Despite Penn State’s 35-23 loss against Ohio State this past Saturday, Rally in the Valley, the traditional pre-football game pep rally, demonstrated the concept of “one team” in an unexpected way on Friday.
As “We Are” chants echoed throughout Rec Hall, calling the Nittany Lion mascot to the floor, what the lion brought with him was a surprise that demonstrated unity in the Penn State community.
Escorted on a decked-out golf cart with Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti,, head basketball coach Patrick Chambers entered the rally, sporting a Mauti jersey and a white football helmet. To members of the Blue and White Society, one of co-sponsors of the event along with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, this was a complete surprise.
“He [Chambers] had gotten in touch with our Vice President of Programming Melissa Duck and she said that they wanted to switch the schedule of the event around because something really exciting was being planned,” President of the Blue and White Society Leslie Pinero said. “We had no idea, we just knew that he would be taking the floor and figured it would be something funny and exciting.”
Rally in the Valley Committee Chair for the Blue and White Society Stefano DiPeitro said that there were many parts of the rally that exceeded his expectations, but Chambers’ actions struck him the most.
“There wasn’t a moment people weren’t waving their shakers or cheering as loud as they could,” DiPeitro (sophomore-meteorology) said. “However, my favorite part had to be either when the team came out, or when Patrick Chambers drove out on the golf cart all dressed up.”
Rally in the Valley began with introductions by members of the Blue and White Society and officers of the Nittanyville Coordination Committee. Shortly after, the Penn State Lionettes Dance Team, then performed “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne for the crowd, followed by the appearance of the Penn State Blue Band and cheerleaders.
Then, after Chambers and Mauti unexpectedly took the floor of Rec Hall and gave a brief introduction, football coach Bill O’Brien and his Nittany Lions entered the building to bellowing cheers from the crowd.
For some Penn State students, the greatest part of the event was getting to see all of the excitement come to life up close and with a personal connection to the students.
“I got to sit front and center, and I thought it was the perfect pump up for the big game,” Christina Ruzzo (freshman-recreation park and tourism management) said. “The band and the football team coming in made everything so exciting, and I liked getting to see Bill O'Brien up close.”
O’Brien, closing the event, said to the crowd that he wanted everyone attending the following night’s game to be loud and proud, and to be wearing white. With a crowd of 107,818, by far the season’s biggest, attending the game the next day in white, O’Brien’s words made an impact.
DiPeitro said the sight of all of the people who attended was a remarkable thing to be a part of.
“I think that the team and coach O’Brien being there truly made it a great event, not only for the fans but for the team as well,” he said.
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