From the Eyes of the Students: CommRadio Members Detail Their 2021 Blue-White Experience
Penn State football’s 2021 spring practice was anything but ordinary—just in line with the past year. The variation of the annual Blue-White Game saw only first-year students in attendance due to capacity restrictions regarding COVID-19. This decision, made by Penn State, was made to give freshmen a taste of in-person Penn State football for the first time.
The event held a course on the regular cheers and chants the fans do during a football game at Beaver Stadium, and after everyone took “Nittany Lion 101,” the team ran out of the tunnel to run some in-game plays in order to keep their skills sharp.
The spring game was the first instance of Penn State football that some students —even some on the CommRadio staff—experienced live in University Park. Here are our staff’s reactions to the event.
It was my first experience at a Penn State spring game. I have seen many games in years past, and I did miss the atmosphere.
The game had a different reality than what I thought was going to happen, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the contents of the event. The crowd atmosphere was still great, especially when the players went to the locker rooms, as all the freshmen gathered to watch the players exit the stadium and constantly perform the We Are chant, to which I led one myself. I had a great experience, and I cannot wait for full-capacity stadiums again.
As someone who has been to every Blue-White game since I was 2 years old, it was definitely a weird experience. Normally, I have to wake up early, meet my friends, make sure I have all my Penn State gear, and get to the game quickly to get decent seats—and by seats, I mean a piece of the metal bleachers to stand on. However, Saturday, I didn’t do anything quite like that, and it was hard to find that “game day” vibe.
Sure, there were things like chicken baskets at the concession stands that reminded me of game day, and I loved hearing “Sweet Caroline” play, but it was just hard to feel like a fan when everyone was so far apart and relatively quiet.
The action on the field was exciting, but it wasn’t anything too riveting aside from an electric pick-six. I think the major importance of the game was getting fans back in the stands, not the half-hearted energy of a spring practice.
As an academic junior, I still remember my first Penn State game. I remember exactly how I felt. When I saw the intro video played, I felt that energy again. I remembered why I chose Penn State and why I want to be a Nittany Lion for life.
Was the “game” perfect? No way. But it was an important step forward for getting 100,000+ fans back inside Beaver Stadium. Penn State got freshmen involved with chants and other activities, and I think it was an important event to remind freshmen everything Beaver Stadium can provide and more.
This was my first ever experience in Beaver Stadium. I was really excited to finally see a game and be a part of the electric atmosphere, though I felt it was a little lacking. The stadium felt extremely empty since it contained just first-year students. The total attendance was around 7,500 in a stadium that typically houses 107,000, so many seats were empty. Many of the fans in attendance did not know the chants, so it was very quiet. It was really weird to see Beaver Stadium so low energy during a football game since it is usually one of the loudest stadiums in the country.
As for the game, I thought it was very competitive. I enjoyed watching guys such as Jahan Dotson, Parker Washington,and Sean Clifford play in-person and not on TV. I thought freshman cornerback Kalen King played extremely well.
But more so than to show off the team, I think the importance of this game was to get fans back into the stands. Having seats filled gives us a sign of normalcy and something for everyone to look forward to in the fall when, hopefully, Beaver is back and louder than ever.
This was my third time at Beaver Stadium and second time at a Blue-White game, but it was nothing like I had been to before. As someone interested with the actual practice, I was happy to have the opportunity to see the team in action. However, I was disappointed to see a pretty mute atmosphere. As the band began to play, I hopped on top of the bleachers ready to yell and chant with the rest of the class, but I was disappointed to see a great number of students quietly sitting in their seats.
Although the stands were not shaking like a White Out, I was still happy to chant along with my fellow students who were willing. I thought the event was especially fun at the end when the alma matter was sung and the players interacted with the students before exiting through the tunnel. Many players ran around to high-five the students who had come out and some even tossed up their gear. My roommate was able to snag Jahan Dotson’s glove, which has left me extremely jealous. Overall, it was great to just get a taste of game day as a student at Penn State.
As summer rolls around, the administration plans on returning back to in-person classes and a stadium filled with 107,000 fans rooting on the Nittany Lions. This year’s Blue-White game was a step in the right direction for a full crowd at Beaver Stadium this fall.
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Fenstermaker is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism
Second Year / Broadcast Journalism
Second Year / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Broadcast Journalist
Eric Fenstermaker is a senior from Northampton, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is also minoring in business and sports studies and pursuing a certificate in sports journalism.
Eric is involved in After the Whistle and Penn State Sports Night (PSSN). For COMM Radio, Eric contributes to a variety of different podcasts and co-hosts the Hail Mary radio show, which is dedicated to analyzing NFL games.