With Lehigh’s most anticipated event of the year on the horizon, football players are not the only ones preparing for the annual Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry game.
Swarms of students, parents and fans will create a sea of brown and white at Fisher Stadium on Nov. 17 to watch the Mountain Hawks contest their longest rival. The overwhelming support that floods the stadium each year is no accident, as Lehigh’s cheer and dance teams work season-long to inspire a substantial turnout.
The cheer and dance teams participate in numerous events on campus during the weeks leading up to Le-Laf. Despite possessing different abilities and skill sets, both teams are essential for generating excitement and promoting cross-campus spirit.
For the cheer team, the seven days prior to the Le-Laf game are perhaps the most important. Its efforts are entirely directed toward building hype for the upcoming football game.
This year, the cheer team will participate in Eco-flame, an event in which Lehigh’s Marching 97 takes the campus by storm the Friday before Le-Laf. The band interrupts classes with songs and overwhelming enthusiasm. The cheer team will contribute to Eco-flame by implementing its skill sets alongside the band.
Cheerleader Dominique Voitek, ’20, said Eco-flame distributes a heightened energy and sense of pride throughout Lehigh’s campus.
“Doing the band dances in classrooms alongside the marching band during Eco-flame is definitely one of the best ways to get everyone fired up for Le-Laf,” Voitek said. “Everyone feels like they’re involved and a big part of The Rivalry and that spirit is what we need to bring to the game.”
The cheerleaders will carry the Eco-flame’s energy into the night, as they cheer for the men’s and women’s basketball double-header at Stabler Arena versus Princeton and Villanova, respectively.
This year, the cheer team invited fifth-year DJ Mike to perform at Stabler, with hopes that his high-intensity performance will build anticipation for The Rivalry game that will ensue hours later.
Cheerleader Madison Horn, ’20, said getting fans to come out and support Lehigh’s athletic teams isn’t always easy, particularly due to the separation of Goodman and Asa Packer campuses. But with Le-Laf approaching, Horn said the cheerleaders are putting in the extra effort around campus to inform people about the game to ensure a large turnout.
“The entire week leading up to the game, everything we do is for The Rivalry,” Horn said. “We know that students don’t always want to come because of the weather or the difficulties with getting from the campus to the field.”
However, she remains optimistic about this year’s turnout.
“This week, for Le-Laf, we’re going to do everything we can to promote school spirit and make sure the stands are full (on) Nov. 17,” Horn said.
Like the cheer team, Lehigh’s dance team is making efforts to promote Lehigh’s school spirit.
The dance team primarily performs at basketball games during the regular season. However, the dancers play a large role in building anticipation for Le-Laf. They put on a performance during halftime at this year’s Family Weekend football game against Colgate on Nov. 10.
Peyton Stein, ’19, said the Family Weekend halftime performance offers the team a chance to showcase members; different abilities while kicking off one of the most exciting weeks of the year.
“We have four practices each week and each one is two hours,” Stein said. “This is going to be our largest performance yet and we’re focusing largely on building spirit, having fun and making sure people are getting excited for Le-Laf.”