Category Archives: Penn football

A Toast to Dear Old Penn: The Toast Throwing Tradition at Football Games

By Jorge Penado, C’19
Penn Alumni Relations Work Study Student

1999_toast

Source: Penn Archives 1999

With traditions at universities around the nation being a staple of that institution’s student culture, it is undeniable that students at Penn have developed their own, cherished traditions throughout the year. Whether it’s something like Hey Day during Junior Year or the Econ Scream during Freshman year, Penn students have engaged in these traditions with the fervor that school spirit usually evokes. Though most traditions are relatively normal in the pantheon of university traditions, one of them might cause a non-Penn individual to double take: toast throwing at football games. As a tradition that roughly started in the 1970s, it has since become one of the staple events that every Penn student should participate in at least once throughout their time at the university.

First and foremost, it is important to ask a very basic question: What exactly is toast throwing? While every Penn student has at least heard of the tradition whether they’ve participated or not, it helps to establish exactly what toast throwing entails. As mentioned earlier, the tradition is known to have started in the 1970s during a time when alcohol was prohibited from Franklin Field where all football games are held. This ban on alcohol would actually interfere with another common tradition at football games where audience members would drink alcohol at the end of the third quarter when the Penn Band would play, “Drink a highball.” In this song created by G.B. Brigham, the song would close with the following lyrics, “Drink a highball and be jolly. Here’s a toast to dear old Penn!” After the final line, everyone in the audience would drink the alcohol as a “toast” for Penn. Nonetheless, the ban would prevent people from toasting with alcohol and would leave room for the new tradition to be launched by Greer Cheeseman and his friends.

Cheeseman, as the current director of the Penn Band, an employee for the University, and local Penn aficionado, retells the story of how a “toast to dear old Penn,” became a literal piece of toast “to dear old Penn.” Though the details of the tradition remain slightly vague, Cheeseman does remember where the idea originally came from Rocky Horror Picture. After some of Cheeseman and some of his fraternity brothers attended a showing of Rocky Horror, they were intrigued by the interactive nature of the show, particularly the part where the audience throws toast at the screen after the character, Frank, proposes a toast. Interestingly enough, the two held so many parallels that Cheeseman and his friends eventually got the brilliant idea to translate that at an actual football game. After some time, toast throwing would eventually catch on and spread quickly as most every Penn student now knows exactly what toast throwing at football games means.

When considering the position of toast throwing in the grander scheme of Penn school spirit, it’s clear that it definitely holds a special place in the school’s history. Cheeseman recounts how football games at the time were huge events that everybody attended to create that sense of pride in the school. It also didn’t hurt that Penn’s football team was particularly good and attracted their fair share of people. When asked how it feels to be a part of such a noteworthy tradition at Penn, Cheeseman explains that, while he’s not exactly sure how he feels, he does acknowledge that it’s rather “neat” to be a part of Penn’s history. Though football games don’t receive the same audiences now as they did back in the day, it’s indisputable that toast throwing will remain a part of the experience at football games. With students dividing their time between academics, social lives, and many other things, it’s difficult to attend every football game and participate all the time. Nonetheless, we can rest assured that the tradition won’t be dying out anytime soon as long as groups like the Penn Band, that go to most sports games, keep the tradition alive and others continue to distribute toast at every game at Franklin Field.

After almost fifty years of the tradition was introduced, toast throwing continues to excite people who are first experiencing the wave of toast fly above them for about 15 to 30 seconds at the end of the third quarter. With fans customizing their toast with a letter “P” and stockpiling stacks of toast, it definitely still evokes a sense of school spirit through such a unique tradition. Lucky enough, the toast-eating Zamboni-machine helps with the immense cleanup.

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Image: Homecoming 2018
Back row left to right –  Jason Feldman, ENG02; Kushol Gupta, C’93, BGS’03, Lisa Shapiro (Bardfeld), C’93; Greer Cheeseman, EE’77
Second Row left to right – Kelly (Naeun) Ha, C’16; Marianne Brogdale (Alves*), C’93; Richard DiNapoli, C’19; Robin Coyne, NU’12, GNU’15
Third Row left to right – Lauren Mendoza, C’15; Zabryna Atkinson-Diaz, C’19, GR’20; Jenna Harowitz, C’18
All former and current Penn Band Drum Majors
*Marianne Brogdale (Alves) was the first female Drum Major in Penn Band history.
Source: Source: Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03

 

Image: Toast Toss at 2018 Penn vs Bucknell Game
Source: Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03

Special thanks to Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03, for his consultation and partnership on this article. 

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Profile, Campus Life, Jorge Penado, C’19, Penn football, Student Perspective, Traditions

Remembering Tough Seasons with Penn Football

By Frank Caccuro, C’93
1992 Penn Football team photo

The 1992 Penn Football team photo (pictured in Poor Richard’s Record).

Prior to coming to University of Pennsylvania, Penn Football won the Ivy League Championship seven of the previous eight years.  After our class committed to Penn, Head Coach Ed Zubrow resigned from Penn to take a job fighting drug abuse with the Philadelphia school district.  We entered our Freshman year with a new coach, Gary Steele who was an assistant under Coach Zubrow.  We still had great expectations that we would continue the Ivy League dominance and have several Ivy Championships by the time we graduated.

