Posts tagged ‘Beaver Stadium’
Our intern for this fall semester is senior Erika Spicer. We asked her to introduce herself, and here’s what she wrote:
I remember my parents waking me up at 7 a.m. on fall Saturday mornings. Though groggy and squinty-eyed, I would meticulously pick out my blue and white outfit for the day, stick a few paw print stickers on my cheeks, and secure ribbons in my hair. It would be another football Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Since before I could remember, my family has spent several weekends each year loading up the car with what seemed like 70 bags of chips, wings, a mini grill, drinks, and Penn State-themed plasticware in preparation for daylong football celebrations. When I wasn’t attending dance lessons or marching on our Bubbler football field –– the fact that my high school mascot is a bubble is another story for another time –– my parents, both spirited Penn State alumni, made sure I was tailgating and rah-rah-ing at Penn State football games. (Humiliating photos of 3-year-old me wearing a Penn State cheerleader uniform are still lurking around the house.)
I loved how grown-ups acted like kids and the half-mile radius of the football stadium was a blanket of blue and white. And when we took a break from tailgating and cheering for the Nittany Lions, we were exploring what I thought was the big city of State College, with convoluted, confusing streets and magical toy stores.
It’s hard to comprehend how much my perception of this place has changed.
I grew up in tiny Carlisle, Pa., where car shows are the annual attraction and the local Walmart is considered a hot spot. Graduating with about 150 classmates, I had friendships that are still not rivaled as I enter my final year at Penn State.
But once I started my freshman year here, the “big city” of State College morphed into a small town, and it felt even more like a second home. The transition was so smooth, and I really understood why my parents always called this place Happy Valley. But nothing is perfect –– so I discovered last November during my junior year.
I was serving as an editor at The Daily Collegian when the Sandusky case broke. Even when I didn’t want to, I had to know every sickening detail of the case that was released and, when necessary in my role as an editor, be critical of my second home. I don’t know how long I’ve known the name Joe Paterno, mostly because I don’t know if I ever didn’t know it. Like many other alumni and students, I felt as if my community had shattered.
I’ve had only a handful of classes so far this semester, but three of my professors have already given the “good decision-making” lecture; partying and drinking just isn’t worth it, they say, because our university’s reputation is at stake. To work at The Penn Stater, I had to fill out an agreement form stating whether I knew anything about suspected abuse on campus. As we were warned, things are changing.
These are reminders of what has happened in the past year. But I still can’t shake the feeling I had as my parents drove me down Atherton Street for my last college move-in day. I felt giddy, finally being reunited with the infectious energy of this place. As a journalist, I’m always looking for all sides of the story. I know some bad things have happened here. If needed, I’ll cover them. But I’ll also make sure that alumni will stay updated on the lively campus activities and classes. There’s a lot to be proud of, and I’ll be sure to bring that, too, to the forefront this fall.
Erika Spicer, intern
The request was unusual. Sculptors don’t often receive commissions for living people, says Angelo DiMaria, who’s made his living as a sculptor for decades. But about in 2001, he was asked to sculpt the likeness of Joe Paterno, who was approaching his 324th victory.
DiMaria, although he lives in Berks County, Pa., had never seen a football game. He’d never been to Penn State. But he quickly realized the project’s importance. “We knew that this was going to become a mecca,” he says. “A tremendous monument. Although Joe Paterno didn’t really want the statue up. He was very humble about it.”
And DiMaria’s statue, located on the east side of Beaver Stadium since November 2001, has become a place for Penn Staters—including Jay Paterno—to gather and remember and mourn. When I drove past just before 8 a.m. Friday, the candles and notes and flowers surrounding the statue were nearly spilling over into Porter Road.
The statue was a surprise for Paterno, meaning he couldn’t pose for DiMaria. And DiMaria sculpts from photographs, anyway. So he went to Beaver Stadium “disguised as a reporter, with a tag around my neck,” he recalls, and was astounded by it. “It was an experience just to be there,” he says. “It looked like a giant spaceship, like in outer space somewhere.”
DiMaria snapped more than 100 photographs, then went back to his studio and worked on an 18-inch model to show the Paterno family for approval. He spent most of his time working to make the face—the portrait, he calls it—exactly right. “It’s something almost mystical when I do a portrait shot of someone,” he says. “It’s not enough just to get the features perfectly. You have to have that extra. I don’t know where that comes from. … You have to capture the spirit of that person.”
His assistants helped to cast the full-size model, which is bronze, 7 feet tall, and weighs more than 900 pounds. (And the statue’s raised finger, DiMaria says, has been misinterpreted; it’s not about Joe Paterno himself: “The pointed finger in the air stands for State College. Penn State. We’re No. 1, not Joe Paterno No. 1. But obviously he is No. 1, of course.”)
