When I look back at my time at Lehigh I will most certainly remember one thing about it.
PSYCHE! — the iconic motto of the finest band east of all points west, the Lehigh University Marching 97.
While Lehigh may not host a top state-school level of student engagement during athletic events nor do they have a nationally recognized school brand, I am proud to be a member of the most exciting Lehigh student organization on campus.
I frequently have people ask me, “What is it like to be a member of the 97?”
And I tell them a few things.
It takes commitment.
Marching around during band camp on those hot August days or frigid November nights requires a certain understanding of the final collective goal — to be the heartbeat behind the student section at sporting events.
Doing this, while balancing the rigorous academics at Lehigh can be daunting, but it is most certainly worth it.
The practices that fill our fall afternoon schedules come to fruition when we hear the crowd at Goodman campus on Saturdays in September, or while heckling opponents during our basketball games in January.
Trust me, we all may sometimes dread our countless run-throughs of the halftime show in the parking lots outside of Rauch field house, but deep down, we love the grind.
My favorite moment so far in the Marching 97 was being able to perform during the 2018 New Year’s Day parade in London.
Nothing compares to the excitement that filled us up when we heard, “Here comes the Lehigh University Marching 97” down the parade route on New Year’s Day.
Even during our warm-ups with countless other bands in London, the Marching 97 was alive and present as we jammed and invited other bands to join in hours before the parade even kicked off.
This level of engagement and energy is what I’d ask Lehigh students to aim for. And I mean the type energy Lehigh students have when we play our bitter rivals, Lafayette.
If we have that type of hype during all of our games and events, we will be well on our way to having a type of support that can’t be broken. It will turn into a tradition.
The Marching 97 has this expectation for school spirit. The students should have that expectation for themselves.
I want students to have a great sense of community when Lehigh wins after every game — not just on Le-Laf.
As a proud fan of the Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, I was able to experience the sense of community that comes around winning together.
After every game, we lived or died as Philadelphia fans.
Every single game mattered to us, which made the victory that much better.
Every single game mattered…
Let that sink in.
If we can create a student section that cares about all our games, the sweetness of victory will be authentic.
Although Lehigh may not have the same reach or impact as a professional sports team, the central idea of rallying around our alma mater is special to all who call the South Mountain “home.”
Having strong support for our athletics not only make our sense of community better, it helps our sports team tremendously.
Just before his last game ever at Lehigh, senior guard Kahron Ross wrote a letter to all students to show support for the team because it would mean so much to the team.
Although the men’s basketball team lost in the quarterfinals to Boston University, the fan support was incredible. Ross will surely never forget those who came out to support him and the team.
I am calling upon all Lehigh students. Attend as many sporting events as you can so we can create a bond through athletics, making Lehigh a special place to watch games.
We can all have PSYCHE for Lehigh.
Jean-Pierre Villamar, ’19, is an associate sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]