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Penn State parents learning to juggle protocols

UNIVERSITY PARK — According to Mass.gov, visitors and residents entering Massachusetts must adhere to coronavirus protocols like completing the Massachusetts travel form unless visiting from a lower-risk state, quarantining for 14 days, and producing a negative test “that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival.”

These protocols apply to all visitors and residents of the state, which include Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth’s family.

As the Nittany Lions get set to finally open their season today at Indiana (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports1), Freiermuth’s family is facing possibly not attending several games in their All-American, star tight end’s potential final Nittany Lion season.

“They teach and can’t miss class, and if they came to Pennsylvania they would have to figure out rapid testing,” Freiermuth told the media this week via Zoom. “I appreciate my mom and my dad for doing what’s right, and it’s very sad that they might not be able to come to any games because they haven’t missed my whole time here.”

However, Freiermuth knows their support for his career and the team goes beyond just their physical attendance.

“They’re continuing to fight for other parents to come see their kids play and aren’t selfish about things,” he said. “I’m really happy that I can call them my mom and dad.”

Earlier this month the Big Ten decided there would be no public sale of football tickets, but each school can decide if it will allow families in the stadium, a large concern for James Franklin.

“I think it’s the right decision that parents can come to the games, but we have to do a great job at managing that, getting as many parents tested the week before they come, wearing their masks, social distancing,” Franklin said.

That family atmosphere among the players is something special, according to defensive end Shaka Toney, and it may be a large piece that goes missing this season.

“On Fridays, I get to see my class’ families, and it feels like we have been here for a lifetime since 2016,” the redshirt senior said. “One change that is affected is being able to interact with other families on Fridays, and after the game feeling that bond, always merging down and finding each other.”

But, Toney, unlike Freiermuth, will be able to look up in the stands and see some of his number one supporters present on game day.

“My gang travels,” he said. “My herd will pile in one to two cars and they will make the trip. If they have to catch a flight, we all pitch in to make sure they can make it. I’m a big family person. One of the biggest reasons that I came here was to be able to see my family, so that isn’t ever going to be a problem.”

Similar to Toney, senior center Michal Menet know his parents will be close by on gameday. But the interaction, pre- and post-game, will be distanced and different.

“I’ve seen my family during player walk in pretty much every game since I have been playing, so it’s going to be very different, not being able to give them a big hug,” he said. “But my parents are going to get to every game that they can, and right now, I know they are going to Indiana, so I’m excited to see them there.”

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