YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown State University Penguins are heading to Frisco, Texas to play James Madison in the FCS Championship.
Before they left, YSU football fans gave the team a proper send-off on Wednesday afternoon. The team didn’t expect so many people to show up at the rally.
Fans gathered on Armed Forces Boulevard for a rally before players left for the airport.
It was cold and chilly, the kind of weather real penguins like, but nothing was going to stop these fans from wishing their team good luck.
“We made signs for the boys so that when they came out, they saw all of the students were supporting them,” said Rachel Davis, a student at YSU. “We know it’s been a long time since YSU has gotten this opportunity, so we’re pumped.”
The cheerleaders were on hand and a band performed for the crowd that gathered to cheer the team on.
“It’s really exciting,” said Whitney Winch, another YSU student. “I know the student body is really excited and a lot of people are going on the bus ride.”
The Office for Alumni Engagement organized the event, and some former players and alumni showed up as well.
“My husband played for YSU in the ’50s, two of my boys played in the ’70s and ’80s, and so we love our Penguins today. We wish them the best,” said Clare Ann McCloud.
The buses rolled out at noon for the first leg of the trip down to Frisco, Texas. From there, it was off to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and one step closer to playing for a fifth national championship.
Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel said the success of the football team, the recently named Rhodes Scholar, faculty patents and competitive math teams are all part of what puts YSU on the map.
“I think anytime you can open up the doors and let people see everything that’s inside is helpful, and in our culture, in America, sport has a good opportunity to do that,” Tressel said.
The event will have big-screen TVs, a DJ, tailgating games, free parking and more.
Doors open at 10 a.m. and kickoff is at noon, Eastern time.
Covelli Centre bars and concession stands will be open, so outside food and beverages will not be allowed.
Tickets are available at the box office or at the door. Although tickets are free, they are required to get in.
Eight other watch parties are going on as well, these ones for alumni across the United States.
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Las Vegas, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C and Tampa Bay, Florida will have parties.
For more information about these regional watch parties, visit YSU Alumni Engagement’s Facebook event page.