In our May/June 2002 issue, we published a photograph of graduates posing with the statue and noted, that it “already is beginning to challenge the Nittany Lion Shrine’s current standing as the best place for a photo op.” The connection many students and alums feel to the statue—and Paterno—was evident in November, when rumors repeatedly surfaced that the statue would be removed in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and Paterno’s firing. Even repeated denials by president Rodney Erickson couldn’t stop the rumors.
Those rumors distressed DiMaria, too, and he’s pleased that it’s no longer a worry. “They can’t dare take it down now,” he says. “It would be traumatic. There are too many emotions involved.”
DiMaria never met his subject, which is kind of a shame—he grew up in Sicily, and no doubt would have had plenty to talk about with a fellow Italian. “It was just an honor to do the statue,” he says. “I’m happy with that.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
I love college towns, and Tuscaloosa seems like a pretty great college town.
I’m typing this from the air-conditioned comfort of a frozen yogurt shop on The Strip, the section of University Blvd. that most resembles our College Avenue. Outside, it is really, really hot — 94 right now, apparently — and really crowded. Driving and trying to park on or near campus is a nightmare, and this is the day before the game. Not sure how bad it’ll be Saturday, but I’m not looking forward to finding out.
Those complaints aside, (more…)
This is shaping up to be a big year for milestones for Penn State football. There’s the first freshman quarterback to start the season opener in Joe Paterno’s career. Paterno’s probable 400th victory. Evan Royster being only 481 yards away from breaking Curt Warner’s career rushing record.
And Beaver Stadium, the second-largest college football stadium in the country, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sept. 17. On that date in 1960, Beaver Stadium hosted its first game, a 20-0 victory over Boston University. (Before that, it was the site for the Class of 1960′s graduation.)
I’ve always thought Beaver Stadium was a unique place, and I learned why over the summer when I attended one of the sessions at Traditional Reunion Weekend—a talk about the history of Beaver Stadium by Harry West, a professor emeritus of engineering. (Except for the first photo, from Penn State, all of the photos on this post are ones he’s collected for his slide show.) (more…)
We’ve been getting lots of letters on the subject of the Nittany Lion Club’s Seat Transfer & Equity Plan, aka STEP, the overhaul of the Beaver Stadium seating plan aimed at generating more revenue for the University’s self-sustaining athletic department. Most of the letters come from long-time football season ticket holders, and their letters are pretty critical. As a season-ticket holder myself, I understand why those fans — many of whom face the possibility of moving from their long-held seats, or paying substantially more to keep them — are upset. But as someone who’s covered major college athletics for most of my career, I also understand the economic realities faced by a department that expects to compete at a national level in dozens of sports without taking a penny from the University’s budget.
The STEP announcement produced quite a bit of a media coverage, too much of which was knee-jerk reaction, and too little of which was balanced explanation of the fans’ gripes and the reasoning behind Penn State’s decision. Thankfully, some of that was provided in this piece by Jeff Rice ’03 in Sunday’s Centre Daily Times. The story (which might require free registration to access) is reasonable and informative. If you’re one of those fans, I hope you’ll check it out.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
We on the staff of The Penn Stater magazine have been blogging for just a little more than a year, but we sure are having fun doing it, and we’re also enjoying the feedback we get from you. I thought you might be interested in a quick “year in review” look at 2009—the Penn Stater blog postings that proved to be the most popular in terms of number of page views.
My goodness, do Penn Staters ever love P.J. Maeirhofer! This entry by senior editor Ryan Jones on the nation’s top collegiate twirler was, by far, our most-read blog post of the year. It includes a link to a downloadable PDF of a story we did on P.J. in the magazine four years ago.
… in which I take my camera up in a helicopter for a little aerial tour of University Park. It was a cloudy, dreary day, not great for photography, but when it comes to campus photos, people just can’t get enough. (Astoundingly, my Flickr photo set from that helicopter ride has had more than 100,000 views!)
Ryan Jones talks about our November-December 2009 cover story, which told of the Penn State football teams of 1946 and 1947 that helped break the color barrier in college football—and may have inspired the “We Are … Penn State” cheer. This entry also includes a link to a PDF of that article.
A behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for our March-April 2009 cover story on the women’s volleyball team, which had just won its second national title. Includes a short video clip from the photo shoot.
Back in 1982, the Big East came within one vote of inviting Penn State to join the conference. Eight years later the Lions joined the Big Ten instead, and the rest, well, is history.
