Student athletes reflect on missing The Rivalry game due to scheduling conflicts


The Lehigh-Lafayette football game is a tradition that Lehigh students and alumni alike have celebrated for 132 years.

But for some of the students that can probably relate most to the rivalry — the student athletes — attending the Lehigh-Lafayette game is not a guarantee.

This year, in addition to the football team, the women’s basketball team and the wrestling team are also scheduled to compete this Saturday, preventing them from attending the game and supporting the football team in its final game of the season. Men’s basketball will also compete this weekend, playing Princeton University at home on Sunday.

Both senior women’s basketball player Kiernan McCloskey and senior wrestler Randy Cruz expressed disappointment in not being able to attend the football game this year, but first prioritize their own team and sport.

“You always wish you could go and support the team, especially with how well they’ve done this year,” McCloskey said. “But at the same time, this is the start of our season, and it’s exciting that we get to (play) so many games.”

Cruz also said he wishes he could attend the game this year, but says both the football team and wrestling team have “business to take care of.”

McCloskey said she has been able to attend two Lehigh-Lafayette games during her time at Lehigh, including the 150th game at Yankee Stadium. Cruz was able to attend the game in New York City as well.

Student athletes are not the only ones that have to deal with conflicting games during Lehigh-Lafayette weekend. The Lehigh Sports communications staff must find a way to provide coverage of the scheduled games, in addition to the football game.

Steve Lomangino, the director of sports communications, said the athletic department avoids scheduling home games at the same time as the Lehigh-Lafayette game, but sometimes teams need to play away that day because of the schedules of opposing schools.

The wrestling team will compete at the University of Pittsburgh Friday night and at Edinboro University Saturday afternoon. Lomangino typically travels with the wrestling team but will not be able to this weekend because of the football game.

“This is just a tricky time of year with fall sports wrapping up and winter sports starting,” Lomangino said. “I have not made a final decision on (sending somebody with wrestling) yet . . . but if we don’t, we’ll certainly cover as best as we can.”

Women’s basketball will play at home against Sacred Heart University on Saturday at 7 p.m. Because the trip from Easton to Bethlehem is short, Lomangino said there will be enough time to get the communications staff back to campus before tipoff to cover the game.

Two years ago, when Lehigh and Lafayette played at Yankee Stadium, the athletic department was able to schedule all of the necessary games the Friday before in the New York City area. Lomangino said this allowed Lehigh Sports to travel to cover the Friday games and the football game while still letting “most, if not all” athletes experience a Lehigh-Lafayette game.

“Being able to experience that is a part of their (Lehigh) experience,” Lomangino said.

Senior linebacker Pierce Ripanti said the team doesn’t like that other athletes are not able to be a part of the “old fashioned rivalry” game, and the team would like as much support as possible at the game.

While he said he would like to think there’s a way for other teams’ games to not conflict with the Lehigh-Lafayette game, he does not want sports rearranging their schedules for one football game.

“If one sport has a game, that’s their priority,” Ripanti said. “That’s what they’re at Lehigh for, so you can’t expect them to feel bad for missing your game when they have their own game.”

Ripanti, McCloskey and Cruz do not believe that conflicting schedules negatively affects the support or closeness within the athlete community.

“I believe that if (other athletes) didn’t have a scheduling conflict that they would come to our games,” Ripanti said. “I think we have a pretty tight-knit sports community here.”

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