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How Penn State Influenced Adam Sandler in Creating ‘The Waterboy’

Photo by Christian Monlar, Penn State Threads Instagram account

If you’re a Penn State fan or any college football fan, you’ve probably seen “The Waterboy” at some point.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.

The 1998 classic starred the great Adam Sandler.

Sandler played Bobby Boucher, a— you guessed it— waterboy who found he had a knack for tackling people very hard and… well, if you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, and if you haven’t, we won’t spoil it.

But most didn’t know that the film was influenced partially by Penn State’s football program.

In the late 1990s, Sandler came to Penn State to do a comedy show. While he was there, he wanted to meet legendary coach Joe Paterno.

Brad “Spider” Caldwell, who was Penn State’s equipment manager for more than three decades  and today is the Assistant Director of Club & Suites, explained what happened next.

“At the time,” Caldwell told former Penn State OL Landon Tengwall on the “Behind the Wall” podcast, “our water that we use as managers and trainers, they were these yellow little plastic pumpers that you would actually pump. And they had four hoses coming out of them. That’s where, you know, you drink, and, he had to put and pump the pressure in, almost like a bug spray thing that you see today at Lowe’s or whatever. So that’s what we had on wheels, you know.”

Caldwell said Sandler was “fascinated” by this.

“And so, he’s like squirting them around, you know.”

“I said, oh geez, you know, and he loved it. So apparently that was his. He said later on that that was his inspiration for when he wears the backpack and it’s like a water thing for waterboy, and they kind of inspired him to be like a manager. They called him a waterboy. He was so inspired by the practice and hanging out with us, that was one of the inspirations.”

Additionally, Penn State linebacker great LaVar Arrington claims he inspired Sandler to shape Boucher’s hard-hitting style.

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