Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State Nittany Lions Football History

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Nittany Lion Legend

Penn State's athletic symbol, chosen by the student body in 1906, is the mountain lion which once roamed central Pennsylvania. H.D. "Joe" Mason, a member of the Class of 1907, conducted a one-man campaign to choose a school mascot after seeing the Princeton tiger on a trip with the Penn State baseball team to that New Jersey campus. A student publication sponsored the campaign to select a mascot and Penn State is believed to be the first college to Penn State football historyadopt the lion as a mascot.

Since Penn State is located in the Nittany Valley at the foot of Mount Nittany, the lion was designated as a Nittany Lion. In regional folklore, Nittany (or Nita-Nee) was a valorous Indian princess in whose honor the Great Spirit caused Mount Nittany to be formed. A later namesake, daughter of chief O-Ko-Cho, who lived near the mouth of Penn's Creek, fell in love with Malachi Boyer, a trader. The tearful maiden and her lost lover became legend and her name was given to the stately mountain.

Nittany Lion Shrine

Penn State's Nittany Lion shrine was dedicated on Oct. 24, 1942, during Homecoming Weekend.

Animal sculptor Heinz Warneke and stonecutter Joseph Garatti molded a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone into the most recognizable symbol of Penn State. The shrine was chosen from six models submitted by Warneke.

The shrine is a gift of the Class of 1940 and rests in a natural setting of trees near Recreation Building. The site was chosen because of its accessibility, the surrounding trees and the fact that the sculpture would not be dwarfed by nearby buildings.

Blue and White

Penn State's student-athletes are instantly identified by their blue and white uniforms - but those weren't the original school colors. A three-member committee representing the sophomore, junior and senior classes was appointed in October of 1887 to develop color options from which the student body would select the school's official colors. Dark pink and black was the unanimous choice of the student body after considering the color combinations presented by the committee.

Soon many students and the baseball team were sporting pink and black striped blazers and caps. However, problems arose when the pink faded to white after several weeks of exposure to the sun. The students then opted for blue, rather than black, and white. The official announcement of the new choice was made on March 18, 1890.

Alma Mater

For the Glory of Old State
For her founders strong and great,
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song.

Sing our love and loyalty
Sing our hopes that bright and free
Rest, O Mother dear, with thee,
All with thee, all with thee.

When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us, dear old State
Dear old State, dear old State.

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame
Dear old State, dear old State.

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