On Friday morning I left my home in Virginia and headed to my happy place. It rained the entire way. On Sunday afternoon, my family and I sadly headed back to reality, and the rain was relentless. In between, the sun rose in all its glory and splashed our sweet home Happy Valley once again with all its might. I’m sunburnt, waterlogged, and road weary from far too many hours behind the wheel, but absolutely none of that can interfere with the wonderful memories made with my family during Blue-White weekend. They tried to shame us with our football ‘culture’ but little did they know how much a game can truly warm our hearts. As I sit here and reflect, my heart is toasty, to say the least, and I suspect I speak for most, if not all of the 61K-plus that made the journey when I say that the weekend was another one for the memory books.
For the record, the Blue beat the White 24-7 as expected. Sean Clifford proved he’s ready to battle come August, although the offense stayed vanilla, and our first team D brought a blue-collar approach. Will Levis dropped a 59-yard dime into the outstretched arms of walk-on Dan Chisena that turned a touchdown into a scholarship for the former track star trying to make a comeback in football. True freshmen RB Noah Cain raised some eyebrows, including that of his head coach, by leading all rushers with 41yds and adding two catches and a touchdown, and LBs Lance Dixon (two sacks) and Brandon Smith (team-high six tackles) formally announced their presence on a revamped Linebacker U.
Between now and August, there’ll be plenty of time to analyze the roster and predict the outcome of another season waiting in the wings, but this was so much more than just a scrimmage. This was sweet home Happy Valley at its finest. This was Matt Millen waving from the booth to a standing ovation, back at work and back home where it all began, mere months after receiving a new heart and a new lease on life. This was new women’s basketball head coach Carolyn Keiger (a grand slam, home run hire, by the way) taking a punt and juking and jiving her way 100 yards into our hearts with open arms and the same kind of enthusiasm I saw when FrankLion first landed in State College. This was SuePa and Franco ending this weekend’s festivities with the 10th annual Paterno Family Beaver Stadium Run that raised over $350,000 for Special Olympics, and that pesky rain held off just long enough for everyone to make it to the finish line.
To the person that wagged their finger at our ‘culture’ and called it a problem (I know who, he’s just not worthy of my pen and time), I challenge you to step outside the box and join us one weekend. Come up on Friday and have a drink with us at Champs. Stop by our tailgates and feel the love of family amidst a sea of Blue and White, not to mention the food that would rival Gordon Ramsey any day. Sit in that stadium of ours. Feel those bleachers rock on Beaver Stadium’s foundation, and yep, watch those tears of pride flow when that beloved football team of ours come crashing out of the tunnel. Join us on Sunday, it’s the least you can do for Sue, and walk our campus to see how beautiful it really is. I was born here and I’ve spent my entire life coming back. Not once, ever, has sweet home Happy Valley let me down and this weekend was just a reminder of how special our home away from home truly is.