Blue-White Memories Abound for Feel-Good Weekend
Bill Zimmerman. Photo Credit: Pat Mansell
The unofficial spring Homecoming at Penn State is only a few days away, with the Blue-White game scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, April 22.
The venue: Beaver Stadium, everyone’s favorite gathering spot for fall Saturdays — and for one Saturday in April. Excellent tailgating conditions are in place, with a mid-afternoon start and good weather expected (mid-60s, clear skies), so there’s much to look forward to.
With that in mind, we asked some folks at the University (and in the community) what makes Blue-White Weekend memorable to them. Check out their responses below, and tag us on Facebook and Twitter (@HappyValleyPSU) to share your thoughts.
Adriana Lacy, Penn State student and editor in chief of The Underground
“I still remember my first blue and white game like it was yesterday. As a freshman, I’d already fell in love with Penn State football months before the spring scrimmage game during the 2014 season, but the feeling of Blue-White was a lot different. It felt like a reunion of sorts. So many generations of Penn Staters flocked to the tailgating lots recalling memories of their time in undergrad while also offering advice for those currently in school. I still remember an older woman and her husband inviting me to their tailgate, even though I’d never met them. ‘We’re all family here,’ she said, ‘and family looks out for each other!’ She began to tell me about her time at Penn State, and all the countless memories and lessons she learned at Penn State. In that moment, I realized the true meaning of ‘We Are ... Penn State.’
Ultimately, Blue-White weekend is where the family comes back together to relieve old memories and create new ones.”
Chris Buchignani, co-author of “Back to Camelot: The Improbable Story of the 2005 Nittany Lions”
“Blue-White weekend is fifth on my list of favorite holidays (behind Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and St. Patrick’s Day). I’ve always called Blue-White, in conjunction with the NFL Draft, the lone oasis in the calendar’s football desert. Nothing tops a warm and sunny Saturday, but the lousy years are the ones that stick with you. I will never forget the monsoon-like conditions for the 2011 spring game, nor the wind, cold, and sleet/snow that greeted Bill O’Brien for his inaugural outing in 2013.
It’s not surprising, I guess, that most of my keenest memories involve the weather, because the football itself is rarely compelling. Fans always read too much into what is basically a glorified practice, including trying to peg the next breakout star. There’s always a guy who has a standout Blue-White who’s never heard from again. But occasionally, the discerning fan can glean a few insights. I first saw Stephfon Green flash his speed on a long touchdown run at Blue-White, and I knew just from watching a few snaps that the 2014 and 2015 offensive lines were going to be in big trouble. In retrospect, I think we can also see that the Blue-White performances from Michael Robinson and Trace McSorley offered hints of the promise to come.”
Kevin Horne, co-author of “Back to Camelot: The Improbable Story of the 2005 Nittany Lions”
“There is something special about packing a stadium to watch a scrimmage with about three-to-four times more people than watch an average Pitt home game. There aren't many places that can say they have two homecomings every year, but Penn State is one of them. It's one of the most exciting times of the year to be a Penn Stater. Summer is right around the corner, and after that, it's time for football season. The Blue-White game symbolizes the beginning of this process, or for graduating students, the last major event in their lives at Penn State. It is seen mostly as a festive weekend, but for me, it's more about reflection of an academic year gone by. Goals reached, or opportunities lost, your time is up. That sort of nostalgia runs deep during Blue-White weekend.”
Bill Zimmerman, Penn State social media manager
“I got to be on-field for my first Blue-White game in 2013. I was snapping photos with our strategic communications photographer, Pat Mansell, taking it all in. I knew I was supposed to ‘act like I’d been there,’ but couldn’t resist asking Pat to get a photo of me on the sidelines with my camera and press pass prominently displayed. I may have also taken a selfie or two. I had no experience shooting football and enjoyed learning under Pat in a more low-pressure situation. It’d be the first of many games we’d shoot together. There’s such a nice, laid-back energy at these games. People are excited to see Penn State football, but it’s also a celebration of getting through a long Happy Valley winter and feeling optimistic about the future.”