Lehigh's cheerleaders perform with the Marching 97. (Courtesy photo/ Madison Gouveia)

Lehigh cheerleaders prepare to show skill, bring spirit during Yankee Stadium halftime performance

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With the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry game in sight, Lehigh’s cheerleading team has been preparing extensively for one of its biggest performances in both size and significance: A halftime show performance at Yankee Stadium.

The team’s three captains, Katherine Hamilton, ’15, Jennifer Fichter, ’16, and Katie Pettis ,’16, have been collaborating with not only one another and their team, but also other groups on and off campus to produce a routine for the upcoming game.

Hamilton said putting together the performance was a complex process that took time and consideration on everyone’s part.

“I think it has been an interesting experience for all of the dance teams, cheerleaders and marching bands to come together to perform for part of the halftime show at the rivalry game,” Hamilton said. “It was necessary to try to find a balance to everyone’s strengths.”

The team has even been in contact with Lafayette’s cheerleaders to ensure a fluid performance. However, this has placed some additional pressure on the cheerleaders.

“We have many extra practices on our own, as well as with the Lafayette cheerleaders and the entire group of performers,” Fichter said. “The practices have been stressful due to the fact that there are so many people to coordinate (with), but impressive to really see the overall vision come together.”

Pettis is confident in the Lehigh cheerleading squad’s performance Saturday because she’s witnessed her team’s progress.

“But I’m unsure about how it will look as a whole because I haven’t seen it yet,” she said in regards to the collaborative performance.

Although the process has been hard work for the team, some of the captains believe the high-profile venue makes this performance special in a positive way.

“Le-Laf is always a great overall experience,” Fichter said. “The venue has definitely put on a lot of added pressure, but performing in front of such a large crowd will be more than worth it. It has been a dream of mine to be part of such a performance in a stadium with such a large crowd, and this weekend, that dream will finally become a reality.”

Hamilton also said the venue will have an effect on their performance, as she believes it will add an element of excitement to the routine.

“I think it’s definitely going to be exhilarating to be on the field of Yankee Stadium during a football game,” Hamilton said. “I’m from New York, and I never would have guessed that I would have had a chance to do this. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We try to enhance morale by bringing energy and cheers to remind people why we are there. Win or lose, we will be cheering on the team, even when others choose to leave games.”

Being captain of the cheerleading team encompasses many responsibilities, with focus on the overall theme and layout of each performance.

“As a captain of the cheerleading team, I am responsible for maintaining focus and structure during practice, as well as working outside of practice to organize anything from which dance goes with which song played by the band, to choosing which uniform and combination of clothing to wear for different games and events,” Fichter said.

Hamilton believes being a part of the cheerleading team has given her many memories.

“I think one of my most memorable moments at a game was when we played Georgetown,” Hamilton said. “We don’t usually travel to away games unless it is the Lafayette game, but the band was traveling to this particular game and asked if we would like to come with them. It ended up being very cold, and I know we were all tired from a long bus ride, but the team played so well that it was all worth it.”

Fitcher echoed Hamilton and emphasized the dedication of each member of the team.

“Although there aren’t many of us this year, we have never had a more spirited group of individuals throughout the years I have cheered here at Lehigh,” Fichter said. “Each girl is invested in what we do as a team.”

Despite the various opinions that may exist about the cheerleading team, Fichter believe this upcoming performance will set a new standard.

“Our team has been working tirelessly to change our image and to really embody school spirit and athleticism,” Fichter said. “We are more than ready to show our peers, alumni and fans how far we have come and to put on a great show this weekend.”

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