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A September blizzard

Beaver Stadium – the famous house where the Penn State Nittany Lions have played since 1960 – is the second largest college football stadium in the country, if only by a small margin. The first, Michigan’s The Big House, has a seating capacity of only 219 more than what is contently called Happy Valley.

But besides the 107,282 people who might be on hand for the Bulls’ season opener against Penn State on Saturday, there are the clubs that those people make up.

However, this weekend’s forecast at University Park includes a blizzard warning. Granted, the temperature at game time will be in the mid-70s, dipping into the low 50s at night, but this blizzard is not the type that cares too much about the temperature.

The blizzard warning is what TRUEBLUE – the student spirit section at PSU football games – issues when the members expect 110,000 fans “with excessive rabidness and thunderous howling,” which will be “imminent at Beaver Stadium.”, the official Web site of TRUEBLUE, goes on to state, “Those on the visiting team venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented due to whiteout conditions. Persons in the warning area are strongly advised to arrive early, dress in white and rock the joint.”

TRUEBLUE was formed in 2004 with the help of the Nittwits – the nationally recognized spirit club of PSU men’s basketball – as a “grassroots movement aimed to raise the level of intensity inside Beaver Stadium on game day to make it the premiere home field advantage in college football.”

PSU student and Nittwit member Justin Casavant says it’s more than just a student section.

“(It’s) more like a movement started by the Nittwits. It’s to generate more publicity for us. So we worked with the football team, because the basketball team hasn’t been that good recently,” said Casavant, a senior majoring in geography.

At first, TRUEBLUE and its members were wearing all blue to each home game, to emphasize its fiercest rivalry, Purdue. One game they decided to try something else. The entire student section wore white, and a new tradition was born.

This season TRUEBLUE changed its name to Beaver Blizzard, but the club established three basic principles that every member should follow:

Wear White: Every member must be donned in white from head to toe – or what is commonly referred to as a “whiteout.” This may be confusing, however, since USF football players have the option to wear completely white uniforms Saturday.

Be Early and Be Loud: The members come hours before game time and help as much as humanly possible to be the 12th man for the football team.

Stay Until the End: No matter the score – or, in recent years, how bad the blowout may be – stay till the game is completely over.

“It’s just nothing USF has probably ever experienced,” said Dan Victor, a staffer of the Centre Daily who writes a features column from the Penn State fan’s perspective. “I’m sure it will be a whole new experience for USF.”

Added Casavant, “We try to get the whole stadium to do it, not just the students. We try to get a better home field advantage. It just looks really cool and when you see nothing but white, it just looks great. It’s a great community bonder.”

Jennifer Owsiany, a PSU senior majoring in journalism, said the motto says everything it needs to say about the student section, and that it goes well beyond anything on game day, such as early morning wake-up calls, which are running up and down dorm hallways.

“Our motto is, ‘Come early, be loud, stay late,'” Owsiany said. “It’s about school pride. You get to go crazy. It gets you out from studying and allows you to do something different. And it’s exciting because everyone is rooting for the same thing. You just have to be there to see it.”