Penn State football spring practice, Miranda

Offensive lineman Mike Miranda (73) prepares to hike the ball during the final spring practice game on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

When Penn State announced only freshmen would be allowed to attend this year’s final football practice, senior Matt Long was disappointed. After all, Long (senior-digital and print journalism) thought it would have been his last opportunity to experience the Nittany Lions play in Beaver Stadium as a student.

Little did he know at the time, Penn State would announce a special spring practice on April 23 for seniors to attend.

“I was hoping that after a lot of people showed their frustration with seniors not getting a game that they would come up with something,” Long said. “Low and behold, we do have something. Finally, they listened to us.”

The senior spring football practice was originally open to students who are enrolled in in-person classes at University Park to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. On Monday, the university amended its rule to allow students enrolled in remote classes to attend as well.

There is currently no set time for the practice. 

Long said he understood the difficulty Penn State’s administration faced regarding coronavirus guidelines, and he is grateful for the practice.

“It would’ve been nice to have a combined game like they’d do traditionally,” Long said. “It’s nice that they set this aside for us and that they’re recognizing us. I’m just glad to have something.”

Although Long said he’s looking forward to attending, he still anticipates a more normal football season in years to come.

“I’m just excited for everyone next year when things will go back to raging and roaring,” Long said.

When Kyle Nolen heard the news, he said he was shocked yet indifferent about the situation.

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“I’m okay with them helping us out like that, but I would prefer [to have gone] to the Blue-White game,” Nolen (senior-industrial engineering) said.

Nolen said he thought Penn State would have allowed seniors and freshmen to attend the initial game after the Big Ten Conference and Pennsylvania opened outdoor events to 50% capacity.

“In a stadium size of about 110,000, you’d think they’d be able to seat 55,000,” Nolen said.

However, State College is still under an emergency ordinance, which requires masks and limits the amount of attendees at events.

“I respect [the university] trying to make amends, so I guess it’s good on their part,” Nolen said. “I’m still just a little salty.”

Although Mike Ferrone plans on attending, he said his first thought when hearing about the special spring practice was that it was about more than the university trying to please the senior class. Ultimately, Ferrone (senior-supply chain management) said he believes the decision is more about being able to ask the seniors for donations once they become alumni.

Ferrone said while he appreciates the university’s efforts — especially during the pandemic — he said he thinks Penn State is always just looking out for itself in the end.

“It’s never about ‘doing the right thing’ for them,” Ferrone said.

While the special spring practice excited some, Helia Aghababazadeh said she would’ve never found out about it if her friends didn’t tell her.

“I just don’t really watch football or care,” Aghababazadeh (senior-computer science and math) said. “I don’t think I’m going. I think I’m going home to visit my parents.”

However, Aghababazadeh said she understood why many seniors were happy about the announcement.

“I think the special practice is a good thing because it is our last year here,” Aghababazadeh said.

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Ethan Cook said after hearing the news about seniors receiving their own special practice, he was “super happy.”

“I was just getting over the fact that it was only freshmen for Blue-White,” Cook (senior-broadcast journalism) said. “But as soon as I found out about seniors being able to go to a special practice, I felt a sigh of relief.”

Cook said he was initially disappointed with the university because the seniors were “robbed out of two Blue-White games and an entire season of football.”

After the freshmen class violated coronavirus guidelines in the fall with its “twerk circle,” Cook said it was “extremely unfair” for the senior class to not be allowed to attend the spring practice.

“With [the university’s] decision to allow us to go to Beaver Stadium for a last special practice, though, it shows that they do care about us,” Cook said. “It just made me feel better.”

Cook said he looks forward to attending the “special spring practice” this Friday night.

“It’s like our last hurrah before we graduate,” Cook said. “It gives us our one last opportunity to go back to experience Beaver Stadium as students.”

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