It’s been exactly one week since I arrived in State College. The boxes that filled my 15-foot U-Haul truck are still scattered throughout my apartment, but it is already starting to feel like home.

Elton Hayes

Elton Hayes is CNHI's new Penn State sports beat writer.

My name is Elton Hayes, and I’d like to introduce myself as CNHI Pennsylvania’s new — and first — full-time Penn State sports beat writer.

Pennsylvania marks my third residence in the last three years. I left Washington, D.C., for Meridian, Mississippi, three years ago to pursue a career in journalism. As I loaded up my U-Haul truck last week ahead of the 15-hour drive to Pennsylvania, I couldn’t help but think of the friends, colleagues, and confidants I gained during my time in Mississippi.

Goodbyes are bittersweet, but new beginnings are refreshing.

This week I begin my new role. I’ll be covering all things Nittany Lions-related — starting with football — for our newspapers and websites in Johnstown, Meadville, New Castle, Sharon and Sunbury.

I look forward to being your new go-to source for Nittany Lions athletics, as well as to entrenching myself into the Penn State sports community and telling the stories of its athletes, coaches and programs.

I attended the University of Maryland prior to it joining the Big Ten. In a twist of coincidence, Penn State head coach James Franklin was an assistant under then-Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

Before moving to Mississippi, I lived in Washington, D.C., where I worked on Capitol Hill and freelanced for various papers. Through those assignments, I was fortunate to cover the Rose Bowl in 2013 between Stanford and Wisconsin and the BCS National Championship Game in 2014 between Auburn and Florida State. I also covered the University of Alabama football team’s visit to the White House in 2013. Sports, politics and aviation are my passions.

My time as a freelancer stirred a desire and passion for journalism and storytelling. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. I relish telling their stories and offering a glimpse into their lives.

The more I freelanced, the stronger my desire grew to do it on a full-time basis. After three years of working on Capitol Hill, I accepted a prep sports reporter position in Mississippi. I plan to build on the foundation I built there in my role with CNHI.

Full-time reporting of Penn State sports is a new venture for CNHI. I’m excited to see it grow and develop into a well-established beat. The Nittany Lions boast a rich athletic history across all sports. Just Sunday, scores showed up at Panzer Stadium to cheer on Penn State products Ali Krieger and Alyssa Naeher in the U.S. women’s soccer World Cup championship game.

It’s community and fan support such as this that makes me excited to contribute to our readership. While I’ve only been here for a week, it hasn’t taken long for me to understand the passion and love the Nittany Lion faithful — including so many of you reading this all over our markets — share for their program.

I look forward to providing in-depth coverage of Penn State sports. You can follow me and my coverage of Penn State sports on Twitter @EHDC12. My email address is I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’d like to see from me as I hit the ground running in and around State College.

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