Penn Athletics: Champion Your Life

PHILADELPHIA - In advance of National Student-Athlete Appreciation Day, Penn Athletics announces the launch of the Penn Athletics brand refresh, with its “Champion Your Life” campaign.

How does a 276-year-old University, founded by innovator Benjamin Franklin before the Declaration of Independence was signed, refresh its historic athletics department brand? By harkening back to its founding ideals -- including Franklin’s notion that a sound mind and sound body lead to a better life -- then blend in contemporary photographic imagery articulating the department’s Core Values, all inspired by Penn’s most successful student-athletes and alumni.
In his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, Franklin wrote in 1749, “That to keep them in Health, and to strengthen and render active their Bodies, they be frequently exercis’d in Running, Leaping, Wrestling, and Swimming etc.” Organized intercollegiate athletics at Penn dates back to 1864, making Penn one of the most historic, innovative, and broad-based athletic programs from across the NCAA Division I landscape. Penn’s famous firsts and athletic legends abound, including the likes of John Heisman and John Outland -- whose names adorn two of the most revered trophies in college football -- the iconic and much-beloved Palestra and Franklin Field (where the first radio and television broadcasts of a college football game took place), The Penn Relays, and Philadelphia’s Big 5.

So far in 2015-16, Penn swimmer Chris Swanson has been crowned an NCAA Champion, while defending NCAA Champion in discus Sam Mattis is aiming big as he has hurled the world’s longest discus throw of the year. All-America wrestler Casey Kent, who collected a fourth-place NCAA finish in sold-out Madison Square Garden last month, also shines in his Engineering major, while multiple track All-American Thomas Awad posted the fastest indoor mile in Ivy League history this winter. Penn’s Ivy League champion women’s basketball team made its second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years under Head Coach Mike McLaughlin -- who won his 500th game as a collegiate head coach during the regular season -- while first-year Head Football Coach Ray Priore humbly led Penn to its 17th Ivy League title.

With the 2016 Olympic Games around the corner, Penn alum and wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist Brandon Slay will again be coaching Team USA at the Games. Meanwhile, Rhodes Scholar Jenna Hebert -- who has represented the United States in international competition during her college career -- will add to her impressive academic research focus in Biological Basis of Behavior that won her one of the most revered distinctions in all of academia.

What do all of these coaches and athletes have in common?

“They strive every day to be their best,” said Penn’s second-year Director of Athletics, Dr. Grace Calhoun, in an interview from the NCAA Final Four weekend in Houston. “Penn’s athletic scholars make the highest levels of commitment to their academic, athletic, and community success while at the same time enjoying the process, demonstrating their grit, and inspiring their community. At Penn, we work together every day to reimagine the possible. The big idea, for all of us, is to ‘Champion Your Life’ in every way.”

Penn worked with brand leaders Fred Popp and Sharlene Sones of, a company that specializes in athletic branding. About Penn, Fred said “Penn Athletics has a big story to tell and plays powerful roles across campus, uniting the community and unifying everyone around their core purpose: ‘Penn develops people who are uniquely prepared to exceed at life.’ And it is precisely this distinction that makes the brand unique nationwide.”

The spring is shaping up to be a fitting conclusion to the launch of the Champion Your Life campaign. Penn’s women’s lacrosse team—winners of eight of the last nine Ivy League championships and three Ivy League Tournament titles under head coach Karin Corbett—is ranked No. 16 in the country and searching for a 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Men’s Lacrosse, coming off an overtime loss to the No. 1 team in the country, is once again playing one of the toughest schedules in the country with sights set on another NCAA Tournament appearance.

At Penn Athletics, we are delighted to launch the Champion Your Life campaign, and celebrate our core values including “Character First” as we join all of collegiate athletics in celebrating National Student-Athlete Appreciation Day.


Download: Penn_CYL_Brand_Launch_4.5.16.pdf