My joy for today is Joe Paterno.
I grew up as a Penn State fan. It is a family tradition that goes back many generations. In my early teenage years, when I wanted nothing more than to be different and unique, especially from my parents, I promised I would attend college anywhere but PSU. Well, both my husband and I are proud alumni. My 13 year old self would not be proud. But she pierced her own belly button, so we can’t trust her.
We have watched every Penn State game except one this season. It is a wonderful opportunity to be together as a family, with Granny and sometimes with my parents or sister. We always cheer and clap; my mom squeals with delight or anger, and only occasionally remembers to limit her volume when babies are sleeping. No matter whether they win or lose, we are always fans of the blue and white. We even fly a Penn State flag at our house during football season. Noah does adorable push-ups after each touchdown and one of my favorite aspects of the festivities is the food, of which there is plenty. Each weekend, we discuss our menu for the “tailgate,” which takes place in our living room.
There are often Big Ten commercials during the game, one of which features PSU head coach since 1966, Joe Paterno. We all silence ourselves during these 30 seconds to enjoy the glimpses of Joe. If I am not in the room, my family calls to me at the end of the game when the coaches are about to shake hands. This is my absolute favorite part of the game, as you get to see the interaction between Joe and his opposing coach. It is a glimpse at the humanity of the game.
Penn State football is Joe Paterno. He is a classy, consistent, generous man that holds his players to a high standard of conduct both on and off the field. He demands respect, of which he entirely deserves. I met him once as a young child with my mom at a hotel. I remember clearly that he was very kind to us both and acted as if he was as happy to meet us as we were him. Joe will be 83 soon. What would Penn State football look like without JoePa? I wish he could coach that team forever. While he is still there, I will smile during each commercial when he growls, “COME TO PENN STATE!”