Meet our 2020 Starr Award Winners

Between 2020 and 2030, Penn State’s Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications will give awards annually to students in the school who best exemplify Rick Starr’s approach to sports journalism.

We are delighted that the college has named two 2020 award winners:

Shane Connelly (B.A., Digital Print Journalism, 2021)

Shane is the first winner of the Rick Starr Award, for an article he wrote on Matt Donnelly, a member of the university’s men’s lacrosse team, “Wearing No. 11: How tragedy built tradition for Penn State’s men’s lacrosse.” 

Shane will be a senior at Penn State in the fall of 2020, completing his final year toward completing a B.A. degree in digital print journalism. He has been a staff member of the Penn State Daily Collegian since his freshman year (spring 2018), and has been assistant sports editor, sports writer, sports editor and now digital managing editor. His focus has been on men’s lacrosse and tennis.

See Shane’s reaction to winning the Rick Starr Award award in this YouTube video here. His personal website is here, and his LinkedIn profile is here. He is from Oceanport, N.J.

Hannah Mears (B.A., Broadcast Journalism, 2020)

Hannah is the second winner of the Starr award for her sideline television reporting work on human interest stories of athletes of all statures, from Penn State running back legend Saquon Barkley to Special Olympics stars. On May 27 sports journalist Bill Beckner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who was a longtime colleague of Rick’s, wrote this wonderful article about Hannah, Rick and the Rick Starr Award. 

Hannah graduated from Penn State in May 2020, supplementing her degree with a business certificate from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and a certificate from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. You can find her personal website here, and you can see an Onward State Q&A with her published in January 2020 here.

Throughout her four years at Penn State, she has worked at Penn State’s athletics website as a sideline reporter, videographer and editor. She also hosted the webcast for the university’s annual student-run philanthropy THON (the largest in the world).

She has already had significant professional experience in sports broadcasting, working as a multimedia reporter at Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami; a production assistant at ESPN since 2016; a sideline reporter for Big Ten Network coverage of Penn State women’s volleyball, women’s basketball and wrestling; and a reporter, videographer and editor for the 2019 National Football League Combine (covering Penn State players). 

She aspires to be a sideline reporter and a host of game-day sports events. She hails from Latrobe, Pa., a little town 40 miles east of Pittsburgh known as the hometown of golfing legend Arnold Palmer and Rolling Rock beer.

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