From the Eyes of the Students: CommRadio Members Detail Their 2021 Blue-White Experience

Opinion posted April 20, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by CommRadio Sports Staff

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.

Jon Draeger

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.

Eric Fenstermaker

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.

Alex Rocco

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.

Mac Young

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 jrd6052@psu.edu.

Eric Fenstermaker is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at esf5129@psu.edu.

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at afr5646@psu.edu.

Maclain Young is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at macyoung21@gmail.com.

About the Contributors

Alex Rocco's photo

Alex Rocco

Second-Year / Broadcast Journalism

Alex Rocco is a second-year student from Long Island, New York majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a broadcaster, editor and football insider for CommRadio. He also hosts a talk show on CommRadio called The Extra Point talking all things NFL. Along with being a football insider, he is a women’s hockey reporter for The Daily Collegian. He got his start as the president of his high school sports media department, where he wrote numerous articles and broadcasted many games. If you would like to contact him, his email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Mac Young's photo

Mac Young

Second Year / Broadcast Journalism

Maclain Young is a second-year student from Ocean City, New Jersey majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He writes articles weekly for CommRadio’s sports department ranging across all five major sports. Maclain also contributes with play-by-play coverage, beat writes, board ops, and has even helped new members by producing State High Calls. Maclain usually goes by “Mac” and enjoys writing about the Philadelphia sports teams, which he follows vigorously. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jonathan Draeger's photo

Jonathan Draeger

Second Year / Broadcast Journalism

Jonathan “Jon” Draeger is a second-year student from Butler, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State University. He is a writer, play-by-play broadcaster, and on-air personality for the sports and department for CommRadio. He has been featured on live shows and podcasts about collegiate and professional football. He is host and member of the talk show “The Extra Point”. Jon also works on the “After The Whistle” live show. He was apart of the social media and on-field entertainment crew for the Butler Bluesox in the summer of 2021. If you would like to contact him, you can do so at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Eric Fenstermaker's photo

Eric Fenstermaker

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.

Eric loves conversation and interaction with sports fans, and he looks to help generate meaningful dialogues in the sports world. Eric aims to create content that is accurate, timely and impactful. To contact Eric, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).