‘They represent all of us’: Pitt community hopes for ACC championship title

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Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Fans cheer at the Pitt vs. UMass game on Sept. 4.

By Alexandra Ross, Staff Writer

For Christian Spears, deputy athletic director of Pitt Athletics, Pitt’s appearance in this weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game is about more than just the football team — it reflects on the University as a whole.

“This team has worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position,” Spears said. “They represent all of us. They represent our students, our University, our Oakland community and our City. An ACC championship for Pitt football is a reflection on us all.”

Pitt earned its place in the 2021 ACC Football Championship Game with a 48-38 win over the University of Virginia on Nov. 20. This win also cemented the Panthers as the champions of the ACC Coastal Division. They will play Wake Forest, the winner of the ACC Atlantic Division, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pitt fans across the country can tune in to ABC to watch the game.

Spears said the achievements of the football program is just one of the reasons Pitt students should take pride in their school.

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“We are an elite University in an awesome community that plays football at an elite level, and we should all be proud of it,” Spears said.

Pitt Athletics, Pitt Program Council (PPC) and the Division of Student Affairs teamed up to coordinate a trip to the ACC Championship Game, according to Nick Jones, PPC’s public relations director. Jones, a senior media and professional communications major, said PPC saw the game as a great opportunity for the three organizations to collaborate. 

“It’s a very big occasion to go down to North Carolina to see Pitt football play for the ACC championship, and we just wanted to throw an amazing event together, so we decided a collaboration between us three would be a great way to do that,” Jones said.

Jones said attending the championship game in person will offer students a special experience. He said attending the game live will be more fun for students than watching at home.

“There’s nothing quite like being at a sporting event live, and especially since we’re playing for the ACC Championship, which is a monumental occasion,” Jones said. “We feel like students are going to be very excited to be back in a stadium cheering on the Pitt Panthers and hoping for a win.”

The 160 tickets for the trip went on sale at 7 a.m. Tuesday in the PPC office, which is located in room M-30 of the William Pitt Union. Prices varied based on group size, from $90 per person in a quad occupancy to $160 per person in a double occupancy, in addition to a $30 security deposit.

Each ticket includes round-trip transportation to Charlotte, one night at the Hilton Charlotte University Place Hotel, a ticket to the football game and transportation to and from the game. Students will leave Pitt at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and return the following morning. 

Students began lining up for tickets on Monday night, and the line quickly grew. PPC officials said Monday night that they would offer an additional 150 tickets at $75 each, with no hotel room available and transportation details still to be confirmed.

Besides the trip to Charlotte, Jones said he did not know of any official watch parties or events for Pitt students to enjoy the game together. He said students can organize their own events.

Among those students watching at home will be Victoria Swindle, a graduate student in the library and information science master’s program. She said Pitt football games hold a sentimental meaning for her, because that is where she met her boyfriend.

“I am just planning on watching it with my boyfriend, because we met at a Pitt football game, so it means a lot,” Swindle said. “So we’re just gonna watch together, hopefully.”

Swindle, who graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in information science from Pitt in May 2021, said she always tried to attend Pitt football games as an undergraduate. However, she said she attended fewer games this year.

“As an undergrad, that was a big thing,” Swindle said. “But now as a grad student, and especially because of the weather, I just stayed home.”

Pitt’s appearance in the championship game stands as a symbol for the University’s overall comeback from COVID-19 restrictions this semester, according to Jones.

“A Pitt win would be absolutely incredible,” Jones said. “It would really show triumph coming back to campus after a long year of just being at home and in quarantine. So we’re really looking forward to seeing all that Pitt can do not just in athletics, but just as a comeback to campus.”

Spears said Pitt students should take advantage of the opportunity to visit Charlotte for the game to make memories with their fellow students.

“Making memories with your fellow students is a significant part of your university experience and Pitt Athletics wants you to have those memories,” Spears said. “Join us and make those memories. You are literally living history … enjoy it!”