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‘Unofficial Student Section’ Brings School Spirit & Passion To Penn State’s Teams

If there’s one thing Penn Staters are good at, it’s supporting the university’s athletics through thick and thin.

Whether you’re toughing it out in the snow for a football game with Nittanyville, going out to Pegula Ice Arena with the Roar Zone, or heading over to the Bryce Jordan Center with the Legion of Blue, you’ll likely recognize these groups as soon as you step into the event. However, not every program could say it received such strong support…until now.

In the fall of 2021, a group of six students started Penn State’s “Unofficial Student Section” in hopes of spreading school spirit among all sporting events. 

Troy LaPolice, a first-year graduate student at Penn State, was one of the founding members of the group. He was the president of the student section at his undergraduate school, the University of New Hampshire, and was eager to bring that energy to Happy Valley. LaPolice will also be stepping in as president of the Roar Zone in fall 2022.

“In the fall, I became friends with a lot of people in the Park Avenue Army, and they had set up a little group to coordinate who wanted to go to a golf match,” LaPolice said. “A couple of people decided that they wanted to go to every sport [game] on campus, so, as a result, I just sort of got looped in from there.”

Since its inception last semester, the group has grown to 84 members, with a core group of about 15 to 30 that attend most events. Due to its “unofficial” status, members have free will to attend any event as many times as they wish.

A few of the members were at Penn State baseball’s game against Purdue last weekend.

“Everybody can just go to what they want to go to,” LaPolice said. “We will just put in our chat what is going on in that given weekend and what we think is our plan, but people can really pick and choose.”

The section now regularly supports nearly a dozen different teams across campus. When members are cheering on those programs, they take on a unique name:

  • Golf — Pin Patrol
  • Field Hockey — Fhockers
  • Cross Country — Cross Country Crazies
  • Swimming and Diving — Splash Zone
  • Gymnastics — Flipping Frenzies
  • Fencing — Lion’s Guild
  • Tennis — The Racket
  • Track and Field — Relay Rejects
  • Baseball — Medlar Maniacs
  • Softball — Beard Brigade

The field hockey game against Michigan was deemed one of the group’s “greatest events as a student section” by LaPolice, standing in a torrential downpour, as seen below. Among few fans at the Field Hockey Complex, they witnessed one of the biggest wins of the season for Penn State.

The “Fhockers” stuck it out in the rain to support the Nittany Lions on October 29.

Every student-athlete has put in countless hours and has worked tirelessly to get to this position in Happy Valley. Because of that, the student section wants to make sure they feel recognized.

“Obviously, Penn State is such a great sporting school and everyone is really passionate about school spirit,” LaPolice said. “There are so many great sports here that are also really successful, and just because they aren’t some of the more well-known or most highly attended revenue sports, they are still Division I athletes at the top of their game.”

Throughout these last seven months, a community has been built around a common love for sports between students, fans, parents, and athletes.

“They are big fans of what we do and we are obviously big fans of what they do,” said LaPolice. “I think it’s a really mutually beneficial relationship, and that is what has been so cool.”

The student section also takes pride in its camaraderie and truly being about the support and spirit instead of fame. As a result, you won’t find the group online or on social media. 

If you want to get involved and become a member of this growing group of supporters, the Unofficial Student Section encourages fans at sporting events to stop by to learn more and meet the team.

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a sophomore staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music and wondering when Luke Combs will come back to the BJC. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected]

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