Ah, those were the days.
I still follow many Penn State-related social media outlets, so I followed along last week as each day, each class sold out their allotted number of student tickets. It was the juniors who sold out the fastest, in just 11 minutes. But what made me happiest was to see that the freshmen were the second fastest, drying their well of tickets in a mere 15 minutes.
I vaguely recall logging on as a soon-to-be freshman, unsure really of the hype that surrounded Penn State Football (I was the first in my family to attend PSU). The tickets were a high school graduation gift from my grandparents. I was nervous - if I didn’t get tickets, I thought, I couldn’t even call myself a Penn Stater!
I got my tickets. Phew!
Truthfully, my freshman year experience at the games was a blur, and not for the boozy reasons you might think. I was simply overwhelmed by the spirit, the passion, the sheer grandeur of each game that occurred on Saturdays in the fall at Beaver Stadium. I felt like I was in some alternate universe where the only thing that mattered was Penn State Football.
The tailgates were sprawling, the blue band was a cacophony of pride, the student section made my ears ring. It was fantastic. And I will miss it dearly this year, but more in a loving way than a sad way.
So, freshmen, I pass along a few words of wisdom to you as you embark on your first season as a student ticket holder.
Make it to the game! There are a variety of reasons to not make it to the game. But always make it. Even if the early season games are not marquee ones, the pomp and circumstance surrounding each competition will build your memory reservoir that you will fondly look back upon as a senior and - although incomprehensible now, an alum!
Pay attention and learn your football terms. No one is asking you to become the next legendary coordinator, but after interning for the team and learning a great deal about the sport, I found I enjoyed the games much more. Having some basic knowledge of the positions, plays, and strategies will make the games that much more fun.
Be nice. Whether any of you want to admit it or not, freshman year is scary. You will spend a lot of your fall semester doing different things: some of them you will like, some of them you will not. When you go to football games, you do not have to impress anyone, you do not have to act a certain way, you do not need to be anything but nice and respectful to fellow students, fans, and even the visiting team’s fans. Continue the tradition of kindness that Penn State shows to all who attend its games.
I will miss the electricity that reverberated throughout the air beginning each Friday night of a home football weekend. I will miss the drum major’s impressive acrobatics before each game. Most of all, I will miss the earth-shaking student section of which I am so proud to have been part. Carry on the tradition well, freshmen. You are the future of Penn State.