Unlike other Division 1 schools, Penn had a Freshman Football program which did not start until the first week of school and was an abbreviated football schedule.  While our freshman team had a good year with a 6-2 record, our varsity team did not do as well, finishing 2-8.  In our sophomore and junior years, we didn’t do any better, finishing 3-7 and 2-8.   At the end of our junior season, the Athletic Department decided a change in Coaching staff was necessary and hired Coach Al Bagnoli.   Coach Bagnoli brought a ray of hope to our senior season.  We started our senior season with a record of 4-2 with only one loss in the Ivy League entering the Penn-Princeton game.  With a win against Princeton, we would be tied for first place and in the driver’s seat to get our first Ivy League Championship.    We travelled up to Princeton’s Palmer stadium on a sunny fall day to reclaim the Ivy League Championship for Penn.  We trailed the entire game but entered the 4th quarter down by 6.   We had two great drives in the 4th quarter to take the lead.   On the first drive, we drove all way down to the five-yard line but missed a field goal to cut the lead to 3.
We still had plenty of time. After stopping Princeton on a three-and-out, we got the ball back with 2:10 remaining and led a dramatic drive to the Tigers’ 23. On the last play of the game, we got sacked by Michael Lerch, a 5-foot-7-inch, 160-pound wide receiver who occasionally plays defensive end on passing situations.  We lost 20-14.  It was the toughest loss in my career and I still recall that play vividly.  I mentioned the WR’s name because it is a name I will never forget.  We ended the season, 7-3.
While the 1993 Class did not win a Championship, we are proud that we started a 25-game win streak, a Division I-AA record.  Our younger teammates went on to win the next two Ivy League Championships, finishing 19-1!
Twenty-five years later, I still think about the Princeton loss and what could have been if Coach Bagnoli was hired our freshman year. While I would like to exchange wins with other teams, I would not exchange any of my teammates.  Whenever I see a fellow teammate, it brings a smile to my face.
Hope to see you soon.  Do better than your best!
Penn Football Coach Lake #93tothe25th

Coach Lake

Coach “Lake” Staffieri played college football at the University of Maryland and was a member of the Terps’ 1953 national championship team, playing in four bowl games: Orange Bowls (two), Gator and Sugar. Dan joined the University of Pennsylvania’s staff in 1977 as head freshman coach under Head Coach Harry Gamble. For the next 34-years, he was an assistant football coach and all-around supporter of Penn. Dan was a very recognizable figure on campus.  He was usually dressed in red and blue plaid pants, a red blazer, and a jeff cap. During football season, he could be seen and heard on Fridays before home games driving the Penn helmet cart around campus and using his megaphone to raise school spirit. During game day, he would have a piece of tape on his forehead with different messages.

Dan had numerous phrases that we would chant like

“Do better than your best!”
“Setbacks pave the way for comebacks”
and
“I! V! Y! CHAMPS!!”
Coach Lake passed away in 2010 at the age of 85 from cancer of the bladder.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of January 19 – 20, marked 16 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!

Register NOW to attend our 25th Reunion!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Donate to The Penn Fund in honor of our reunion! We want to break the 25th reunion participation giving record and every gift matters!

Book Your Hotel Room for Alumni Weekend NOW!

The Marriott Downtown (where we had a Penn 1993 and a Penn Alumni room block) is sold out for Alumni Weekend. There are alternative hotels nearby. We recommend booking ASAP! Please see our class website for additional details.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion #93tothe25th

 

 

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Penn vs. Cornell Football 1992

By Eli Faskha, ENG’93, W’93

Editor’s note: In addition to the academic papers Eli shared with us a few posts ago, he also sent photos and sports ticket stubs.

Billy Goldstein, Eng’93, and I drove to Ithaca to visit a friend that was hosting a party, but we were there for the Penn-Cornell game. I remember the crowd was smallish, and the 50-or-so Penn fans made a lot more noise than the home fans. After the half, the third quarter started late because the field was full of drunk Cornell students and they had to be escorted off the field!

Penn defeated Cornell 14 – 7 to end the season with a 5 -2 Ivy and 7 -3 overall record.

Penn Football vs Cornell 1992 Ivy League Football

Ticket stub from the Penn vs. Cornell Football game at Cornell on November 21, 1992. Photo by Eli Faskha, ENG’93, W’93

Here’s the article from The Daily Pennsylvanian before the game.

The DP Penn vs. Cornell Football 1992

Back page of The Daily Pennsylvanian discussing the upcoming Penn vs. Cornell football game, Nov. 20, 1992

The Daily Pennsylvanian Penn Football 1992

The Daily Pennsylvanian, Nov. 20, 1992 page 9

The DP articles from the Monday after the game.

The Daily Pennsylvanian Penn Football 1992

Back page of the DP on November 23, 1992

The Daily Pennsylvanian Penn Football 1992

Page 9 of the DP on November 23, 1992

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of November 17 – 18, 2017, marked 25 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)! Meet us at the Button!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

 

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Donate to The Penn Fund in honor of our reunion! We want to break the 25th reunion participation giving record and every gift matters!

BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM FOR ALUMNI WEEKEND NOW!

The Marriott Downtown (where we had a Penn 1993 and a Penn Alumni room block) is sold out for Alumni Weekend. There are alternative hotels. We recommend booking ASAP! Please see our class website for additional details.

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion #93tothe25th

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Penn football