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Penn State Football: Luketa Works Out With NHL Star Claude Giroux

on June 30, 2020 4:00 PM

It's not exactly the best time to be trying to leave the country and returning to it, but for Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa and safety Jonathan Sutherland, you can't change where home is.

So for the Canadian duo they spent most of quarantine back in the great white north, still away from their teammates and still socially distancing from all the things that they would otherwise love to be doing over the summer.

The result, a lot of working out, and a lot of free time on their hands.

"When I was back home the biggest thing for me was training and trying not to get complacent," Luketa, back in State College, told reporters on Tuesday.

"Originally when I was home I was in Ottawa, my hometown, I spent some time there and I was training with some teammates, Jonathan Sutherland and a couple other guys. Then I went to visit some other family in Edmonton but during my time out there I wasn't really able to do that so it was really just push-ups, dips in the house and...fitness bands."

For Luketa, being away from the Lasch Football Building brings on the same challenges all of his teammates have faced over the past several weeks and months. How do you stay in shape when you can't go to the gym? And if you don't have workout equipment at home, how do you come up with ways to still get in a sweat?

The good news of course is that this is Canada and there's not a shortage of athletes trying to navigate these same issues. Even if these athletes play hockey instead of football.

"As time started to progress I came back to Ottawa and I was able to workout with my trainer, [Philadelphia Flyers' captain] Claude Giroux, [Maple Leafs defenseman] Ben Hutton, a couple of NHL guys so we got some good work, making sure I was physically prepared."

This actually isn't the first time Luketa has dabbled with some skaters, back in 2017 the Ottawa native worked out with Giroux, giving the two a unique relationship spanning decades and two sports.

But then there's that matter of getting back to State College, or more to the point, back into the United States.

"It was kind of hard at first because travel is still banned," Luketa added. "In terms of Jonathan and I, we had our paperwork to get back into the country but the question was if we would be able to cross if somebody drove us so we had one of my coaches drive us across the border and then we had a representative from Penn State there to pick us up and bring us back to State College."

Back in Happy Valley it's probably safe to assume Luketa won't be lacing up his skates anytime soon for Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky, but as State College rolls through a week of soaring temperatures, he might miss that cold Canadian air sooner rather than later.

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