gave RESOLVE instant credibility and helped the word spread through the PSU community. I have little doubt that their assistance gave my hopes for publishing a successful novel a huge boost.

While nearly all of us feel a sense of camaraderie through PSU sports, that spirit bleeds into all aspects of life. Just this weekend I saw a commercial for PSU that mentioned that the university is the #1 choice of corporate recruiters. I have to think this has something to do with the power of the alumni network. Whether it is landing a Fortune 500 job or getting a simple quote, the PSU community does tend to look out for each other. While BSD is just a small part of that community, it certainly represents the shared sense of belonging we should never take for granted.

J.J. Hensley

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