The Best Of Your Vintage Penn State Apparel: Part One

Last week, we challenged Nittany Lions of all ages to send us their best vintage Penn State apparel. We were on a mission to see the best T-shirts, hats, buttons, and more — all from different eras of Penn State history.


Margaret Cowen Hickey and John Hickey graduated in 1983 and 1984 respectively. Lucky for them, they got to see Penn State take down Georgia in the 1983 Sugar Bowl, and got some some cool swag along the way. “We road-tripped to the Sugar Bowl in my senior year in a beat up, over-loaded Winnebago. A trip (and game) we’ll never forget!”

Lindsay Oudsema graduated in 2001 and got this shirt from her dad, Jeff Sterling, who graduated in 1969. “I have it now and will wear it until it completely falls apart.”

Nicole Madensky is a current Penn State student graduating in 2017. This Looney Tunes sweatshirt belonged to her dad, who attended Penn State in the 1970s.


Laura Deeter Lavoie graduated in 1990 and got this 1986 Orange Bowl shirt for Christmas during her freshman year. “Many of my college T-shirts have been donated or thrown away, but I just couldn’t part with this one!  My 10th grade daughter just wore it last week in an 80s fashion show at her high school in Springfield, Ohio. Too soon after the big upset?  I don’t think so!”

Thomas Walter of the class of 2018 got this shirt as a gift from his dad when he decided to go to Penn State.

Pete Crispi of the class of 1990 sent in this sweatshirt, which highlights a debate that’s been going since 1994. “It is referring to the national championship being awarded to Nebraska over Penn State. Without ever playing each other, Nebraska was declared number one because The Rose Bowl wasn’t part of the bowl coalition at the time.”

McKenna Aleksivich will graduate from Penn State Behrend in 2017. As a soccer player, the storied sweatshirt was perfect for her. “My mom got this at a yard sale a really long time ago (I’m thinking at least 15 years ago). She wore it for a while then asked me if I wanted it when she was ready to get rid of it. I did because I thought the vintage look was awesome and I play soccer at Penn State Behrend.”

Jamie Bauman graduated in 2005, but she wasn’t the only one in her family to go graduate from Penn State. Her mom, Jackie McCord-Sweitzer, graduated in 1971 and passed down her blue and yellow Penn State shirt. “It’s a strange color so I just have to be careful who we are playing when I wear it!”

Her dad, Jim McCord, graduated the same year and gave her his game day jersey and 1973 Sugar Bowl jersey from when he worked a graduate assistant coach. “My dad passed away in 1998, so I especially love these jerseys of his.”
Matt Gronsky will graduate from Penn State in 2017. Although his parents aren’t Nittany Lions, they saved this witty piece of history and gave it to him when the time was right. “My parents went to Pitt during the height of the Penn State vs. Pitt rivalry in the late 70s and early 80s.  My dad gave this to me when I got accepted to Penn State. He said he got it as a gag gift forever ago, and that it had probably been sitting in his closet for 30 years.”
Tyler Brackbill of the class of 2016 got this sweatshirt from the 1999 Alamo Bowl, when Penn State crushed Texas A&M 24-0 in San Antonio. “My grandmother gave this to me on my birthday this year and mentioned that it used to belong to my cousin. It’s in great shape 17 years later and it has been broken out a few times after wins this season. What a great gift!”
Emma Cartwright bought this Flintstones sweatshirt on eBay a year before she graduated in 2014.
Gordon Houser graduated in 2016, and the story of his sweatshirt stretches over years.
“The top photo is a picture of me taken in 1995 wearing a Penn State crew neck that belonged to my older cousin from the 80s and in the bottom photo, I am wearing the same design just days before graduating this past May! I had been searching for nearly 2 years for that shirt design and finally stumbled upon it on Etsy. The shirt was an original from the 80’s and actually has a small cut in it but it makes for a great before and after picture. I actually surprised my parents with this photo collage because they had no idea I was even searching for the shirt. Made for a great thank you for everything gift.”

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's former student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys really enjoys eating cereal at night, in case you were wondering. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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