YSU Drive for 5: Community plans to rally, tailgate for national championship game

Mahoning Valley businesses are being asked to show their Penguin Pride by putting signs or well wishes on store-front windows

Pete the Penguin flag Youngstown State University.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – We’re just days away from the national championship game between Youngstown State and James Madison.

Before the Penguins head to the big game on Saturday, there’s a huge push to let the team know Youngstown has its back.

The YSU Office of Alumni Engagement and the YSU Alumni Society Board have declared Jan. 2-7 as “Wear Red Week.”

YSU wants the community to wear red all week and for Mahoning Valley businesses and vendors to show their Penguin Pride by displaying Pete the Penguin.

Before the team leaves to battle for its fifth national championship title, a big rally is scheduled for Wednesday from 11 a.m. to noon.

The rally will be on Armed Forces Boulevard, off of Fifth Avenue, next to Stambaugh Stadium. This is where the buses will leave for the airport.

Parking will be available in the M-70 lot on Fifth Avenue.

“We’re inviting the public and our fans to come and just cheer on the team as they depart for the airport to leave for Frisco,” said Catherine Cala, YSU Office of Alumni Engagement.

The Office of Alumni Engagement will pass out pompoms and penguins-on-a-stick for fans. YSU’s cheerleaders and pep-band will also be there.

YSU fans signed a big banner during the first home playoff game, full of well wishes for the Penguins. It’s going to be presented to the team at the send-off rally. The team hasn’t seen it yet.

Mohamed Mishmish goes to YSU and works at the Downtown Circle in Youngstown. He says Downtown Circle is more than willing to show its Penguin Pride on its store-front windows.

“We represent Youngstown, we’re more than happy to represent YSU and we support them and encourage them,” Mishmish said.

Other local businesses have already put up banners for support.

“We have some Panera’s, some AutoZones, some Sparkle Markets, chocolate shops,” Cala said.

On game day, the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown will host a free watch party.

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.

For fans heading to Texas to attend the game, an official YSU tailgate will take place at Tailgate Town in Toyota Stadium, Northeast Terrace, Section 133.

The party starts at 9 a.m. Central time and a game ticket is required for entrance.

On Friday, the Youngstown community will gather at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse at 1101 N. Central Expressway, Plano, Texas, 75075. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. Central time.

On Thursday morning, the YSU Athletics Department announced a travel package for YSU students interested in attending the game. The 125 spots in the package sold out within 45 minutes.


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