Posts tagged ‘Beaver Stadium’
An introductory post from our fall intern, senior Sarah Olah.
My family and I traveled to Aruba a few weeks ago because I’m graduating in the spring and my mom wanted to have “our last family vacation.” During our seven-day trip, we met four Penn State families, had “WE ARE” chanted at us at the pool, and saw lots of Penn State merchandise—from people wearing it to seeing souvenir shops selling T-shirts saying “Penn State Aruba.” Yes, we bought one.
In Aruba—thousands of miles away from our home in the Poconos—we met two Penn State incoming freshmen, both majoring in engineering. And my brother was getting ready to move into his freshman dorm in East Halls—and major in engineering.
Can you say small world? Or incredible?
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