I stood in a field on Saturday, in the pouring rain, on a much colder September 2nd than is usual, and it was bliss.
I own an absurd amount of clothing for weather — and if you know me at all, I’m not an outdoorsy type.
But I am the oldest daughter of a Penn State alum, an alum myself, the sister of an alum, the first child of a still married couple who met in State College in the early days of 1973.
I don’t know what life is without Penn State football.
Until about seven years ago, our seats were EFU, row 64, seats 25, 27, 29 and 31. To be precise, when I was very little, it was just section EF, before they built out the suites and the upper deck of restrooms and concession stands. As an awkward child I remember the questionable bathrooms at the top of the stadium, rickety and insecure.
I have grown up attending PSU games. Tom Bill was a quarterback who played for the Pop Warner group (ahem, the Flemington Falcons) my brother and I belonged to in middle school (me, as a gangly adolescent with a triangle hair cut, braces and bright red and white wire-rimmed glasses). In 1994 we watched the best offense I’ve ever seen on the field at Penn State, led by Kerry Collins and Ki-Jana Carter. I tell anyone foolish enough to listen about my deep and unwavering love for Kerry Collins, and the magic of Freddie Scott’s one-handed catch against Iowa. I had student tickets in college for one season — long enough to know that Penn State for students is a completely different event than it had been for me my entire life. I drove to Florida in a rented van with people I no longer have any contact with to watch the 2006 Orange Bowl go into triple overtime. During the first game I took my husband to, we sat at night, in freezing and unrelenting rain, completely inappropriately dressed, until the bitter end. Lou had raised me that way.
Seven years ago my dad decided to make moves. He started counting his accumulated points with the Nittany Lion Club. He made a deal to buy my uncle’s tickets (so they were in his name). And when our greatest PSU football tragedy occurred in 2011, we moved our seats down over forty rows and closer to mid-field. Lou Simone was not turning his back on his alma mater. We did it over a few seasons, because of the rules of ticket ownership, and my dad determinedly made sure there were butts in our seats every game. He got himself a reserved parking spot (something that came in mighty handily when I could barely walk in 2014).
My husband — not a PSU alum — has been indoctrinated. My brother moved to Texas, only getting home for one game a season. But not John and I. We go as often as we can. We stand in cold, in rain, in snow, in 30mph winds.
This season began with a rout of Akron, and spending the day with John’s fraternity brothers drinking beer (or wine for me!) as the parking lots emptied. On Friday, after my brother’s arrival Thursday night, we will all head up again for PSU v. Pitt. We have made the crazy decision to get the tailgate catered (pulled pork and chicken sides and macaroni and cheese … oh my!). And no matter what happens, whether it rains, is cold, has gale force winds — we will all wear blue and white. We will sing the Alma Mater. I will cry (I always do). And we will enjoy our 2017 family PSU game.