A sad day for the Penn State family

photo: GoPSF.com

Today is the day the PennState community never wanted to see. Joe Paterno has died at the age of 85. Some call him a legend. Some call him the greatest football coach. Others call him an inspiration. Me, I will think of him as just that guy who held the door open for me one day when I was a student.

I was never a football fan, but I recall being immensely proud of PSU when they won the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. I didn’t know the reputation of the University of Miami and their fatigue attire. I just watched the game, probably because dad wanted to. When Penn State player made the interception, thus earning them the National Championship, I thought, “Wow! I’m proud to go there in the fall.”

I stood in line for tickets just that first year, not so much because I wanted to go but because my roommate wanted tickets and it seemed the thing to do. My first game: Win #200 against Bowling Green University. Since then I saw, with my husband, Win #324 against Ohio State, Win #400 against Northwestern and Win #409 against Illinois.

Win #409 was the last game he would coach.

I’m glad he made it to that milesone and I’m gladder still that I was there, in the snow, watching the entire student body compress in to a white mass behind the goalpost, a collective effort to jinx the kicker. When that last-second field goal attempt went clunk off the upright, I was part of the stadium’s collective hold-you-breath silence as the moment sunk in. I was a part of it all as we all jumped and whooted and cheered. At that moment, PennState football could get no better.

Tributes by the media are decidedly lacking in the real honor of his legacy. I am a member of that Penn State family, a proud member, so I take this week on my blog to share my memories, to remember him as I always will.

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