Team is the theme Super Bowl, Penn State, lottery and school board thrive on this common denominator
By: RICHARD REITZ Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
Don’t just watch; be a participant.
Former NFL star and Lititz resident Todd Rucci stressed the importance of "teamwork and community" as the featured speaker for the Warwick Area Republican Committee at its annual Winter Dinner, held Friday evening at the General Sutter Inn.
Although he now serves as executive director for the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission, Rucci is not a person who believes in leaving success to chance. Collaborative effort, he said, is an essential element.
"I was brought up in a locker room, and I was fortunate to play eight years in the NFL," he said. "The biggest thing I learned is the importance of teamwork."
When players work together for a common goal, victory is attainable. Rucci experienced that as a former star offensive lineman at Penn State, and spent eight years with the New England Patriots, playing in Super Bowl XXXI and retiring in 2000.
He sees that spirit of unity and teamwork in the Warwick community, where he lives with his wife Stacy — a Manheim Township graduate — and their two sons. "We moved back here because we saw that strong sense of community."
Rucci’s commitment to his community now includes service as an elected member of the Warwick School Board.
"At the Lottery Commission, I have a great team, and I hold those same virtues with our employees," he told the packed room. "Your team expands into whatever you do in your life."
Rucci declined to comment on any matters specific to the Pa. Lottery Commission or last week’s announcement by Gov. Tom Corbett that the state would award a 20-year management contract to the British firm Camelot Global Services.
The Corbett Administration accepted the bid from Camelot to guarantee $34 billion in profit over that time frame to benefit programs for senior citizens. Debate in Harrisburg continues over the decision, and concerns remain in regard to the job status of current Lottery employees. Camelot and Lottery officials have said they will review current employees to determine if they will remain with Camelot.
State Sen. Mike Brubaker, who introduced Rucci at the WARC event, called a State House Finance Committee hearing earlier last week for public review and comment regarding the pending agreement with Camelot representatives.
Back to Friday night’s dinner at the Sutter, and the theme of the evening…
Rucci referenced the recent troubles at Penn State involving former defensive coordinator and convicted child sex offender Jerry Sandusky as an example of how a community can rally to overcome adversity.
"We had a big awakening at Penn State a little over a year ago," he said. "That incident tested the tagline the university uses — We are Penn State.
"Those horrific acts rippled through the entire team. It was a gut check for all of us," he continued. "That team wasn’t just the players, it wasn’t just the fans. It was everyone. Everyone was a part of that ‘we.’"
He said the reaction and subsequent spirit of community at Penn State to unite has been inspiring.
Although he is a former football player, Rucci said he doesn’t watch much football on TV these days. He favors spending more time with his family and community activities.
"On earth, we have a small window of time to influence our children," he said. "You want to be able to influence that core person, because soon your children will be choosing their own team. Who is going to be their ‘we’?"
He urged people to get involved and try to make a difference in their community.
"Do something to help; be a participant," he said. "Don’t just watch."
He said that finding the right people for your team requires looking at qualities that go beneath the surface.
"If I had to choose one person to be stranded on a deserted island with, do you think I would care what race that person is? What religion?" Rucci said. "I want someone who is going to be there to help and support me.
"I ask everyone to expand their ‘we’ just a little bit more."
In addition to Rucci and Sen. Brubaker, featured guests for the evening included County Commissioners Scott Martin and Dennis Stuckey, GOP County Chairman Ann Womble, and Rep. Steve Mentzer. Rep. Mentzer’s predecessor John Bear was also in attendance. Congressman Joe Pitts was scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend the dinner due to illness. More GOP DINNER, page A2