Lehigh students Karen Girdner, '19, and Lisa Apazidis, '19, load their plates with breakfast treats on Sept. 3, 2016, at the President's Pregame. Lehigh students were welcomed with breakfast and backyard games to kick-off the first home game of the football season for the Lehigh Mountain Hawks against the Monmouth Hawks. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

Students enjoy opportunity to interact with President Simon at President’s Pregame


While some students stumbled down to East Fifth Street in tutus before Lehigh’s home-opening football game versus Monmouth on Sept. 3, other students pregamed with the president.

In lieu of traditional pregame festivities, including MoCos or tailgates, some students chose to attend an event promoting non-alcoholic activities. Before Saturday’s game, President John Simon hosted a “pregame” at his house, open to all faculty and students. Students dressed in brown and white and mingled with fellow classmates and faculty during the event.

Attendees were provided free breakfast and entertainment including a DJ, badminton, corn hole and a table of Lehigh giveaways. Lehigh’s dance team also performed halfway through the event.

Rachel Sholder, ’17, a graduate assistant in the president’s office, brought the idea to President Simon who willingly approved.

“I hope students feel more a part of the Lehigh community and have options to do things at Lehigh that are in their comfort zone,” Simon said. “It creates more options … they get excited to go over to Goodman to watch the game.”

Anna Patterson, assistant director of the athletic leadership development, approached Sholder about starting an alcohol-free option for students before the game. This motivated Sholder to put the idea into action.

“I think it promotes school spirit more than MoCos do,” Sholder said. “You never see people in all brown and white before a game or even see this amount of people getting together just to support the school.”

School pride used to be represented not only in school colors but in attendance at the games. Because of MoCos, students rarely make it to the end of the game or through the gates of Goodman Stadium at all.

The MoCos, or “morning cocktails,” tradition students hold with fervor started in 2008. Students pack into loud off-campus backyards in colorful mismatched outfits for MoCos. They begin their mornings as early as 9 a.m. before home football games. Many students, however, choose not to participate.

Simon’s pregame was part of an ongoing initiative to unite the campus and bring back Lehigh pride, supporting the athletes on the field and the university as a whole.

Not only did students appreciate the idea of revamping Lehigh school spirit with brown and white, but they also appreciated the ability to interact with Simon himself.

Lauren Beausoleil, a senior on the women’s lacrosse team and member of Lehigh’s Student Athlete Council attended the event as a gesture to Simon.

“He comes to so many events, and comes to SAC meetings a couple times a year, so it is a way to show appreciation toward him, and not just toward Lehigh,” Beausoleil said.

Being able to connect with Simon in his own backyard was something special to students.

“I think that President Simon opening his house up to students allows us to feel comfortable around him and creates more of a unified culture at Lehigh,” said, Christine Campbell, senior on the softball team.

The women’s lacrosse team and the softball team were in full attendance after receiving news about the event from their SAC representatives. One thing Beausoleil thinks could have made the event better was more awareness.

“I think it would be beneficial for not just athletes to be encouraged to go, but for the sororities and fraternities on campus to get involved as well,” Beausoleil said. “I think they would have really enjoyed the tailgate, and it would have been another step closer for uniting our campus as a whole.”

The organizers thought of the event as a trial run and said they were happy with the first turnout, seeing about 150 students.

Hoping to continue this as a home game event, Sholder and Simon want to try the pregame on Goodman Campus to see what kind of turnout comes from that going forward.

“It would be a cool unifying campus event before a game,” Sholder said.

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