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Feb. 2, 2011
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:

Steeler Nation ‘is everywhere on campus’

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – It would be hard to find a more loyal Pittsburgh Steelers fan than Vince Bianco. The Slippery Rock University communication and emerging technology major from South Park has attended every home game at Heinz Field. He wears team apparel on campus, has covered his Building E residence hall room with posters and admits he sometimes gets teased for the devotion – especially this week as black-and-gold fever has taken over campus in anticipation of Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

“The other day I came back to find Packers stuff covering up my door,” Bianco said. “It was all in good fun, but I still don’t know who pulled that one over me.”

Make no mistake, “Steeler Nation is everywhere on campus,” Bianco said. Students and staff are wearing jerseys and caps. There are countdowns on whiteboards on residence hall doors, Terrible Towels in windows, impromptu rallies, mock slugfests and even a few wagers.

A couple of buildings, including Old Main and the School of Physical Therapy Building, have Steelers’ potlucks scheduled today. Boozel Dining Hall will provide Steelers desserts today through Sunday, including cupcakes with yellow icing, and a black and gold nacho bar on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Everyone on campus seems excited about the Super Bowl,” Bianco said. “When I am walking to class in my Steelers cap, I often hear comments from people I don’t even know telling me, ‘You won’t be wearing that hat when they lose on Sunday.’ It’s kind of random, but it’s really funny to me. When I’m walking to class wearing my Troy Polumalu jersey, people are always giving me a high five or yelling, ‘Let’s go Steelers.’”

Aside from regional pride in the professional sports franchise, the big game is providing an opportunity for community service on campus. The SRU chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity is offering a big-screen Super Bowl party in the University Union. Fraternity President Shane Ellis, a safety and environmental management major from Honesdale, said the group would accept donations for Daniel Christiana, a first-year SRU student who was paralyzed in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

“We’re calling it ‘Do It for Danny,’” Ellis said. “He will be seeking a stem-cell procedure, and we are trying to raise money for that cause this semester. We are hoping for 100-200 people. We’re also hoping this party gives students a chance, specially the ones in residence halls, to come out and watch the game on a bigger screen and have some fun.”

Kristy Montanari, an elementary education major from Pittsburgh, said she plans to watch the Super Bowl with friends in an apartment. Her favorite player is receiver Hines Ward.

“I have loved the Steelers forever,” Montanari said. “I am proud of where I am from, and I love the feeling of unity that comes with being a Steelers – or Pens – fan. I definitely think women students have as much interest as men students. Why do you think they made the pink jerseys? I do like the regular ones better, though.”

Nate Merhaut, an exercise science major from Canfield, Ohio, said he plans to watch the game at the same place he watched the Steelers defeat the New York Jets in the American Football Conference championship game – his Building F residence hall room. He plans to invite friends and order a lot of pizza.

“Steelers fans go all out for every game and the Super Bowl is no exception, obviously,” he said. “I haven’t seen a lot of Packers fans on campus, but I do keep hearing it from [Cleveland] Browns and [Baltimore] Ravens fans. Obviously, they are mad because they know they will never be at our level. They like to take their anger out on us. It's nothing new, though.”

Super Bowl hype is griping University staff members as well. In Old Main, potluck lunches have been organized each Friday before the playoff games. There are “serious Steelers fans in Old Main, beside myself,” said Joyce Basham, a clerk typist II in the Human Resources Office.

“It was a group effort to plan the Steelers’ parties,” she said. “The only time we get to socialize with one another in the building is when we have the Old Main Christmas luncheon, so we thought it would be great to get together since the Steelers are playing so well. In the past, anytime they were in the playoffs, we had parties, so it’s tradition.”

Growing up, Basham said both her parents liked sports, but her mother was the sports fanatic. “She loved to watch football, basketball and baseball,” she said. “So we didn’t have a choice but to like sports. It wasn’t like today where children have a television in their rooms. We only had one television, and it was in our family room. Watching the Steelers play became a time for my family to get together, and my brother and I started to enjoy watching it. He is a bigger Steelers fan than I am.”

Basham said she would watch the game with a small group of people. “When there are a lot of people around, you really aren’t able to concentrate on the game – too much noise and distraction – and I don’t like to miss anything.”

Robin Campbell, clerk typist III, for the College of Health, Environment and Science, said there are plenty of ‘Stiller’ fans in the School of Physical Therapy Building.

“We are having a Steelers luncheon Friday in our conference room, and all the college secretaries are coming,” she said. “I have been a Steelers fan all my life.”

Campbell said Jack Lambert, a linebacker on the 1970s teams, was her favorite player. “I will be wearing his jersey today,” Campbell said. “Jack and I have something in common – we both have missing teeth.”

Campbell said she plans to record the Super Bowl so she can watch it over and over. “My husband Scott will watch the game on his TV, and I will watch on mine,” she said. “If the game is too close, Scott, will go to the garage and listen to the game on the radio and if he hears me yelling, he will come running it to see what happened. It is quite an event at our home. Then after the game, I have to call my dad to see how his blood pressure is doing, and then my son will come to see how my blood pressure is doing.”

Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. on the Fox television network.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.