Penn men's basketball's 122-year history has been filled with highlights: the 1979 Final Four team, 26 Ivy League regular season championships, and the undefeated 1970-71 season are just a few examples of the Quakers' success on the court.
Nonetheless, there have also been plenty of low points. The Quakers didn't win the Ivy League at all between 2007 and 2018, and they have been mired in a scandal involving then-coach Jerome Allen, while the team's lack of success in Ivy play last season was disappointing given the Quakers' Big 5 title.
Through the ups and downs, dedicated Penn fans have stayed by the Quakers over the years. Last year, the Palestra was packed to over 92% capacity for Penn's Big 5 contests, showing that the fanbase hasn't declined.
One such fan is 2003 College graduate Justin Windheim, who still lives in the Philadelphia area. Windheim's family members have been avid Penn fans for many generations.
For Windheim, the Palestra has a special significance — it's where his dad proposed to his mom.
"My parents (and my grandparents too) met at Franklin Field. My dad was a Drexel student but grew up all things Penn because his dad is an alum," Windheim said. "They met at a football game when my mom yelled 'offsides.' They saw each other again at the Palestra in the winter, he asked her out, and a few years later proposed in front of the Palestra."
As he grew up, Windheim attended games as soon as he was able to travel.
"Our family (my brother, parents and I) barely missed a game growing up. My dad even traveled down to North Carolina to watch the '79 team — while on crutches — with his dad and two new brother-in-laws (my mom's brothers)," Windheim said. "I was lucky enough to get a three-peat shirt signed by the whole team in 1995 and might still have it."
One of the most significant memories for Windheim was Penn's victory over Temple in the fall of 1998.
"I’ll also never forget finally beating Temple in 1998 when I was a senior in high school," Windheim said. "[I] made a bet with a buddy seven years earlier that Penn needed to beat them once before we graduated, [and I] got it in the last second."
After being admitted to Penn, Windheim's support for the team didn't wane at all. He described camping out to get seats in the Palestra for Penn games.
"My freshman year, we had to camp out for over three days, which didn’t end until Monday morning at 6 a.m. [and] included Halloween and the extra hour of daylight savings being switched," Windheim said. "[There's] nothing like walking to [David Rittenhouse Laboratories] for math after that. It’s cool I got to say I slept at the Palestra, but it got pretty old by night two to be honest."
Another dedicated Quaker fan is Bruce Weinberg, a 1980 Wharton graduate, who continues to follow Penn men's basketball despite living in Boston. Weinberg was a student when Penn made its only Final Four appearance in 1979, and he traveled to watch the Quakers play that year.
"We were No. 14 in the country, and we only lost once in the Ivy League, so we knew we had a great team that year, but I don't think any of us expected to go to the Final Four," Weinberg said. "A couple of my buddies and I piled onto a bus to North Carolina to watch that game, and UNC almost came back, but we were able to hang on. Then we got Magic Johnson in the finals, and that was the end of it. But that season is always something I'll look back on fondly."
These Penn fans are surely looking forward to Penn's season-opener against Alabama on Tuesday.
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