The eve of Penn State 2012 football

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”~Vince Lombardi, American football coach

I was never into sports as an undergrad at Penn State, especially football. As a freshman, I stood in line overnight to get student tickets because my friends were going. I got a football season pass when I was the sophomore because that was the thing to do. By the time I was a junior, I realized that the home opener was always on a hot afternoon and I got sunburnt. The last games were always bitter cold or snowy or both. In between, there were a lot of soggy, rainy games. If my friends and I wanted to watch football, we could do so from the TV in the dorm lobby. I did not get football tickets for the rest of my undergraduate life.

Penn State is nonetheless a part of me. Years after college, I would meet my friend, Dawn, for a weekend in State College. We purposely chose a non-sporting-event weekend so that we would find a hotel room We walked through campus and reminisce about walking down these paths as students. We would eat in favorite restaurants, visit new and old bars and shop in stores for T-shirts. We ate Death By Chocolate ice cream cones at The Creamery. We took our picture at the Lion Shrine. We smiled a lot those weekends Penn State was as much about reminiscing as it was renewing friendships.


When I met my husband years later, I was hit with a double whammy. He had been a trumpet player with the Penn State Marching Blue Band, which was linked to football and he liked sports, especially football and extra-especially Penn State football. Our common bond was Penn State and football was a means to connect. Games were an excuse to drive 5 to 7 hours to walk around campus and reminisce about walking down these paths as students. We created new memories together, our own.

Sporting events are so vibrant in person. As a new fan, I wanted my team to win. As an alum, I relished being home. Really, I didn’t care who won as long as I got to cheer and yell and then eat at favorite restaurants and have a cone of Death By Chocolate. For me, it was the experience; football was a part of that whole.


This football eve is not like the others. There is a new coach and a new set of circumstances swirling around the university. We alumni are scolded for being mad; there are real victims here. We shouldn’t be proud because by doing so, we add to the culture that allowed abuse of the real victims. We are told by the media, and even other friends and alumni, that we should be embarrassed to be associated with this school.

I am not embarrassed to be a Penn Stater. Graduating from Penn State is a fine pedigree on a resume. It is who I am, and I do not deny myself. I cannot. I believe in due process and will accept what facts are proven. For today, I release my inner cheerleader to yell and scream and clap and chant with warrior abandon.

I look forward to a celebratory ice cream cone from the Berkey Creamery after the game. If not, just having the Death By Chocolate or Alumni Swirl or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough will be enough. That and the traditional picture of us at The Lion Statue. The little things make an experience great, even when it’s not.


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