All things considered, it was worth the wait. Or, at least it felt that way Friday night standing in a room packed with Penn Staters.
Alumni and fans from across the country crowded into Old Sugar Distillery, a local Madison joint located a few miles from Camp Randall Stadium and the site of the traditional pregame alumni mixer. These events always feel a little bit like a class reunion, with many people meticulously planning every detail of the trip, sometimes years in the making.
Tonight had all those feels, but the vibe also had something else. Something more. Something different.
“It’s good to get on the road and see a new city, be back with our friends,” said Steven Seal, vice president for the Richmond (Va.) Chapter. “I’m here in Madison with my family, my friends, and my alumni friends so. It’s really cool to be back. … This is a really exciting time of year.”
Seal was one of a few hundred Penn State supporters who have converged in Wisconsin’s capital city for Saturday’s opener against the Badgers. He graduated from Penn State in 2011 and works as an IT consultant in Richmond, which he described as “a Penn State rich area,” with about 1,200-1,500 living alumni nearby. He joined the chapter’s board shortly after moving back home and has served as VP for the last few years.
Midway through the event, Madison Chapter President Phil Bower ’99, ’01g welcomed everyone. If Bower’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he appeared on this week’s season premiere episode of Football Letter Live, which is available to watch on either YouTube or Facebook. Bower was noticeably happy. You’d be too, if you had waited eight years for this game — Penn State last played at Wisconsin in 2013 — and Bower mixed in some trivia and cheers to get things going. A handful of other speakers joined in, including current Alumni Association President Kelley Lynch ’87, and just for the record, there were also plenty of cheeseheads on display.
Charlotte Chapter President Klinzing is part of a 15-person traveling team that’s arrived in Madison. Folks in that group live in Arizona, Alabama, Maryland, in addition to Charlotte, State College, and Allentown. They’ve tailgated together for more than two decades, and once Wisconsin was added back onto Penn State’s schedule, the figurative countdown clock started.
“We couldn’t wait,” said Klinzing, a 1982 Penn State alumna. “We had everything organized, we’re super excited.”
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