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Twenty-Nine Things To Do While In 16802

by on October 28, 2009 6:00 AM

Hi, all! I am so happy to be home in Happy Valley (or, technically, Boalsburg).

In my last column, I wrote about Homecoming, and it is ever so reassuring to return home after being away for a weekend visit to the Big House along with an impressive number of Penn State faithful; 16802 went to 48104.

Before touching on this past weekend's game, I would like to first recap this year’s Homecoming weekend as it proved to be memorable; it in fact inspired my trip out to the Midwest.

Despite the snowfall, Mother Nature couldn’t dampen the spirits of this year’s Homecoming festivities, parade and game.

I actually found that amid the inches of snowfall was the opposite of the chilly conditions: it was warmth from the Penn State fans who attended and participated in this weekend and made the Minnesota game a true White Out. Even though the Gophers are used to this weather, the folks from 55455 couldn’t handle the Homecoming hearts and game that Penn State delivered.

As much as the last two weekends for me have been focused on football, I was in a conversation at a tailgate prior to the Minnesota game that I will briefly mention. I ran into a PSU alumna who reminded me of advice that I gave her when she was a sophomore here.

She said that I told her that Penn State was more than a football team, and she should try to see other sporting events here as well. She then informed me that she and her roommate spent the remainder of their years at Penn State trying to attend as many different sporting events as possible.

There are 29 varsity sports teams and several exciting club sports here at Penn State and every one of them has its own enticing action. I can proudly say that I have attended at least one game/match of all 29 teams, and I am working on attending at least one of every club sports. I have also attended 17 away games for several teams.

POLL: Penn State Sports

Which Penn State sport (besides football) has the most exciting games?

Women's Volleyball
Men's Basketball
Women's Soccer

From the men’s and women’s tennis teams which I have had the privilege of officiating to guest driving the Zamboni between ice hockey periods, it has been my experience that each event has something worth cheering for.

For example, this past weekend in Ann Arbor, I was out to dinner with my family and ran into a newer member of the Michigan men’s basketball coaching staff: Jerry Dunn, who used to be Penn State’s men’s basketball head coach. It was great to see a familiar friendly face among the sea of Maize and Blue diners.

On Saturday, during one of the commercial breaks in the football game, his Michigan basketball team was honored. It made me remember two things: 1) The Penn State men’s basketball team is the reigning NIT champion as the season is about to kick off, and 2) a couple of seasons ago during a halftime show, I got beat in a sumo wrestling match. Can I please request a rematch this season? My daughters were slightly embarrassed.

Speaking of wrestling, there is a new head coach this season for the Lions: Cael Sanderson. I should call him for some advice before my possible rematch.

Some members of the wrestling team once ran into my older daughter and, after discovering that I was her father, said she looked just like me. She quipped back, "So I look like a middle-aged man?" I wish I would have attended that "match" to see how those guys wrestled out of that one. I believe their response was "Mike the Mailman is actually very pretty."

Moving on. If your interest is sports without contact, approximately 10 years ago I was one of the founding members of the "Left Field Lounge" for the Penn State baseball team. No longer in the same location, the baseball stadium is still one place to visit whether you go for Penn State or the Spikes, the local Single-A baseball team.

My younger daughter has had a friend on the women’s gymnastics team and a friend who was a Lionette, and we've cheered for both together. Let me not leave out my beloved bride, who, as a teacher, has taught some of the children of women’s volleyball head coach Russ Rose in elementary school. She was a big fan of his kids and his volleyball team too! This past weekend, she made her first appearance at an away football game, and she must be a good luck charm, since we haven’t won in the Big House since 1996.

Again, there are so many teams to touch on that I won’t be able to discuss them all, but from baseball to volleyball, JoePa to JoeBa, this year -- between the studying -- you need to experience them all! If you can swing it, I suggest making the trek this weekend to 60201 (Northwestern). Or plan more in advance to attend a sporting event for a team other than the football team at one of its away games.

My favorite part of attending any kind of away game is the drive there, passing and beeping to fellow fans with their cars decked out with magnets, flags and spray paint.

Although it was fun experiencing the town and people of Ann Arbor, the harassment was inevitable. That all seemed to quiet down Saturday night after our win. My family and I did appreciate one Michigan native who softly addressed us with "Welcome to Michiga


For the remainder of this year, any fan and/or visitor to Penn State who I run into will be greeted happily with that same address.

Welcome to Penn State, Happy Valley, 16802. Welcome to the home of 29 amazing teams, 100,000+ amazing fans and, as of today, a 7-1 football team.



Mike (The Mailman) Herr gives his stamp of approval to all visitors Monday through Friday at the University Park post office in the ground floor of McAllister Building, adjacent to the HUB. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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