Enjoy! Stick with us in 2010 and we’ll bring you lots more where these came from.
Tina Hay, editor
I had plenty of leg room Saturday in section NAU, row 90, the nosebleed section above Beaver Stadium’s north end zone. And I wasn’t the only one: There were plenty of open seats throughout the stadium, the freak weather keeping many returning alumni from an actual homecoming, and keeping many locals from venturing into the stands.
The section that looked the emptiest, of course, was in the opposite corner of the field from mine: the student section, where the first-come, first-served seating arrangement makes it obvious when the students don’t all show up. Disappointingly for a 3:30, nationally televised Homecoming game, the student section never filled up last week. Seeing how many seats sat empty throughout the stadium, I couldn’t be too annoyed at the students; but then, remembering that none of those students had to fly in from out of town or brave the mountains on Route 322 — and that more than a few of them spent part of the first half chucking snowballs at their own cheerleaders — I couldn’t help thinking otherwise.
All of which led me, when I got back to the office Monday morning, to “tweet” sophomore John Tecce, the Paternoville vice president, with a 140-character version of the following: Is it harsh to ask if “The Best Student Section in College Football” only applies to 8 p.m. kickoffs that the students deem to be “big” games?
I think I already knew the answer, but I was really happy to see both Tecce and senior Patrick McDermott confirm it, both for me and their fellow students. On Tuesday, The Daily Collegian ran a letter to the editor from Tecce chastising the minority of his classmates who showed up late (or not at all) for the game against Minnesota, as well as those who spent more time flinging hard-packed snowballs at each other and onto the field than they did actually watching the game.
Today came a column from McDermott, making many of the same points, and reminding me how many of these students take their responsibility — both as representatives of the University to a nation-wide audience, and as supporters of the team — incredibly seriously. (The organization and commitment that goes into running Paternoville, which I experienced first hand last fall, is ample proof of that.) It also offered a nice dose of perspective: as a Collegian sportswriter 15 years ago, I was fired up enough to write this silly little column offering behavioral advice to students whose fandom didn’t meet my standards.
At the same time, I was also one of those student-ticket holders who threw his share of marshmallows at Beaver Stadium before that sort of thing was outlawed…
My point? Ice-chucking no-shows aside, Tecce, McDermott, and most of the rest of these kids are alright. And I have no doubt that when Ohio State rolls into town in a couple of weeks, they’ll be at their best.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The big story on a slow news day in State College is the gusty wind that kicked up last night and has lingered through the day. It’s only a minor annoyance for most of us, but for the folks replacing one of the big “Penn State” banners in the south end zone of Beaver Stadium, it’s more than that. Some of the roads around the stadium have been closed and Loop buses have been rerouted after panels flew off the stadium and damaged at least one car in the lot across the street. So if you’re anywhere on campus today, or especially near the stadium, heads up.
Side note: The Centre Daily Times sent a photographer up there to document the news, and he brought back an image that appears to show where the panels blew off. I sent the link to the a friend of mine, Dave Young ’97, who caught a detail I’d missed. His response:
What is the score?!
If this is a motivational ploy from Joe Paterno, it’s a good one.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Probably the less said about last night’s loss to Iowa, the better, huh?
But for those who are interested in analyzing what went wrong, Walt Moody of the Centre Daily Times has a pretty interesting rundown of all the different ways that the Hawkeyes beat Penn State. (You may have to register for a CDT account to read the piece—it’s free, but it takes a few minutes.)
And, if you’re really a glutton for punishment, you can read a Wall Street Journal blog in which reporter Pete McEntegart recounts the game in excruciating, minute-by-minute detail. It’s definitely interesting and at times quite funny, but a little painful nevertheless.
Tina Hay, editor
…and all was pretty calm at Beaver Stadium tonight. No rain—yet. And while the stadium was lit up like it will be at this time tomorrow night, it was a little empty, as were the parking lots. This is a view from the south end zone/club seats area near Gate B. (Click to see a larger version.)
Around the corner from that, near the student entrance, Paternoville was all lit up, but pretty quiet. Some students were just lounging on their sleeping bags inside their tents; others were standing around talking.
I heard a few Penn State students talking to two Iowa fans who had happened by; the Penn State students were advising the Iowa fans to be careful about where to go downtown and how much to flaunt their Iowa status. “Not everyone will be as nice about it as we’re being,” the one Penn State student cautioned.
I asked a student who was just hanging out in his tent why he wasn’t at the pep rally over at Rec Hall, and he said, “I never go to the pep rally. This [meaning Paternoville] is like a week-long pep rally.”
How long had he been camped here? “Since 5:30 Monday morning.”
Tina Hay, editor