An Ode To The Saturday Morning Before A Home Football Game
My dad told me a lot about Penn State before I even decided to attend. One of things that stuck with me was the grin on his face when he said, “There’s nothing like the morning before a home game in State College.” It didn’t take me long to figure out that he wasn’t lying.
The anticipation begins before the morning even starts. The rush of relief that comes with the chime of Old Main’s bell on Friday afternoon bleeds into the evening excitement and all of those emotions build into one particularly gratifying moment.
Suddenly, you’re awake. It’s game day.
At any other point in the year, the impatience for Saturday would be gone the second you open your eyes. All of the joy you felt walking out of your last class yesterday was something like a quick buzz that now has you feeling burnt out. But you can’t stay in bed today — you can’t even sleep in. Penn State is playing football today. You have to get ready.
The first thing you notice about today is that signature State College fall weather. If you’re lucky, it’s not raining, snowing, or anything in between. The only thing you want to feel is that cool, crisp air with the occasional warmth of sunshine on your arms. You slip into a few layers of your favorite Penn State attire. It may be chilly now, but you know you’re going to scream yourself into a bit of a sweating stupor in the stadium, and you might need to shed your jacket. You want to be prepared.
You start to walk downtown. You hear the blast of Zombie Nation from an apartment nearby and hear someone scream “IT’S GAME DAY!” off to your right. A few random outbursts of devotion later, and you begin to notice the low rumble of conversation on College Avenue.
No matter what time the game is, and no matter what time you leave your room, you can be sure hundreds of your fellow Nittany Lions are already downtown. The hoards of families and friends that rolled into town yesterday are the same people shopping for their new Penn State gear. T-shirts, headbands, hats, and sweatshirts in that familiar blue and white are shuffled in front of mirrors and across counters. The faces of Penn Staters you see are gone as quick as they came.
You don’t bother with breakfast. The Waffle Shop is entirely too busy (as always), but you don’t care. You know that someone tailgating in the lots surrounding Beaver Stadium will hand you a hot dog and tell you to eat up. Saturdays during football season, though wonderful, are some of the longest days of the year. You need to keep something in your stomach and keep your strength up.
The streets downtown are never empty, but the crowds do start to dwindle. Everyone’s ready to make the march through campus and navigate their way to their tailgates, and you decide to join them. The sounds of stomping boots and Converse are filling your ears and the people around you are still trudging up the dreaded Shortlidge hill. You pass by the buildings you had class in just a day before. Children in tiny jerseys are skipping and jumping on the sidewalks while their parents make sure they stay close. You’ve reached the top of campus, and as you try to figure out where to go next, the commotion around you seems to settle.
There’s Beaver Stadium. There’s the symbol of your best embossed in Penn State’s favorite colors. You can see it all from here, but you’d be able to point it out from miles away. Nothing fills you with pride more than looking up at the stadium towering over at a street full of people decked out in Nittany Lion gear. These are Penn State students, families, staff, and alumni — as ready for game day as you are.
Your game day mornings might not be anything like mine, and that’s okay. No matter what they look like to you, there’s no denying it: Penn Staters will come from just about anywhere to experience the magic of a perfect Saturday morning over and over again.