Alumni reflect on football’s past traditions

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Mark McGowan, ‘89, celebrates with his teammates during the Lehigh-Lafayette football game on Nov. 21st, 1987, at Taylor Stadium. The 1987 season was the football team’s last season playing in Taylor Stadium. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

When the Moutain Hawks were still the Lehigh Engineers, they faced major changes with the 1988 transition from Taylor to Goodman Stadium.

Despite the swap in stadiums, many football traditions stayed the same — one being the team sleepover.

Mike Walsh, ‘90, a former Engineer, said his team’s tradition was neat and recalls his last senior night at Taylor Stadium.

“We would sleepover in the locker room. They would give us cots,” Walsh said. “You’ve got 50 thugs on cots in the locker room sleeping over there, but right before you went to bed, it was storytelling.”

During this time, seniors would get up and share their experiences with the freshmen. Walsh said it was an emotional time for everyone.

Chris Hite, the defensive MVP of the last Rivalry game played at Taylor Stadium, agrees.

“I remember how cold it was, it was the coldest game I ever played in,” Hite said. “I remember it was always crazy after the game, but that day it was especially crazy. People were taking parts of the stadium, not just the goal posts. Great teammates and great memories.”

Although traditions were passed along, moving away from the tradition of playing at Taylor Stadium was an adjustment.

Jeff Frase ‘90, said some players did not like the change at the time.

“Continuity was what they wanted,” Frase said. “We were all superstitious and liked routine. Everyone knew the storied history of the old Taylor Stadium, the championships and big games. I actually think everyone wished to keep playing there at the time and not break tradition.”

Walsh said he treasured the tradition that came with playing at Taylor Stadium, along with its historical site.

Mark McGowan, ’89, said the first game held at Goodman Stadium began with an event called “passing the tradition.”

“The campus lined up and we threw the ball out of the stadium, it wound up all the way through campus,” McGowan said. “The kicker, Eric Bird, the late and the great, kicked it into the Goodman Stadium.”

Le-Laf calls for its own traditions, too, such as running for the goal posts.

Walsh remembers the end of his first Le-Laf game, which did not go as expected.

“At the fourth quarter, all of a sudden, police officers came out with dogs and started lining the field,” McGowan said. “‘Get your helmets. Grab your stuff.’ What is happening? All of a sudden when that clock goes off the stands emptied. The fans all went for the goal posts, they would fight.”

To McGowan, his first exposure to Le-Laf was the craziest. 

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