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My First Official Season With Pitt Football

Last fall, the football season seemed bleak. Having to watch Kenny Pickett lead the Panthers throughout the 2020 season from a TV-screen in a hotel turned dorm room was rather disappointing. Never being able to have experienced the Panther Pitt made me desperate to get the full football experience when it came to the start of my sophomore year. Thus, I made the decision to purchase season tickets for the football 2021 season, and my journey with Pitt Football began on the warm, sunny day of September 4th. 

The first game of the season felt like an introduction, a beginning to the things I would soon learn and the traditions I would become accustomed to as the season continued. As the sun rays danced against my skin, the Panther Pitt continued to roar with a new chant every so often. My hands soon turned red from the continuous banging on Heinz’s seats as UMass approached another third down. My throat became dry from the screams that left it as our team continued to score. My eyes were amazed at the scene in front of me. Right before me was an actual college football game, something I had never experienced before. From that day forward, I knew I would be hooked on following Pitt football.

The second home game didn’t go as well as the first. There were the ongoing screams from the student section; the hoots and hollers of “Let’s go Pitt” filled the air. There was the occasional toss in the air when Pickett would find someone in the end zone for a touchdown. We were going to win. We should have won. Yet, even with the shouts of the crowd, and the ongoing beat of the band, the Panthers unfortunately couldn’t grasp the win. That night I felt the sour taste of loss, and simply never wanted to taste it again.  

The next few games went by in a blur, with the Panthers collecting win after win. However, there was a greater challenge that lied ahead for the football team to face at Heinz Field: the Clemson Tigers. The game was scheduled to start at 3:30, yet the moment I awoke I could feel the anticipation set in. Wanting to get the best seat possible, I knew that I would have to get to Heinz as early as I could, which meant getting there two hours before kickoff. The anticipation was building as the stadium seats began to fill with the flood of students coming in. I could feel in the air, this game would be one to remember. My roommate and I had been able to find three empty seats just three rows from the field (score!). As the atmosphere began to rise, the countdown to kickoff grew closer and closer to zero. When the whistle blew, I rose to my feet and would only find myself sitting when it came to halftime. The feeling in the stadium was electric.  From the minute Kenny Pickett found Jordan Addison in the end zone right in front of our section, I knew we would be victorious in the end. My voice hoarse from screaming, and feet shaking in pain, I soaked in the feeling of the best win of the season. As the Panther Pitt and the rest of the stadium belted out “Sweet Caroline,” I didn’t think the season could get any better. 

The momentum felt like it wouldn’t stop. With Miami next on the schedule, excitement exuded from the student section ready for the next conference game to begin. Unlike the Clemson game, the University of Miami matchup didn’t end up in our favor. Even with all of the bad calls (in my opinion) and lack of momentum in the first half, all of the excitement from the previous game fell flat.

The rest of the season flew by as the Panthers began to add even more wins to their record. Whether it was watching it live from Heinz, staring at the TV screen in Stack’d or just watching from the comfort of my dorm room, when Saturday came, I made sure to watch my Panthers win. Even if I risked getting a cold from standing out in the pouring rain (the UNC game), I didn’t want to miss a single chance at being able to experience football games live and in-person. As the season came to a rather sad end, there was one game left that would put one last mark on the season: the ACC Championship game against Wake Forest. 

Saturday, December 4th is a night I will never forget. Even though my roommate and I found ourselves hailing from our small living room in our dorm, we watched every second of the game even to see Kenny Pickett and the rest of the team sing “Sweet Caroline” with the trophy in hand. From the minute Pickett did his now famous move, the “fake-slide,” I could feel the championship trophy growing closer and closer to coming home to Pittsburgh. As Pickett ran into the end zone, my screams began rooting for the team all the way down in Charlotte, and didn’t end ‘until the final whistle blew. Watching this season right before my very eyes and seeing it happening only a few rows in front of me, has been such an amazing experience. Waiting for the rankings to come out every week was exhilarating, and even with the two losses, I wouldn’t change it for anything. 

Now, I’m waiting for the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, where the 12th ranked Panthers will face the 10th ranked Michigan State Spartans. Even though I won’t be able to see it live in Atlanta from the seats of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you can bet I’ll be anxiously waiting for the initial whistle to blow from the comfort of home with all of my family surrounding me. Hopefully, it will be another win to add to an unforgettable season. No matter what, this season has been a blast, and while it’s my first official football season, it will most definitely not be my last. 

Serena is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh who is majoring in English Writing with minors in Creative Writing and Legal Studies. When she's not writing short stories for class, Serena loves to write for HC Pitt, listen to music, and watch Jersey Shore!
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