UNIVERSITY PARK — There have been many changes at Penn State University in recent months, but with kick-off for the 2012 football season just days away, one thing has stayed the same: students are already camping out before the first home football game, all to support their team and their school.
Nearly two dozen tents were set up outside Gate A at Beaver Stadium. Nittanyville is in full swing. Students started camping out Wednesday night for front row seats.
“It’s exciting. Get the best seats in the house and be out here to support the team,” said freshman Nichole Jenkins of Muncy, who is camping out for the first time.
“We just come out here every year for the past four years and we just tent and camp out for the game. Just get front row seats to support the team,” added senior Jachin Spotts of Shamokin.
Penn State students have been camping out before games for years, but in 2005, the encampment became known as Paternoville, in honor of the legendary leader of the Nittany Lions.
Last month, in response to the Penn State sex abuse scandal and Paterno’s passing, the name was changed to Nittanyville.
A new name, but the goal is the same.
“I wanted to support our football team. We’ve been going through a rough spot but these guys need our support and they need it more than ever now,” said junior Kelsey Miller of Swoyersville.
“It’s amazing. We actually had more campers for the first game this year than we did last year,” added senior Larry Ofcharsky of Plains Township. “I just can’t wait to be inside that stadium and hear 107,000 people just screaming for the team.”
Players certainly appreciate the students’ support. Quarterback Matt McGloin and guard Eric Shrive, both from West Scranton, stopped by Thursday night to say thanks and play some games with those at Nittanyville.
With Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse convictions, university leaders accused of a cover-up and tough NCAA sanctions against the school and football team, students in Nittanyville hope their show of support will help the Penn State community heal.
“We’re more than just what happened in November and everything else. That we are one team united and that we are a great university and that one thing doesn’t define us,” added Miller.
Come Saturday at noon, all the tents will be gone as the students and tens of thousands of fans pack Beaver Stadium for the Nittany Lions’ first game of the season versus the Ohio University Bobcats.
Until then, the students said they will be in Nittanyville around the clock.