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Seniors Reflect On Their Final Penn State Football Season As Students

It’s been real, Beaver Stadium.

Saturday’s football game against Michigan State felt like the perfect way to say goodbye to the best student section in the country.

In 2019, our current seniors were able to experience Penn State football starting out the season 7-0, the White Out against Michigan when “Mo Bamba” played and forced a timeout, and the team going to the Cotton Bowl. In 2020, we were forced to cheer on the team from our TVs, as students weren’t allowed in the stands due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, we watched the team start out 5-0, experienced a White Out against Auburn, and discovered cocktagons. This season, we watched Penn State football have a 10-2 record, stormed the streets after beating Purdue, and saw Sean Clifford finish out his time as Penn State’s starting signal-caller.

It’s safe to say our staff relished all these moments and will never take these experiences for granted.

Owen Abbey

I don’t think I can accurately describe how it felt to go to football games this season knowing it would be my last as a student. In the moment, it’s like asking someone who just turned 22, “How does it feel to be 22?” You just answer that it’s the same as when you were 21, and then you move on.

And yet, there is so much that’s different now. It’s the little moments that will probably be what I miss the most. Watching the stands fill up as the sun sets over Beaver Stadium, yelling so loud that your voice is torched for the rest of the week, and singing the alma mater with your best friends will just be some of the things I will miss moving forward.

While all good things come to an end, being a fan in one of the best environments in all of sports is something I will cherish forever. It’s those experiences that matter most, regardless of who wins in the end.

Sam Fremin

I almost didn’t apply for Onward State’s football beat when I thought about losing another season as a fan after COVID-19. Ultimately, I decided to shed my fan hat and cover the team, and I couldn’t be happier.

Prior to my enrollment, I was not a Penn State fan. I had no connection to the university. So over my four seasons as a student, my experience has been vastly different from year to year. As a freshman, I was in awe of the environment. As a sophomore, I was a strictly-TV fan. As a junior, I was just thankful to be back in person. And as a senior, I have been lucky enough to view the program from an up-close angle.

When I left the press box and stadium for the final time Saturday night, I was emotional. I will certainly return as a fan and maybe one day as a writer, but one thing is certain: it won’t be the same. To any underclassman who may be reading this, I implore you to fully experience every moment as a student. It will end one day.

Colleen Nersten

Penn State football is fun.

I am going to seriously miss picking out a gameday ‘fit, walking 50 minutes to Beaver Stadium, tailgating for hours, cheering on the Nittany Lions, and then laying in bed all night from exhaustion. It was the best way to spend my Saturdays.

Most of my favorite Penn State memories were from the 2019 season — the ‘Mo Bamba’ moment, watching Sean Clifford and KJ Hamler’s bromance, and seeing the Penn State community rally around Jonathan Sutherland.

At times, I felt sour in the student section this year when people would boo Clifford and chant, “We want Drew.” But hey, that’s sports, I guess. There were highs and there were lows, but I’m going to miss it.

Kyra Cunningham

It’s sad that I’ll never be in Beaver Stadium again as a student. My favorite college memories come from inside the stadium, the surrounding grassy fields, and the paved lots. It was hard not to get emotional after the Michigan State game when I went through the tunnel and stood on the field in an empty stadium, just taking it all in. I got to take pictures this year at two home games, which was a goal I set for myself when I joined this blog. I’m not sure I will ever be on a college football field again, so I’m glad I was able to get this experience as a student.

I have been to four other Big Ten schools on gamedays, and there is really something special here at Penn State. One might even say the environment is ~unrivaled~. I know I will be back, and I am excited to never have to wake up at 7 a.m. (or 5 a.m. when I was in the mountain standard time zone this summer) to buy tickets again. I’m also excited to sit for more than just halftime at the next game I attend. ‘Til we meet again, Beaver Stadium.

Ryan Parsons

I’ve been a student since Trace McSorley was the quarterback, so I felt a little bit like Sean Clifford on Saturday. I really took time to soak up the postgame scene and stayed on the field even after QB1 jogged off for the final time (I also may have rung the victory bell). After two years in the student section and three years covering the team, I could not have dreamt up a better Penn State football experience as a student.

Between the road trips, the 2019 ‘Mo Bamba’ incident, the nine-overtime Illinois game, and an empty stadium in 2020, I feel like I’ve had my fair share of memorable experiences. I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit on gamedays in the future, but leaving the press box for the last time was tough. I tried to never take the access and opportunities presented to me both as a fan and as a journalist for granted over my five seasons. I came to Penn State not knowing who James Franklin was and left with a laundry list of life-long memories. I’m grateful.

Larkin Richards

This year’s football season started off a bit early for me. I had to think about my priorities in May. I weighed my options and had to decide if working for Penn State Athletics was my best move. After a lot of adult decision-making, I opted out of buying football tickets and was picked up to be one of the two replay editors for live video production. It was really, really hard to give up my senior year student section experience, especially because I knew how amazing those moments were. I got a freshman and junior year experience, so I could give up my senior one, right? Ultimately, working for Penn State Athletics was the best thing to ever happen to me.

I watched football from a brand new perspective. I was watching every play like it was the last-ever play of football. From three different camera views, I watched the fans have the time of their lives singing, dancing, cheering, and everything under the sun. Every single play shown on the jumbotron was produced by me and Alex Yuncker. How awesome is it to say that I did that? What you all watched at every home game was ME! I’m so grateful to have been in this position. I learned about Penn State’s players, their favorite dance moves, and how much they love being on that screen. Watching the greatest show in the world from the control room was one of the coolest things I’ve had the honor of doing. In the wise words of Sean Clifford, “Penn State. Thank You.”

Gabe Angieri

My Penn State football experience has been unique. After experiencing the student section as a wide-eyed freshman in 2019, I got the opportunity to cover the team for Onward State in 2020 and 2021. The memories I made while covering the team are ones I’ll cherish forever. I can never thank former sports editor Will Pegler enough for choosing Ryan Parsons and myself to work alongside him for those two seasons. I truly had the time of my life.

Whether it be long, 10+ hour road trips or departing the Beaver Stadium press box at 2 a.m. after a night game, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. At this time last year, I thought I had one more full season left in the press box. With me evidently becoming Onward State’s managing editor, I eventually made the tough decision to let it go and open that opportunity to someone else. I just wish I realized in the moment that one the greatest things I’ve done in my life was coming to an end.

It was a bit refreshing to have one final season in the student section, though. I enjoyed waking up every football Saturday as a fan and heading over to the tailgate lots with my friends again. I feel very grateful to have experienced Penn State football from multiple perspectives during my four years. Don’t take it for granted, folks.

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