This is a story about Wallace “Wally” Triplett and "We Are".
During Triplett’s debut season in 1946, the Penn State Nittany Lions were gearing up for the road to play against Miami. Not long after, the team was informed that Triplett would not be allowed to play on Miami’s home field because of the color of his skin.
The 1946 Nittany Lions announced that if they were to play Miami, it would be all of them or none of them who would play. That year, the team voted unanimously and canceled the scheduled game against the Miami Hurricanes.
Fast forward to 1948, the Penn State Nittany Lions were invited to the Cotton Bowl down south. In team discussions, the question arose, “What are we gonna do?”. Captain of the 1948 team, Steve Suhey, answered with “We are Penn State.”
United as a team, Wally Triplett and the Nittany Lions went on to defeat the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the 1948 Cotton Bowl. Along the way, Triplett and that ‘48 team became icons of acceptance and inclusivity.
Triplett became the first Black Penn Stater to be drafted by the NFL in 1949, and the first Black player to step onto an NFL field in uniform.
The phrase of “We Are” didn’t surface again until a few decades after Triplett’s time at Penn State, but the unifying history behind it remains true to this day. So, when you are cheering our oh-so-famous phrase in the stands of Beaver Stadium this Fall, we hope you are reminded that We ALL Are, and We ALL make Penn State a truly great place.
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-The CTC Team