A packed Beaver Stadium on fall Saturdays shows the dedication of many Penn State students to university sports. Although football draws crowds of over 100,000, some teams don’t receive as much recognition, such as baseball and softball.
“I think the stigma of baseball [is] not being the biggest sport here,” Jules Rodriguez said. “Some people might be reluctant to go. I know I was because none of my friends wanted to come with me, but I really wanted to go.
Rodriguez (a freshman in biology) wanted to go to baseball games in her freshman year at University Park, but was reluctant to go to Lubrano Park at Medlar Field because her friends weren’t interested in sports.
“I think the publicity they get and the size of the names definitely plays into their size,” Rodriguez said.
For some students, softball and baseball don’t have the same appeal as some of the more popular campus sports because of the game-day experience.
Coaches Clarisa Crowell and Rob Cooper’s teams must compete with the energy that Beaver Stadium, Bryce Jordan Center and Pegula Ice Arena all create throughout the year.
“It’s really just the atmosphere,” said Jon Havens (first-year mechanical engineering student). “All the people get together and have the pom poms. It’s really cool, and so is the tradition – I’ve been to a lot of NFL games, and a Penn State football game completely wins because of its tradition.”
Sometimes the key aspect of a game day at Happy Valley doesn’t even happen within the confines of a sports venue.
To Dharmiisha Sivanesam, he said tailgates are one of the reasons he goes to Penn State football games.
Alyssa Lazzaro has said she’s not much of a football fan, but it’s ultimately the social aspect of the grill that gets her out on fall weekends at State College.
“I just like going to games to hang out with my friends,” said Lazzaro (higher education). “If more people went to a [baseball or softball] game, then I would go.”
Sivanesam (Senior Mechanical Engineering) said you don’t have to know the players on the team to show support at a sporting event.
For fans like Sivanesam, a baseball or softball game wouldn’t necessarily be more interesting with more big-name players, but it’s the energy of the crowd that draws people to the eastern edges of campus.
“Even if you don’t know anyone on the team, people will still go because they know it’s going to be hype,” Sivanesam said. “They know it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be crazy. So they’ll still go even if they don’t know anything about basketball.”
Rodriguez said she was a big baseball fan, but didn’t even know the season had started to buy a season ticket.
“It really is football,” Rodriguez said. “I wish there were other sports mentioned. I know some people on the athletics team, but even then I don’t think they get as much recognition as the athletics team. football, of course.”
Hanna Kell-Fien said if softball and baseball at Penn State were discussed more, more people would want to go.
“I feel like if it was talked about more or talked about more, then I would probably be more likely to go,” said Kell-Fien (freshman-rehabilitation and services social).
The weather influences whether people go to a game. Even at some football matches, if the weather is bad, people like Sivanesam don’t want to attend.
“It also really depends on who we’re playing, like some of the smaller games. If the weather isn’t adequate, it’s not worth going, but if it’s a bigger game, even if the weather isn’t fantastic, you would still go,” he said.
For Lazzaro, Penn State sporting events are fun because of the atmosphere.
“I think it’s a lot of fun with all the students together, and I’m really happy to be here,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of school pride there too.”
Rodriguez said the student sections are fun to watch and be part of.
“Seeing everyone really proud of it makes me go back,” she said.
And for Penn State sophomore Lauren Marcotte, seeing the sorority section there every time softball has one changes the mentality of the whole team.
“It stimulates us,” Marcotte said. “Seeing them and other students being here with us to support us is such a cool feeling, it motivates us and makes us want to do better.”
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