As THON 2021 looms just days away, Penn State men’s hockey forward Adam Pilewicz is preparing for the traditionally grueling weekend with a man advantage on his side.
His older sister, Emily, danced in THON 2020. Naturally, she’s provided him with some tips and tricks to prepare for his own adventure.
“We talked briefly about it. Originally, she thought I was trying to steal her thunder,” Pilewicz said. “She gave me a few tips about preparing for the weekend and making sure I’m getting a lot of sleep – that was her biggest thing because that’s usually what drags people down. But at the same time, I know it’s not going to be the same this year, so she had it a lot harder than I do.”
The Sewickley native has rarely been able to attend THON in past years due to his team’s schedule. Games scheduled during THON Weekend typically prevented members of the team from attending for more than a couple of hours. But with the opportunity to dance this year, Pilewicz jumped at the chance.
“I mean, it was always something I wanted to do, and seeing my sister do it last year – she had an incredible time and it was kind of a life-changing thing for her,” Pilewicz said. “I never really had that opportunity until this year, so when that opportunity came I decided this is what I wanna do.”
Well-loved by both former and current teammates, Pilewicz has, quite literally, an entire team of support behind him (and then some).
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said Pilewicz dancing in THON 2021 is “a great honor.”
“I think it’s incredible,” Gadowsky said. “We’ve been really fortunate, not every year, but we’ve been able to go down and be on the floor, and it’s unbelievable.”
Heading into THON Weekend, Pilewicz certainly has no lack of support from his teammates, either through donations or just words of encouragement. He’ll also receive support from Penn State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board, through which he’s dancing alongside a handful of Penn State student-athletes.
“You know, they were super, super supportive of me. They’ve always been,” Pilewicz said. “They’re really interested in seeing it, so within COVID guidelines, they’re all going to try and come over and visit me at a certain point throughout the 46 hours. So, they’re just really happy for me, they’re excited to see it, and they’re super supportive – them and the coaches.”
Without the support of an entire Bryce Jordan Center behind them, THON 2021’s 592 dancers will need all the help they can get. Luckily, Pilewicz said Penn State hockey’s past and present are right by his side.
“I’ve gotten so many messages from teammates and former teammates about how excited they are for me, and they’re jealous that they didn’t really have this opportunity when they came here,” Pilewicz said. “If I need anything THON Weekend, I always know that they are more than willing to do something for me.”
Pilewicz said that dancing in THON is “everything.” After going for eight hours his freshman year, he fell in love with the event’s emphasis on philanthropy and knew that he wanted to be involved somehow. The ability to give back to those facing childhood cancer is something incredible, Pilewicz said.
“I just kind of fell in love with the atmosphere there,” Pilewicz said. “The school and the community just come together, and to be a big part of that is something that I am just so grateful for.”