An open letter to all non-Penn Staters:
Dear sir or madam,
Today I woke up before 9AM on a Saturday to watch a Penn State football game. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
I am a Penn Stater. This may not mean much to you, but to me it defines much of my identity, as well as my personality. I am a Nittany Lion whose blood runs blue and white, through and through. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
When I was a newborn, I left the hospital in a Penn State onesie. When I was 2, I got my first Penn State cheerleader uniform, and I owned at least two others as I grew and needed bigger sizes. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
When I was 8, I was looking at what instrument I wanted to play for band, and my parents steered me toward the trombone. Why is this, you may ask? Because, according to my parents, it was easier to make the Penn State Marching Blue Band on trombone rather than clarinet, my second choice. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
During 9th grade, I wore a grey, Nike Penn State sweatshirt for almost every single day of school (see photo below). When it was hot, I pushed the sleeves up rather than take the sweatshirt off. When it was cold, I wore two sweatshirts, with the Penn State one on top. I only took it off to sleep, and to wash it once a week. It is stained, smelly, and way too small for me now, but I still have it in my closet at my parents’ house. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
The infamous PSU hoodie of 9th grade.
When I was a junior, I applied to three schools. Penn State ($50 application fee), West Chester (free application), and Drexel (free application). I got into all three schools, and West Chester and Drexel offered me hefty scholarships to attend their institutions. Penn State, on the other hand, offered menial financial support. Where did I end up going to college? Penn State, of course! You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
I spent 5 years in college at Penn State. I received two degrees and a minor while I was there, and I made hundreds of friends that I will never forget. I made memories that I will cherish forever, many of which I have immortalized through pictures on social media. I have a deep passion for my alma mater, and I will watch every possible Penn State game that I can until I am no longer a coherent member of society. I will do my best to attend at least one home game each season, as long as it is feasible, and eventually I hope to obtain season tickets. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
In the future, I hope to share my experience and passion for PSU with my children, all the while hoping that they choose to follow the family tradition of becoming a temporary resident of Happy Valley. I will buy them Penn State onesies, cheerleader/football player costumes, and shakers. They will have at least 1 Nittany Lion stuffed animal and taste at least 3 flavors of Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream before their 5th birthdays. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s not. Here is why.
It’s not crazy because Penn State is not just a school to me. It’s not just a football team, a college, a marching band, or a group of people. I’ve literally been a Penn Stater since birth. Penn State is a deeply ingrained part of my life that has helped to shape me into the person I am today. It is where my parents met. It’s where my in-laws met. It’s where I met my husband. It is where my earliest memories with my family are, grabbing the traditional homecoming family photo at the Lion Shrine. It is where I felt like I was part of a hundred year family tradition of musical excellence through the Blue Band (great grandfather, grandmother, parents, cousins, uncles, the list goes on and on). Penn State is where I learned how to be a better friend, a better student, a better wife, a better human. Penn State is what unifies me with an absurdly large group of alumni that I encounter all over the country. It’s where I became a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, which has allowed me to find my first new friend group in our new residence. It’s where I got to stand with thousands of other students against pediatric cancer, child abuse, and intolerance. Penn State is literally almost everything to me.
So when I hear the “WE ARE!” chant on campus, in the stadium, in Walmart (which happens pretty often, actually), or even on the TV during games, it means so much more to me than a pump up cheer. It means that there are other people that feel this strong pull to the same incredible feeling that I have. That we literally arePenn State. That without the people responding to that cheer, my life would be completely different.
So, yeah. I may look crazy sporting my blue and white literally everywhere I go ( swear I have more blue in my wardrobe than any other color and have enough Penn State attire to clothe a small family for at least a month without doing laundry). I may sound crazy defending my school regardless of what new drama befalls our highly public institution. And, yes, I still love PSU every day, even with all of our blunders. Penn Staters are my family, in more ways than one, and I will continue to express my love and loyalty for dear old state.
"For the glory of Old State,
For her founders strong and great,
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song.
Sing our love and loyalty,
Sing our hopes that bright and free,
Rest, O Mother Dear, with thee,
All with thee, all with thee.
When we stood at childhoods gate,
Shapless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us Dear Old State,
Dear Old State, Dear Old State.
May no act of ours bring shame,
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear Old State, Dear Old State.”