10 Questions with Nittany Nation President Darnell Brady
It takes a special (and probably weird) kind of person to support Penn State basketball through thick and thin. That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just hard to be passionate about a team that struggles as much as the basketball team has recently.
However, a small, passionate group of students have done just that. If you’ve gone to a game, you’ve almost definitely seen Nittany Nation, the official Penn State basketball student section, which attends every home game and even a few games on the road. The group, led by president Darnell Brady (also known as “Spread“), looks to give Penn State basketball the home court advantage that you see at major schools like Duke or North Carolina.
We caught up with Brady to ask him about Nittany Nation, what it does, and how you can join.
Onward State: What is Nittany Nation?
Darnell Brady: Nittany Nation is the basketball student section. If you go to basketball games, you are a member of Nittany Nation. It’s all about having fun and bringing energy for the team to feed off.
OS: When was Nittany Nation started?
DB: To be honest, I don’t know the exact date. According to former president Justin Casavant, this year is actually the 10th anniversary of Nittany Nation. Either way, it was when I was a diaper dandy.
OS: What do you guys do outside of attending basketball games?
DB: Outside of games, we do a lot of things to prepare for future games, such as work on getting other students enthusiastic about basketball and stalk, sorry I mean scout, future opponents. Nearly everyone that has gone raves about how much fun we have on the Big Ten Basketball Tournament trip, and I think a lot of it has to with hanging out with the other Big Ten Student sections throughout the weekend and get to know them. While we all joke that Northwestern is really nerdy, they are probably some of the coolest people to kick it with while Michigan is…well Michigan.
OS: What is the importance of giving the basketball team a home court advantage?
DB: There are so many aspects of this answer. First and foremost, it makes it more difficult for the opposing team to hear their coach during timeouts and such. In addition, you can tell that our team feeds off the energy. It also just makes the whole experience more fun and enjoyable for all those there. The BJC was practically full for the Wisconsin game my freshman year and it is a great experience when it gets going. Not to mention a great atmosphere helps Coach Chambers even more in his recruiting efforts.
OS: How do people join if they are interested?
DB: If you show up to a basketball game, you are a member of Nittany Nation. It’s that simple. In fact, come to the Bucknell game tonight at 7 p.m.
You do not, by any means, need to be good at basketball or even know any of the rules. In fact, I still don’t know many of the rules of college basketball, but I thoroughly enjoy telling the referees that I respectfully disagreed with their call.
That doesn’t mean that the involvement has to stop there. Road trips are really cheap and easy to go on. In fact, this year we are going to the Duquesne game and it only costs $7. There are meetings just like any organization and if anyone wants to get more involved, they can always find out about our happenings via Twitter/Facebook or they can always feel free to email me at [email protected]
OS: What role do you guys have in helping create the basketball promotions schedule?
DB: We are in charge of folding the paper hats since Tweek only made 15 freaking hats. Seriously though, we meet with athletics once a week and during the off-season we give them suggestions and recommendations based on what we hears is popular on the streets. I suggested drug laced cereal bars, but athletics told us no for some weird reason.
OS: Were there any promotions you wanted to do this year but for whatever reason they got turned down?
DB: There isn’t anything that sticks out to me other than maybe Nittany Nation flags. If there was, the reason usually was that it was due to cost. I do wish that we suggested free “Penn State Lives Here” banners though.
OS: What are your goals by the organization for the end of this season and the future?
DB: Some of my personal goals is to really leave a solid foundation for the organization to build upon in the future years. I truly want to lay out the structure and work on bringing in people with great attitude and enthusiasm. For the organization as a whole, we really want to get back to having over 5K students a game like we did my freshman year. Also, we are trying to get a good number of people to the Big Ten basketball tournament for as cheap as possible. Finally we want to try to get a second road trip to go along with the trip to Duquesne in December. Right now we’ve been talking to some representatives in UPUA to see if there is possibly some money to pay for a bus like they did for the football game against Syracuse and Ohio State. If UPUA is able to fund a bus, then we are looking at going to Michigan, Ohio State, or Purdue.
OS: How do you think the team will do?
DB: I can guarantee one thing: we will be rushing the court this season at some point, just like we have every year since the 2007-2008 season. At the very least, this team is going to be extremely fun to watch and much different from the games of my freshman year when 40 points was a lot. This year they’re going to really run the floor. I definitely think that they will make the NIT with an legit shot at the NCAA tournament. I thought I was being overly optimistic, but I have seen a good number of analyst across the nation say the same thing.
I also can’t answer this question without mentioning that I have a man crush on Graham Woodward’s three point shot as it might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I also have to follow that up saying that I apologize to the First Lady of Nittany Nation.
OS: If you could be a dinosaur, what kind of dinosaur would you be?
DB: This. I don’t think any words need to explain why.